Friday, March 19, 2010

Know Your LGBT History - The Boys in the Band

So much is going on today - the health care vote, the situation involving the arrest of the activists who chained themselves to the White House fence (there was more than one) in protest of DADT, and a certain attorney general in Virginia who, like the rest of his cohorts in the religious right, seems to be so obsessed with his definition of "gay acts," that it's clouding his mind.

But it's Friday and that means time for another segment of my Know Your LGBT History. For this segment, I decided to spotlight THE penultimate movie in lgbt movie history, The Boys in the Band.

The Boys in the Band (1970), originally an off-Broadway play, tells the story of a group of gay men who gather together for a friend's birthday party. They drink too much and suddenly the catty atmosphere of the party becomes venomous. Things are said, friendships take a hit, and someone collapses under the weight of his self-hatred.

There has been so much said about this movie but allow me to say one more thing.

I hated The Boys in the Band. I will always hate it.

I know that it's a landmark in gay cinema and had to be true to life when presenting the lives of gay men back then but I still hate it.

It's not that I hated certain characters, be it super-flamer Emory, hateful Michael, or the prostitute who was supposed to a birthday gift.

It's just that if you turn those catty men into catty women, what do you have? A comedy - which I reviewed a while back - called The Women.

But no matter how catty and vicious those women in that movie were, the love that many of them showed to each other and themselves was a redeeming factor.

There is nothing but self-pity and self-hatred in The Boys in the Band. There is simply nothing redeeming about it except for the fact that it's just a historical commentary on the lives of gay men.

But that's hardly redeeming.

Past Know Your LGBT History postings:

Know Your LGBT History - Christopher Morley, the crossdressing assassin

Know Your LGBT History - Midnight Cowboy

Know Your LGBT History - Dracula's Daughter

Know Your LGBT History - Blacula

Know Your LGBT History - 3 Strikes

Know Your LGBT History - Paris Is Burning

Know Your LGBT History - The Women

Know your LGBT History - Soul Plane

Know Your LGBT History - The Player's Club

Special Know Your LGBT History - Fame

Know Your LGBT History - Welcome Home, Bobby

Know Your LGBT History - Barney Miller

Know your lgbt history - The Jerry Springer Show

Know your lgbt history - Martin Lawrence and that 'gay guy' on his show

Know your lgbt history - The Ricki Lake Show

Know your lgbt history - Which Way Is Up

Know your lgbt history - Gays in Primetime Soaps

Know your lgbt history - Boys Beware

Know your lgbt history - The Boondocks

Know your lgbt history - Mannequin

Know your lgbt history - The Warriors

Know Your LGBT History - New York Undercover

Know Your LGBT History - Low Down Dirty Shame

Know Your LGBT History - Fortune and Men's Eyes

Know your lgbt history - California Suite

Know your lgbt history - Taxi (Elaine's Strange Triangle)

Know your lgbt history - Come Back Charleston Blue

Know your lgbt history - James Bond goes gay

Know your lgbt history - Windows

Know your lgbt history - To Wong Foo and Priscilla

Know your lgbt history - Blazing Saddles

Know your lgbt history - Sanford and Son

Know your lgbt history - In Living Color

Know your lgbt history - Cleopatra Jones and her lesbian drug lords

Know your lgbt history - Norman, Is That You?

Know your lgbt history - The 'Exotic' Adrian Street

Know your lgbt history - The Choirboys

Know your lgbt history - Eddie Murphy

Know your lgbt history - The Killing of Sister George

Know your lgbt history - Hanna-Barbera cartoons pushes the 'gay agenda

'Know your lgbt history - Cruising

Know your lgbt history - Foxy Brown and Cleopatra Jones

Know your lgbt history - I Got Da Hook Up

Know your lgbt history - Fright Night

Know your lgbt history - Flowers of Evil

The Jeffersons and the transgender community  

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CD Matthew said...

Indeed, The Boys in the Band has become a relic of a very different, far away time and place....thank goodness! I dislike the stereotypes, too, and the underlying tone of bitchy self-hatred. And its time, it was remarkable that a Hollywood movie depicted anything like "real" gay people, a community of gay friends, when many people preferred that gays simply didn't exist. And the self-lacerating humor, however unattractive, was symptomatic of the oppression under which gay people were laboring at the time. So I think TBITB can be forgiven for reflecting many of the warped attitudes of the time. I just wish it were better than it is.


You want to see a relic of the Boys In The Band era? Check out Michael Musto on TV. It's considered a no-no to criticize this play/film nowadays, but I'm with you. I saw it once, thought it was awful, and never wanted to see it again.