Why I Love Gay Peopleposted in `Roids |
Believe it or not, there are some people out there who, despite never having seen a Troma movie, have drawn some incorrect conclusions about us and our product. They have heard “the stories” about us and feel free to roll their eyes heavenward and spew their criticism. “Troma is crap, Troma is sexist, Troma panders to the lowest common denominator.” This, of course, is coming from someone who never so much as watched a minute of a Troma film run through a projector. These same people would be surprised to learn that Troma is, what is called, a gay friendly company. After all, to be “gay friendly” means you’re enlightened, progressive, caring and so much other PC horse crap which Troma is supposedly not known for. But the fact remains; Michael Herz and I are now, and always have been, very supportive of the gay and lesbian community.
The simple fact is that I love gay people. I love them for the obvious reasons. I know there is nothing finer than two hard-bodied lesbians slow dancing. I also know that the gay community has helped make New York City the epicenter of what is hip and stylish. I recognize the important contribution gays have made to the film industry. James Whale the man who directed Karloff in Frankenstien was gay. So was George Cukor who, during his long and successful career as a director in Hollywood, helped give the cinema its visual language.
I have employed many gay people over the years and I can say they were as good (or as bad, depending on my mood and degree of hangover) workers as their “straight” counterparts. More importantly I know that a large number of our fans are gay. It does not surprise me. Anyone who has seen our films knows they are harmless good fun with the ability to appeal to everyone. But I think the number one reason Troma loves gay people is because we feel a certain amount of kinship with them. Like the gay community, we have been stigmatized, villified, condemned from pulpit to pressroom, made the scapegoat again and again. And why? Simply because we are weird.
Weird is just another word for different as far as I’m concerned. And these are not good times to be different. More so than ever before the mere act of expressing yourself has become risky business, especially after the tragedy of Littleton Colorado. Here was a case of two teens who, for whatever reason, chose to dress and act in a manner that was not part of the mainstream. For that reason they were ridiculed and persecuted simply because they looked and acted differently from their peers. It does not help that they were raised in an environment that is not known for open-mindedness.
I’m not a shrink and I am not going to try to get inside these kids heads and understand or rationalize what they did. I firmly believe what they did was fucked up. In many ways, why they fucked up is not my interest. What I’m more concerned about is the general reaction. They were pushed over the edge and the result is now anyone who is different is suspect. Being different is now the same as being a danger. For decades the message has been- play football, fuck girls, beat up fags: Good. Express yourself, be creative, be different: Bad. Now added to the latter are, dangerous, anti social, and criminal.
Such an attitude can catch on easily because American culture already has a foundation of racism, sexism and homophobia. This message comes from our “leaders” both political and religious, and it comes from the mainstream news media. It comes from our schools and it comes from the parents and children who are getting the message full blast. They will either suppress their true selves and live in constant fear of being persecuted for what they are, or they will do the persecuting themselves.
We here at Troma have been expressing ourselves for the past quarter century. We have done so despite the criticism that has been heaped upon us. We are proud to be different. It’s because we are different that we have enjoyed a measure of success. But that success is little consolation when we read the headlines. The movie industry is now the target of a great deal of criticism (and seeing how Troma has always been the bad boy on the movie block you can see how under the thumb we may feel sometimes). We have too much influence. We are corrupting the youth of this nation. We are the cause for all things bad. Of course we know we are none of those things but it still pisses me off because I am beginning to see the same catch phrases pointed at Troma, that have been used to persecute others.
These condemnations have a ring of familiarity and are similar to the hate speeches that have been heaped on gays. “They have too much money”, “are over-educated”, “they run the media and have too much influence in everything from education to finance”. That is what has been said about gays. That is what is being said about the people who run the movie business. And it is very similar to what was being said in 1936 in Germany.
Just a couple of final thoughts:
1) Cukors Romeo and Juliet (1936) is, to this day, the best cinematic adaptation of Shakespeare. When I was making Tromeo & Juliet I gave all the cast members a copy of this film.
2) Now, before any of our Colorado fans get upset, let me explain. Yes, Colorado is a pretty state and Denver is a fantastic city and there are lots of great things from Colorado. However this is the state that passed legislation making it perfectly legal to discriminate against a class of people, namely homosexuals.