You have to understand one thing: I didn’t make this movie only for gay people, I made it also for straight people. I kind of found out, in the testing process, that actually, for straight people, [Danny] is a very easy in. Danny’s very straight-acting. He gets mistreated because of that. [Straight audiences] can feel for him.
Stonewall insists, with its hokey story about Danny’s personal growth and struggles with his family back home in Indiana, that what actually happened isn’t good enough. That no one will care unless there’s a beautiful young white man at the center of the story. Because who is more wonderful, compelling, appealing than that? Which may sadly be the opinion of certain corners of the market, but who cares about those people. They have plenty of movies made for them. Meanwhile, there are plenty other recent movies that aren’t catered to their narrow tastes but that have done just fine.
What this really is, I think, is the filmmakers tending to their personal preferences and prejudices, and then blaming the system. Darn it, this is how it has to be, because that’s how the world is. We have to literally see a black character hand Danny a brick so Danny can be the first to throw it and the first to cheer “Gay power!” (This is the moment my screening audience, of professional critics, was lost to groans and laughter for the rest of the movie.) We simply must redirect as much history as possible through a white, bizarrely heteronormative lens, or else, the thinking goes, no one will care. People like Emmerich throw up their hands at this supposed inevitability and say, “That’s just the way it is.”
Which, of course, is nonsense. When Straight Outta Compton is earning $60 million on its opening weekend, it’s nonsense. When Tangerine is earning rave reviews and art-house dollars, it’s nonsense. When a show like Transparent is winning Emmys, it’s nonsense. ButStonewall demands that we accept Emmerich’s evasive, self-serving sociology and then has the audacity to ask that we be moved by it. We’re not.
Roland Emmerich, Director of Stonewall trying to excuse his whitewashed film that erases trans woc and replaces them with a white boy. If he cared then he would’ve told the TRUE story. What’s next? A Civil Rights movie about a fictional white savior?
By claiming that in order for straight people to like us or understand us, we need to be like them in very specific, stereotypical ways (or that if we are like them we must be “acting”) Emmerich and anyone else who uses the term “straight-acting” – including the legions of men on hook-up apps whose profiles read “Masc 4 Masc” and “Str8 acting only” – is affirming all of the lies about who we are (and who we aren’t) that we’ve been raging against for as long as we have been a “we.” In fact, isn’t this what the heroes of Stonewall were ultimately battling? Didn’t they finally say “enough” to the constant tormenting they faced for being different from what society expected and demanded of them? And how stupendously offensive to take the story of these brave warriors and attempt to repackage it so that straight people can find a way to comfortably stomach our rebellion.
Roland Emmerich: "You have to understand one thing: I didn’t make this movie only for gay people, I made it also for straight people,” he said. “I kind of found out, in the testing process, that actually, for straight people, [Danny] is a very easy in. Danny’s very straight-acting. He gets mistreated because of that. [Straight audiences] can feel for him.”