Portrayal of gays in Hollywood films is ‘sad’, says screenwriter

Hollywood screenwriter Abdi Nazemian has criticized Hollywood films like Dallas Buyers Club and Philadelphia for their depictions of gay men who are saved by straight, homophobic characters  

Portrayal of gays in Hollywood films is ‘sad’, says screenwriter
01 June 2014

A US screenwriter has criticzed Hollywood depcitions of gay men, branding them ‘a very sad depiction of gay culture.’

Hollywood screenwriter and author Abdi Nazemian, who has worked on films The Quiet and Revolution, spoke about the negative depictions of gay men in the majority of Hollywood films with HuffPost Live.

Nazemian, who is gay, spoke about feature films with gay storylines but had straight lead protagonists like Dallas Buyers Club and Philadelphia.

‘Personally I think the depiction of gay men in Hollywood is horrible,’ he said.

‘There’s this idea of a straight saviour. In both cases the lead character is not only a straight man but a homophobic straight man that saves the day and saves gay men.’

‘It’s such a common narrative. There are two things that really bother me about it, the first is that when the AIDS crisis first started gay men really didn’t get much help from the straight community, and so they had to mobilize themselves and that is not honoured by those films.

‘Second is that the characters are not just straight they’re homophobic and so there’s an assumption on the part of the filmmakers that viewers need a homophobic character as a point of entry and I don’t think that’s true anymore.

‘And of course there are other narratives — I mean, now HBO made ‘The Normal Heart,’ which is a great counter-narrative to those. So there is great stuff being done, but when you look at it on a whole, especially in feature films, I think it’s a very sad depiction of gay culture.’

Nazemian initially broached this subject in an article he wrote last year for the Hollywood Journal, where he criticized Hollywood films for attributing straight men as the saviours of the gay community.

‘The truth is that the gay community mobilized in an unprecedented way in response to the AIDS epidemic. They did not wait for a homophobic cowboy or a homophobic attorney to save them. They saved themselves,’ he wrote.

Tom Hanks won an Oscar for his performance in Philadelphia, as did Jared Leto for his portrayal of a transgender AIDS victim in Dallas Buyers Club.
 

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