The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Monday, June 26, 2006

Merrily, Merrily, Up the Gay Sociopath!

By Andrew Tibbetts

My favourite characters on TV lately are the gay criminals. First there was hunky prisoner, Chris Keller (Chris Meloni) on OZ . Then there was charming drug dealer, Omar (Michael K. Williams) on The Wire. And now there’s a mobster Vito Spatafore (Joe Gannascoli) on the Sopranos. Are these gay guys who just happen to be criminals, or criminals who just happen to be gay? Either way, the gayness and the criminality don't seem to be welded together like, say, the trannie degenerate Clint Eastwood or some other 'good guy' blows away in that 70's movie (that I haven't been able to google up the title of before this deadline.) These HBOgays are likeable, merry murderers who do the job, but have a soft side, too. They might just be the most well-rounded gay people on TV. (Despite loving 6FU, I always thought David and Keith paled in comparison to the female troika of Ruth, Brenda and Claire. And straight brother Nate got way more story-line!)

The gay press is having an unambiguous love-fest with these queer bad guys. My, times have changed! This sort of thing used to get us up in arms. There were 29 arrests when gays protested Basic Instinct in San Francisco. We wanted to know why all the gay people in movies were sick, twisted and unhappy. Now it turns out it was just the unhappy part we didn't like. These new sick and twisted criminals know how to have a good time, and that seems to make all the difference. They’ve got self-esteem.

We've had to pass the protest torch to the albinos. Did you know there have been 63 films since 1960 to feature an evil albino? (I smell a film festival!) It’s got to stop. How about a Walk-the-Line-ish Edgar Winter bio-pic? I’m there! In the meantime there are plenty of fully pigmented people running around with their cilices digging into their flesh. Why don’t we hear about them? Albinos, however, need their Will and Grace, their Philadelphia, their Making Love. And then, after a few decades of making up, we'll be able to enjoy the Da Vinci Code. Well, maybe not the Da Vinci Code.

What's this got to do with me? I'm a gay man struggling to write a novel about straight people. I’m writing a small part for a gay guy and in light of the current celebration of the gay sociopath, I took a good look at him. He is kind of too-good-to-be true. Nice guy. Pure victim. I've gone back and given him some teeth. It was quite a refreshing process. Now the dreary book is really taking off. I honestly don't think us GLBTTQTSI-folks have anything to prove, so I'm happy to stop making gay characters who have the whiff of a public service announcement about them. Take this as my official resignation.


Blogger J.A. McDougall said...

Good for you Andrew! 'Bout time those characters bacame more well rounded, realistic...although I really loved David and Keith's relationship :)

Mon Jun 26, 10:09:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Antonios Maltezos said...

Nothing better than a character who is both screwed up and endearing--a bit of something for everyone.

Mon Jun 26, 11:34:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Tricia Dower said...

Hooray! Gay people with teeth. Let's put some denturists out of business. (You can tell I'm in Victoria. Denturists are minor celebrities here.) I liked the gay school teacher in "Whole New Thing." He wasn't a sociopath but he had his addictions. Made me appreciate him more.

Mon Jun 26, 02:52:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger tamara said...

Good post, Andrew. I can fully appreciate that sort of frustration trying to write characters that 'aren't you', and trying to get to them. Plus, a man with teeth just looks know?

Tue Jun 27, 01:35:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger sass said...

i'm all about the gay.

minus the boas.

Tue Jun 27, 11:28:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Thea Atkinson said...

ooo. Andrew. YOU have teeth!

very nice

Sun Jul 02, 07:46:00 pm GMT-4  
Anonymous JoAnne Soper-Cook said...

Well put, sir, but might I direct you to my own Inspector Devlin series, where sometimes the villains are gay but the gay are never villains and Inspector Devlin himself is of The Family. :)

Tue Jul 25, 08:52:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

Dear Joanne Soper-Cook, thanks posting on our blog. I rushed out and read your Inspector Devlin novel and loved it! I'm happy to be the proud possessor of the new novel. I can't wait to crack into it.

Fri Nov 17, 02:08:00 pm GMT-5  
Anonymous JoAnne Soper-Cook said...

Thank you, dear Mr. Tibbetts, and I hope you enjoy the new novel. I appreciate your kind words, which always warm the cockles of a writer's heart. All the very best to you in 2007! :)

Thu Jan 04, 01:47:00 pm GMT-5  

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