50 Shades of Gay

Caomhan Keane 50 Shades

Bret Easton Ellis started a storm in a queercup recently when he stated that openly gay actor Mat Bomer couldn’t play the lead in the planned movie adaptation of ‘50 Shades of Grey’.

The American Psycho scribe, stated on twitter; “I don’t care how good an actor you are, being married to another man complicates things for playing Christian Grey”. Ignoring the very idea behind the art of acting he went on to tweet, the role “demands an actor who is into women”.

Cue a carpal tunnel inducing twitfit and press rebuttals from squawking heads. But in the rush to start a backlash against the controversial writer, his critics conveniently fudge the important question contained within the cantankerous scribe’s bile.

As Ellis tweeted; “If you think Universal is going to hire an openly gay actor to star in the adaptation of the biggest novel of all time: YOU are ignorant.”

It’s easy to cry homophobe, or self-loather in the case of the bi-sexual Ellis. But in a world where the lines between celebrity fact and our fictions are increasingly blurred (come on down, Kirsten Stewart), how can a studio be expected to put its trust – and its millions, behind a man who was hounded, then heralded out of the closet?

It’s a matter of should and could. Should Bomer be able to play the part of a sexually adventurous straight guy? Of course. He already has, albeit in the camp-as-a row-of-feather-boaed-gents, ‘Magic Mike’.

But it’s not a question of Bomer having the talent to pull off a straight man (oh behave) rather a question of a multiplex audience accepting it.

Since every interview, column inch, twitter thread and water-cooled conversation will be dwelling on the issue of the lead’s sexuality, fantasy will be hit with a screw-up of Frankenstorm proportions. And if you let the air out of the audiences’ projected desires they will let it out of your projected returns.

As county by county, state by state, the world stands up for the basic civil right of gay people to marry, it would be a wonderful gesture for Universal to cast Bomer in the role of Christian Gray.

But as I sat through ‘Skyfall’ the last year, and struggled to hear as Javier Bardem’s excellent homoerotic villain was drowned out by the titters of an uncomfortable audience, I realized how far we are from that day.

By Caomhán Keane