Pandering to Straights | Letters | Chicago Reader

Pandering to Straights 

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To the editors:

I would like to respond to Larry Kramer's review of the movie Philadelphia with a loud and resounding "Bravo!"

However, as well done as his response was, he failed to mention what, to me, is the biggest problem of the movie. In the entire thing, there is not a single human being. This movie is populated entirely by violently heterosexual men, and homosexuals who are exactly what the heterosexuals want them to be--shallow, nondescript, and indistinct beings who are kept in the shadows where they can be easily ignored. There is no depth, no roundness, to anyone (although Denzel Washington's character can be described as a maze!). How Tom Hanks, or Mr. Washington, could stand to play such a meaningless role, is beyond me.

I firmly believe that there are no true homo- or heterosexual men or women; there are only human beings. If a man or woman happens to prefer a member of their own sex for physical intimacy, that is about as meaningful to me as preferring blonds to brunettes. Nyswaner should, of all people, know that a gay human being is just as human as the next man. The fact that he created characters that are so flat, inhumanely simple, and blatantly contradictory to the humanity of the gay culture, is absolutely shameful.

In this modern world, Hollywood pictures are made or broken not by their quality or content, but by the big name stars they can boast. This film is no exception. Its success rests not on its artistic merit (or lack thereof) but rather on the novelty of seeing comedy star Tom Hanks play a "dramatic" homosexual role. There is no thought spared for Truth, only Spectacle.

John Keogh


PS: For your information, I am a fully heterosexual male from "middle America." If Nyswaner and Jonathan Demme attempted to appeal to "middle America" with this movie, they sadly lack an understanding of what their audience wants. They pander to us, and such a condescending attitude will not be tolerated.

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