22 Hilarious Excerpts From Scathing Reviews of “Stonewall”

Much to nobody’s surprise (especially that of the activists who were actually there), Stonewall has not fared well after its debut at the Toronto Film Festival. Here are just some of the many metaphors, comparisons and other delightful bits of wordsmithery that we can enjoy together instead of enjoying the movie.

1. “[Stonewall] slaps you in the face like a sodden cloth, over and over again.” (the daily beast)

2. “It’s so clumsy in its execution that it feels like someone set up an ornate chess set and then just smashed a watermelon on it.” (uproxx)

3.Stonewall couldn’t be more whitewashed than if it was doused in Clorox Bleach and thrown into the laundry three times over.” (the heights)

4. “Stonewall has the opportunity to tell the story of a profound, pivotal moment in the history of gay rights in this country, and it not only fumbles it, it trips over it, then falls off a cliff, then sets itself on fire. ” (deadspin)

5. “[The] production design makes late 1960s Christopher Street look like Sesame Street.” (vanity fair)

6. “…often looks as if it was shot on the set of an old Janet Jackson music video.” (santa cruz sentinel)

7. “Ray leads a ragtag gang of street hustlers that look like a scruffy chorus line from an off-Broadway production.” (citybeat)

8. “When the group is sitting outside on a stoop, it all looks too staged, as if they are waiting to break into a song from Rent.” (nola)

9. “… it should be called “Independence Gay.” (vanity fair)

10. “…a gay Forrest Gump.” (uproxx)

11. “You get more of a sense of what it’s like to visit SeaWorld in the notoriously abysmal Jaws 3D than you do what it was like to patronize Stonewall in StonewallStonewall teaches you about as much about being gay as the Aristocats taught you about being an aristocrat.” (defamer)

12. “Having Danny throw the first brick at the Stonewall riots is a bit like when Marty McFly goes back in time and steals rock ‘n’ roll from Chuck Berry, taking history away from the real participants.” (uproxx)

13. “[Danny screams] ‘Gay power!’ as though he’d just been stabbed with a high-dosage EpiPen.” (the a.v. club)

14. “You seriously watch Danny get off the bus and gape up at all those tall buildings while clutching his suitcase—acting less like an authentic representation of late-’60s gay culture, and more like a Newsies extra.” (deadspin)

15. “As if Selma had focused a fictional white liberal character instead of Martin Luther King, Jr.” (the wrap)

16. “Like saying that Rosa Parks was a tired lady who decided she’d rather rest her feet.” (salon)

17. “…the actually-gay Jonny Beauchamp lisps and screeches his way through his role like a straight high-schooler trying on homosexuality for a school play.” (indiewire)

18. Stonewall plays like a William Inge knockoff, right down to the bookish, progressive little sister straight out of “Picnic.” (chicago tribune)

19. “Danny’s unflaggingly tolerant kid sister is an absolute nightmare… her every cloying message of total support like a rusty nail driven directly into the frontal lobe.” (indiewire)

20. “[The film] ends on a falsely contemporary note, as though it were a PSA for the It Gets Better campaign.” (vulture)

21. “Somehow, director Roland Emmerich has made a movie even less historically accurate than 10,000 BC, the one depicting Egyptian-style pyramids being constructed with the help of woolly mammoths.” (news-observer)

22. “…about as realistic as Godzilla’s radioactive flame breath.” (star tribune)

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Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3224 articles for us.


  1. Then there’s my favorite, from IMDB

    “In Stonewall, Roland Emmerich does to the dignity of New York’s burgeoning LGBT community what he did to the White House in Independence Day”

      • They are a lining ever so shiny and chrome.

        And “more whitewashed than if it was doused in Clorox Bleach and thrown into the laundry three times over” I will use that in real life.

        Because gentrification and some time I will again be visiting my nieces and nephew in Connecticut where whiteness just seems to abiogenesis.

  2. You know, you reallyyyy have to make a crappy work to make the 1995 movie looked better than this shit.

    And #16 is the best analogy I’ve seen around.

  3. All this whitewashing made me think about the urgent need we have to truly document our history as a community and a political movement, showing all aspects, all sides and all the freaking letters involved.

  4. This film seems so awful that I cannot wait to illegally download it and laugh the entire way through. Also, I love that essentially it seems like this movie accidentally turned an even worse version of RENT than the movie managed to be.


    Especially the ones for this disgusting transphobic racist generic shitfest of a movie.

  6. Everyone is so upset that trans people of color are majorly underrepresented (which I completely agree with) but why is no one more upset about the fact that this film has literally zero lesbian representation??

    • well, i am! we have a writer working on a piece about Stormé DeLarverie, a butch lesbian who played a major role in the riots. also sylvia rivera, one of the trans women erased from the film, was a lesbian as far as i know.

      • Wrong. Sylvia Rivera was multi-gender-attracted and actively quoted as saying she was NOT a lesbian. Please do not continue to perpetuate the erasure of bisexual/multisexual/MGA people at Stonewall.

    • Um if you’ve been paying the level of focus that I have the outrage is about the misrepresentation of EVERYBODY who was there and EVERYTHING that happened.

      One of the things that “incited” the “riot” was a woman in handcuffs being roughed up by the cops on the way to paddy wagon or what, believed by some to have been Stormé DeLarverie, who was a butch lesbian and person of colour. Even if it wasn’t Stormé it was still likely a lesbian, and some one of colour.

      Yes the there is some major upset about how transwomen of colour are “underrepresented” but have you been paying attention to how many TWOC have been killed this year? And their repeated erasure from GLBTQ history, their fight for the rights of all of us
      The queer community is very focused on them for a good reason.
      If you have a problem with that, check yourself before you wreck yourself ect.

      • At no point did I say that that outrage isn’t justified. I am fully aware of, and devastated by, the TWOC that are senselessly murdered every year. I simply stated that no one is commenting on the lack of lesbian representation, including Stormé DeLarverie. Just because they weren’t the majority doesn’t mean they should be erased either.

    • Maybe because it was primarily trans people of color who actually started and participated in the Stonewall riots?

      This movie whitewashes the true revolutionaries. There would be no “gay rights movement” without the pain, suffering, and uprising of the trans community. Maybe someone else would have started something, but it was trans people of color who raged on first.

      The whitewashing of this movement is an atrocity. It entirely ignored the REAL people who put everything on the line so that you have the opportunity to make this comment.

      Respect the roots of your movement, yo.

  7. These are quite possibly among the only good things to come from that absolute shit-show of whitewashed, revisionist self-insert fanfic.
    “Oh yeah, some white dude named Danny threw the first brick at the Stonewall uprising, that’ll be a totally accurate crowd-pleaser for sure!” — said literally nobody but Roland Emmerich, ever

    • One where idiots* make the decisions and have the power.

      *wealthy,privileged, out of touch humans

      But I think that movie says more about the movie industry than the country. What really tells us about what kind of country we’re living in is all the tear downs of this awful film that aren’t even from social justice or queer sources, rather than slavish devotion to the “prestige” of Roland Emmerich.

    • One where Donald Trump is actually running for President. I have to keep reminding myself that’s not a bad dream.

      What? Nah.
      Oh god, yup.

      • Noooo…he’s running for GOP position of presidential nominee. It’s semantics I know, but let me have it.
        Using the Republican party as a barometer for how we doing as a society just ain’t right.

  8. It was decades before the real story behind Stone wall came out and to disrespect the origins and beauty of that full story is a crime. And number 4 is my favourite!

  9. Can anyone recommend a good book dealing with that? I’d like to read up on this part of history, but I have no clue where to start.

    Also the reviews were hilarious. Pity stuff like this still happens..

    • The most complete book on this subject so far is Stonewall: The Riot that Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter

      I’d read through it several times and it’s very easy to follow with great anecdotes, rare photos, and a vivid portraits of daily life in the period from multiple sides.

      It does have some problems. His claim that J. Edgar Hoover’s homosexuality is now except as fact has been seriously challenged by other sources and his evidence of blackmail material asking Hoover and other closeted public figures by the Mafia is rather questionable.

      Also while he does make a strong case for the pivotal resistance that got the riot started come from a butch lesbian, he tries to argue later on that it couldn’t have been Stormé DeLarverie. Many are now convinced that is who is was that night and again there are problems with his argument.

      Explaining either of these controversies in more detail would take up a whole essay onto themselves

      Still it’s the most detailed and well-rounded summation of this historic turning point for the gay rights movement as you are like to find. You could also find many possible follow by books for early sources in the bibliography if you want to explore further.

  10. I swear I spent weeks dreading the release of this homogenized crapfest of a movie. The representation was awful for EVERYONE in this white cis gay homophile pile. They flat out mashed two PoC characters into one and everyone was so darn edgy. The fact that the director thought “I need to make this easier to understand, so I will put a bland ass white bread gay boy in there.” The events weren’t THAT complicated, this isn’t rocket science. Do not read the interviews with Emmerich on Stonewall, it’s… amazingly bad. Bad bad. Like face punchingly bad.

    The unbelievable rationale that we have to “clean up history and put a white boy in it to make it easier to relate” is maddening. It’s literally colonization of event with a whitewashing brush so coated in elitist assimilationist Hollywood presumption that I assume the HRC underwrote it.
    “STONEWALL: Brought to you by HRC SafeGayz: The safest and most non-threatening white cis male gays ever! Guaranteed not to stain your carpets OR any preconceived notions you have about gender, police brutality, or people who are not white.” ARRG!

    And I know it’s the sort of things my ignorant relatives will see and bring up with me like “So we ALL watched that Stonewall thing and hey do any of your friends KNOW Danny?”

    I swear to god. If any of them pull that I am going to make up so much shit about this fictional character. “Oh yeah Danny? Well he ended up a senator, yeah no shit. Look it up.” {Wanders away}

  11. 15. “As if Selma had focused a fictional white liberal character instead of Martin Luther King, Jr.” (the wrap)

    This is a fantastic quote. I hope no one sees this film, what a wasted opportunity.

  12. It’s somewhat comforting at least that competent critics have caught on to what a piece of trash this film is. At this point, the only thing I’m really curious about is whether or not this Emmerich guy will ever have a moment in his life where he stops short, and suddenly realizes “holy shit I’m an asshole for making that movie.”

    Probably not, but whatever.

  13. It warms my heart that I have yet to come on a review that doesn’t condemn the whitewashing. On the other hand, the parade of revisionist gay men with Sylvia Rivera conspiracy theories is super depressing, though not surprising.

  14. You know, I was thinking maybe us lesbians and transwomen of color could get together and make an actually decent Stonewall movie? I have no idea myself how to organize something like that, but the idea popped into my head when I remembered how a fandom I was a part of was so pissed of by a terrible movie that a group of fans actually started filming their own stuff and put it on youtube. Maybe we could do something like that with Stonewall? It’d be a lot more accurate presentation than this crap.

  15. I’d like to add another mock quote that might as well have been in one of these reviews, if someone else hasn’t already thought of it.

    “Who’d have though that one day the Harvey Feinstein character in Independence Day whose ‘flaming’ death was treated as joke, could be consider a ‘highpoint’ for depiction of gays in a Roland Emmerich movie?”

  16. I do have to disagree slightly with #12. It’s true that the scene in Back to the Future efface as well as acknowledges Chuck Berry’s status as “father of rock and roll,” but Marty Mcfly is depicted as a comically inept guitar player whose over the top final seems like something of a hard rock band from a decade late to everyones confusing. He’s statement that you may not be ready for this suggests he’s only walking in the shadows of real innovators and the call about “that sound you’ve been looking for” suggest Berry would have wrote that song no matter who or what gave him the idea. More importantly however, that movies view of history it was SUPPOSED to be ironic. The makers of this movie expect us to take it’s approach to history SERIOUSLY!

  17. Our LGBT youth group ~may~ be raising awareness about this poop with a bake sale and leaflets about the real events of stonewall, because honestly, what the fuck.

  18. Roland Emmerich also made a film called Anonymous a few years back, which makes the argument that Shakespeare’s plays were written by the Earl of Oxford. No matter what your position on Shakespearean authorship is (we won’t ever know, all involved parties are very dead) but it seems obvious that this guy has very little grasp on reality? First that, now this. Anyway, some further reading


  19. Yes there are things majorly wrong with this film but if Stonewall doesn’t make it to box office, the production companies will not back ANYTHING to do with LGBT movement. And due to that we probably won’t see anything like it in box office for another 30 years. If we want to see movies that accurately depict what happened, we need to make sure that films like Stonewall make it to box office. We also have to take into perspective that the film was made so that strait people would understand what happened for the LGBT community, and what it still has to deal with even now. When making a film you have to make sure that your audience understands what is going on and majority of strait and a lot of LBGT don’t know about Stonewall or what pride came from. To push stonewall away now would be the worst thing hat we could do for large production cinema.

    • No, we should not support this film in any way. We are long past the point of white washing and cis washing everything just to get approval from the masses. This film needs to fail on an epic scale to show it was a complete waste of money.

    • There have already been MANY movies with LGBT history and character given wide release in the last thirty years and we’re seeing more all the time. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/genres/chart/?id=gay.htm Some have been put on by major studios, some have been more compromising in their subjects than other, some have been box offices, and some have even won multiple awards. Why should the success or failure of this one movie be the deciding factor on any movies with similar characters and plots (good or bad) appearing in the future?

    • They just made that weird lesbian rom com and another movie is coming out with ellen page. the fact that the queers are boycotting a really awful movie is not going to change the world for the worse. If anything, it shows our power as consumers. The lgbtq community is leading a movement against this movie, anyone who knows anything about stonewall knows it’s bullshit, and it seems to be working.
      And really, straight people can’t understand history unless it centers around a cis-gendered white twink? Are they really that stupid? I think they have grasped the idea that there are POC by now. I mean, they are everywhere. And anyone who hasn’t heard of trans women at this point has so little media access they they probably don’t know that this movie exists.
      (And sorry to those I’m echoing. But such is my disagreement that simply liking Emma’s comment is insufficient. Though I did. Thanks Emma.)

      • Yes, agreed. We already have Philadelphia, Milk, Kinsey, Boys Don’t Cry, etc.

        Just this fall, we have Grandma, Freeheld, Carol, About Ray, The Danish Girl & that Katherine Heigl rom-com Jenny’s Wedding. The danger at this point isn’t films about the community not being made; it’s that they’re being made almost exclusively about white members of the community and following other narrative norms that render more vulnerable members of our communities invisible.

        So trans stories are cast with cis actors (The Danish Girl, About Ray, etc.), bi women’s stories focus emphatically on their relationships with men (Frida, Iris, Possession, etc.), and people of color are erased and unrepresented. We’ve moved beyond sheer gratitude from being acknowledged to exist to calls for more thoughtful depictions.

  20. i thought screenwriter Jon Robin Baitz was more intelligent than this. The 1995 movie of the same name used a similar gimmick of a cud white boy coming to NYC for the first time but used him to introduce the audience to some of the real types of folk who were there and I felt that flick lacked authenticity. Maybe HBO or something like El Rey would be interested in telling a more accurate story. Maybe the story of the first March a year later might be a good handle a a its evolution is better documented.

  21. My favorite is “Irvine does the best with the hand he’s dealt (which, in this instance, equates to a two of clubs, a seven of diamonds, an UNO draw-four, a twenty-dollar Monopoly bill, and a Pokémon card)”

  22. I am absolutely horrified by the GLBT community now. We are not yet equal citizens in this country. We don’t have GLBT themed movies coming out each month or even each year. The fact that a GLBT themed movie actually made it to major theaters (albeit a limited release) we should be celebrating the fact that this film is out and available. People look for any reason to criticize others. Where are your award winning films playing? You’re not even has beens! You’re never have beens! All this talk about whitewashing! Now the GLBT community is dividing up the population by race? You ought to be ashamed of yourselves. And the lack of trans people in the movie? I have read hundreds of testimonials from people who were at stonewall and none of mentioned trans anything. They called them drag queens, because trans was still very unknown. Stop bashing (ironically) and celebrate the fact that a movie depicting the start of our ending oppression, is even out for the masses to see.

    • Wow, no, you are missing the point. This movie is not “a pretty decent movie with some flaws that people are latching onto because they’re negative, divisive people.” Literally all the critics – LGBT and straight/cis – agree this is a horrible movie. Horrible because it’s terribly made, horrible because it’s historically inaccurate.

      Whitewashing is a real thing. If you think calling out whitewashing is “dividing the population by race,” you have a lot to learn about race. Perhaps you can start with “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?”, an excellent book that started my journey to better understanding how race works in our society.

      Don’t even tell me that trans people were not present at Stonewall just because they weren’t using the word “trans”. Like I wasn’t present at my birth if I hadn’t yet received or chosen a name? What the ever living fuck. Like let’s make a movie about my Birth Day and hey, let’s just say my mom gave birth to seven pink elephants! And then tell me to go see and compliment the movie and give money to the director! Woohoo!

      WE DO NOT HAVE TO ACCEPT DISGUSTING, ROTTING SCRAPS FROM THE OPPRESSOR’S TABLE JUST BECAUSE WE ARE HUNGRY. Personally I’m gonna keep scraping together and making my own food, and calling out the damn oppressors, thank you very much.

      • oh also, what I meant by that last angry paragraph is that there is a TON of AWESOME media about queer people being made RIGHT NOW by queer people. You may have to look a little further than your local theater, but that is what the internet is for.

        And insulting the platforms that this queer media exists on (“never have beens”) just shows that you think something is only worthwhile or good if somebody straight, cis and rich decided it was. Remind yourself that awards are given by those in power. Those in power don’t want to acknowledge and acclaim people who are fighting the power.

        Whether or not our stories get to get told on the big screen (and they will continue to get told on the big screen even if (when) this movie flops at the box office), it is important that they are told right.

      • Honey, you are too young to know how it was then! I’m 68, lived through it. She is right, there was no such thing back then as “trans”. They were Queens! They called themselves that. One of my best friends was Kandi Kane, and she regularly hung out at Stonewall. Back then there were no “chicks with dicks”. They were drags. They dressed as women, but did not consider themselves women. Talk to the people who were there. Don’t get your information from people who think they know it all, about a time in history they never experienced!

    • So new movies like Carol, Freehold, The Danish Girl don’t count?
      Older award winning movies like Blue is the Warmest Color and Milk don’t count?
      This one awful film is our only chance for movies ever? Wow, I had no idea.

      Refusing to tell the stories of drag queens, trans women (who by the way, existed before the term “transgender” became common), lesbians, and basically all women of color is oppressive. Whitewashing is racism. Changing history at the expense of the larger queer community is bad for the community. The real irony is that a movie that is supposed to be celebrating ending our oppression is actually perpetuating the treatment of trans woc and other non cis-gay lgbtq people as second tier members of the lgbtq community.

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  29. As someone who hung out on Christopher Street in the late sixties, I have to say some of these reviewers need to talk to people who were actually there! Except for a few weird scenes, ( the old cross dresser ) I felt this movie pretty much gave a good idea of what it was like. I was on Christopher and Greenwich ave every weekend and sometimes during the week. We hung out on stoops just as in the movie. People cruised up and down the street looking for tricks. That is exactly as it was. Everyone who was there, at one time went into the Stonewall. It was the only bar that had dancing, although it was pretty much a cha cha palace. When those queens fought back, everyone joined them! Yes they started it, because they were fed up with the raids and the mafia, who ran those bars with little concern for the patrons. I remember a bartender who had his hands crushed, because he chose to find work somewhere else. I was that kid from Kansas, only I was from Staten Island. I didn’t live on the street, but I sure as hell knew everyone. If you wanted to get laid, back then, that’s where you went. It was the only place for us young kids to hang out. I got many a BJ up on a roof, and usually by older men. That’s just how it was back then. The director of Stonewall got it right, and even some of the characters were right on. Sorry your reviewer wasn’t there. I was!

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