I can’t find a transcript of the full speech, but Amy Pascal, the co-chair of Sony Pictures Entertainment and chair of Columbia Pictures, has addressed her Hollywood colleagues, asking for the industry to ditch the homophobia and stereotyping.
She was speaking at a charity gala held by the LA Gay & Lesbian Center, and Deadline have offered up a good-sized excerpt. Here’s a cutting from that cutting:
Now movies need to catch up. There are magnificent movies being made about gay subjects with gay characters, like Brokeback Mountain and Milk. Anyone would have been proud to have made those movies. I know I would be. But when you think about some of these films, even our favorite ones, there is a theme that runs through them.
Brokeback Mountain, Milk, Boys Don’t Cry, Philadelphia, The Hours, Gods and Monsters, The Talented Mr. Ripley, A Single Man, My Own Private Idaho, Cloud Atlas – in all these movies, the main character is murdered or martyred or commits suicide or just dies unhappily. And there are far more pernicious and dangerous images that confront gay kids and their parents: the lesbian murderer, the psychotic transvestite, the queen who is humiliated and sometimes tossed off a ship or a ledge. It’s a big joke. It still happens.
How many times have you heard a character imply to another that the worst thing about going to prison isn’t being locked up for the rest of your life, it’s the homosexuality? And old stereotypes still exist. The most benign stereotypes would have a gay kid believe that they will end up being the asexual, witty best friend of the pretty girl, or a drag queen, or a swishy hairdresser. The list goes on.
It should go without saying that the inclusion of a slur in a script doesn’t mean endorsement of that term – see Django Unchained for a very vivid, recent example – but it is true that cheap-shot homophobic language has crept through as “humour” in some Hollywood screenplays.
Just a couple of years back, Ron Howard’s film The Dilemma gave the line “electric cars are gay” to Vince Vaughn and it even made its way through to the trailer. There was much debate and the trailer was soon re-cut.
A lot of the defence I was hearing and reading at that time hinged on the notion that calling something “gay” as a pejorative has no real connection to sexuality, at least for a younger generation, that for many “gay” is simply interchangeable with “rubbish” or “pathetic” or some other such dismissal.
And that was the defence. I might suggest this “generation” commutes the word gay out of that insult, just as an experiment, and replace it with any other bigoted term – perhaps something to do with race or nationality instead of sexuality. See how far that will fly.
Now, I’m sure some folk will now keep an eye on the films made under the aegis of Ms. Pascal, trying to sniff out anything that cuts against her sentiments. That’s going to be sport for some.
And there’s nothing wrong with that level of scrutiny, though I would hope it’s focused across the industry and not just on Pascal. This energy can be best spent sniffing out homophobia and shining a light on it, not trying to catch out this one woman for hypocrisy.