Something I rarely mention here is that I've always been a huge fan of skateboarding, and one of the most talented and ambitious skateboarders today is Ryan Sheckler. And now Sheckler has an AOL series called, "My Ink," ...link below. Just trust me on this. It's worth watching.
Ask any skateboarder on the planet who Ryan Sheckler is and you're sure to get an out-of-this-world answer. A child prodigy turned professional skateboarder, world-renowned athlete, teenage heartthrob, business owner, charity founder and TV star has made his name synonymous with skateboarding. What this 19-year-old has already accomplished as a teenager, most could only dream of accomplishing in a lifetime.
Ryan’s amazing skills in the park and on the street have won the respect of pros old enough to be his father, while his big green eyes have attracted the adulation of girls too young to get a driver’s license. He’s a phenom in every sense of the word. Yet, the SoCal teen is focused like a laser beam on his future. “Shecks” wants to go down in the record books as one of the greatest skaters who ever lived—and he’s traveling the globe to make it happen.
Aside from the fact that it's amazing to watch a skateboarder perform things most of us wouldn't dare to attempt on even the flattest surface, Sheckler has taken skateboarding to the level of art to a certain extent. He's also a huge fan of tattoos, which is also an art, and that's what "My Ink" is focused on. But it's a lot more than that, which is hard to explain in a blog post. You can watch it here, and here.
Every once in a while all it takes is one person to bring a lesser known sport into the mainstream. I think Sheckler's on to something interesting.
Straight Actors Gay Roles
Here's an article that's subtitled, "Should straight actors play gay roles?" Although it circles the proverbial airport at times and doesn't seem to have a point until the very end, there are certain parts I found both accurate and interesting. The author compares The Hangover Part III to Behind the Candelabra, and discusses the differences between how they treat gay content and how straight actors deal with gay roles. I've seen both films and liked both. It's hard for me to compare because Hangover is a silly, entertaining slapstick comedy meant to parody and Candelabra is a more serious film that turned into high camp that was not meant to parody but often does. Think Mommie Dearest and that brand of high camp where an actor or actress doesn't quite get it.
Many gays are so happy to see a story like Harvey Milk’s told at all that they’re willing to cede the role to Sean Penn, especially considering that without a big name like his attached, the project would almost certainly have never happened. (Big names, so far, are always straight.) But that on its own cannot account for how gayface is a treated differently from other touchy identity-based performances. What makes gayface a special case?
I personally think that comment tends to be more generational, as far as approval goes. The other day I wrote about straight James Franco playing gay roles, and his fascination with gay roles, and I had a slightly different POV than an older gay book reviewer I know who discussed the very same article I did. This gay blogger seemed thrilled that anyone would be willing to bring gay characters and storylines out in the open. And I do understand that, and often feel the same way, but I have a slightly different opinion about it. I'd be more thrilled if gay actors who want to play straight roles were treated as fairly as straight actors playing gayface in films.
In other words, the article I linked to above discusses how it doesn't really bother some gay men to see straight actors playing gay roles. It doesn't bother me either. However, nothing in the article mentions anything about gay actors playing straight roles...gay men or women. And if you do a simple search you'll find many articles about straight actors playing gay roles, all of which are soaked with praise. But if you do a simple search for gay actors playing straight roles there isn't nearly as much out there, and much of it seems to vary in opinion. But more important, rarely is it mentioned that so many closeted gay actors have traditionally been playing straight roles.
This article in Queerty did an excellent job, and they even did a study on how people feel about watching gay actors play straight roles.
Nearly 400 college students participated in the study by answering questions about a male actor’s fictional Facebook page that included a photograph and basic demographic information, including sexual orientation.
After watching a video of the actor’s performance, participants rated the performance and their likelihood of casting the actor in their own productions.
The only problem with this study is that you have to take into consideration that nearly 400 college students participated. I know there are older college students in some cases. But I would imagine more were between 18 and 21 years old. And once again, there's the generational aspect, where younger people seem less concerned. I've already posted here about how most gay actors in Hollywood don't come out of the closet because producers over the age of 35 tend to treat them differently than producers under the age of 35. I can't find my post right now, but here's a link to an article that talked about why gay actors can't come out.
According to the study, more than half of the 5,700 LGBT responders said they believe directors and producers are biased against LGBT performers (about a third of straight, nontransgender actors have witnessed anti-LGBT discrimination). To add insult to injury, more than half of gay and bisexual performers have heard directors and producers make antigay comments about actors.
Now that's a lot different than the results of the college study mentioned in the Queerty article, and I tend to take the latter far more seriously than the former because it's coming from first hand experience. Yes, I'm thrilled to see gay roles and gay storyline more now than ever. But the problem isn't whether or not Matt Damon or James Franco or any other straight actor can or should play gayface. The problem is whether or not Matt Damon or James Franco could play the lead in the film adaptation of something like "Fifty Shades of Grey," if they were openly gay actors to the world.
Magic Johnson's Gay Son
In one of the most positive articles I've read all week, Cookie Johnson, Magic's wife, talks about how she welcomed and supported her son coming out of the closet. It's not easy for anyone to come out, not at first. And being part of such a high profile family has to make it even harder in some cases.
To me, the most important thing is to let them know that you love them," she said. "These kids need that kind of support, they don't want to be ostracized especially at home with their own families...and why should they be? So it was important for us to make sure that he knew...that we loved him and we supported him 100 percent."
You can read more here.