Would you let this man babysit your gay son?
I finally caught up with Gene Shalit the other morning after the Brokeback brouhaha. He was now reviewing a film free of nagging issues of sexuality and his review needed not concern itself with candor, unless he accidentally dropped the n-word bomb: the film was that passionate plea for bringing African-Americans into professional sports, Glory Road. (Can you imagine we once had an America in which blacks didn’t play basketball?!?!?) Nevertheless, Shalit looked dissheveled, beaten down, a splintery shell of a man. After declaring, in a surprisingly negative review, Jake Gyllenhaal’s Jack Twist a “sexual predator” who “coerced” Heath Ledger’s Ennis Del Mar into furious buttsex (weird, because Ennis was the top, but…whatever…details!), Shalit was bombarded by GLAAD accusations of homophobia, after which he issued an apology that appeased the organization. (The discovery that Shalit has a gay son was far less of a revelation than that he was able to father any children at all.) In any case, on the morning of the Glory Road review, which was wildly approving I may add, the Dick Cheney of the film-review circuit had shame written all over his face…his brillo hair was more unkempt than usual, his moustache was ever-so-slightly askew (i.e., bushier on one side). Shalit, an open letter: I’ll never forget your 1993 review of Jurassic Park, so full of bonhomie and so descriptive of the film’s spills and chills—with the just the right amount of tempting clips peppered about your grandiose statements, I might add. Always will you find a place in the hearts of all young critics just starting out who have to fight the stereotypes that we’re all a bunch of hirsute, bowtie-wearing sexual miscreants. Your image will remain burrowed into our collective consciousness for the rest of our careers. Hang in there, buddy, and fight the good fight. Don’t let the gradual nationwide takeover of the Pink Team get you down. Stand your ground. I salute you, Gene Shalit, Brokeback’s first critical casualty.