I have been working in the GLBT movement for thirteen years and I have certainly seen our community respond to big Hollywood and advertising depictions of GLBT people in all sorts of ways. Sometimes I count myself in the "who cares I find it funny" crowd, but usually I find myself hunting for some unintended or even deliberate homophobia in the subject matter.
I have softened over time and looked at it from a much broader perspective. Comedy in recent years has moved dramatically to a place where Dave Chapelle, Sarah Silverman, Lisa Lampanelli, Margaret Cho, Carlos Mencia, and others are able to make fun of everyone and get away with it because audiences are maturing and realizing there are some truths to stereotypes and because the comedians themselves are self-deprecating. It seems to work because the comedians themselves can make fun of themselves.
I bring this up because the new movie, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, by Universal Pictures, is officially released nationwide, tomorrow July 20th, and because I find myself nervous about the film but also intrigued. I really want to give this film a chance.
I have read many opinions about this film, including many people who have not seen it. I plan on seeing the film. I don't anticipate a fine piece of cinema, but I do like to laugh. And I really like to laugh at stuff I can relate to. I really like Adam Sandler and am impressed that he decided to work with GLAAD on this film.
If we are going to live in a world that demands full equality and full inclusion we have to move at a pace the public will accept. When our efforts are too preachy, we will be tuned out. If we are overly offensive, the same will occur. But the power of film and the power of the Sandler brand will bring millions of people out to see this film. And because Sandler and Kevin James have made a career out of making fun of others, while also making fun of themselves, I am willing to go for this ride with them.
Will there be moments when I get mad or even uncomfortable? Maybe. Will there be times that I will laugh out loud? Hopefully. But as my attitude toward this type of movie matures, so are the attitudes of straight Americans. Each time I bite my tongue and just trust that the humor is genuinely funny, some average Joe is biting his tongue thinking, "This gay thing is really no big deal." It's messy and imperfect, but dammit it works.
If we are allowed to make fun of ourselves and if our favorite comedians like Kathy Griffin and Sarah Silverman can do it, I think Adam Sandler can.
My biggest problem is the level of animosity that has surfaced toward this film, before most people have even seen it. Part of the maturity of our movement is knowing when to pick our battles. Is Sandler the enemy? No. Is the American Family Association the enemy? Yes.
For a great article on this film, go here.