Sunday, November 23, 2008
The Cinemark Plot Thickens ... or ... How Alan Stock Shamelessly Flaunts His Height of Hypocrisy ...
A CATCH 22 FOR THE GAY RIGHTS MOVEMENT???
This ... from Friday's New York Times (click here for entire article) ...
LOS ANGELES — When the movie “Milk” comes next month to Claremont, a college town about 30 miles from here, Patrick Milliner intends to greet it with a candlelight vigil protesting the newly passed state prohibition of gay marriage.
Before this month’s election, Mr. Milliner organized unsuccessful opposition to California’s same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8. Now he expects the movie, about Harvey Milk, the murdered gay-rights crusader and San Francisco supervisor, to ignite his “Shame on 8” campaign.
“It fits perfectly with the plan,” Mr. Milliner said.
That may be good for the movement. Whether it is also good for the movie is less clear.
The convergence of “Milk,” which portrays gay-rights battles of 30 years ago, and a looming new culture war over homosexual marriage and other issues, has raised unusual expectations around Focus Features’ plan to release the film. It will be shown in a widening group of theaters, beginning with some in New York, Los Angeles and about a dozen other cities on Wednesday.
Proposition 8-related vigils have already occurred outside prerelease screenings in San Francisco and Los Angeles. Amy Balliett, a founder of jointheimpact.com, a clearing house for gay rights information, said on Friday that her site would urge its network of supporters to see the film on Dec. 5 at one of a list of “gay-friendly” theaters.
“Our goal is to make this movie one of the top three-grossing movies of the weekend,” Ms. Balliett said in an e-mail message.
Yet the unforeseen alignment between “Milk” and the gay-marriage ban — there was no Proposition 8 on any ballot when the director Gus Van Sant began shooting the film in January — also creates a conundrum for those Focus executives. How do they honor their movie hero’s feisty brand of confrontational politics without being consumed by them?
To join the fight could turn off some of the viewers Focus needs to make “Milk” a broad-based hit. But to sidestep it might disappoint a core audience that has begun to see the film as a rallying point.
Mr. Milk, played in the movie by Sean Penn, was not one to pull punches. “If this thing passes, fight the hell back!” Mr. Penn says at a pivotal point in the film, as his allies ponder the likely passage of Proposition 6, a 1978 ballot initiative aimed at curbing gay rights in California. (It failed.)
But Focus has been stepping carefully of late.
In a particularly ticklish exercise, the studio continues to plan showings of “Milk” in theaters owned by the Cinemark chain, whose chief executive, Alan Stock, donated to the campaign for Proposition 8.
Taking a cue from Milk — who made his political breakthrough by supporting a union boycott of Coors beer — opponents of the marriage ban have begun their own boycott through a Web site, NoMilkforCinemark.com.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, Cinemark, one of the country’s largest theater chains, said its decision to proceed with plans to show the movie also reflected a principle: “It would be inappropriate to influence our employees’ position on personal issues outside the work environment, especially on political, social or religious activities.”
On Thursday James Schamus, the chief executive of Focus, struck a diplomatic note. “I know there’s a lot of anger out there,” said Mr. Schamus, who noted that Cinemark three years ago was among the first chains to embrace the studio’s gay-themed “Brokeback Mountain.”
“I hope that gets settled,” he said of the boycott call.