Photo from Fox.comWhen Ramin Setoodeh wrote his Newsweek article complaining about gay actors playing straight, he probably thought his snarky take would garner a few comments. What he didn't bargain for was Kristin Chenoweth swooping in to defend her Broadway costar (Sean Hayes), as well as Glee's Jonathan Groff and Sex and the City's Cynthia Nixon.
To which I say: Jonathan Groff is gay? And Setoodeh thinks he was too queeny to be convincing in his make-out scenes with Lea Michele? Then color me naïve, because my gaydar was drowned out by the roaring waterfall of drool coming out of my mouth.
The Newsweek article came out late last month; Chenoweth posted two responses in the Comments section of the article online on May 7 (pages 11 and 12 of the comments). She said, in part:
"This article offends me because I am a human being, a woman, and a Christian. For example, there was a time when Jewish actors had to change their names because anti-Semites thought no Jew could convincingly play Gentile … Audiences aren't giving a darn about who a person is sleeping with or his personal life. Give me a break! We're actors first, whether we're playing prostitutes, baseball players, or the Lion King."
The full text of her comments can be seen in The Advocate.
What's perhaps as offensive as Setoodeh's claim -- that audiences are too dim to believe a gay actor playing straight, even though they seemed to have no problem believing Heath Ledger as a gay man -- is his sloppy reporting. Here are just a few weirdnesses I picked out of his article:
- He complains that Groff beds Michelle "while singing (and writhing to) Madonna's 'Like a Virgin.'" Meanwhile, Matthew Morrison and Cory Monteith do the same thing during the same song ... why weren't either of them infected with the Madonna-Means-You're-Gay disease?
- He grudgingly admits that Portia de Rossi and Neil Patrick Harris play straight in their sitcom roles, but says that doesn't count because their characters are "broad caricatures, not realistic characters." I just don't get this. What's the difference? De Rossi played straight in Arrested Development, Nip/Tuck, and Ally McBeal as well. But because she's funny, she's not really acting? Not to mention NPH's creepy turn on Law and Order: Criminal Intent ... I don't know where the line is drawn.
- He blithely dismisses straight actors who play gay, like Ledger and Gyllenhaal, not to mention Eric McCormack on Will & Grace, Michael C. Hall on Six Feet Under, and Sean Penn in Milk, saying that's not difficult. But until very recently, it was pretty controversial for a straight actor to play gay. Setoodeh has to have his head firmly up his own heinie not to know that.
But the question I keep coming back to is: Why this? Why is it so hard to believe a gay actor is straight, when we buy Portia de Rossi as a non-Australian, Kevin McHale as a guy in a wheelchair, and Dr. Phil as a real therapist. We know Jim and Pam of The Office aren't really a couple. We know Superman can't really fly. And we know that when we don't buy someone in a role, it's usually because of their acting, not because we know something about their personal life. We're not idiots … why is this guy picking on gay actors?
Maybe just to get attention. Welp, he got it.
What do you think? Setoodeh says, both in his original article and in his lame non-apology, that if George Clooney came out as gay tomorrow, we'd no longer buy him as a leading man. Do you agree? Tell us in the comments!