Gay Ex-Newsweek Writer Finds a Third Way to Make a Bad Point About Gay Actors

Ramin Setoodeh, the journalist responsible for “Straight Jacket,” the abysmal May 2010 Newsweek article about how gay actors such as Sean Hayes & Jonathan Groff cannot convincingly play straight because they are gay and Ramin just can’t think about anything else besides their homo homogayhood while watching them on MUSICAL TV SHOWS & PLAYS, has written another article.

The insidiously obnoxious “Straight Jacket,” with its easily deconstructed/dismissible thesis, inspired passionate responses from Kristen Chenoweth and essentially the entire internet and, much like the rest of Setoodeh’s work, made many queers think “with friends like these, who needs enemies?” because Ramin is also gay. After the hullabaloo, Ramin was given a chance to make it up to us and instead he wrote another piece of shit article.

Once again, this week Setoodeh was given a voicebox and a keyboard of some kind and asked to type words into it for international publication on the topic of homosexuals in the theatrical arts. Or maybe he volunteered to write it. It’s a mystery but it happened.

The first time, Ramin used Sean Hayes’ Tony-Award nominated performance in Promises, Promises and his own personal feelings about the show to “make his case.”

This time — after shrugging off the opinion of the entire internet, Kristen Chenoweth (as aforementioned), Alan Cummings, Ryan Murphy, GLAAD, et al — Seetodeh has decided to revise his thesis. This time, he says gay actors can’t play gay either. Again, Seetodeh’s main body of evidence is Setoodeh’s own personal reaction to the show.

I could barely get through Gay Actors: Ramin Setoodeh on How Hollywood Shuts Them Out. It’s just absurd — is this guy angling to become the gays’ Ann Coulter or something? Here’s a taste:

Was I really a traitor to my own community? Before Promises, Promises closed on Broadway on Sunday, I bought a ticket and secretly went to see the show again. Once inside, I slumped down in my seat, afraid somebody would call the GLAAD police if I were spotted. The lights dimmed, and Sean Hayes opened the show alongside a troop of male dancers. When he sang about his passion for basketball, the men performed aerial splits. Then he started to pine after the office lunch lady (Kristin Chenoweth), and I realized that I had been all wrong.

It’s not just that audiences don’t often see openly gay actors in straight roles. What’s even more unsettling is that Hollywood doesn’t even allow gay actors to play gay. With the film industry swept up in the congratulatory swirl of awards season, not a single openly gay actor is up for an Oscar nomination. Of course, that’s probably because no openly gay actors even starred in any big films of 2010. The lovable lesbian wives in The Kids Are All Right were played by the heterosexual actresses Annette Bening and Julianne Moore. The quirky couple in I Love You Phillip Morris were portrayed by straight men Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor.

Here, Gawker said it before I got home from an all-day road trip to write about this crazy thing:

“Aside from the narrow types he’s annoyingly assuming as given, Setoodeh is bemoaning that gay actors aren’t allowed to play the gay parts. But then he says that gay actors probably can’t ever play straight (if acting genius Sean Hayes is to signify anything), ignoring the fact that most acting parts are straight ones. Way to encourage gay actors to ever act?

[….]it’s not like Promises, Promises is some searing touchstone of masculinity. There’s a song called “Turkey Lurkey Time” in it, Ramin. It’s going to be pretty gay no matter what.

It’s not really worth further dissecting Setoodeh’s lazy, slipshod arguments, but it is curious why he decided to jump back into the gay inferno armed with nothing more than a new Promises, Promises ticket stub. I mean, it’s just made everyone angry again!

Oh, wait. That’s the whole stupid point, isn’t it? Ugh.”

Seetodeh accuses an actor’s homosexuality of irrevocably soiling his ability to ever play a straight character. In Seetodeh’s world, an actor’s homosexuality permeates the surface of everything said actor ever does. Similarly, Seetodeh’s self-loathing homophobia permeates every word he writes. But you never know — he must be doing a thing or two right because he’s got himself a job and a platform to stand on and people looking and reading it.

Maybe the simple fact of Seetodeh’s employment says more about the role of gays in the media than any point he could ever make about the theater.

Riese is the 38-year-old Co-Founder and CEO of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker, low-key Jewish power lesbian and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and then headed West. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," 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. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 2822 articles for us.

24 Comments

  1. Reading this pretty fair analysis of the article and then the first two paragraphs of the article itself, I was inclined to suggest that a Perez Hilton-style ban might be in order, seeing as Setoodeh seems to revel in a similarly self-absorbed, attention-seeking, vitriol-spraying style of “journalism.”

    But then I continued to read and I felt so sad because he did make some very salient points about the lack of recognition of gay actors; does he realise its attitudes like his that are perpetuating that problem?

    It’s a real shame that someone can glimpse upon a useful truth, only to get blinded by their own egotism.

  2. Gay actors play straight all the time.They’re just usually in the closet. They have the ability (obviously)–they’re actors after all, we just need to force society to get over its prejudices. In my opinion, that will happen as more and more performers “come out”. Performers who are out and keep their legions of fans prove that it is possible. I don’t think women like Johnny Depp because he’s straight.He plays all his parts as if they are gay characters (paraphrasing him here). Women like Johnny Depp BECAUSE he plays his roles as he does. I can’t speak for straight men, but I think many women are just fine with men who can swing both ways between real and acting life…and gay men? Hopefully they’re ok supporting gay actors in straight roles. Setoodeh makes me wonder.

  3. I didn’t think he could actually get more condescending or purposefully incendiary than the original article, but wow. He’s actively digging that hole, isn’t he?

    Everytime he writes something like this it smacks of “look at this new controversial idea I have, aren’t I so cool and controversial? LOOK HOW I GO AGAINST THE GRAIN.” At this point, when he’s basically implying there are NO parts for gay actors, he’s just inciting a reaction for the sake of inciting a reaction.

  4. point A: so essentially he is saying that all actors have to actually posses the characteristics of the characters they play? That is some intense theory of method acting over there. So like, I guess this means Ellen Pompeo and Sara Ramirez, etc better learn to be doctors real quick? And Mary-Louise Parker needs to start selling pot pronto. Just to name a few. This theory essentially eliminates the need for actors (this is hyperbole for the purpose of making a point here guys) and says ok well we should just use the real people who do these things for plays/movies/TV shows etc… and haven’t we learned by now how awful reality TV actually is? (personal opinion)

    point B: how about all the gay people who spend their lives (or a good portion thereof) in the closet… don’t they succeed at this because they are ACTING STRAIGHT? woah. Now granted not everyone is good at this. But actually this has always been part of my theory about why gay people do often make good actors… ’cause as terrible as it is we learn, often from a very early age, to PRETEND to be something we are not (to act straight!) And oh hey, isn’t that what acting is?

    dictionary.com: acting (verb), 15. to pretend; feign.

    I know I am sort of beating a dead horse and preaching to the choir here but I felt the need to make a comment.

    Also, I saw Promises, Promises, and that show was pretty much one of the gayest musicals ever. And this had nothing to do with Sean Hayes… I think I would give more credit here to the original writer/composer and the choreographer.

    I mean, this happened:

  5. I really have to disagree with Seetodeh’s argument that folks who seem gay when they perform shouldn’t be cast as straight people. I mean, sure, not for a second do I believe that Ellen Page or Kristen Stewart are into their guys because they seem so fucking gay. But I like watching them on screen. So please, more obviously gay folks playing straight parts.

    I think it will be a sign of progress when we can actually TALK about the issues that someone brings up without just shutting them down as a homophobe.

    (I love AS by the way.)

  6. “Once inside, I slumped down in my seat, afraid somebody would call the GLAAD police if I were spotted.”

    Um, self-involved much?

    And did he seriously use Jim Carrey’s and Ewan McGregor’s performances in “I Love You, Phillip Morris” as a reference? I didn’t actually watch the film but what I saw from the trailer looked completely absurd and borderline insulting. Amiright?

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