Monday evening I saw Milk. In the theaters. Yes, I paid my $12.50, but I was not alone! We had been intending to see Slumdog Millionaire, but when we got to the theater all of the ticket kiosks were not working which caused great confusion and one heck of a line to the actual ticket counter where actual people give you your tickets. By the time we got up to the front to buy our tickets it was too close to the start time for us to get popcorn and not be sitting in the front of the theater. Thanks a lot, AMC 25 at Times Square! So we changed our movie from Slumdog to Milk since that started a little bit later.
Milk was very good, and inspiring in it's way, but it's hard not to watch it and feel sad. It's TOO timely. Effing Propositions to limit people's rights in California. Except it seems we had greater success for pushing back against the oppression 30 years ago. The movie reawakened the disappointment I felt about Prop. 8 at election time. It was hard to really experience it then with the Obama win being so inspiring. But watching the movie, which is so well-acted and very interesting, it puts the spotlight back on the huge problem of social inequality for gay people in this country. And it made me sad to think that we're having such a similar argument 30 years later.
But then I thought about the actual movie and thought too about how gayness and gay characters have been changing in just the past decade. I remember in college how student groups would come into the Health Education Office looking for gay-themed movies for events on raising awareness and there were so few main stream movies to pick from. Now it seems like that taboo has fallen away and straight or gay actors can play gay characters and there's no fear of career backlash. Also it seems like stories involving gay, lesbian, and transgender characters are gaining more focus in film. Even a couple years ago Brokeback Mountain seemed to pushing the envelope with its gay cowboy love story, but in some ways Milk seems more provacative a film, but is met with less fanfare because the subject matter has an easier reception now. These are steps forward, maybe not in terms of legislation, but at least in terms of public awareness. As gay people gain focus as an integrated part of the American psyche, more people will accept the need for change and equality. So that's a good thing. And i think Milk is a very good example of that. Sean Penn and Josh Brolin are just terrific at humanizing their characters. They are flawed and have many levels and their interaction together is ultimately tragic for both. This is one you should definitely see.