Last week, after watching the American film for the umpteemth time, I thought I should put the French one on my Netflix queue. Before I remembered to do that, I saw the film on sale at Borders–and I had a coupon.
Birdcage‘s jaundiced view of Republicans never really bothered me because, well, it’s just a story. Â No Republican as narrow as Gene Hackman‘s Kevin Keeley could win election to statewide office, especially not in Ohio. Still, Hackman inhabited the role with such class that he made it enjoyable, even made his character sympathetic.Â And anyway, his extremism helped accentuate the culture clash, making the film more outrageous and definitely more entertaining
This time, however, as i watched I wondered some gay people (and even some straights) see Republicans as the caricature portrayed by Hackman. Judging my my e-mail and some of the comments here, I would dare say they do.
Perhaps, it’s because I saw Birdcage first that I preferred it to La Cage which inspired it. My cinephile friends insist the French flickÂ is a better film. And perhaps it is, but who’s to judge. Â I might feel that way had I seen it first. Or had I seen when I lived in France and could better relate to that culture.
Judging the quality of a film is really a subjective thing. Sometimes we define this movie as better than that because we can better identify with its protagonist’s journey. Or the situation in which he finds himself.
All that said, both films, each with its slow moments, are wonderfully entertaining. As I watched the latter, thoroughly engaged, it struck me how big a draw drag has been at the box office. And I don’t just mean the cinematic box office.
It’s been a draw at least since the term box office was coined. Male actors played female roles in Shakespeare’s day — and beyond. And then there were those Shakespeare plays when the male characters played female characters impersonating men.
And I saw all this as a gay man who does whatever he can to avoid drag shows. Maybe it’s reading Camille Paglia that’s got me thinking about all this.