Monday, June 30, 2008

Warning! The new "Get Smart" movie is "disgusting".

I took my nephews (between the ages of 5 and 11) to see the new Get Smart movie. It was funny and very good especially if you enjoy slapstick comedy. They kept it much the same as the original television show and I thought they did a great job.

While watching the movie there is a scene in which Maxwell Smart (played by Steve Carell) kisses another male on the lips in slow motion. During this scene a man with three children (between the ages of 14 and 8) behind us contemptuously says out loud, “Disgusting!”

I was thrown back to 1978 watching the movie Midnight Express where two naked men in a shower scene kiss each other. I was a gay 15-years-old and was excited and aroused by the scene having never viewed anything like it before. The audience shouted anti-gay slurs screaming epithets like, “gross”, “fags” and then clapped when one of the men pushed the other away. The message sent to me at that time was, “never tell a soul about your homosexual interests or people will insult you”.

Back to the movie, Get Smart, 30 years later there is at least now only one man in the audience making a shaming and negative remark about two men kissing.

I sat there angry and hurt not knowing what to do. Had I not been there with my nephews I would have turned to him said something about this homophobic statement. But I didn’t.

When we got back into my car I told my nephews that the comment made by the man behind me hurt me and angered me. My 8-year-old nephew said, “Because you are gay?” and I answered, “Yes”. He then said something very wise, “But maybe to people who are not gay it is disgusting to see two men kissing”. I responded by saying, “Maybe so but people should not say that out loud you hurt people’s feelings. I kiss Mike like that and it is not disgusting to me”. He agreed.

I was glad I said something to my nephews so they do not think that what that man said in the movie was okay. What about this man’s children and the other children in the audience? Homophobic messages of hate and contempt go into the minds and psyches of children and perpetuate anti-gay beliefs.

What would you have done about this at a movie theatre?


Greg Halpen said...


Ahh..I know this kind of situation very well.

You expressed this in a touching and compelling way. The gentleman in the back was obviously fearful about seeing two men kissing and "good for you" for not responding.

I think it was very interesting that your nephews were there. They are reminders that we don't have to react to make powerful changes, and we don't have to play a part in someone Else's negativity. By not responding you actually created some major shifts in the environment.

Gosh...Your nephew is very wise. It's amazing what little kids will say. Your nephew's reply was so honest and innocent.


Thank you for your awareness!


Mark Cochran said...

Hi Joe,

When I took my kids to see "Get Smart" I heard a few giggless and gasps and that was about it. I'm not surprised you heard a negative comment from someone.

While I'm not defending this man, he's probably not desensitized to gay affection. So yea, it was likely a knee-jerk reaction and not a good one. A little self-discipline on his part would have gone a long way.

Along the same lines, I remember my first time in a gay bar seeing two men dance together. To be honest, it played into my own homophobia and took me awhile to get over it - and I'm a gay man!

Please know I understand your feelings of hurt and the shame this guy's negative comments inflicted on you. How wonderful you were able to use it as a teaching moment with your nephews. I see good things happening with their generation!

Take care,


Jeff Brosnan said...

Hi Joe,
We can pass laws, however we cannot legislate people's feelings. The more we are "out" there and educating the population about us, the less fear will be present by both Males and Females who find public same-sex affection to be "icky." Rather than ignoring the individual who was negative, I would have asked a question of him as to what concerned him about the kiss. However, since your nephews were with you, perhaps discretion is the better part of valor. Best, Jeff

patty said...

I would have turned around and said (like I have in the past when people are to loud) Look, I paid good money to see this movie could you plese keep your homophobic comments to yourself." Then I would have gotten up and went to secuity and told them that a man sitting behind me & is making too much noise could they please have him move or have him leave. I have done this before and usually the people get so angry that they leave anyways. Afterall, at the begining of every show it clearly states, NO CELL PHONES and NO talking to be respectful of your neighbor.

Joe Kort said...

Great ideas from everyone. Patty I especially like yours! You are brave. I need to find my inner lesbian! :)

James C "Jes" said...


Living in the south, I'm very aware of how pervasive intolerance is. I've been in situations with my kids (when they were younger) where there were comments made. They taught me so very much when they consistently labeled such comments as "Sad," "Dumb" and (later) "Ignorant."

They always requested "discretion" from me, but also expected me to act like a typical partner, friend and, yes, lover. Now, as they are adults with children of their own, they can say that they are equally "disinterested" in the affectional and sexual habits of their parents together BOTH their mother and their father with their current partners(both of us now with males!). Just like thinking about MY parents' in anything more than the goodnight "peck," they, too would say "disgusting."

However, I am more saddened by members of our own community that will not be affectionate with their spouses in public and will not let "the public at large" see them act like they love the way they do. Unfortunately, they are the same people that found my daughter's very, very discrete nursing of their babies in quiet corners offensive. (Both of the girls have vowed that they will NEVER feed their next child in a bathroom stall again!) In the end, intolerance is just that - intolerance.

In the end, I hope to continue to teach my children and grandchildren that differences are what make us special. While we don't have to like or appreciate every bit of those differences, we must allow it to be valuable and important to them.

My kids used to hate it when they'd bicker and I'd hush them with something like, "Isn't it nice that we can all have our own opinions and they can be different." (Yes, it was also often paired with "Now go to your corners!") As they now raise their own, they develop their own affirmations.

All three (and their significant others or spouses) will say that being "Differently Dadded" helped them with a much broader view of life. Your nephews are lucky!


Renato, from Sao Paulo, Brazil said...

Hi. I'm from Brazil, so my answer probably isn't the same it would be if I lived in the US, but I guess I wouldn't do anything. I dislike homophobic remarks, but I don't think it'd help to argue with the guy, unless he talked directly to me (as in "Hey, buddy, don't you think this is disgusting?"). Some random guy telling you you shouldn't say or do whatever it is that you're saying or doing doesn't mean much, in the end. It's different when you're trying to get some kind of support from others and fail to get it. Maybe then you'll stop and think about what you just said or did, since the opinion of that person will have some kind of value to you. If the guy is talking to nobody in particular, maybe telling him you don't think he should express his harsh point of view will just make him angrier and more homophobic then before.

Esther said...

I think you handled it well. I mean, it's a public place, someone you don't know, the middle of a movie. It's not like you could take the person aside for a quiet conversation.

You could turned around and glared at him, or firmly told him you didn't appreciate what he said. But you were with your nephews.

The important thing isn't whether or not you responded to the jerk who made the comment, but the conversation you had with your nephews afterward. And I think that was a great conversation.

Personally, I've had a couple of people make antigay comments at work and I always pull them aside and talk to them about it as calmly as I can. Sometimes they understand and sometimes, unfortunately, they don't.

But I think it's important to respond, especially if you're straight. I mean, it's about speaking out against bigotry - something that should concern all of us.

-Mark D. (Boston) said...


The same thing happenned in the theater to a few of my friends and I when we saw two different movies. In one - "Bring it on" - the teen cheerleader movie, one of the male chearleaders introduced himself at a competition to another male cheerleader, and our handsome hero appears a little twitterpated at meeting someone special. This wasn't even a kiss, but drew a load and bemoaning "oh no" from a woman in the crowd. (Interestingly, there was no reaction to the scene where the other straight male cheerleader hoists one of the females in the air, portraying something much more crude, and grins all over himself.) But my reaction was to immediately pipe up and exclaim "wooo hooo, that's AWESOME!" In a non-confrontational way, I wanted to send a message that yes, there were gay people in the audience, and not only did we have a difference of opinion, some of us fealt validated by being included in the intended audience of the movie. The way I saw it, she has a right to her opinion, and we have a right to express ours. And although others are often insensitive in espressing their difference of opinion, you can't let it get to you.

In the second movie, "Alexander" (the Great), I was a little quieter when the kissing went on. The audience, for some unknown reason, was packed with military guys in fatigues with girlfriends in store, and I was a little more timid about raising my voice. But come to think of it, the theater was packed and there actually were no slurs in the movie.

Let's keep working for progress!