Friday, June 5, 2020

HOMO-SAY-WHAT: Craig Bettendorf's and Kai Morgan's brief look at anti-gay descrimination

The title of this new documentary is said to come from an old joke told in school, in which one guy mumbles "homo say what?" to the patsy, and he (probably) answers back the expected, "What?" -- thus confirming to the rest of the crowd that, yes, he's a .... homosexual! Wow. That's some real funny fun.

TrustMovies is not certain why the makers of this doc -- writer/director Craig Bettendorf (shown below, right) and producer/actor/ interviewee Kai Morgan (below, left) chose this to be the oddball title of their film, other than it is yet another example of the anti-gay bias built up over decades in social, religious and political circles here in the USA (and in most countries throughout the world).

The press release for the film explains to us that "Homophobia didn't just happen. Orchestrated campaigns by cultural institutions and public figures have systematically instilled anti-LGBTQ prejudice into American culture by shaping public opinion." Well, yes. That, along with the near-worldwide culture of "macho" that pushes the innate fear of so many "straight" and "semi-straight" men as being perceived as gay into some kind of overdrive. There are reasons for this that precede and go beyond these "orchestrated campaigns."

Still, it is always interesting and anger-making to see that old Southern California stand-by for shit-faced homophobia -- newscaster and would-be guide to culture and morality, George Putnam (below) -- doing his typical stand-up tragedy that now seems so outdated as to be (almost) funny. So the documentary gives us Putnam on the right-wing and Keith Olbermann (two photos below) as a balance on the left.

Mr. Olbermann offers the doc's high point, as he righteously and movingly calls out those California voters who approved the now infamous Proposition 8, asking them to think about, please, the idea of love as a corrective to their actions. Otherwise, the doc covers the usual old-fashioned excuses for anti-gay rhetoric, from homosexuals as predators, murderers, sadists and general corruptors to those who would gladly destroy the sacred American family and its "values."

As a kind of stand-in for us in the audience, the doc offers up three gay men, one young fellow who seem awfully naive and not very well spoken, another young guy who's is less naive and better spoken, and one older man who has clearly been around block politically and in most other ways. These three comment from time to time on what we/they have seen and heard.

From those 1950s "Social Guidance" films to today's anti-gay video games, the movie tries to cover a lot but still manages to be somewhat repetitive, though it is always good to be reminded of what a treasure is historian/playwright Martin Duberman (above) and to hear that now-departed right-wing hypocrite Jerry Fallwell (below) ramble on nastily and stupidly. Some things never change.

One very good thing that the doc points out is how so-called homophobia is less an actual fear than it is a kind of pleasure and thrill that so many straight men find in tormenting men they believe to be gay. Bullying might be the more appropriate term. From Cinema Libre Studio and running just 76 minutes and appearing no doubt for Gay Pride month, Homo-Say-What hit the street on DVD and streaming (via Amazon and Vimeo) this past Tuesday, June 2 -- for purchase and/or rental.

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