About a third of the way through Roland Emmerich’s moving, kind of brilliant movie Stonewall, which opened this weekend, a police detective investigating mob control of gay bars and human trafficking of underage teens, one of whom has turned up dead, asks a recalcitrant witness refusing to identify a killer, “What is it with you gays? Are you all stupid.”
Emmerich – who previously directed films like Independence Day, featuring uber-Aryan stars Will Smith and Harry Connick Jr. – is being denounced as a racist for having a midwestern white high school runaway (played by British actor Jeremy Irvine) be the star of his telling of the Stonewall riot that in 1969 ignited the current gay movement and was the catalyst of the first gay pride march in Manhattan in 1970.
Metroweekly Randy Shulman (a graduate of NYU’s art school and a prominent DC film and theater critic) concluded his list of sins of the movie: “And the renowned drag queen Marsha P. Johnson, one of the era’s most fascinating, important people, is given a tiny sliver of screen time.” Mr. Shulman thinks Johnson is a character (played by actor Otoja Abit), who like Will Smith will reel them into the theaters.
Nigerian born Otaja Abit is good in the Johnson role, that of one of the many transsexuals and prostitutes who started the riot at the mafia controlled Stonewall bar when the police raided it one too many times in the summer of 1969. One of the most fascinating things about Johnson’s depiction may be his resemblance to a defrocked Michelle Obama who has been forced to shop at Dress Barn.
|Marsha P. Johnson|
The movie includes lots of information gay reviewers don’t even realize is there, like the interconnections between government regulation, bribery, the mob, and oppression of gays and limitations on their opportunities. That doesn’t fit the simpleton parochial Democrat politics gays have been taught to parrot. The gay liberation movement actually started because of opposition to business regulation (elaborated in a brilliant piece by Nick Sibilla, a writer at the free market public interest legal firm the Institute of Justice), in Stonewall regulations that made it illegal to serve alcohol to gays and other unseemly sorts, or to get a liquor license if you were gay. In San Francisco, gay martyr Harvey Milk started out as a Goldwater Republican trying to end harassment of and denial of permits and licenses to gay businesses (Milk became a Democrat only when he decided that in San Francisco he couldn’t get elected and work on gay issues without putting together a coalition of people on the dole, unions, and tenants rights groups). (Indeed, the recent gay marriage victory in the courts was occasioned by the so called Death Tax that Democrats favor. A lesbian was being taxed out of the house she had lived in for decades when her partner died and left her her half of the house as an estate, the taxation for which only a legally married spouse has an exemption.)
Most of the characters depicted in Stonewall are effeminate, of color, poor, etc. There is one runaway from a rural white Indiana family and the story is told from his viewpoint. To claim drag queens, lesbians, transexuals, prostitutes and racial minorities were not represented is a lie. The function of the main character, Danny (played by Irvine), is to draw in a wider audience. The plight of a Puerto Rican transsexual hooker who has been on the street since before puberty because his single mom died of a drug overdose doesn’t engage or disturb most people as much as does a kid who is secretly dating the High School quarterback, with a loving baby sister, and a scholarship to college, who is tossed out by his family when they find out he is gay. We’ve had movies exclusively about transsexuals of color before, like Paris is Burning, way back in 1990. It made less than $4 million and had to get a government grant to even be made. And very few people outside of the gay community have ever seen it (even though it is a fine film).
It’s interesting that the other criticism of the movie by the PC crowd is that Emmerich depicts transsexual prostitutes and the mobsters who own the gay bars (and kidnap underage gay runaways disowned by their parents and force them into prostitution) as unseemly. Apparently we are supposed to think that just because they fought back against police abuse they are idols to emulate. Funnily enough, I don’t remember any of these gay critics getting outraged at another major gay director, X-Men director Bryan Singer, and reports that he regularly has pool parties at which underage blond twink teens are consumed like Absolut, and perhaps auditioned on the casting couch. Apparently it is OK to sexually exploit a blond white boy from England or Indiana, but wrong to cast him as a star in a movie.