This film here is the kind of strong, yellow, take no prisoners journalism that a democracy needs if it hopes to survive. Kirby Dick ("This Film Is Not Yet Rated," "Twist of Faith") returns to once again right a wrong that he sees in our society, and is this case it happens to be closeted gay members of government who promote a staunch anti-gay agenda and the ways in which the media protects their secret. It opens with the audio recording of Senator Larry Craig’s interrogation after being picked up trying to solicit a undercover cop in a bathroom stall. From there more high-profile names are outted and evidence is provided in ways that will be quite familiar to documentary viewers (talking heads, some that are blacked out, graphics, on screen text). By the time it is all said and done, wholly aware that I had just watched a hard-lined op/ed piece with one agenda in mind, I was convinced that these men were gay. It doesn’t hurt, I’m sure, that the film is glossy, utterly watchable, and cut directly from the Michael Moore mold.
So yes I enjoyed the film and they convinced me of their thesis, so all in all, more or less this film is a total success… right? Well, it is a little more complicated than that. Outings raise big questions for me… like isn’t calling out duplicity a little dangerous since every single one of us is to some degree? We can argue that Charlie Crist, governor of Florida, keeping that state as the only one where gay couples cannot adopt while at the same time allegedly leading a secretly gay life is downright ugly. But why do these politicians need to mirror their political agendas? If he votes the way you want him to who cares what he does after hours? This question applies to Crist especially since he has the potential to be such a tragic figure. What would it say for our society if somebody as monumentally talented as Crist is brought down by something as irrelevant as sexual orientation? It would also be sad for the Republican Party. Let’s go ahead an assume he didn’t get the VP slot on McCain’s ticket because of his lifestyle… was the party really better served by straight Sarah Palin?
Those questions aside this film is rock solid and entirely worth your time. It has less of that laying in the weeds, gotcha journalism of his previous work, however Dick is still doing the work that the mainstream media is too lazy or too scared to engage in. As a complain I would say that he leans too heavily on Mike Rogers and his blog Blogactive. Rogers was the one who broke the story of Craig’s homosexuality months before the incident in Minneapolis and has done amazing work in outting closeted politicians. Much of this film feels like Blogactive’s greatest hits… which is fine… but not ideal. My hero Bill Maher shows up in the form of an edited clip on CNN. Not to ruin all the surprises for you but apparently CNN has a vested interest in keeping one Republican’s shame hidden from view. I do believe that this film serves the common good. Transparency is a big key to democracy. These people are free to sleep with whomever they want and vote however they want… but if they are voting in a hurtful, self destructive way then at the very least Kirby Dick has the right to wave a red flag. And if for no other reason go see this film for the hilarity that is Charlie Crist talking about his "love" for his new found, perfectly timed fiance and the wedding that follows.
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