Both actors won awards for playing LGBT characters, but did they really get under the skin?
Jared Leto and Michael Douglas each won a Golden Globe award last night for their stand-out performances in very different films. Both actors' characters share the similarity of being part of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender (LGBT) community with Leto's Rayon a transgender woman suffering with AIDS in Dallas Buyers Club and Douglas' gay Liberace lifted from real life in Behind The Candelabra.
Michael Douglas Raised Some Eyebrows With An Insensitive Acceptance Speech.
With such high profile awards for what would have traditionally been controversial roles, the actors' wins mark a great leap forward for the portrayal of LGBT characters in movies and a move to eradicate homophobia and stereotyping in cinema. Whilst these positives cannot be denied, it has been noted in the wake of the initial glow and glamour of the awards that not every aspect of Leto and Douglas' win is cause for celebration.
Critics have highlighted both actors' acceptance speeches as cause for concern, noting a palpable flavour of homophobia. It's the mark of any great actor to give a knockout performance in a movie and then an entertaining acceptance speech but in trying to entertain the audience, both actors opted for comedy gags that relied on gay humour and represented an incongruity with their movie roles and awards pride.
Jared Leto Used Some Sensitive Issues As Joke Fodder In His Speech.
Leto, who like Douglas is straight, began his speech by mocking expectations about his anatomy. "I did not ever use any prosthetics in this film. That tiny little Brazilian bubble butt was all mine." Whilst Leto almost certainly wasn't intentionally wishing to say anything insulting about transgender people, he probably forgot that his character felt uncomfortable in her body and suffered for her sexual identification.
"It was a very transformative role. I had to do a lot of things to prepare. One of the things I did was wax my entire body, including my eyebrows," added Leto, playing for laughs by patronising the actions a trans person often considers a ritual, amongst the other painful modifications undertaken to feel comfortable in one's own skin.
Douglas displayed a similarly flippant attitude and even negative opinions towards the LGBT community in his own speech. Though he described the part as an "incredible gift," the actor spoke about the moment when he was first asked by director Steven Soderbergh whether he'd be interested in the Liberace role. "The paranoid actor that I was, I thought maybe I was mincing a little bit," said Douglas, to awkward laughter.
Douglas' words come after his rather insensitive Emmys acceptance speech in which he made several crude jokes about anal sex and asked co-star Matt Damon if he wanted "the bottom or the top."
Watch Michael Douglas' Golden Globes Acceptance Speech:
It's true that Douglas and Leto's wins probably overshadow any inappropriate jokes made during their speeches but the encoding of un-p.c terms such as "mincing" into the humour registers of showbiz and the desensitisation of issues that can be difficult for individuals of any sexuality to deal with shows that Hollywood still has some distance to cover until LGBT stories can receive an even-handed portrayal.
Do you think the jokes made by Jared Leto and Michael Douglas during the Golden Globes were inappropriate or funny? Let us know!