With the response to The Footy Show’s recent antics, few could doubt our form when it comes to singling out offensive depictions of ourselves for criticism. But to avoid looking humourless it’s equally important we heap praise on the good.
These days depictions are overwhelmingly positive, though stereotypes remain. If you want to talk lowest common denominator, you can’t go past an Eddie Murphy flick. For a look at the state of the gay character in low culture, check out Eddie’s Meet Dave, about a man-shaped spaceship full of aliens who take on human characteristics when they stay too long on Earth.
Among the transformations is the ship’s gruff security officer who goes on a journey to discover his inner mincing hairdresser. The character is a one-dimensional stereotype that’s about 50 years old. He’s also among the film’s chief heroes and the most positively depicted character in a movie largely aimed at children.
Expect similar stereotypes in Sacha Baron Cohen’s upcoming mockumentary Bruno -” though it’s sure to be an equal opportunity offender. Neither deserves a standing ovation.
What’s truly rare is a mainstream film or TV show that puts a gay character on the screen that breaks the mould and that audiences feel for no matter their sexuality.
The US Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation holds its GLAAD Media Awards to thank American media when they do a good job by fairly and accurately depicting GLBT people’s lives on screen. And while I doubt there are enough depictions of gay people in Australia’s shrunken industry to fill a yearly awards night, we could find something worth a prize each year for an Australian equivalent.
If we were handing out one this year, my nomination would be Newcastle -” one of the best Australian films to hit our screens in a very long time.
The film follows the relation-ship between two brothers, one gay, one straight, and the upheaval that’s caused when their abusive washed-up surf champion older brother lands back on their couch after being dumped by his wife.
And while the gay brother’s story is certainly the film’s secondary plotline, it’s the realism that it’s played with -” he’s not a stereotype. He’s happy where he’s grown up and won’t be on the next bus to the ghetto. And he has strong relationships with heterosexual friends and family, even if he’s not entirely comfortable with being out yet.
It’s truly a quality production, with a talented cast, and edge-of-your-seat surfing scenes not seen since Point Break. And if that doesn’t get you to check it out, it also contains more male nudity per inch of celluloid in an Australian film since Ten Canoes.