|Moore Is Less
|The folks who
asked me to do this column twice a month told me the topic could be about
anything, just musings for the week. So this week, I'm musing about Demi
Moore. I do that on occasion anyway just for fun, but this weekend I saw her
movie, GI JANE, and there are a few things that could stand a comment or
two, from the lesbian and gay side of the distaff, as it were.
We all know the armed services are homophobic and one of the largest, most
insistent perpetrators of the institutionalized mandatory closet. That's not
news, nor is it news that that position is not likely to change. We also
know that Hollywood is one of the largest closets in the country, so that's
not news either. But the difference is that Hollywood has always had the
option to be socially responsible. And for PR's sake, often does make the
claim that it *is* an instrument for positive social change. Godnose, the
industry could be if it really wanted to be.
Demi is one of the producers of this film, and stars in it, so one would
think she could have had a modicum of influence over its content. Although
her abs are great, and she shaves her head, and she takes it on the chin,
and puts her combat boots in a few deserving groins, all this Xena-esque
gymnastics doesn't erase the fact that what the movie is *about* is not what
it says it's about: equal treatment for women in the military. If that were
what it were about, it would be about equal treatment for lesbians in the
military, since there are so many of us there. What the movie is about is
the right of *straight* women to die for their country. Equity has little to
do with any concerns of any people with power. And the world was ever thus.
Except for lacking a dangling participle, no one can tell the difference
between the movie's costar, Ann Bancroft, and any of her male counterparts
in the Senate. They all play games and do back room deals and sell anyone
they think is "weaker" down the Potomac. Bancroft's character is the one
who's allegedly pushing to require the military to allow equity in the
ranks. But what Bancroft makes clear is the premise above, that only
straight women should serve with straight men. When it's up to her, as part
of one of her deals, to be the one to select the applicant for this test
case of a woman in a combat role, as the first woman Navy Seal, she rejects
any female applicant whose body type even hints that the applicant might be
a lesbian. And more than that, she *says* that's why she's rejecting them.
Demi is a girlie girl, a smart one and in great shape, so she gets the nod.
You can almost hear Bancroft go woooof just like the audience does when she
sees her photograph, so one wonders what *else* Bancroft is thinking at the
moment her eyes wander over Miss Thing. In the interview with Demi later,
Bancroft does a bit more in depth investigation to make sure that Demi has a
boyfriend at home and that she's getting *properly* fucked. As opposed to
the kind of screwing Bancroft has in mind for Demi at the hands the Navy and
the Senate. Can you say "prurient interests"?
Digressing from an exploration of the plot for a moment, I'm confused here
about the premise of straight women being the only brand of woman acceptable
to the military. If the point of keeping out gays and lesbians is that we
create havoc in the ranks by introducing an unwanted sexual component into
the morale of the unit, what advantage exactly does a straight woman in a
platoon of straight men have over gays and lesbians? Let's look at this a
second. Gays are a threat to morale in a unit by being the ever present and
nightmarish dropped-soap-in-the-shower menace, and lesbians are a threat by
being...what? As good as men and *not* interested in them?
It would seem to me that a lesbian in a group of straight men would make
infinitely more sense. And a lesbian in a work group of *any* men, would
make more. Gay men aren't interested in her and she's not interested in
*any* of the men, gay or straight. They might all actually be friends and
comrades, or something really radical like that. She could be proficient at
the stated task without wanting to go to bed with her coworkers. What a
concept. Or is that the problem? Is the military about sex, or is it about
serving one's country? I think we might already know the answer to this, but
I'm just asking.
Back to the plot, when Demi doesn't fail as Bancroft expects her to,
Bancroft then tries to set her up for accusations of lesbianism. By now, to
anyone who follows these things, it should be apparent that
don't-ask-don't-tell has become a bigger excuse for a witch hunt than at any
other time in the history of the military. I must have had popcorn-induced
aphasia at some point in the plot development though--you know how those
husks caught in a tooth can distract you--because I didn't really catch why
Bancroft wanted Demi to fail, why picking a woman who would fail in the
implementation of her publicly announced pet policy would advance Bancroft's
career. But somehow, Bancroft has it in her head that it's an advantage to
have as the test case a woman who is not obviously physically strong and
therefore not a "lesbian-looking" woman, but rather a girlie girl, as if
lesbians can't be both. I guess so that if a pretty girl fails, there is no
possibility of success for an "unattractive" one. I'm tellin' ya, the plot
was more frustrating than that popcorn husk.
The film is as full of homophobia as the military is, and there's no excuse
for it. Demi doesn't have to be a lesbian to make the movie socially aware.
It would have taken the filmmakers less than a minute of script writing time
and only a few frames of film to add a simple and thought-provoking line to
fix the entire movie and make a little progress in Hollywood. I know this is
like suggesting that one bail the boat with a sieve, but try this one on.
When Demi is called in front of the brass to endure what they intend and
what she interprets as her reputation being slandered, that she is being
labeled a lesbian, all she had to do was say, "I appreciate the compliment,
but, thank you, no, I'm not a lesbian."
The most memorable line in the movie is Demi's when she screams at a
physically abusive sergeant, "Suck my dick!!" Which is nice to have a woman
spit out, and makes the audience cheer, but which is homophobic in itself.
It's the quintessential taunt of a man who assumes that that activity could
have no value and that the activity consists entirely of an act that is
abhorrent, tantamount to rape, I suppose. And of course, that's what men in
the military are afraid of about straight women, or gays, or lesbians: that
they DO have a metaphorical dick; that they have power. The same power
straight men have. Whoa. Booga, booga. Scaaaawy.
The whole point of any witch hunt is that *calling* someone a witch is
sufficient. No proof is needed. But for a witch hunt, or a lesbian hunt, to
be successful, it is mandatory that the *label* be slander. A very many
straight men seem bent on proving that any woman outside of the home for any
reason (that is, any woman who is not attached at all times to another man
who appears to control her) is either a whore or a lesbian, and it's this
man's personal duty to find out which. If she's not interested in him
sexually, she must be a lesbian. If she is interested, then she must be a
whore. There's no middle ground here, and there's no such animal as a
situation wherein this man exists where sex is not the subtext. Come ON,
boys! Lordamighty. Can't you just go to work and do a *job*? Like most women
have to do every live long day to survive? Must all contacts with every
other living soul be about your precious Mr. Johnson and the Boys?
Ok, I'm ranting here, but I'd venture to say that not a few women out there
have wondered if it's possible to get through a day at work by just
*working*. This seems to be the subtext of this movie, anyway. It's what
women, lesbians or not, want to be able to do, and gay men, too: Just go to
work and do the job. And not be called names, or have who they are BE an
epithet to begin with.
I want Hollywood to wake up. I want the military to wake up. I want a
million dollars and immortality, too, but while Ed McMahon doesn't have my
phone number, at least there is an outside, eventual chance for the first
two. But only if we make enough noise. Besides, there *is* really in the
universe a cosmic sense of poetic justice. I just know in my heart that
every person who ever maligns us, who ever wishes us ill, will have a child
who is gay. And they will have to wake up or lose the love they find most
precious on the face of the earth.
Or if not a child, they will have a gay proctologist.