Finally, somebody in the traditional media — Variety, in the case up above — has picked up on the story that Kelsey Grammer, co-star of the Broadway revival of La Cage aux Folles, is not only a radical right-winger, which isn’t news, but is putting his reactionary maw behind the RightNetwork, a new multiplatform venture that presumably aims to hurl the LGBT community all the back to the closet, stripped of whatever rights they may have won, and, for all we know, marked with ass tattoos just the way that William F. Buckley, Jr., wanted.
Here’s the video:
The question is not whether Grammer has a right to his own political views — of course he does. And if he chooses to pimp his celebrity to support and promote those views, more power to him. That’s America, right?
Nor is the question whether Grammer should have his head handed to him for espousing views playing a character in a theater production. A character is, after all, someone other than the actor. As Albin sings in “A Little More Mascara”: “Once again it is time to be someone who’s anyone other than me.”
But wait a minute. That is the question. Surely it isn’t every day that the co-star of a Broadway musical about two gay men (and social acceptance, tolerance, rights, individual liberty, love, barrier-breaking and gender) elects to parade himself on behalf of a national network devoted to the countermanding an entire demographic — a network pledged, per right-wing orthodoxy, to stymie social acceptance, tolerance, rights, individual liberty, love, barrier-breaking and gender.
The story is extraordinary: Kelsey Grammer, to say nothing of La Cage‘s producers, expects for audiences to pay a top price of more than $100 per ticket and find him theatrically plausible when, off-stage, he hawks a cause that aims to do whatever it must, however it must, wherever it must, to eliminate — yes, I said eliminate — the type of human being he portrays.
If that isn’t a story, a topic for debate and food for thought, then here’s my announcement: Mel Gibson will be heading up the cast of the Broadway revival of Martin Sherman’s Bent. After all, he’d just be playing a character, right?
An equally substantial story is the inability of creaky old media to tackle this head on. Adam Sternbaugh came close in his expectedly cheeky New York profile of Grammer:
This combination of a (staunchly conservative) actor and a (flamboyantly gay) role might cause, for some observers, a certain mental dissonance. But La Cage, Grammer explains, is a universal tale. “It’s a great story about any couple. They all have the same dynamic: a heterosexual relationship, a homosexual relationship, a man-with-dogs relationship. There are universal events that take place: the differences, the angers, the insecurities, the histrionics. You would call it, I guess, a male-female dynamic. This just happens to be two boys.” I ask him about La Cage’s relevance today, given the Proposition 8 fight in California. He says, “Oh, right. Of course. You know I wasn’t even thinking of that. Isn’t it funny?” On the subject of gay marriage in general, he adds, “Why is the government involved at all? If two men marry or two women marry, fine, go ahead, it’s not my issue. But when governments get involved, it just becomes more confusing.”
At least the aforementioned Variety piece by Robert Hofler treats the GOP elephant in the room like the GOP elephant in the room, as opposed to Sternbaugh’s idea of letting Grammer’s foot act like a toothpick in his mouth. This should all be a Grammer slammer.
But even with Hofler, I’d have added some additional sources to the mix. citing the string on All That Chat is great; the theater queens ought to be chatting about this. But the quote from Michael Feingold, theater critic of the Village Voice, was positively dispiriting:
It seems to me that the contradiction here is Kelsey Grammer’s problem and nobody else’s: If he wants to kiss a man passionately onstage eight times a week … and then wants to become a spokesman for a political group that includes many who are violently against gay marriage — why should that worry anyone who comes to ‘La Cage’ and enjoys what it says?”
La Feingold has lost La Fighting Spirit!
Sorry, Michael, but with all due respect, it’s not “nobody’s else problem.” Gay men should know better.
Meantime, the blogosphere is catching on. Read what the moxie-fueled Moxie the Maven had to say, for example. And if you see La Cage (which I did and found — ruh roh — just delightful), will you applaud Grammer or sit on your hands? If you’re a liberal and applaud him (I did not), you’re an enabler of all you claim to be against. Could that be the reason that conservatives hate your guts?