Same Movie Disease: In & Out vs. To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar
Behold, townsfolk! My first in the series called "Same Movie Disease." Today, class, we shall study two 90's films in which LGBT people are so funny because they're LGBT, it's the whole punchline of the films. Spoilers ahead as we discuss In & Out and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar. The second one really is that long of a title, friends. I saw both at the theater when they came out. A lot's changed!
Reviewing this as a girl, FYI.
Similarity #1: Everyone "Is" Gay/Trans
You know those annoying 90's/early 2000's movie scenes where everyone does some group thing? Like, all stand up and do the bend and snap in the first Legally Blonde? All dance to Michael Jackson music in 13 Going on 30?
In In & Out, Kevin Kline's character is shamed at the yearly graduation ceremony. Everyone knows he didn't win the best teacher award because the school is run by loser bigots who hate out gay teachers who are otherwise super awesome educators. The students resort to this by one stating, "I'm gay!" as he interrupts the straight dude's acceptance speech. The classmates, one by one, announce they're gay. Wow! The day is saved!
To Wong Foo shows the people gathering around as the police search for the drag queens. All the straights in the area stand together. "I'm a drag queen." "Me too. I'm a drag queen." 'We're all drag queens!" The police never look for the drag queens again!
In 90's movie land, people all saying they're LGBT prevents things from happening. Imagine forming a flash mob of people whenever something happens. Keep that in mind. You may be arrested for pot posession someday, however, get that flash mob ready to say they too all smoke pot. You won't be arrested, OK, kids.
Similarity #2: Straight Guys Playing LGBT
Nobody LGBT exists in Hollywood. Or drag queens.
All the actors did a fine job. Patrick Swayze. Kevin Kline. It's more a question of, would people would think these people's characters are funny if played by real LGBT people? Would these movies have cult classic status? Probably not.
Similarity #3: Small Midwestern Towns Are 100% Str8
Small town people have never met anyone gay, drag, trans, somehow in that world of LGBT, OK. Nobody gay has ever come out of a small town. Therefore, they don't know how to react to drag queens or gay folk and learn, within 90 minutes, how equality is amazing.
Similarity #4: Big City Folk Are Sophisticated
Both these movies make it look like in LA or NYC, everyone accepts LGBT people. They've never heard of trans women/drag queens being attacked on the subway. Only small town people are against LGBT folk. Sorry, no.
Similarity #5: Some of the Humor Wouldn't Work Today
In the 90's, some of the humor was passable. Little bits of In & Out come off like you know this would be viewed as a bit much in 2017 as I write this. To Wong Foo is a whole lot better about it, although you know back then more people found it funny mocking the drag queens when they should've been laughing with them. When you think about To Wong Foo from the eyes of some mean spirited straight guy who thought gay stuff was pathetic, it changes the tone. Some of the guys in the audience when I saw both of these films originally, pretty much? You could tell they were bigoted. Nowadays, they probably coil up in a corner pretending they love gay rights. Back then, no, that was the era of saying everything uncool was so gay. Hmmm.
The other thing about the supermodel in In & Out, oh my. Why don't we discuss that? In the 90's, it was culturually acceptable to make fun of eating disorders. The girl tells Matt Dillon's character, "I have to eat lunch and vomit!" In 2017, you know a bunch of celebrities would come out against that scene.
And, In & Out's opening scene within a scene where Matt Dillon wins an Oscar for playing a gay character comes off like it's making fun of gay guys and not with them.
Times have a'changed. Although I don't blame the screenwriters. You do as you're told to get your movie made. People need to pay their mortgages!
Similarity #6: Select Small Town Women Are Magic Creatures Who Love LGBT People
Always the women. Like In & Out. The girl classmate schools the jocks on their bigotry when their teacher comes out. In To Wong Foo, the small town women with no fashion sense love their drag queens and convince others to do so.
Similarity #7: Everyone In Small Towns Is Super Christian...
Similarity #8: ...and Dresses Like They're 498 Years Old
Women in small towns have access to tight jeans, Hollywood. This is America.
Similarity #9: Stereotypes!
Where are the super straight guys who privately love being cross dressers in To Wong Foo or the macho gays in In & Out? The guy gets accused of being gayed by Streisand songs. Giving you a clue! Using your hands! Oh, HAAAANNDS as in jaaaaaaazz hands!
Yes, I meant to use a period there.
From Wikipedia: "Cusack was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress, but lost to Kim Basinger in L.A. Confidential."
She is a great actress anywhere else. Here too. That said, WHAT. She hardly got to act here? Question mark intended.
"Which do you recommend?"
To Wong Foo all the way. Not once does it come off truly mean spirited. In & Out does. A LOT. Today, To Wong Foo may fall into 90's film struggles, yet the movie itself is pretty fun on a slow day. In & Out is going to wind up in the film school lessons next century like, "Class, this is how gay people used to be made fun of in the year 1997. Be warned. It's offensive." Because by then, gayness will not be an issue. We'll have purple people to pick on. Some new thing. Martians will be stealing our jobs or, oooh, better, those future people like the South Park episode.
Go for the drag queens.