OUTRAGE


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an amazing q and a session followed the tribeca film festival premiere of outrage, kirby dick's documentary condemning closeted gay republicans. instead of the usual self-congratulatory ass-kissing in question form, the choir that dick preaches to through his facile, hot-topics docs nearly rebelled. there was genuine inquiry about dick's facile, scattershot methods. at a film festival! in gay chelsea!


designed to reveal "a brilliantly orchestrated conspiracy to keep gay politicians closeted"-yet never identifying the conspirators-outrage continues blue state/red state antagonism. by republican-bashing on big topics like gay marriage and aids-funding, dick avoids exploring ideas. outrage diminishes crucial, non-partisan gay-identity issues of fear, guilt and self-acceptance. the premiere audience's questions sliced through dick's ineptitude better than any narrative summary i could give. here's a rundown:


one viewer wanted to know: "why no mention of obama and biden's tentative stances on gay marriage?" (dick's answer: "they're not closeted men." yet neither is dick's easy target, george w. bush.) citing dick's emphasis on the arrest of sen. larry craig, a viewer asked why dick ignored the fact that craig's entrapment was the real crime-a topic that might have explored sex rights issues. another wondered why dick emphasized republican sen. mark foley's congressional page scandal without including the similar yet honorable example of democrat gary studds' 1983 congressional page scandal-which led to studds' censure but eventual re-election. one questioner distrusted outrage's outing of tv newsreader shepard smith but not anderson cooper. responding that his real target was fox cable news not cnn, dick revealed his insipid media favoritism.


most importantly, a viewer wondered, "was there no middle ground," dick could find between the political closet and political forthrightness? dick fudged an answer because the middle ground would require opening his mind, a humanizing approach. clearly, outrage did nothing to strengthen the audience's sympathetic understanding of the fear that prevents personal gay acceptance-especially among politicians. repeatedly using the term "the closet" mystifies, without explaining, its psychological and social basis.


dick knows that bashing, ridicule and snark get knee-jerk laughs and satisfaction. his lazy advocacy-filmmaking never constructs an argument but throws in at-hand grievances (as if gay rights, hiv/aids funding, hate crime, domestic partnership and gays in the military were all the same concern). dick uses anime to show gay republican voting records on gay-related issues-a trivializing "entertainment" device conveniently dropped when dick placates gov. jim mcgreevy's coming-out. this prejudiced filmmaking influences ideological separatism, encouraging the idea of elite gay privilege-as when d.c. councilman david catania bitches about larry craig's supportive wife: "is she insane!" it's a sexist diss dick never allows for david nathan, the dead man mourned/rumored as mayor ed koch's lover.


dick's trite documentary style makes life and politics worse; that's what the tribeca festival questioners intuited. a sequence condemning dick cheney's lesbian daughter mary for creating coors beer's gay marketing but not being a gay activist confuses issues and then stumbles into the quagmire of the coors' ads: dick accepts their egregious male-centered/body-fascist sexism. (here's where i need to admit the comedy of critiquing a silly gay doc by a director named dick-or else go rigid with hypocritical pomposity.)


dick is a wannabe michael moore. his filmmaking is no more serious than the spiteful gossipy clown perez hilton. outrage heroicizes gay political bloggers like mike rogers, bob norman and kevin naff, who opines, "everyone loves a good outing." this insensitivity was apparent when dick defended overlooking his obvious subject, closeted celebrities. "they don't rise to the same level of hypocrisy," he told a chelsea inquisitor.


although dick's 2007 this film is rated x is one of the poorest docs i've ever seen, i imagine he's the right man for hollywood hypocrisy. yet he easily forgets the political significance of celebrity: how closeted gay performers' music and film choices frequently reinforce hetero norms. kirby dick's docs reinforce ignorance.

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outrage

directed by kirby dick

at chelsea clearview cinemas

runtime: 90 min.





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