Sunday, January 7, 2018
Review of a Review -- UPDATED
"Call Me by Your Name: Gorgeous, But Is It Gay?"
I'm grateful that the author of this whinging diatribe has given us a perfect example of how a tiny coterie of self-appointed arbiters has been waging a campaign to hijack the rich and complex story of male-male sexuality in order to make "queer" normative. I reject the central argument in this attack on Call Me By Your Name: "For gayness itself — gayness as a way of feeling, a way of engaging the world, an identity, a community threatened by disease and violence — has been carefully pushed into the closet."
The writer complains that "Oliver and Elio debate Bach and Liszt, but certainly not Bette and Joan." In order for two guys to feel intense sexual attraction for each other and act on it they can't discuss art and music, only icons of bitchy queens? Can you put the accent on cliché?
This grouplet wants "queer" to be pinned on everyone's chest, which is not terribly different from being forced to wear pink stars. It's not enough for them that each of us should be accepted for who we are as unique persons; no, we must be identified by a label as vile as the N-word. They reject the notion that male-male love is simply part of life in its endless variations because, while Oliver and Elio engage in a passionate affair, “We are refused the salacious filth and sexualized male flesh that give gay culture its radical power.”
The closing argument is most revealing: “Call Me by Your Name is a sensitive and passionate film, but it hardly seems gay in any dynamic sense, other than through the sexual organs of its two leads...the queens are for sure locked in the closet.”
Read it and see what you think . . .
A response from a blog buddy. It's in the comments but I wanted to be sure everyone has a chance to appreciate it.
Mr. Ratskoff is certainly entitled to his opinion, as I am to mine, which in my day my opinion of his commentary could be expressed in one word: Balderdash! I watched "Call Me By Your Name" and thoroughly enjoyed how it ignored political topics (and political correctness), how it demonstrated that not all gay men wear glitter or swoon over Ariana Grande.
I enjoyed how it demonstrated that sexuality can be fluid (Oliver dancing with a woman, yet having a tender and sensitive relationship with Elio, later phoning to say he's getting married, and Elio having sex with a woman while struggling to find his own sexual path). The tenderness of that last phone call was more than reminiscing about what was, it was an acknowledgement of each person traveling their own path through life (that acknowledgement was also made in the father/son conversation). He calls the "framing" of their sexual activity "coy and cowardly." Might I suggest that if Mr. Ratskoff wants more explicit sexual scenes, he subscribe to the Sean Cody site, or any of the other hundreds of ones out there where explicit sex is shown up close and personal?
Mr. Ratskoff completely ignores the other symbol of how one struggles for identity: the wearing of the Star of David.
Many years ago I was traveling through Idaho, had a rainbow flag on my bumper, passed a pickup with two guys in it. I stopped for gas, they stopped at a fair distance, kept looking and pointing. One finally came over and I braced myself for the worst. He acknowledged the bumper sticker, and our conversation went on to discuss how they live their own lives, without need of "any of that big-city [bs]". Did that make them not part of our "community...culture... [and] identity"? Would Mr. Ratskoff disapprove of them as well? (We parted on friendly terms.)
"Call Me By Your Name" is a very touching movie, despite the typical teen angst over figuring out one's sexuality, and without the need to be flamboyant or politically correct. It's a glimpse of people traveling the road of life, with all the potholes, speed bumps, and cresting the hill to a spectacular view of what's ahead, without forgetting what's left behind.