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re: That did cross my mind
Last Edit: Chazwaza 05:29 pm EDT 08/11/22
Posted by: Chazwaza 05:23 pm EDT 08/11/22
In reply to: re: That did cross my mind - Singapore/Fling 05:02 pm EDT 08/11/22

I, for one unsolicited opinion, am very very big on casting queer for queer roles... but not because actors can't or shouldn't play the sexuality they aren't (or the gender even)... but simply as a reflection of the current situation for actors and audiences and media. Representation isn't even the reason - there is massive representation in the character and story being portrayed, regardless of who or what the actor IS. It's often more important to me that the writer of a queer thing be queer, but if that isn't the whole or main story, then it's certainly possible a straight writer can write a nuanced and truthful queer person or story - just as men can write women and women men (that doesn't mean they've always done it well, but it's possible). Back before social media and knowing everything about everyone in entertainment, it didn't matter to me (or the straight audiences who saw it) to see a gay character on screen or stage played by a gay actor, it mattered that the gay character(s) were there. And in fact I think for straight audiences and closeted struggling audiences, mass exposure to a film/tv show/play *because* of the interest in it due to the participation of a straight famous actor is the only reason why it's being seen or breaking barriers in the audiences minds.
But I think the biggest reason to cast queer as queer right now is *opportunity*. Actors need to make a living and build momentum in their career. If the juicy queer roles, or lead queer roles, go to straight people (as they *very often* do), how do queer actors, especially ones who don't "pass" as straight or who are so openly queer that it impacts how audiences and creatives in power see them as actors, get to pay bills as an actor, grow their skill, or build momentum or evolution in their career? And if it's a piece that opens doors for the actors -- a notable or successful or buzzed about movie/tv show/play, that can entirely change that queer actors life and career and make it possible for them to keep working and making a living, or make it possible for them to *become* a star, a box office draw, who can get cast in higher profile things. If all the star-making and salary-raising roles for gays go to straights, what are the gays supposed to do?
And then there's the aforementioned aspect of social media etc, and the transparency of everyone's lives. Yes, audiences and even people who don't watch the thing in question can and will see these actors and know how they identify. And I do think it has impact for queer people, closeted people, and straight people to see these actors being openly queer. It matters to the viewers and observers of something like Love Victor, a show aimed at youth, starring a young person, who the actors in the show are. And I really wish they'd found, or tried harder to find, an actor who could do what they needed as an actor for Victor AND be openly gay. Especially rather than openly straight. But... hey... maybe it makes more impact on straight audiences to see that he's straight but playing a gay character they love. The more representation queer people have in media/entertainment, the more they have the chance to see themselves and their lives in the world of entertainment and the less urgency there is for this aspect, and then it really does become a tool to break down prejudice and pre-conceived notions for straight audiences and parents etc who aren't as open to LGBTQ people. T

Given the reality of making entertainment and art, the exception I always make for casting straight people is when it is a famous actor who can A) get the movie greenlit and funded to be made at all -- if it doesn't get made it doesn't matter how "authentic" the performance of the queer actor might have been, B) get a marketing budget for it to be marketed -- if it doesn't get marketed it has no value for entertainment or impact for queers or straights... movies with queer characters/stories have impact even for people who don't see them IF they see marketing for it and are aware of their existence... and then even better if they go see them, which won't happen if they don't know they exist. C) If it gets the movie global distribution, or even domestic... and that ties into A and B, because often a movie won't get funded unless investors think the actors(s) have interest from foreign audiences.
I think getting queer/queer-related movies made and out there is paramount. I for one am very happy Brokeback Mountain, for example, was made with two famous straight heartthrob actors (who are also great at acting)... it wouldn't have had nearly the release, reception or impact if it had been made with non-famous actors who happened to be gay.

But the question of authenticity is both always relevant and also currently, I think, massively overemphasized. I mean hell, A Strange Loop was developed with and directed by a white guy. Why? Because the writer (and producers, perhaps) felt he was the best, or a great, director for it... or they didn't cut him loose when the show started taking off in order to have better optics about the identity of the director. I think most people would assume that show had a black director or would insist it was necessary. Clearly the gay writer of Fat Ham thought the straight actor they cast was the best for it... or maybe the director did and won out, who knows. I don't even know who directed it or their identity, and I doubt most people seeing it do.

We also don't know who is really what, which makes it even more complicated. Even when someone identifies as straight they may turn out to have been closeted. Skin color isn't the same thing, but anyway... this is far beyond the question of queer theater by queer people.
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