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Ramin Setoodeh is back with another astonishingly stupid column

Timothy Kincaid

April 27th, 2010

It appears that Newsweek’s Ramin Setoodeh is so insecure in his own sexuality that he is compelled to fall all over himself in his effort to give ammunition to our enemies. Like a dog trained to expect a kick, he never fails in his ability to point out his suspicions about the flaws, failings, and inabilities of gay people.

Setoodeh was the entertainment reporter who went to Oxnard to cover the cold-blooded murder of gay teenager Larry King and instead ran a hit-piece arguing that it was all King’s fault. His murderer, Brandon McInerney, was a sensitive and “smart”, but “troubled”, boy who had been harassed and taunted by King who “flaunted his sexuality and wielded it like a weapon.”

That was, of course, before it was discovered that McInerney had white supremest connections and neo-Nazi beliefs.

In May of last year, Setoodeh predicted that Adam Lambert wouldn’t get into the finals because Christians wouldn’t vote for him. Then in November he wondered whether gay rights were being set back by gay characters on TV such as Kurt on Glee or Marc on Ugly Betty who “stand apart” too much (“if you want to be invited to someone else’s party, sometimes you have to dress the part”)

Well, Setoodeh is back with another column of poorly-contrived speculation presented as thoughtful commentary. And, as usual, while it is dressed up in the pretenses of liberal concern, at heart it’s just an excuse to denigrate gay people.

This time Setoodeh is lamenting the difficulties that gay actors have in getting straight roles, and he’s identified the problem. It’s not that studio execs are leery of hiring them or that straight audiences won’t watch gay actors. No, it’s that gay actors aren’t convincing.

To prove that gay men just can help being big ol’ nelly queens that could never be believable as straight, he brings us two examples. (Gay women are only believable “before” they are gay.)

First, the “real problem” with Promises, Promises is that it stared Sean Hayes, better known as Jack on Will and Grace.

But frankly, it’s weird seeing Hayes play straight. He comes off as wooden and insincere, like he’s trying to hide something, which of course he is. Even the play’s most hilarious scene, when Chuck tries to pick up a drunk woman at a bar, devolves into unintentional camp. Is it funny because of all the ’60s-era one-liners, or because the woman is so drunk (and clueless) that she agrees to go home with a guy we all know is gay?

And having Jonathan Groff playing a straight role in Glee just destroys that show’s gritty reality and believability.

on TV, as the shifty glee captain from another school who steals Rachel’s heart, there’s something about his performance that feels off. In half his scenes, he scowls—is that a substitute for being straight? When he smiles or giggles, he seems more like your average theater queen, a better romantic match for Kurt than Rachel. It doesn’t help that he tried to bed his girlfriend while singing (and writhing to) Madonna’s Like a Virgin.

To Ramin Setoodeh, it’s just a sad, sad, lamentable (but undeniable) fact that gay actors should be relegated to the hairdresser and prison guard roles. And besides, those roles don’t challenge Setoodeh’s own comfort level.



April 27th, 2010 | LINK

Ramin Setoodeh is intellectually dishonest too. During his hit piece on Adam Lambert for a Bill O’Reilly segment when American Idol Season 8 was on….

He portrayed Kris Allen as a good Christian and Adam Lambert as a godless gay.

He even said that it was unknown whether Adam Lambert had any religious affiliation….

Yet Adam Lambert is Jewish (by ethnicity no less as his mother is Jewish) and there are youtube clips and blog posts about Adam singing at Jewish charity events and telethons before he became famous.

Of course Ramin and Bill O conveniently left that out as it interfered with their narrative.

And although Kris Allen is often portrayed as a conservative evangelical, he has said in interviews that he is not conservative. He is a liberal gay affirming Christian and that gets left out as well.

Also his premise can work in reverse. Perhaps some gay actors aren’t convincing as straight (but some surely are…Neil Patrick Harris anyone?)….

But some straight actors aren’t very convincing as gay (Jake Silbermann as Noah in the soap Luke and Noah couple for example) either.

Bill S
April 27th, 2010 | LINK

I don’t find his critique of Jonathan Groff accurate either. I think he and Lea Michele-who co-starred in “Spring Awakening”, have chemistry together. Of course there’s something “off” about his character-his motives for dating Rachel are suspicious.

April 27th, 2010 | LINK

I didn’t even know Jonathan Groff was gay. I didn’t see anything wrong with his acting or how he is portraying his character on Glee.

Why is this Ramin guy so homophobic? Is he straight or another self hating gay?

April 27th, 2010 | LINK

He hangs out at the Phoenix in the East Village. He’s about as likable in person.

We can all take solace in the fact that no one reads Newsweek and it will probably go the way of Life magazine in a few years.

April 27th, 2010 | LINK

Sehtoodeh may very well have a point. Just look at how unconvincing HE is in playing the role of a straight man.

April 27th, 2010 | LINK

Why does he care about this crap? I wasn’t aware this was an issue. Let the viewers decide what’s believable. Stop being so self-important.

April 27th, 2010 | LINK

Oh and while Milk featured some decent performances by straight actors, as much as I liked Brokeback Mountain I didn’t find them all that believable. It’s all on the actors, not their sexuality.

Jim Burroway
April 27th, 2010 | LINK

Wow. Setoodeh may be onto something. Sure explains why Neil Patrick Harris’ career is in the toilet.

Neon Genesis
April 27th, 2010 | LINK

“Oh and while Milk featured some decent performances by straight actors, as much as I liked Brokeback Mountain I didn’t find them all that believable. It’s all on the actors, not their sexuality.”

My problem wasn’t with their acting skills but that their sex scenes were so faked.

April 27th, 2010 | LINK

Yep that was the worst part..

April 27th, 2010 | LINK

Ramin Setoodeh parrots heterosexual prejudices. The belief that gay people are not convincing as heterosexuals is used to deny gay actors work. Casting directors do everything they can to deny gay actors work, that’s why there is a big difference in demographics between acting schools and Hollywood. The cast of Angels in America, a uniquely gay story about the AIDS crisis, was heterosexual only.

I thought Jonathan Groff was heterosexual before he came out.

April 27th, 2010 | LINK

Seriously, we all know gays play better straights than straights play gays.

Anyone ever hear of the closet?

April 27th, 2010 | LINK

Rock. Hudson.

Regan DuCasse
April 27th, 2010 | LINK

Why is anyone asking him anyway?

April 27th, 2010 | LINK

Matt: Setoodeh hangs out at The Phoenix? So he is gay, then… I kind of suspected he was from the start. If he’s single, I’ll be he’d be a nice fit with Jamie Kirchick.

April 28th, 2010 | LINK

I didn’t know Goff was gay. I didn’t get any unconvincing vibe off him – he played the predatory straight guy quite convincingly. And he’s using Glee as the measure of believable acting? I love the show, but every character on it is a cartoon, deliberately. I wouldn’t judge any of the actors ability to play a different role one way or another based on Glee.

Sean Hayes comes across as wooden and unconvincing because he can’t act, not because he’s gay.

What’s clear is that Setoodeh can’t wrap his head around a gay actor playing straight. He seems to be the same kind of person who won’t “let” an actor famous for one role be in another part. It isn’t that the actor is unconvincing; it’s that HE can’t see past the actor’s private life.

Shannon Spencer Fox
April 28th, 2010 | LINK

A gay actor can’t play a straight character? How does that explain Ian McKellen then? Unless there’s more to both Magneto and Gandalf the Grey than we really knew…

April 28th, 2010 | LINK

Burr, you nailed it. This is America and if something is going to work, it’s because it has enough appeal to make a profit.

I always thought the same thing in the opening credits to Jem (I kid you not). “We are the Misfits, our songs are better.” OK? You claim your songs are better, but here’s Jem destroying you on the charts.

April 28th, 2010 | LINK

His regular appearances on Fox shows he’s nothing more than their “house f—-t”. He probably goes and sits in the sub-basement with Alan Colmes until they need him.

April 28th, 2010 | LINK

I saw a production of The Laramie Project at a local gay theatre, in which the swishiest, twinkiest member of the cast played a character who actually had to say the line “I mean, I’m straight,” leading to audible gasps from the audience. So yes, there are gay actors who can’t convincingly play straight. There are straight actors who can’t convincingly play gay. And there are just bad actors who can’t convincingly play anything.

I don’t know or care about Setoodeh’s sexuality, but what really comes through is his stupidity.

April 28th, 2010 | LINK

I was thinking of Ian McKellen, too, Shannon. I had no idea until I read his Wikipedia entry..

April 28th, 2010 | LINK

Two words:
Ian McKellan

One of the few film actors who achieved world recognition for his roles on”the legitimate stage” (live) in classic plays by Shakespeare, Chekhov, and others BEFORE he came to film.

April 30th, 2010 | LINK

Neil Patrick Harris is gay? Great, break my heart.

David in Houston
April 30th, 2010 | LINK

A couple names come quickly to mind: Meredith Baxter, who played the mom on Family Ties for seven seasons; and Dan Butler, who played “Bulldog” Briscoe for 11 seasons on Frasier. Both were completely believable in their roles. Of course, lets not forget all the gay men playing straight on the morning soap operas. I think we’re talking double-digits here.

April 30th, 2010 | LINK

Didn’t know about Dan Butler!

May 8th, 2010 | LINK

All I have to say is Ian McKellen – one of the greatest actors of our time. Just an insane article

May 10th, 2010 | LINK

Heterosexual douchebaggery at its finest!

May 11th, 2010 | LINK

Some bad actors might not be able to play a role that doesn’t have their sexual orientation the same as their real life orientation. Maybe Setoodeh is right in this case, but it’s absurd for him to extrapolate from this, especially given the counterexamples he could have easily found.

May 11th, 2010 | LINK

“As viewers, we are molded by a society obsessed with dissecting sexuality, starting with the locker-room torture in junior high school.”

Hmmm… maybe Setoodeh had some special experiences as as a youth that he needs to share with the staff at Exodus.

gay actors
July 26th, 2010 | LINK

Ramin Setoodeh is back with another astonishingly stupid column.

Kate B.
November 3rd, 2011 | LINK

Gay or not we don’t judge people by their sexual orientation. I still like him as an actor, columnist and most importantly as a person!

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