When filmmaker Kirby Dick was in Washington, D.C., to promote the release of his MPAA documentary This Film Is Not Yet Rated, he realized there must be a great story within the Beltway that he could share with his audience. When he started asking around, the subject of closeted politicians quickly arose, specifically those who consistently voted against equal rights for gays. It was the perfect marriage of hypocrisy and sexuality, two themes that feature prominently in Dick's work.
Speaking to The Advocate, Dick described the phenomenon: "It's a very interesting psychological dynamic. These are people who chose to go into the closet, maybe in their 20s, and have lived their life there for decades. It's almost Shakespearean in a way—and very rich subject matter for a documentary. You have some significant hypocrisy in the government and you have a situation where the press is reluctant to write about this."
Dick isn't. Not for nothing is his confrontational new documentary—a literal exposé of closet-case politicians—titled Outrage. The reference to Shakespeare is echoed in the movie's opening scene, when former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey quotes the Bard in reference to the importance of coming out: "To thine own self be true."
This scene doesn't occur until after the opening credits, which set an ominous, ooh-scary tone that isn't necessary (or even followed through, once the documentary gets going). With the frightening music and fonts that usually accompany a political smear ad, the background audio is the recording of two gentlemen, not of Verona: former Idaho Sen. Larry Craig and the officer interviewing him after Craig's infamous arrest. Printed over all this is a claim that keeping politicians closeted is a "brilliantly orchestrated conspiracy...so powerful the media will not cover it." It grabs the viewer's attention, but it's a bit far-fetched. Societal homophobia that's clearly visible does not a conspiracy make.
After this unnecessary sound-and-fury intro, Outrage coherently combines audio recordings, news clips and interviews with journalists, activists, leaders of gay-rights organizations and out politicians (Barney Frank, Jim Kolbe), resulting in a well-assembled revelation of the self-hating, doth-protest-too-much legislature that can result from closeted political leaders. Dick, with help from Michael Rogers of blogactive.com (the leading online force behind outing hypocritical closet cases on Capitol Hill), did the necessary homework, and he claims with 100 percent certainty that the subjects of his focus fit the bill. Were they presented in the Globe Theatre, the playbills would read: Charlie Crist, Larry Craig, Ed Schrock, Jim McCrery, David Dreier, Ed Koch and Shepard Smith.
Some critics have claimed that Dick unfairly targets Republicans (Koch being the one exception). But while hypocrisy is no stranger to any successful politician—and therefore a pox upon both parties—the Republicans do seem to have the sexual-hypocrisy market cornered. They are also the hands-down winner for anti-gay legislation. Anchor Shepard Smith may seem out of place among the politicians, but does anyone really believe FOX News isn't a Republican mouthpiece?
The biggest controversy that Outrage faces among both those for and against equal rights for gays is the notion of outing. Several interview subjects state that Capitol Hill is run amok with closet cases, but the film only outs those who act hypocritically toward sexuality (as they like it). Still, for some, any instance of outing is indefensible.
Having gone through my own coming-out process, I know how difficult it can be. But it's not as difficult as the emotional tempest of living a lie. And those who claim that calling someone gay is a bad thing are complicit in perpetuating the notion that being gay itself is a bad thing. When even our own Metro Council is on the verge of granting gays protection from workplace discrimination (see the cover story), isn't it time we all moved on? How much better off we'd be if Outrage's subjects realized that their fear about being gay is much ado about nothing.
In 1923 the executive council of the American Federation of Labor issued an address to…
Higher Ground is a film drama director Vera Farmiga's film themed religious story of two…
Yeah, but what does Elena Chera think?
The New York Times is a fascinating story about disappointments, bankruptcy and trust of some…
Black Nativity film is a film adaptation of the Broadway style dance and music a…