Friday, 28 January 2011

That's what friends are for

It's nice to know that, in a world so full of change, there are some things we can always rely on. Toast will always fall butter side down, Katie Price will accuse the 'haters' of creating her negative media persona, and Rupert Everett will always blame Hollywood homophobia for his stalled career.

It doesn't seem to matter, in his mind at least, that his once-handsome face is now so frozen it's only missing a lolly stick. Or that in a world of 'chameleonic' performers, he seems to have a pigmentation disorder.

In a recent interview with the BBC, he was quick to point the finger at the conservative powers-that-be, for his short-lived tenure in tinseltown. But his is something of a revisionist approach to history, since he seems less willing to admit his own failings, particularly in terms of role selection. Anyone willing to work on Inspector Gadget and Dunston Checks In is hardly panning for gold when reading new scripts.

Everett's time in the spotlight came after his breakout role in My Best Friend's Wedding, where he played the 'other' best friend of Julia Roberts. Full of catty put-downs, curt monologues and impromptu karaoke moments, Rupert's performance effectively established the template for a generation of safely sexless gays, that could be dropped into any romantic comedy to show the heroine's impecable taste and grounded sense of perspective.

OK, so at least we've moved on from the sissies of the fifties and sixties, or the psycho-queens of the seventies and eighties. But a stereotype is still a stereotype. And it simply creates a new set of preconceptions that modern gay men have to battle every day.

The gay man is now an indispensable accessory, always on hand to give fashion or dating advice, and dance suggestively whenever their gal-pal's heart gets bruised. We've been relegated to the human equivalent of the Sony AIBO, but with immaculate hair and great shoes.

Thanks to the rom-com GBF, countless gay men have been forced into a kind of indentured servitude - spending their days holding coats outside changing rooms, ordering Flirtinis when they'd rather have a beer, and inventing scandalous stories about their exploits to amuse gaggles of vicarious thrill-seekers.

Even tougher than all that forced lasciviousness, is the need to be ready with a biting quip or sassy put-down, like the Joan Rivers Greek chorus. The fact is, not all "the best ones are gay". There are bad dancers, tedious bores, and terrible dressers. That's the nature of diversity, uncomfortable though it may be to admit.

This week, stand-up comedian, actor and author Patton Oswalt talked to Conan O'Brien about a recent audition for a Kate Hudson romantic comedy. Incensed by the script's somewhat cliche characterisation, Oswalt offered to portray the "first dumb gay best friend". He didn't get the gig.

Screenwriters may think that they're doing their bit to normalise homosexuality by including these two-dimensional characters in every film. But you're not increasing visibility if all you're creating is a mirage.

1 comment:

  1. i've known some people who are so convinced by this "every girl needs a GBF" stuff that the moment they realise a bloke is gay, they start squealing "ooh, you can be my gay best friend! let's go shopping!" totally without irony, even if they've only just met the guy.