Tuesday, January 23, 2007

OK, Dreamgirls did NOT get snubbed because it was "gay"... unless you mean THAT kind of "gay."

I just read Modern Fabulousity's take on the nominations/snubs, and I felt I had to post something on that subject here, because... well, I very strongly disagree.

I am gay as all get-out, I was as pissed as anyone last year when Brokeback lost, I watch Jennifer Holliday's rendition of "And I Am Tellin' You" daily (just check my sidebar), and I wanted to love Dreamgirls. But I came out of it disappointed. And I never would've put it on my ballot for best picture. It was just shoddy filmmaking. And though I was a bit harsh on it in my review (I've softened a bit after a second viewing), I still maintain that this snub was entirely deserved, and had nothing to do with racism or sexism, or especially homophobia.

Oscarwise, Dreamgirls was sort of an amalgam of Cold Mountain and Walk The Line; it was certainly not Brokeback Mountain. It was a case of too much hype too long before release, with too little quality to show for it. It was less than the sum of its parts.

What I find most gratifying, though, is that what (I think) was rejected in Dreamgirls is what I hate most about all bad musicals: the idea that flashiness and catchiness can make up for shoddy dialogue and story. Everyone I know who dislikes musicals does do so because they think musicals inherently use their musical elements as a crutch. They think that just because musicals are glitzy and have hummable tunes, they must also always be shallow, clichéd, obvious, etc. And the worst musicals absolutely are.

Now, Dreamgirls is hardly one of "the worst musicals," but of this charge, it is guilty. It's a mediocre film dressed up as an oscar nominee. I did enjoy it (marginally), but it also embodies everything I hate about bad musicals. Without the music, it'd have nothing. The best musicals (note: I LIVE for great musicals) use music to heighten the impact of an already golden experience; they supplement great filmmaking with great music. Not surprisingly, when people call musicals "gay" (pejoratively), they're usually referring to their shallow, loud, gaudy aspects... the qualities they share with flamboyant gay men. And while I concede that these qualities (shallow, loud, and gaudy) are often associated with my sexual orientiation, I wish they weren't, and I absolutely agree that they're unappealing, at least when expressed without irony (and in Dreamgirls, they certainly are; in that sense, Dreamgirls is very "gay").

So even though it would've been nice to see another musical get oscar-nominated and get a whole bunch of new musicals green-lit, the pleasure would've been dampened by the fact that those new musicals probably would've been just like this one: shoddy, shallow, and far from best-picture-worthy. And I'm not just saying that because Bill Condon is gay.

And for the record, I'd die of happiness if Breslin somehow beat Hudson to the oscar. Seriously. Give Hudson a grammy. But Breslin gave a much better performance. Little Miss Abby has a hold on my heart (and my vote).

"What does 'a-la-modee' mean?"


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