ABOVE: Beyoncé wins MTV VMAs Video of the Year for “Formation,” dedicates award to New Orleans.
Jimmy Fallon roasted Ryan Lochte for his lying scandal. ABOVE: Michael Phelps was shocked.
ABOVE: Britney decides to go sexy for a change with “Make Me ... ” performance at MTV VMAs with G- Eazy.
ABOVE: Not-gay Nick Jonas performed “Bacon” on the VMAs, and Joanne Prada scammed her way into it.
Joe and Nick Jonas also won the award for "Most Lauded By Gay News Blogs Instead Of Actual Gay Artists Who Could Use The Attention." #vmas— Esquire (@esquire) August 29, 2016
Esquire, not exactly known for its stake in LGBT visibility and rights, tweeted this catty jab at gay blogs, piggybacking on the recent criticism that gay blogs had not been covering Frank Ocean enough, even though he is an out artist, and on complaints of “gay-baiting” from stars like the Jonases.
The insult is that gay blogs cover straight artists to the exclusion of gay artists, either out of some sort of lack of consideration for GULP our own kind, or maybe because Frank Ocean is black, which of course picks another fight, a diversity fight.
We don't need a non-LGBTQ website/social media outfit run by a massive corporation that can pick and choose what it wants to cover (and by the way, is not forbidden from covering gay artists themselves) wading into the fray and attempting to needle gay people on a sensitive topic just so they can get some people riled up on Twitter when they couldn't give two f*cks about the issue beyond the depth of those few characters.
In my opinion, the argument that Frank Ocean wasn't covered enough is nuts. I saw him mentioned on the biggest (bigger 'n' mine, and I covered him several times) gay blogs. If he wasn't covered more, I would chalk that up to a lot of things other than gay blogs being racist or somehow unsupportive of out gay artists.
First, the blogs at my level and below, we are not making any f*cking money. We are putting stuff up for the sheer pleasure of it, and that means we are not necessarily treating our blogs as being all things to all people. So there are going to be holes. For example, I don't like R&B music. I don't like rap. I don't like tattoo culture. I don't drink, smoke or do drugs—yes, even marijuana. I'm not the most fashionable guy alive. I'm also frickin' old, so that colors my tastes. I'm not sure how many hours I am supposed to spend as a public service, but I spend plenty and am not willing to spend more. So whatever crosses my path and interests me and will get clicks or will please me is what goes up.
Don't like it, look elsewhere or sacrifice your own time and money and do your own damn blog.
Or go to work for the website and social media of a giant magazine owned by a giant corporation where you can get paid (something) to be a snarky bitch.
Second, Frank Ocean is seen as a great artist. People are dying for his music, and his sales strategy is unique and is newsworthy (which I have posted about). However, a stream of Frank Ocean stories is not possible because he does not put himself out there like many other artists do, so there is less of an interest in his persona. He isn't selling his sexuality (by which I don't mean his sexual orientation; but that, either), so he is not going to be as clickable. Does that mean he shouldn't be covered at all? Hell, no. But he is not going to be as widely covered as artists whose personae are driving popular culture, and it might even mean he will be less covered than some artists who have not much else going for them but their sexiness.
Sexy = clicks, and sexy is not a bad thing. It's the drumbeat beneath a lot of what makes the world go 'round.
Third, Frank Ocean is a huge, f*cking star. He is not—unlike some artists—beholden to gay blogs. He has his choice of media outlets, and he doesn't seem to engage many of them. That works for him. He is hot-hot-hot, and being less available is part of what helped make his new music so anticipated. What is a gay blog supposed to cover about him, other than an album review (I don't do those—I like doing those, but I have no time, and I certainly was never sent his album to listen to and cover) and the news of his success?
Short version: Frank Ocean is awesome, is a force, is a great stride forward for LGBTQ people, and deserves to be noticed. But in a time when non-corporate blogs make so little money and have to wrack their brains (or, in the case of many blogs you may think are run by committee, their brain), it's a little ridiculous to sneer at them/us for not covering any particular topics or artists enough. Call me to complain when I'm turning down requests for coverage by gay artists, because I often post gay artists, including total newcomers, and I have never been pitched Frank Ocean. (I'm not hurt. If I were Frank Ocean, I wouldn't be looking at my marketing plan and bemoaning the lack of a Boy Culture feature pitch.)
On the topic of pitching, I had a frustrating conversation with a millennial recently who kept saying he hates Nick Jonas. Why? Because of that speech at Stonewall, because he's gay-baiting. Gay-baiting, gay-baiting, gay-baiting.
You know what's offensive to me? When an artist does not like or care about LGBTQ people and tries to pander to us. That does not describe Nick or Joe Jonas, as I know from personal experience, and as anyone should know from checking out their history in a very anti-LGBTQ church and then their personal-epiphany paths toward speaking out positively about gay people. To me, when a public figure does that, that is positive, period. When a musician actively includes LGBTQ fans in his or her marketing strategy, that is a sign of respect, not a sign of contempt, and it's embarrassing when gay people repay this with jeers. It is cartoonish hipster to want equal rights but to question the motives of everyone who agrees with you.
The capper? The young guy I was talking to, who had such seething anger regarding LGBTQ issues and how we are being marketed to, sees Hillary and Trump as the same—and isn't registered to vote.
Easier to get mad about a sexy guy telling his young fans it's okay to be gay than to choose between a politician who is demonstrably and vocally pro-LGBTQ and one who is the opposite? And I'm supposed to be offended by the frequency with which cute Nick and cute Joe Jonas show up on gay blogs?
TMZ exclusively reveals that a cast member of Logo's Finding Prince Charming will come out as HIV positive to eligible bachelor Robert Sepulveda Jr. on an episode of the show.
I'm not thrilled with the stunt aspect. I remember thinking this of RuPaul's Drag Race and Project Runway, too, when cast members announced their status—on those shows, the announcement was not pre-hyped—but I feel like this treatment inadvertently tends to make it seem like HIV is really rare and that when someone in a group comes out about their status, that must mean everyone else is HIV negative.
On Finding Prince Charming, I would be surprised if everyone else on the show is negative; when I'm meeting guys, I assume everyone is positive and proceed as such. I have to imagine Sepulveda is not new to this concept and knows a trick or two about safer sex.
I just hope (against hope) the show will handle the issue sensitively (will PrEP come up? because the concept of being undetectable undoubtedly will) and not make it into a big sob story about how the contestant contracted HIV—I guess I am imagining some kind of dreary you didn't deserve it! speech.
But while I've clearly already decided the show isn't for me, I won't assume the worst about how they handle this topic and will instead wait and see when that episode hits.
(Image via Logo)
(All images by Alan Light)
My pal Alan Light contributes these shots from A Taste of Iowa City, a food fest last week in Iowa that attracted its share of delicious eaters.
ESPN retells the story of Mark Bingham, the gay rugby player who behaved heroically on 9/11.
Out actor Robert Gant is the male lead in a new Hallmark TV movie. His leading lady is Debbie Gibson.
Rush Limbaugh inspired a lesbian farmer tribute. Yeah, let's go with tribute.
Good art, Adventures of Superman, James Bridges' awards up for grabs in late gay actor Jack Larson auction.
Friday the 26th was the long-awaited 25th-anniversary screening of a pristine, restored print of Truth or Dare at Metrograph in NYC, featuring commentary by director Alek Keshishian (who also co-wrote W.E. with Madonna 20 years after they first met) and moderated by noted Madonna-basher Chelsea Handler.
I hardly knew what to expect, considering the week's other Truth or Dare screening—at MoMA on Wednesday—had attracted Madonna herself.
[If you live in NYC and haven't been to Metrograph, do go. It's a lovely, chic theater that offers eclectic movies, including classics, midnight movies, cult hits, first-run arthouse fare and, well, Space Jam. (Look who's snarking—I'm paying $15 to watch Body of Evidence there next week!)]
Before Truth or Dare started, my friend Raj noticed in the lobby two of the female stars of Quantico (Yasmine Al Massri and Johanna Braddy) with their dates, so I was able to get some quick pics of them. Braddy was turning 4 years old when Truth or Dare was released, BTW.
The guy who came out to intro the movie had the hipster vibe down pat, shrugging his way through a few lines about how the movie was part of a series of Madonna's masterpieces, then telling us the place has a restaurant upstairs if we ... whatever. It was actually very funny, and not the typical anal-retentive speech given at fledgling moviehouses about upcoming events.
Watching the movie for the second time in 48 hours was odd because ... it totally didn't bore me. I found new things to focus on, and even spotted the late Jack Larson in/near the infamous Kevin Costner scene.
As the movie wore on, though, I was nervous because I'd been hoping to get some shots of Chelsea and Alek before or after. Luckily, one of my companions, Anthony (who designed my book) was monitoring Facebook and noted that fellow fanboy Michael Da Rocha had posted a pic with Chelsea from outside. That was my cue to hit the lobby, where I found Chelsea and Alek holding court at the bar with a gaggle of familiar fan faces.
Nate Parker, whose The Birth of a Nation is one of the year's most widely anticipated and pre-acclaimed films, is doing an amazing job of promoting himself as a self-righteous, sexually stunted A-hole—but let's not leave homophobe off his résumé.
Parker was accused of sexual assault 17 years ago, along with his current collaborator Jean Celestin, while a college wrestler. Both were tried and Celestin—but not Parker—was convicted. The conviction was tossed.
The men were also accused of harassing and stalking the young woman, though their supporters denied this claim. She committed suicide in 2012—why, no one seems to know (which is not uncommon with suicide; there is no indication it was due to the events of 1999).
Last week, doing damage control, Parker instead did more damage, telling Variety the rape was all about him:
Seventeen years ago, I experienced a very painful moment in my life. It resulted in it being litigated. I was cleared of it. That’s that. Seventeen years later, I’m a filmmaker. I have a family. I have five beautiful daughters. I have a lovely wife. I get it. The reality is, I can’t relive 17 years ago. All I can do is be the best man I can be now.
Variety also noted they'd heard Parker was entertaining the thought that this was part of a Hollywood conspiracy against him. Keeping a black man down? Hardly, when the core of the backlash is a true event. He was not convicted, so he deserves to live free. But being acquitted does not mean someone didn't do something heinous, and there's never been any sense that the woman lied—the prosecution simply couldn't get the jury to buy it as rape because she was inebriated when Parker and Celestin had sex with her.
Parker has never said nothing happened.
Charmingly, Parker also said he hadn't thought about the incident in the 17 years since it had occurred.
Regarding LGBTQ issues, Parker said in 2014 he would not play a gay character in order to “preserve the Black man.” In his opinion, Hollywood offers too many negative roles—he includes effeminate black men in the mix—so he would refuse to take any roles of “questionable sexuality.”
I find his sexuality questionable, though not in the way he's worried about.
Parker is a grown man making juvenile anti-gay generalizations (I was reminded of Denzel Washington coaching Will Smith—OF ALL PEOPLE—not to kiss a man onscreen in his movie debut because of the young men who looked up to him) in 2016, and he wants to drag his race in front of him to excuse it?
Meanwhile, Parker also seems incapable of connecting some pretty big dots. On the one hand, he is telling Ebony:
[The resurfacing of his assault case] is happening for a very specific reason. To be honest, my privilege as a male, I never thought about it. I’m walking around daring someone to say something or do something that I define is racist or holding us back, but never really thinking about male culture and the destructive effect it’s having on our community ... The crazy thing is a lot of people—a lot of men, if I’m just speaking for myself—don’t really start thinking about the effect of hyper-masculinity and false definitions of what it means to be a man until you get married or until you have kids. Because then all of sudden you have something to protect. In all actuality, we got to do better about preparing our men for their interactions with women.
On the other hand, he has yet to disavow his hyper-masculine reaction to the concept of playing a gay character in a movie.
All in all, he sounds like a smug and, yes, privileged man who is cloaking himself in victimhood. It will be interesting to see how Ava DuVernay (who has supported him so far) and Oprah Winfrey (also a booster, but a rape victim, too) will settle in their reaction to the highly controversial Parker and his film. Until then, I'm with Demetria Lucas D'Oyley and not with Cheryl Boone Isaacs. I think Hollywood has a long history of embracing scandal-tainted stars, though, so I would not count Parker out at Oscar time.
(Image via Fox Searchlight)