Documentary as Propaganda
The senior film critic for the San Francisco Chronicle, Mick LaSalle, is a throwback to the almost by-gone era of dailies employing serious reviewers to cover film, and he brings welcomed intelligence to his reviews.
On Friday, he panned a new documentary about the loss of gay marriage in California almost two years ago. Based on his review, the film sounds like it could have been produced by the gay leaders of Equality California/National Center for Lesbian Rights/Human Rights Campaign/Freedom to Marry/ No on 8, in that the problems of our side are omitted from the new movie.
"The Sorrow and the Pity," it ain't. LaSalle writes:
"8: The Mormon Proposition" contains some interesting information about the Mormon church's involvement in the campaign to pass Proposition 8 [...] But it's marred by loaded language and a propagandistic tone that undercuts rather than promotes its purposes.
Using words like "plot" and "conspiracy," the documentary uncovers internal memos that reveal how the Mormon church coordinated its efforts to influence the election in California. But instead of reading them as sinister, the documentary could study them to see how a committed, intelligent minority gets organized in a democracy.
A fatal flaw, or at least a crucial omission, of "The Mormon Proposition" is that no attention is given to the weakness of the anti-Prop. 8 campaign.
The pro-8 forces had infinite resources and volunteers. The anti-8 forces had George Takei (Mr. Sulu from the original "Star Trek") making a speech and a lot of distressed people holding handmade signs. [...]
Speaking of a committed, smart minority getting its act together to fight for equality in a democracy, anyone know when the same damn gay leaders who lost Prop 8, and are in charge of the 2012 repeal ballot prop in CA, will get around to a few town hall meetings and offering proof they are going to do the next battle differently and better than the last time?
Dustin Lance Black, Oscar winner for his "Milk" screenplay, narrates the documentary and is a former Mormon, and openly gay. Earlier this year he gave an interview to Randy Shulman of DC's Metro Weekly and had this to say regarding accountability efforts targeting Prop 8 leaders and Gay Inc orgs:
I want to support them. I want these other organizations to do well. I want HRC to succeed. I want Joe Solmonese to be the best leader we've got. I want Equality California to change and grow and do well. So I don't think it's wise to be attacking each other in any situation. We might get into some fights behind closed doors, but that's healthy. That's the way it should be.
Spoken like a true A-gay. Keep the rot that infects our movement behind closed doors, where the sunshine can't serve as a much-needed disinfectant. No, Dustin, we don't need a Kumbaya approach to the seriously inept gay leadership that is failing to produce passage of ENDA, repeal of DOMA and DADT, and wins at the ballot box.
Makes absolute sense to me that Black's attitude of not publicly criticizing Gay Inc executives carries over into the new movie. Reading his comment, I don't get the sense he'd lend his talents to a flick honestly assessing what went wrong from our side with Prop 8.
Our movement would be better served with documentaries that take cold, hard looks at our leadership lost gay marriage here, and by demanding transparency over our orgs and their decision-making processes.
And let us give thanks the politically-correct crew over at GLAAD hasn't cowed critics like LaSalle into serving as cheerleaders for weak documentaries.