10 Straight-Directed Films that Got Us Wrong
By Chloe Fitzpatrick
6. Basic Instinct , 1992; Dir. Paul Verhoeven
Women who have sex with women must be up to something evil, at least that’s the message embedded in Basic Instinct. In this film, four seductive and sexually deviant women smoke cigarettes, drive fast cars, and don’t need men. Ah! What could be worse! Well, Sharon Stone's killer role bares all in a scene that was forever frozen in men's (and women's) memories. Gay rights and media watch groups like Queer Nation and Out In Film were upset by the use of negative lesbian/bisexual stereotypes—both that bisexual women are just using lesbian sex as a fun activity when men aren’t around and the idea that all lesbians dream of viciously murdering men.
7. Pulp Fiction , 1994, Dir. Quentin Tarantino
Tarantino's oeurvre has recurring themes of homoeroticism and male sexual tension, but his most disturbing to date may come from the film that skyrocketed him to fame, Pulp Fiction. In the scene that finds Butch (Bruce Willis) with Marsellus (Ving Rhames) bound by redneck pawn shop owners and waiting to be sodomized, a silent masked figure known only as "the gimp" is being used (and abused) by the men as a sex object. Centered around male-on-male rape fears and fantasies, it propagates ideas of gay sex shame and perversions that only escalate in Tarantino's much-ballyhooed Django Unchained.
8. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, 2007; Dir. Dennis Dugan
Two straight men pose as a couple, ala Jack Tripper, of Threes Company, with a boyfriend. When GLAAD pre-screened this movie before its release, a representative told Entertainment Weekly, “The movie has some of the expected stereotypes, but in its own disarming way, it’s a call for equality and respect.” OK, not the worst refutation! But most found the Chuck-and-Larry screen time in poor taste, and the film received a Razzie for “Worst Screen Couple” for Adam Sandler—with either Kevin James or Jessica Biel as the other half.
9. Brüno, 2009 ; Dir. Larry Charles
In 2009, Sacha Baron Cohen created a feature film for his character Brüno, a gay Austrian fashion journalist. The film contained some overly graphic “gay” sex scenes and was founded on stereotypes that pandered to the lowest homophobic denominator. In the New York Times, A. O. Scott said the film was evidence "that lampooning homophobia has become an acceptable, almost unavoidable form of homophobic humor."
10. The Dilemma , 2011; Dir. Ron Howard
When the trailer for The Dilemma was released, Anderson Cooper was shocked by Vince Vaughn’s exclamation, “Electric cars are gay.” No one expected homophobic jokes to come from director Ron Howard, but Little Opie did end up stirring a controversy that GLAAD president Jarrett Barios said would “help schools, media, and parents understand the impact of the word ‘gay’ being used as a pejorative.”