Ok, I've personally never found Gene Shalit's film "reviews" very satisfying or insightful, but I've also had no reason to form any kind of opinion about him as an individual. But now I do... and my conclusion is that he's a homophobic asshole
Here is a quote from Gene Shalit's Today Show "review" of Ang Lee's award-winning film "Brokeback Mountain".
"Jack, who strikes me as a sexual predator, tracks Ennis down and coaxes him into sporadic trysts. But sporadic is not frequent enough for Jack. He wants Ennis full time. He whines, he pleads, he shouts that when they're apart, he's desolated. Jack cannot absorb Ennis' implied response: Better desolate than never."
So let me get this straight... any person who tells their lover that occasional secret liasons are unsatisfactory, and that they desire a closer and more permanent relationship, is a "sexual predator"? Or does this only apply to the gay community?
We have this response from The Advocate:
Gene Shalit--the 31-year veteran movie critic of NBC's Today show--came under fire Thursday by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for his review of Brokeback Mountain. GLAAD says that Shalit "used the occasion to promote defamatory antigay prejudice to a national audience."
In a bizarre piece of commentary for the "Critic's Corner," Shalit deemed Jake Gyllenhaal's character, Jack, a "sexual predator" who "tracks Ennis down and coaxes him into sporadic trysts."
The "characterization of Jack as a 'predator' and Ennis (Heath Ledger) as a victim reflects a fundamental lack of understanding about the central relationship in the film and about gay relationships in general," GLAAD said in a statement. "It seems highly doubtful that Shalit would similarly claim that Titanic's Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) was a 'sexual predator' because he was pursuing a romantic relationship with Rose (Kate Winslet)."
Shalit did praise Ledger's performance and said the movie does have a few dramatic peaks, but he added that the film was "wildly overpraised, but not by me."
The GLAAD statement added that "Shalit has every right as a film critic to criticize Brokeback Mountain. But his baseless branding of Jack as a 'sexual predator' merely because he is romantically interested in someone of the same sex is defamatory, ignorant, and irresponsible. And it is equally irresponsible for NBC News to have given Shalit a platform for his gratuitously offensive comments."
First of all, Jake Gyllenhaal's character doesn't "track Ennis down and coax him into sporadic trysts". If you see the movie that is more than clear. Ennis is a willing and eager participant.
The story this film tells is heartbreaking. It is all about repression and the denial of personal happiness based on fear, misunderstanding and bigotry. It is a story that almost any gay man or lesbian can identify with. It is also a landmark Hollywood film that shatters stereotypes in its honest and realistic presentation of a majority of gay relationships... FINALLY! But it's themes are universal, with definite crossover appeal.
Now, I would expect these kind of bigoted statements from members of the religious right, but not from the film critic of a major U.S. television network. Gene Shalit has shown his true colors and the executives at NBC need to hear from all of us.
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