Monday, February 25, 2013

Post- Oscars: A Commentary on the Hollywood Closet

After having watched the Oscars yesterday, I thought it would be interesting to just make a comment on the nature of what I will refer to as the "Hollywood Closet". There are many actors/actresses out there that people suspect are homosexual, but that apparently refuse to come out. Some examples that come to mind include Hugh Jackman, Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Queen Latifah. Last night one of my friends even mentioned that she heard from a friend of a friend of a friend who owns a house near Clooney's in Italy that it is "common knowledge" that Clooney has many gay lovers, and that it is something that is known but not spoken about. First of all, these actors/actresses sexuality in none of our business. Whenever the Hollywood Closet conversation comes up, I always wonder to myself, "who cares?" If they're gay, they're gay, and that shouldn't change our viewing experience.

However, I've been starting to realize that my, "who cares?" attitude is actually not necessarily the best way to approach the Hollywood Closet conundrum. First of all, it does matter. These actors are some of the most prominent and influential in Hollywood. If they came out, perhaps this would help to strengthen the presence of the homosexual community in TV and film and make it less stigmatized. For example, people were pretty outraged by how long it took Anderson Cooper to come out. He was by no means in the closet; it was relatively well known by the public that he had a long time male partner. However, he did not speak of it publicly. His reluctance to be open about his sexuality led people to believe that he was ashamed. Whether or not he was afraid or ashamed to come out to his fan base, Anderson Cooper was still unintentionally leading the public to believe that he did not want to be associated with the LGBT community.

A similar phenomenon is (maybe) going on in Hollywood. These actors/actresses are worried that the careers they have worked so hard to establish will be in jeopardy if they come out as gay. They are worried that their fans will turn against them. For the sex symbols in this questionable list, they are worried that are perhaps worried that they will become less attractive and lust worthy. If George Clooney came out as gay, that would not make him any less of a sex symbol in my eyes, but I suppose I cannot say the same for others. If anything, Clooney and others would be even more attractive to another demographic.

I wonder how the entertainment industry got this way. I wonder what Hollywood and the public can do to change this. Just some things I was mulling over while watching the Oscars and reading for this class!

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