Sexual Inadequacy: Taylor Lautner and the Dreamboat Academy
Dreamboats! Non-threatening young men who we can project our fears and desires onto, who also make us feel all feel funny in the tummy! Young men like Taylor Lautner, who seems to burn just a little bit brighter than any of the other stars in the Dreamboat Firnament. You can imagine I was utterly devastated when the new Australian GQ came in with T-Laut on the cover. I pored over the article, looking for any trace insights into T-Laut's vibrant interior world. On whether or not being famous is upsetting:
"I wouldn't say I get upset about it. I asked for this," he says. "It gets frustrating. But during that frustration you say, 'OK. Why am I frustrated? I'm doing what I love.' But sometimes you really just want to go do whatever you want to do."
Wow! Okay, that's the same old shit everyone says. But then because the entire world suddenly discovered queer people exist a few years ago, everyone who makes their dollar in celebrity news is now engaged in some sort of assiduous homographic census to ferret out any gay men anywhere that might be hiding out as successful leading men or athletes or recording artists, which means the interviewer has to ask if Lautner is gay. But he goes a step further and asks if either Dustin Lance Black and Gus Van Sant made a pass at him when they went out to dinner:
"No, definitely not," Hollywood's highest paid teen said when asked whether either Van Sant or Black made a pass. "I think they know I'm straight. But they're great guys. They're a lot of fun." Adding rather blandly: "It's not a coincidence that there was a writer, a director and an actor at dinner."
He went on to add "I don't think it was a coincidence that both salt and pepper were on the table that evening." Yes! So, Dustin Lance Black read this profile, threw on his angry missive cardigan, and fired back on his blog:
Above and beyond this clear attack on my character, I'm shocked that GQ would allow their writer to lean on the scurrilous, outdated stereotype that gay men are by nature sexual predators. I mean, would you have asked this same question if it were Diablo Cody and Kathryn Bigelow at dinner with Mr. Lautner? Leaning on lies, myths and stereotypes about gay people is hateful, harmful and outdated. It's not the 1950s anymore GQ, it's 2011 and it's time to grow up.
I take issue with Black's use of "sexual predator"—gay men are and have been portrayed as sexual predators, but one adult making a pass at another is not inherently predatory, even if it could be smarmy or poorly executed, especially given the power differential at play. Instead, the journalist is employing the old trope of queer sex as spectacle, the idea that queer people's sexual lives are open for endless speculation, rumination, ridicule, and evaluation by the larger heterosexual population. This is the trade off of burgeoning queer acceptance. You get straight friends that love and respect you, but who don't understand that there are days when the idea of having your sexuality arise as the topic of conversation makes you uncomfortable. You are queer in a way that they are not straight, and therefore your sexual identity and your sexual repertoire are specimens of another world, a fascinating world to which you are expected to be the cheerful ambassador.
In this case, Black and Van Sant's sexuality is considered to be both public property and omnidirectional. I can't imagine anything more fruitless than hitting on someone who identifies as straight—very, very dedicated people those heterosexuals—but apparently gay men are so immune to rejection that getting shot down by People Magazine's "Most Amazing Body" winner would seem like a good use of an evening, or a particularly fun thing to have happen to you? Obviously Van Sant and Black rose to the tops of their respective fields by hosting round after round of casting-couch grabass with waves of prettyboy LA shock troops before they found the right actors for the right parts. Certainly they also wrote screenplays and directed movies and shit. But it was the grabass that made it all worthwhile.
GQ responded on Facebook with an apology that slid into a fecal nebula of self-serving ad copy to promote their particular brand of bloodless consumer masculinity:
We've seen some of the comments floating around regarding our recent interview with Taylor Lautner and apologise if anyone was offended by anything in the article. It certainly wasn't our intention to paint anyone in the story as a sexual predator. The point we were actually trying to push was that Taylor is irresistible to virtually everyone – regardless of sexuality or gender. Hence the film crew cheering at his shirtless scenes while shooting Twilight, and Mark Wahlberg deeming him better looking than Leonardo Di Caprio.
Taylor is an extraordinary young gentleman, and we can't wait to see him achieve even greater success in the future. That's why he's on our cover – because GQ Australia prides itself on offering readers the best possible advice and insights that help you be modern, successful gentlemen. Whether you're into fashion, food, fitness, pop culture, politics, travel, technology or cars GQ Australia strives to provide you with top-quality editorial content that allows you to make your own discerning choices.
As I started to read the apology I thought to myself "You know what this apology needs? This apology needs a mission statement. And some faux 'Everyone's A Little Bisexual So Equality' pablum. And Marky Mark. I hope they include these important things in their apology" and it turned out fortune smiled upon me. So they apologized, and yet another blow was struck for people with enough sense to write timely press releases to quell the unformed rage of niche markets.
Let's all go out for milkshakes.
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