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Jul 9, 2009

Fletch's Film Review: Outrage

It's hard not to, ahem, get behind Kirby Dick's Outrage. If there's one thing Americans love more than schadenfreude and the building up/tearing down of our public figures, it's exposing hypocrites for what they are. On the heels of the Larry Craig/airport bathroom scandal, Dick set out to do just that; with an arsenal of journalists, bloggers, radio personalities, and even disgraced former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey behind him, Dick goes on the offensive for the GLBT demo, firing back at politicians that fight against gay rights in public, only to (perhaps) be living lies when it comes to their private lives.

Dick and Co. know it's a slippery slope they're playing on. For each politician they go after, from Craig to Florida governor Charlie Crist to former New York City mayor Ed Koch, there are a number of sources that claim behind-the-scenes knowledge of the lives of these men that goes beyond the public eye. The film steers away from the more opinionated style of documentaries from their liberal counterpart Michael Moore and stays the course with facts and hard data backing it up. Unlike Dick's last doc, 2006's This Film Is Not Yet Rated, Dick is nowhere to be seen; instead, he leaves the talking to sources like McGreevey, former Tempe (Arizona) mayor Neil Giuliano and Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank, all current or former politicians and all out gay men.

The filmmaking is sound if not particularly noteworthy; it's less of a story being told here than a series of case studies each delving into the lies and voting records of a singular politician. That being the case, your enjoyment of the movie is likely tied to your socio-political leanings going in. That being said, even though I'm pro-Outrage and Dick's goal, a small part of me can't help but worry that maybe, just maybe, the film is a mistake. If even one of Outrage's targets is not, in fact, homosexual, then the whole affair becomes a well-meaning, slanderous waste that helps no one and hurts the movement entirely. It's easy to point fingers, but you had better be aiming them in the right direction.

Oh, and the Harvey Milk tie-in at the last second felt sappy and forced. The connection is credible - Milk was a force in the gay community and a leading proponent of gays outing themselves, but coming on the heels of Milk's success, his inclusion lessens Outrage's own impact and makes it seem as though it's merely a docu-epilogue to last year's biopic.

Fletch's Film Rating:

"Darn tootin!"

2 people have chosen wisely: on "Fletch's Film Review: Outrage"

RIPE Creative said...

I do agree with you that they have to be insanely careful not to point fingers in the wrong direction. But I also think if it needs to be done for the greater social good - then these are the guys to do it. Gay people understand better than anyone what a big deal "coming out" is. And how bad it can be if you're forcefully outed.

Also, still wondering why wasn't Janet Napolitano mentioned?

Farzan said...

Hmm, that Harvey Milk tie-in has me interested since I loved penn's version of Milk, but it seems like the whole movie is pretty good.