Thursday, November 5, 2009

Another example of 'hide the homo' marketing?

Guy Lodge and Jeff Wells have remarked about the new poster for A Single Man, which seems to be trying to hide the fact that Colin Firth plays a (solitary) gay man. This isn't a new thing. Marketing campaigns often go out of their way to hide character traits or story arcs that may be 'uncomfortable' to the alleged mainstream moviegoer. But the threat of onscreen homosexuality seems to be the biggest target of selective hiding. Much amusement was found in the marketing campaign for The Talented Mr. Ripley ten years ago. While the pleasantly spoiler-free trailer only hinted at the major first-act plot twist, it gave absolutely no hints that Matt Damon (who really should have received an Oscar nomination) was in fact playing a homosexual. Scary stalker and possible murderer? No problem, but don't let moviegoers know that he's queer too!

And let's not forget the DVD/Blu Ray cover art for I Love You Man, which made sure to shove Rashida Jones awkwardly onto the poster, next to Paul Rudd and Jason Segal. That one wasn't quite as egregious, as Jones was the fiancee of Rudd's character, and the third lead of the film. But the oh-so subtle reason for tossing her into the cover art ('it's a bromance, but they're straight honest!') should be acknowledged. For what it's worth, DVD box art has often altered from the original theatrical artwork to make any number of films seem more 'audience-friendly'. The worst recent example was for Jodie Foster's The Brave One, which replaced genuinely haunting artwork with a photo-shop design that could have been crafted by my toddler in her weekly pre-school computer class.

But the all-time winner in the 'hide the homo' award still belongs to the folks behind the campaign for Transamerica. To be fair, the theatrical trailer and posters were honest about the fact that Felicity Huffman was playing a transgendered man who was about to get sexual-reconstruction surgery. But the preview and the posters went out of the way to sell the lie that Huffman's son Toby was a rough-and-tumble heterosexual male. The trailer went out of its way to highlight a thirty-second scene where Kevin Zegers's Toby flirts with and makes out with a random teenage girl in a bar (Stella Maeve). Some newspaper ads even had Maeve on the poster with her arm wrapped around Toby. In fact, said character was a drug-addicted homosexual who eventually ended up working in gay porno (I certainly hope the mediocre movie was not implying that gay men automatically give birth to gay sons, but I digress). But even that all-too common bait and switch was too much honesty for the DVD poster art.

Scott Mendelson

1 comment:

Deaf Indian Muslim Anarchist! said...

wow...and yeah, that's a damn shame what you said about the marketing for TransAmerica (I never saw the film but plan to)...

lame... but Hollywood is all about the money.


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