A TV drama that puts gay characters centre-stage is still a novelty
January 4, 2015 11:03 AM   Subscribe

"What was striking about the recent film The Imitation Game wasn't just the incredible story of Alan Turing, the man who helped the Allies win the Second World War by cracking Germany's Enigma code, only to find himself chemically castrated for being gay. It was the epilogue that informed us that the 1885 Criminal Law Amendment Act, criminalising homosexual activity, led to 49,000 gay men being convicted of gross indecency in the UK. If you subtract Turing and Oscar Wilde from that total, that’s 48,998 stories that still haven't been told." Why is television still ignoring gay lives? – Matt Cain for The Independent. posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome (56 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
 


wasn't just the incredible story of Alan Turing

Which is good, because TBH between the large bullet points they mostly ignored it and made up something a bit more generic instead.
posted by Artw at 11:13 AM on January 4, 2015 [8 favorites]


But probably I should take that to FanFare if I am going to gripe.
posted by Artw at 11:15 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Which is good, because TBH between the large bullet points they mostly ignored it and made up something a bit more generic instead.

And insulting to Turing's memory and to that of however many others.
posted by hoyland at 11:25 AM on January 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


In any case, I fundamentally disagree with the idea that the public will only watch TV series featuring characters with lives similar to theirs.

Well, to be fair, this is why no successful TV show has ever featured a detective, a criminal, or the crew of a starship. I mean, hardly anyone can relate to that!
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:26 AM on January 4, 2015 [20 favorites]


Actually, I think the real reason is that some people are afraid that they will eventually see a TV show with the "sassy straight friend" stereotype, and then, oh boy, are we going to hear the weeping and gnashing of teeth!
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:46 AM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


And insulting to Turing's memory and to that of however many others.
How so?
posted by graphnerd at 11:54 AM on January 4, 2015


Oh come on, what is the note of dissent here? this just reads as an embarrassing rant by another rich white guy.
posted by Another Fine Product From The Nonsense Factory at 11:58 AM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


How so?

Basically, the plot features Turing's homosexuality being used to blackmail him into covering for a spy. Nice intrigue and all, except it didn't happen and that the idea that gay people were susceptible to blackmail was used against Turing specifically and gay people in the intelligence establishment more generally.* The plot of the movie was naturally going to take historical liberties, but that's a historical liberty that should have been completely out of bounds.

Here's an article.

*I'm not sure when this stopped being an issue in Britain, though I expect it has. In the US, it continued into the 1990s.
posted by hoyland at 12:03 PM on January 4, 2015 [23 favorites]


(Contributing slightly to the derail, if you'd like an altogether more sympathetic portrait of Turing which places the gay context at center stage, do check out Hugh Whitemore's Breaking the Code, which started as a stage play but became a radio drama and also a teleplay starring Derek Jacobi.)
posted by mykescipark at 12:07 PM on January 4, 2015 [7 favorites]


Basically, the plot features Turing's homosexuality being used to blackmail him into covering for a spy. Nice intrigue and all, except it didn't happen and that the idea that gay people were susceptible to blackmail was used against Turing specifically and gay people in the intelligence establishment more generally.* The plot of the movie was naturally going to take historical liberties, but that's a historical liberty that should have been completely out of bounds.

Huh. Didn't know that. I don't know that I agree that 'susceptible to blackmail' is how the film portrays it at all. It wasn't as if he agreed to be blackmailed for personal financial gain. It's more that it was just another horrible, humiliating aspect that he had no choice but to accept in life, a dilemma where he truly had no choice.

What could he have done? If he ratted the spy out, not only would his story end the same way, but the story of the war itself might have ended very differently.
posted by graphnerd at 12:19 PM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's more that it was just another horrible, humiliating aspect that he had no choice but to accept in life, a dilemma where he truly had no choice.

Except that it was made up (as covered in hoyland's link). Surely the filmmakers could have come up with a way to illustrate how much it sucked for Turing to be gay in mid-20th Century England that didn't involve accusing Turing of treason. And given that they did include the actual historical thing that illustrated it (despite trying to make that an espionage thing as well), it seems particularly odd that they felt it necessary to throw in another thing.
posted by Etrigan at 12:33 PM on January 4, 2015 [25 favorites]


This writer says he grew up in the 1980s as a gay man. The thing is, in another interview Matt Cain says, about one of his own novels, “I mean, I’d be wary of including the mechanics of gay sex. I’d be wary about going into anatomical detail!” If Cain is uncomfortable about including the "mechanics" of "gay sex" in his own writing, which is apparently about gay male relationships, what in heck does he think accounts for the invisibility of gay narratives on the radar of mostly heterosexual white male TV execs?

Basically, he knows the answer to his own question. These things take time, as most important changes do. I (as a gay man who also grew up in the 80s) am astonished at the frequency of gay characters and storylines (with a lot of variation and straightforwardness, though so far the palette seems to be unduly pale) that are showing up in scripted (and unscripted) TV shows, ads, movies, etc. I think there's reason for at least guarded optimism. Call me Pollyanna.
posted by blucevalo at 12:57 PM on January 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Except that it was made up (as covered in hoyland's link). Surely the filmmakers could have come up with a way to illustrate how much it sucked for Turing to be gay in mid-20th Century England that didn't involve accusing Turing of treason. And given that they did include the actual historical thing that illustrated it (despite trying to make that an espionage thing as well), it seems particularly odd that they felt it necessary to throw in another thing.

Yeah, very fair point. For whatever reason, it didn't come across as Actual Treason to me when watching it.(Maybe it just seemed par for the course in a spy movie?) But of course, that is precisely what it was.
posted by graphnerd at 12:59 PM on January 4, 2015


Portraying Turing as a potential trader during his Bletchley days is wrong. Cairncross was never near Turing as Cairncross worked at GC&CS, the ULTRA stuff he was exposed to was Luftwaffe signit.
Odd, the allies informed Moscow of stuff garnered from ULTRA.
Gorsky was Cairncross' handler and no mention of Turing. As to post war possibility of Turing being open to recruit is iffy at best. Blunt and Co. May be the inspiration for the blackmail thing. But these guys did it for ideology not blackmail, if anything, it provided cover.
posted by clavdivs at 1:13 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


When I see a movie about an actual person or event where a queer life situation has been changed to make it more comprehensible/relatable for a straight audience, I feel really upset. It's as though the actual events of queer lives are not interesting enough on their own terms, and as if the truths of them can't be accepted by straight audiences. Sometimes this involves leaving things out, but I see a lot of the "gay drama" stuff injected falsely - like the treason plot in the Turing movie, or like in Pride where the miners are depicted as much, much more homophobic than they actually were, to the point of ultimately rejecting support by Gays and Lesbians Support The Miners. It feels as though the actual dramas and situations of queer lives can't be trusted, or as if anything painful that happens has to be very simple, with an appropriate and uncomplicated villain. This is all the more frustrating when the movie ends up widely lauded as doing great things for queer visibility. It does not feel like visibility to me if the only thing people want to see is lies.
posted by Frowner at 1:53 PM on January 4, 2015 [19 favorites]


Nice intrigue and all, except it didn't happen and that the idea that gay people were susceptible to blackmail was used against Turing specifically and gay people in the intelligence establishment more generally.

I'm in total agreement that suggesting that Turing (or anyone else) cooperated with blackmail where there's no evidence is a really poor liberty to take.

The idea that gay people were susceptible to blackmail seems pretty sound, though -- at least as much anyone else with a secret whose revelation could upend their lives. And noting that homosexuality was such a secret in mid century Britain would hardly be an indictment of Turing.

Take note, security-concerned types: if you want a less blackmail-susceptible workforce, you might want a society where people are more live-and-let-live about people's arrangement of their personal lives.
posted by weston at 2:12 PM on January 4, 2015


Anyway, I felt the article took a weird turn with the detour to "we make things about the Holocaust don't we?" What?

I'd be interested if anyone can answer the question of "Who has written drama with gay characters for British TV who isn't Russell T Davies?" He did fail to mention another Russell T Davies series, Bob & Rose, which is really quite good. (If it weren't so well-done, I think you could complain that it's about a gay man falling in love with a straight woman in a universe where there are no same-sex relationships that aren't all about sex.)

I don't know that I agree that 'susceptible to blackmail' is how the film portrays it at all. It wasn't as if he agreed to be blackmailed for personal financial gain.

To clarify, the justification for stripping Turing of his security clearance (and denying security clearances to however many more people over the years) was that being gay made him susceptible to blackmail not for financial gain, but for state secrets. If the movie not billed as "the story of Alan Turing" or whatever, it's a fine plot point, but, in context, it's appalling.*

(Never mind that we're talking about a man naive enough to go to the police after being robbed by someone he slept with. One would assume he'd consider espionage somewhat more important to report than theft.)

*There was a movie (based on a book) called Enigma that came out probably ten years ago (it's bad, don't bother watching it; the book's okay; spoilers for the rest of this footnote) and took flack for writing Turing out almost entirely because the Turing role was taken up by the (naturally straight) main character. It has a plot about a character engaging in espionage in retribution for the Katyn Forest massacre. It's possible it angered families of Polish mathematicians and we just didn't hear about it, I suppose, but the only bits of the book purporting to be based in history were the massacre and broad details about Bletchley Park.

posted by hoyland at 2:12 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


To be fair, I have yet to see a movie about an actual person or event that doesn't take liberties. The idea that life is not interesting on its own is not limited to gay focused films.
posted by corb at 2:13 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


To be fair, I have yet to see a movie about an actual person or event that doesn't take liberties.

The objection is not that liberties were taken, it's to the specific liberty that was taken.
posted by hoyland at 2:15 PM on January 4, 2015 [9 favorites]


Take note, security-concerned types: if you want a less blackmail-susceptible workforce, you might want a society where people are more live-and-let-live about people's arrangement of their personal lives.

It isn't even society that needs to be more live-and-let-live. It's just the security-concerned types who need to be less circular with their logic: "We'll take away their clearance if they're gay, because people can blackmail them if they're gay." "Blackmail them with what?" "With the threat of telling us that they're gay, which will make us take away their clearance."
posted by Etrigan at 2:23 PM on January 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


The idea that gay people were susceptible to blackmail seems pretty sound, though -- at least as much anyone else with a secret whose revelation could upend their lives. And noting that homosexuality was such a secret in mid century Britain would hardly be an indictment of Turing.

I'm the only student my advisor has had who sought a job outside academia (there's one person who took an academic job, hated it and left academia), so he was kind of flying blind when it came to career advice. The national security establishment is an obvious suggestion, which led to some awkward conversations. We had the one were he was trying to assure me that they'd stopped caring if you were queer (and, in the US anyway, being out historically wasn't out enough). Then we moved on to the one where dual citizenship is a deal breaker and I had to try to explain why I was unwilling to renounce a citizenship in exchange for a security clearance. It's perhaps more upsetting than you would expect to have to explain to someone that your shared country believes you to be untrustworthy when you're pretty darn squeaky clean (seriously, my advisor thought I was about to disclose a felony conviction or something when I said I was pretty sure I couldn't get a security clearance, so could he please come up with a different suggestion).
posted by hoyland at 2:37 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I saw the movie last night. I haven't read any of the reviews until this thread.

I was already familiar with the broad outline of Turing's story, so I kept waiting for the gay bit to come up. I was impressed with their restraint, in holding back with it until pretty far along, focusing on Turing's other qualities rather than immediately launching into some kind of OMG GAY! plotline. And I liked how they showed this icy character getting so emotionally involved with a woman, when they didn't have SEX! as a tool to describe what the character feels.

The part that stretched my suspension of disbelief was that they made it look like he told the whole tale to the cop, even though it was still a big secret. All that hell in the earlier part, and he icily keeps the secrets, but put him in a room with a cop and he blabs? What's so overwhelming about that cop, that he breaks through the ice when no one else could?

Also, I wondered if Joan is based on a real character, and if so what she'd think about being portrayed by Kiera Knightley? And what would Turing think of Cumberbacht? It's funny how brilliance may be the claimed focus, but beauty is just a basic requirement for actors, it's like oxygen.

Anyway, I'm an easy audience at the movies, I always find something to enjoy. This one was no exception. I am glad I went, in spite of the cop subplot.
posted by elizilla at 2:53 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


this just reads as an embarrassing rant by another rich white guy.

And this comment just reads like an embarrassing attempt to "Oppression Olympics" gay men out of asking for more thoughtful representation in the mainstream media. The fact that you called this extremely measured, carefully worded piece a "rant" -- most of which is talking about gay history and the media, and then proceeds simply to ask questions without making accusations or harsh prescriptions -- is also completely bizarre to me. To be honest your response makes me wonder if you actually read it before forming your opinion of it.

There's a very common type of pseudo-leftist attack that seeks to associate gay men with wealth and power in order to discredit them and avoid listening to them. Unfortunately, despite the fact that this association has repeatedly been debunked (gay people, both men and women, actually bear significant economic penalties compared to straight people with similar demographics), as well as that it makes no sense from a perspective in which there are multiple axes of oppression, it seems to have staying power -- I suspect because it plays into latent cultural stereotypes about gay rights as emerging from urbanity, degeneracy, material excess, and moral decay. I'm sure AFPFTNF didn't mean to invoke these stereotypes but I think it's important to be aware that they are out there.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:08 PM on January 4, 2015 [15 favorites]


Also, I wondered if Joan is based on a real character, and if so what she'd think about being portrayed by Kiera Knightley?

She is a real person but unfortunately she passed in 1996. I agree, it would be really interesting to have heard from her about the movie; there are a couple of comments in that Wiki article from family members.
posted by en forme de poire at 3:48 PM on January 4, 2015


I would second (third & fourth) Breaking the Code - It's a brilliant play, and Derek Jacobi is perfect (as always) aside from the fact that he looks eerily like Turing (albeit about a foot shorter).

Breaking the Code made me a Turing Fan - I named my first computer ACE (Automatic Calculating Engine), and my second TUACE (Turing's Universal Automatic Calculating Engine).
posted by jb at 4:07 PM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hoooo, boy, a chance to trot out my thorough Turing knowledge! I'm a huge Bletchley nerd, and I don't get a chance to wave that around much, so this is gonna be fun!

1. Turing commits three hanging-worthy acts of treason over the course of the film. In real life, none of that would have happened. In fact, it's worth mentioning that the opening job interview was entirely invented, as were Turing's motives for working at Bletchley - Turing had an offer to come to Bletchley, and one to take a tenure-track faculty role at Princeton. He picked the former because he wanted to contribute to the war effort and believed that Britain defeating the Nazis was of paramount importance, not 'because Enigma was a fun problem'.

2. Joan Clark was a real person, and the film sold her majorly short. There was none of this 'look-at-the-secretary, sneaking-around-her-parents, good-at-crosswords' bullshit - she was recruited for Bletchley directly out of Cambridge by the head of her department after she graduated top of her class in math, and worked as the deputy head of Hut 8. In fact, the role of women at Bletchley was undersold all around - they're all typists and transcribers in the film, and the only other woman we see speak at Bletchley was a flirty airhead. Plenty of women worked at Bletchley doing the exact same kind of serious crypto and math as men (a great example is Charlotte Webb, who after WW2 went to America and went to work for the Pentagon).

3. Turing wasn't fucking Sherlock. I was worried they would do this as soon as they announced Cumberbatch was playing him, and they did it. He wasn't a brooding, tortured, misunderstood, quasi-sociopathic genius. He was by all accounts mostly well-adjusted and well-liked by his friends and the people he worked with (including, yes, the kids he went to school with), at least up until his arrest and chemical castration.

4. The whole 'nobody understands Turing and his machine!' thing is horseshit. Turing's superiors at Bletchley literally hired him to build that machine. They hired people to put together automated ways to crack the messages. In fact, plenty of other people at Bletchley were doing very similar work on early computers (e.g. Tommy Flowers and his work on Colossus).

5. Turing was about as out as a gay man could possibly be back then. He had come up through King's College which was extremely gay-friendly at the time (largely due to John Meynard Keynes, as in the father of Keynsian economics, which was a fascinating story in and of itself). Basically everyone he worked with knew he was gay, and he had a series of boyfriends of varying seriousness all throughout his life. The only reason we was arrested at all was that he literally outright told the cops that he was gay and they couldn't turn the blind eye that authority figures had been turning for years (another difference from the movie: he called the cops after the break-in and basically reported right off the bat that a man he had been sleeping with had robbed him).

Long story short: Imitation Game was a fine movie, and it's great that people are talking about Turing. But I almost wish that they had invented a fake gay genius codebreaker and made the movie about him, the liberties with the history were so enormous (and in many cases unfair to the original subjects). If you're interested in a much better retelling, the British biopic Codebreaker is fantastic.
posted by Itaxpica at 4:25 PM on January 4, 2015 [72 favorites]


Is Orphan Black not a well known TV show (the BBC logo comes up on netflix so I assumed it was shown in the UK)? I mean, yeah, there aren't enough shows with gay/lesbian characters but it isn't like this Cucumber one is the only one (that seemed to be the point of the article?). Also, am I the only one that is unsure if they like the name cucumber for a show about gay men?
posted by saucysault at 4:34 PM on January 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


largely due to John Meynard Keynes, as in the father of Keynsian economics, which was a fascinating story in and of itself

Are there any sources for Keynes being gay other than Niall Ferguson?
posted by acb at 4:42 PM on January 4, 2015


Are there any sources for Keynes being gay other than Niall Ferguson?

There's this.
posted by BWA at 5:00 PM on January 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


Well, 1 million moms took it upon themselves to seek the cancellation of 'The New Normal' which pissed my wife and I off to no end... because it was finally a show where we liked everyone and the 'bad guys' even seemed to grow a little and come to understand a bit of their intolerance. It frickin' rocked. Not only did it include a gay couple center stage, but a single mom, a somewhat deadbeat dad, that crazy racist and homophobic right wing aunt that has to be handled at the holidays, and actually good people.

it was awesome. and now it is gone.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:00 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's funny how brilliance may be the claimed focus, but beauty is just a basic requirement for actors

The photos of him are often a little severe, but Turing was a good looking guy, as well as being an ultra-running super genius.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 5:01 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Anyway, I felt the article took a weird turn with the detour to "we make things about the Holocaust don't we?" What?

I think the point of bringing this up was that despite the fact that gay people were also persecuted, rounded up and killed in the Holocaust (often suffering particularly harsh treatment in concentration camps), and despite the proliferation of media about the Holocaust or using the Holocaust as a backdrop, you still don't see a lot of media about the Holocaust that features gay characters or treats the gay experience during the Third Reich. It's part of his general argument that gay history is a potentially rich source of stories that is still under-utilized.
posted by en forme de poire at 5:19 PM on January 4, 2015 [3 favorites]


Portraying Turing as a potential trader during his Bletchley days is wrong.

I haven't seen the film, and probably won't after hearing how it's not particularly good from a friend, but was there a focus on how Turing was into the stock market during his time at Bletchley?

I have to admit most of my knowledge of Turing is from the Crytonomicon.

Mainstream television does little to portray anyone's lives if that's what you're looking for. Off the mainstream we have 2 primary gay characters in what is arguably the greatest television show to date, in Shakima Greggs and Omar Devon Little, not to mention, possibly, the character of Bill Rawls.
posted by juiceCake at 6:00 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


that’s 48,998 stories that still haven't been told

Most of which would be deathly dull, I'd wager. Persecution does not automatically equal a compelling story.

I'd be more annoyed about the Turing fact-alterations if it weren't for biopics to routinely falsify things for drama's sake. As it stands, it's good to know the truth, but it's hardly because he's gay that the facts have been changed; you could find similar alterations in most films made about real people. A biopic without significant inaccuracies for the sake of the movie is a rare thing indeed, and something to be treasured.

I'm also looking forward to more gay characters being introduced, more gay stories told. But gay stories can, and are, told in as mediocre a fashion as straight stories. He specifically references only a few shows/movies, and the argument in his article would be completely altered if, instead of Queer as Folk and Looking he were referencing, say, the US Queer as Folk, or the recent Partners.
Basically, I think we're getting to the point where gay audiences aren't restricted to a diet of mostly dross to get what little gay content they can find, and that's a level of acceptance in portrayal on its own.
posted by gadge emeritus at 6:10 PM on January 4, 2015


Trader=traitor. A Keynesian slip for which I take no poetic license.
posted by clavdivs at 6:21 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I totally get the poetic license angle. A truly accurate Bletchley movie would be 90% smart people doing advanced math in a hut, and it would be super boring. I think by and large most of the changes made for a much better movie, but it's sort of only barely a movie about Alan Turing.
posted by Itaxpica at 6:54 PM on January 4, 2015


That's the weird thing - not only did they throw out history, but what they replaced it with - Turing as antisocial savante, Charles Dance as grumpy bad dad boss, Mark Strong as Mark Strong, is basically a dull haze of generic biopic stuff.
posted by Artw at 7:45 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


en forme de poire: "you still don't see a lot of media about the Holocaust that features gay characters or treats the gay experience during the Third Reich"

You pretty well never hear about anyone but the Jewish victims. Millions of Polish Christians, half a million Roma, thousands of Jehovah Witnesses and of course ten to fifteen thousand gay men are mostly missing from the public awareness of the Holocaust. I'd really love to see a movie centering on one or all of these groups.
posted by Mitheral at 7:47 PM on January 4, 2015 [4 favorites]


"Bent" is the only movie I can think of off hand. I think "Escape from Sobior" (sic sp) had a scene explaining the political prisoner/pink triangle. Indeed, the death rates were higher and in some cases, the prisoners were not color blind.
posted by clavdivs at 8:14 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


hoyland: “I'm not sure when this stopped being an issue in Britain, though I expect it has. In the US, it continued into the 1990s.”

These sorts of problems lasted longer than you might think. Section 28 was enacted in 1988, and wasn't fully repealed until 2003.
posted by koeselitz at 8:21 PM on January 4, 2015 [1 favorite]


I'd be more annoyed about the Turing fact-alterations if it weren't for biopics to routinely falsify things for drama's sake. As it stands, it's good to know the truth, but it's hardly because he's gay that the facts have been changed; you could find similar alterations in most films made about real people.

But as people have said, it's not that there were changes, it's what the changes were. Give Turing some fistfights, a motorcycle chase, a commando mission to occupied Norway -- whatever. Make him a literal, actual co-conspirator against England at the height of WWII? That's not cool.
posted by No-sword at 8:39 PM on January 4, 2015 [10 favorites]


Leaving the Poles, and indeed everyone else bar Turing, out of cracking Enigma is some U-571 style bullshit as well.
posted by Artw at 8:48 PM on January 4, 2015


No-sword: “Make him a literal, actual co-conspirator against England at the height of WWII? That's not cool.”

Whoa – yeah, I guess I won't be seeing this one. Yeesh.
posted by koeselitz at 8:57 PM on January 4, 2015 [2 favorites]


Gotta say, I woukd watch the hell out of the movie where Turing is involved in a motorcycle chase gunfight through occupied Paris.
posted by Itaxpica at 9:55 PM on January 4, 2015 [5 favorites]


> "'Bent' is the only movie I can think of off hand."

"Aimee & Jaguar", too. But yeah, there aren't a lot.
posted by kyrademon at 4:58 AM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Well, to be fair, this is why no successful TV show has ever featured a detective, a criminal, or the crew of a starship. I mean, hardly anyone can relate to that!

It's really sad to me that even now people can imagine a future where space travel is normal, but not a future that includes LGBT folks.
posted by bile and syntax at 5:08 AM on January 5, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think the point of bringing this up was that despite the fact that gay people were also persecuted, rounded up and killed in the Holocaust (often suffering particularly harsh treatment in concentration camps), and despite the proliferation of media about the Holocaust or using the Holocaust as a backdrop, you still don't see a lot of media about the Holocaust that features gay characters or treats the gay experience during the Third Reich

Well, yes. It just felt like he was banging on about it a bit too much, as if we shouldn't be making films about the Jewish experience of the Holocaust, when the problem is lack of talking about non-Jewish victims, rather than too much talking about Jewish victims, if that makes any sense. It's not like there's a limit on how much you can talk about the Holocaust.
posted by hoyland at 5:19 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I think by and large most of the changes made for a much better movie

I don't know, I haven't seen the movie, and don't know as many details of Turing's life as I'd like to, but based only on what's been said in this thread, the truth sounds much more interesting than the super-generic tropes in the movie.
posted by enn at 6:42 AM on January 5, 2015


Gotta say, I woukd watch the hell out of the movie where Turing is involved in a motorcycle chase gunfight through occupied Paris.

For that kind of shenanigans you want Fleming. Which was very, very silly in that regard.
posted by garius at 6:56 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


So, I thought there might be a bit more talk about the 1999-2000 UK series, "Queer as Folk", given that we have a fairly sizable Brit population at Mefi. This show was pretty awesome and ground-breaking at the time. It was honest and fresh and had some great characters and dialogue not to mention a Doctor Who fanatic ("Tom Baker was the best") and Aidan Gillen ramming Jeeps into car showrooms because the dealer made a homophobic comment. Quite a fun show and *graphic* in the sex scenes ISTR (or at least the suggestion of what's going on).

The attitudes in Britain and the US have changed *quite a lot* regarding depiction of gay life on TV, but I think the central argument to the piece holds: why is there still such a reluctance to put gay characters front and center?

Anyways an interesting piece with a nice nod to the work Russell T. Davies has done in this area.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 7:48 AM on January 5, 2015


I didn't really think the film presented Turing as a traitor. I can see how people see that, but after he discovers Cairncross is a double agent, he does ultimately reveal this to Menzies.
posted by jamincan at 9:51 AM on January 5, 2015 [1 favorite]


I don't think the writers see it that way either, but I don't really think they've thought things through.
posted by Artw at 10:09 AM on January 5, 2015


Menzies did.
posted by clavdivs at 11:19 AM on January 5, 2015


I think his point in bringing up the Holocaust was that non-Jewish people (and non-Roma, non-LGBT, non-Jehovah's Witnesses) are still interested in stories about the Holocaust, even if all the characters are a different ethnicity/religion. Whereas, some claim that straights wouldn't be interested in gay stories, because they aren't gay. (Which is silly - I'm bi and quite happy with watching straight or gay stories, as well as bi).

As for Queer as Folk: I think it would have blown my mind if I'd seen it in 1999. I was pretty chuffed about Willow & Tara in Buffy. I actually knew someone who had a bit part in the US version (aka filmed in Canada version). But I didn't see the Uk one until quite recently - loved it, but 2013 wasn't 1999. (Couldn't watch the US one, first episode was so clunky compared to UK). What really blew my 14-year-old mind was Billy, the gay teen on One Live to Live back in the dark ages of 1992.

that said: for all that he complains about a dearth of gay characters, gay men are the more well represented than other queer characters on television - this article cites a recent GLAAD study which found that of 66 regular or recurring LGBT characters on US scripted television, 35 were gay men - while 4 were bi men. (It's estimated that bi people are about 1/2 of all LGB people, though there are more bi-identified women than bi-identified men).

I ran into this problem when trying to curate a movie club for a local bi group. I could think of all sorts of films about gay men, but a lot fewer with bi and/or lesbian characters. (probably should have done an ask mefi :)

And to add: with the character in Maurice who is arrested for homosexuality, that's three stories (or 2.5, given that's a subplot).
posted by jb at 12:25 PM on January 5, 2015 [2 favorites]


Gotta say, I would watch the hell out of the movie where Turing is involved in a motorcycle chase gunfight through occupied Paris.

Only if the bad guys were actual Nazi werewolves, and he was armed with silver bullets.
posted by acb at 2:40 PM on January 5, 2015


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