Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ricky Martin Is Gay: Obvious Since 2000



Ricky Martin in 2010 has decided to finally come out of the closet and admit to the world that he is gay. The problem is that the only person more obviously gay in the last decade has been Clay Aiken.

It is not often that I am grateful that an artist disappeared from the spotlight, but in the case of Ricky Martin I was glad that he went away. For those who remember 1999, one of the biggest songs of the year was “Livin’ La Vida Loca.” Ricky Martin had been very popular for years in Latin America and this was the song that made him famous in the United States. Then the song was overplayed on the radio. Then it was overplayed again. Then it became so annoying that people would turn the channel once they heard the horns from the beginning of the song.

I thought that Ricky Martin’s entry into the Entertainment Industry of the United States was so big that we would have him around for many sad years like we experienced with Britney Spears, singing bad pop songs that get way too much radio play. But Ricky Martin’s follow-up songs were not as popular. By the time that you heard the phrase “9/11”, Ricky Martin had become a has-been.

There were rumors that Ricky Martin was gay. I remember a scene from a concert when he had his back to the audience and started shaking his butt-cheeks very fast. I thought that is not something that you would see straight men do. Then there was the Barbara Walters interview.

During the Barbara Walters interview with Ricky Martin in 2000, she asked him about the rumors that he is gay. He said that he did not mind the rumors if they helped him sell more albums. She then said (I am paraphrasing based on my memory of the interview) that he could end the rumors now if he just said if he was gay or straight. I remember he said that he was not ready to answer that question.

WHAT????? How could he not answer a simple question like that? At that point, it was clear to me that Ricky Martin was gay. Whether he was gay or straight did not matter to me, because I hated his music either way. But it appears that this interview may have been part of what caused his career to fade away.

It is possible that the rumors of him being gay, plus his unwillingness to answer a simple question about his sexuality, may have led to the end of his career. I tend to believe that his career ended because after having hits like “Livin’ La Vida Loca” and “She Bangs,” he did not have hits catchy enough for the radio. While I don’t like those two songs, I have to admit critically that they were upbeat and catchy.

In a way, it is sad that Ricky Martin waited an entire decade to admit that he was gay when most of society already knew it. Maybe for the last few years, he thought that he could make a comeback and being known as gay would hurt his appeal with female audiences. After a forgettable decade for him, he probably realized that he has nothing to lose now.

There are musicians who are admired mainly for their music and there are others who are admired for both their talent and attractiveness. One of the most talented musicians who I am a fan of is George Michael. He did not just have a great voice, but he actually wrote and produced hit songs. He is a talented musician who happened to be considered a sex object in the 1980s. When George Michael was arrested for something of a sexual nature in a bathroom involving a male undercover police officer, it became public news that George Michael is gay. Unlike many other artists, he did not have the opportunity to “out” himself. He was “outed” by the activity that he was arrested for. While George Michael did not have any hits for the previous few years, being proven to be gay did not help him when he came out with future albums. For female fans, the fantasy was gone. They knew that he was not interested in their gender. When they would hear his song, “I want your sex,” they knew he wasn’t talking about any of them.

Ricky Martin probably realized that being known as gay would hurt his ability to sell albums to female fans. That is why he was not ready to answer any questions about his sexuality.

The sad thing is, if his career was hurt by the Barbara Walters interview (and I believe that it was), it is because Ricky Martin decided to be honest. He could have easily just lied and said, “I’m straight.” Then he could have spent the next few years being a bit more successful than he had been. Then a few years later, he could admit that he had lied and no one would have blamed him. Instead, his decision to tell Barbara Walters that he was not ready to answer if he was gay or not made the audience conclude that he was gay. It was clear to me that he was gay when I saw the interview.

I think that Barbara Walters probably thought that he was straight and that he was being coy about it to avoid disappointing his gay fans. By him potentially saying that he was straight, he would step away from the ambiguity and give a clear answer. I don’t think that Barbara Walters realized that if he was gay, how much that could hurt him more than losing his gay audience. In the year 2000, society was not as open to accepting gay people as it is today. In 2004, many states voted against allowing gay marriage. I had not even thought about the issue until that year. I decided to support gay marriage. Over the next six years, support for gay marriage and gay people in general has increased dramatically. Maybe Ricky Martin is coming out of the closet now because he feels that society will accept him as a human being.

I am not a fan of Ricky Martin. I will never accept his music. While I do not want to see a Ricky Martin comeback on the music charts, I can say that I respect him as a human being.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Win An Oscar, Lose A Spouse



A year ago, Kate Winslet won the Oscar for Best Actress and Sean Penn won for Best Actor. Now both of them are getting a divorce. In the case of Kate Winslet divorcing director Sam Mendes, I have no idea what has happened. In the case of Sean Penn and Robin Wright Penn, they have broken up and reconciled before. To read my article about Sean Penn and Robin Wright Penn from last year, click here:

Sean Penn: Robin Wrong Or Robin Wright?

Recently, within a few weeks of Sandra Bullock winning Best Actress, it is discovered that her husband, biker Jesse James, has cheated on her. Imagine right now the life of Sandra Bullock. A few weeks ago, she was a highly paid actress who finally received recognition for her acting talent by winning an Oscar. She had success, recognition, and what appeared to be a loving spouse. In just a short time after reaching the pinnacle of her career, her personal life is in the spotlight and she must have to deal with the pain of adultery in public.

I am not going to view this as "The Oscar Curse" because many of the Oscar winning actors and actresses of the past decade have remained with their spouses or partners. I also do not expect Jeff Bridges, who has been married to his wife for 33 years, to have his marriage impacted in any way based on his Oscar win. I also think that recent Oscar winner Mo’Nique has a strong enough marriage to survive the increase in fame that she received in the last year.

When it comes to Sandra Bullock, I just have to say that this is another situation of a girl marrying the “bad boy” type and hoping that he will change. Women need to learn that you cannot change men, just as men cannot change you. Jesse James was previously married to a porn star, he is a biker, and he is covered in tattoos. The woman who he cheated on Sandra Bullock with is also covered with tattoos. She is more of Jesse James’ type than clean-cut Sandra Bullock.

Normally I get into a long detailed look into a situation. This case needs none. Jesse James is the bad boy type that girls go after and then are shocked, I say shocked, when they find out that he cheated on them. Everyone knows a girl who dated a guy like this. All of her friends are telling her to stay away. She ignores them. Then when the guy cheats on her, she runs to all of her friends for comfort and support. They are nice to her, but they all knew that this was going to happen.

If you date a bad boy, don’t be shocked when he cheats on you.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chris Brown: The Beginning Of The End




After Chris Brown beat up his now ex-girlfriend, Rihanna, I did not believe that he could revive his career. A lot of people disagreed with me. It turns out I was right. The sales for his latest album have been low and he is trying to get radio stations to consider playing his music again.

What Chris Brown doesn’t understand is that his actions are considered so low by society that he has blacklisted himself from the Entertainment Industry. There are a few people In the Entertainment Industry who are so vilified that they can hardly find work. Michael Vick is one of them. He lost all of his sponsorships and is now an NFL back-up quarterback. After running dog fights and executing some of the dogs, he is viewed as a villain for harming defenseless animals.

O.J. Simpson is one of the most famous vilified celebrities. While he was found “Not Guilty” in criminial court for the murder of his ex-wife and her lover, most people do believe that O.J. Simpson was in fact guilty of the two murders. Prior to the murders, he was a retired football player who was making money by doing commercials and staring in movies. Since the murders, I have yet to see him star in a movie television.

Mel Gibson’s career has not fully recovered since his Anti-Semitic comments were made while he was being arrested for DUI. Mel Gibson’s return to acting in Edge of Darkness came and went. He is still tainted by his Anti-Semitic comments during his arrest. He tried to do things to make up for his previous actions, but many Jews (myself included) felt that he had finally been proven to be the Anti-Semite that we thought he was for years.

Was there anything that Chris Brown could have done to truly repair his damaged image? I think so. If I had been an adviser to him, I would have told him that he’s going to have to hold off from making an album for at least two to three years and spend the time working to help battered women at shelters. Take a long period off volunteering at shelters, listen to the pain that they have gone through, and avoid any public activities like celebrity events. He could have shown the public that not only is he extremely sorry, but dedicate extra time to truly learn what it is like for women who have been abused by their boyfriends or husbands.

Instead, within a short period after the attack on Rihanna, photos came out of Chris Brown on a jetski having fun. He seemed to be extremely focused on his next album and released it the same year that he assaulted Rihanna, 2009. He probably thought that if he moved on and made another album, the public would quickly move on and forget what he did. Not only was he wrong, but I think his focus on making a new album so soon after the assault made him look insincere. In my opinion, it made him look selfish because he was more focused on saving his career than showing the public that he has spent the time to learn his lesson.

I’m not going to lie. I think that Chris Brown truly regrets harming Rihanna. I think he knows that assaulting her was the biggest mistake of his life. But he should have spent more time between the assault and releasing a new album. While he probably deeply regrets what he did, he should have done more to show his regret to try to get the public to forgive him. The public has not forgiven him and I don’t think that they will. His unwillingness to spend enough time between the assault and releasing a new album was the final straw.

The one other problem that I have with Chris Brown is that he went on Larry King to talk about the assault and then pretended that he did not remember it at all. If Chris Brown really didn’t remember it, then his defense would be that he truly has no idea of why people are saying that he hurt Rihanna, that he is shocked, offended, and would never do such a thing. The truth is that Chris Brown did not want to go through the details of what lead to him assaulting Rihanna. The problem is that people should only go on Larry King if they truly want to come clean. Chris Brown did not appear willing to come clean. Talking about the assault was not enough. He was unwilling to talk about what led to him becoming so angry that he would start beating the woman he was dating.

It looks like this is the beginning of the end for Chris Brown’s career. His actions are considered to be one of the worst of anyone in the Entertainment Industry and he did a bad job trying to save his career. He had a small chance to redeem himself by putting his image over his career, and he failed. I don’t think that he realized that his career could be killed over this. Now that he has had a failed album, his career is likely to only go further downhill unless if he can do something, anything, to repair his image.

I think that it’s too late for him to save his career. I view him as a horrible woman abuser. To me, it’s not a question of how sorry he was for doing what he did. I am sick of Chris Brown because he was willing to beat a woman in the first place. He didn’t just punch or slap her… he bit her! He beat so badly that her face was covered with bruises. I do view Chris Brown as a monster not only for what he did, but for his selfish desire to focus more on fixing his career over his image. Chris Brown’s career looks like it will probably be over soon. His actions prove that he deserves to have his career end.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Howard Stern vs. Gabourey Sidibe: Too Fat For Hollywood?



I dedicate this article Gabriella Ilisco for one reason. She is a “Gabby” who is hot enough for Hollywood!

In my opinion, the film “Precious” was the best film of 2009 and one of the best films of the decade. I believe that the performances of Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe, Mo’Nique, and Paula Patton were outstanding. When it comes to the performance of Gabourey Sidibe, it is clear that she was a new actress. At certain points, I felt that I was either watching someone who was hired for being a non-professional, or someone who was channeling Marlon Brando as a method actor.

Recently, Howard Stern made the argument that Gabourey is too fat to have a career in Hollywood. He said, “There’s the most enormous, fat black chick I’ve ever seen. She is enormous. Everyone’s pretending she’s a part of show business and she’s never going to be in another movie. She should have gotten the Best Actress award because she’s never going to have another shot. What movie is she gonna be in?”

Basically, what he is saying is that Gabourey is too fat to get movie roles in Hollywood.

As someone who has decided to write about this issue, I have to give Howard Stern some credit, but point out where he may be incorrect. Gabourey has already received another role in the film industry, called “Yelling to the Sky.” Then again, I don’t know how big this film will be. Will it be in theaters or go straight to DVD? I don’t know. So just because Gabourey received another film role does not mean that she will have a career in Hollywood.

Before people wonder ask if I’m being mean to Gabourey Sidibe (which I’m not), let me explain my reasoning. First, there have been other performers in Hollywood who had something so unique about their physical appearance that they could not have a long career after giving a great performance. In 1946, Harold Russell played the role of a WWII veteran who lost both of his arms in the war. The truth is that he really did lose both of his arms in WWII. Not only did he win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, but received a special Oscar for how his performance honored the WWII soldiers. This made him the only actor to receive two Oscars for one performance (one competitive and one honorary). Harold Russell proved that he could act and that he was a very talented actor, but without arms, there were no more roles for him. He did not act again until 1980, which was 34 years after his Oscar winning performance.

Second, Gabourey Sidibe is does not have an irreversible condition like Harold Russell had, but her unique shape may limit the roles that she can enter. Looking at the last 20 years of film, I’m trying to think of how many film roles went to overweight women. Kathy Bates has had a few roles that were not based on her looks, but she also played characters that were usually in their 40s or above in age and white. Her role in Misery won her an Oscar. She starred as the unsinkable Molly Brown in James Cameron’s Titanic. She also was up for an Oscar for playing the mother of the groom in About Schmidt. But her film roles were different than those that could be filled by Gabourey Sidibe. The character Annie Wilkes in Misery was too old of a character for Gabourey to play. Molly Brown in Titanic was white, which Gabourey is not. The mother of the groom in About Schmidt was also too old for Gabourey to play. The top performances of Kathy Bates’ career could not have been filled by Gabourey.

So let’s look at roles in film that were played by women who are younger, over-weight, and African-American. The two actresses that come to mind who have filled these roles in recent years have been Queen Latifa and Mo’Nique. Queen Latifa was nominated for Best Supporting Actress for Chicago, only to lose to her co-star, Catherine Zeta-Jones. Mo’Nique, who was Gabourey’s co-star in Precious, actually won Best Supporting Actress for the film. But unlike Gabourey Sidibe, her competition have shown talent in other fields. Queen Latifa is a famous rapper with years of acting experience. Mo’Nique is a famous comedian who has been in many films, television shows, and currently hosts her own show. The fact that both Queen Latifa and Mo’Nique are multi-talented actresses will give them advantages when going after different film roles.

Is Gabourey Sidibe too fat to work as an actress? No, but she cannot go after many of the typical roles available in Hollywood. Being unique, as a very overweight young woman, I believe that her best bet is to be on a television show. Gabourey reminds me of Parminder Nagra, the star of 2002’s Bend It Like Beckham. Her co-star, Keira Knightley, was a thin blond, Natalie Portman look-a-like. Keira was exactly what Hollywood typically looks for in an actress, which is she has had a very successful acting career. Parminder Nagra, a British actress of Indian heritage, was not the typical Hollywood actress. So what did she do? She got a job on the television show ER. On television shows, it is easier to add new characters of any different group than in a film, where the characters are already written into the story. When it comes to television, it would be a lot easier to fit someone like Gabourey Sidibe into a show.

Was Howard Stern wrong for pointing out that Gabourey Sidibe’s weight would hurt her ability to make a career as an actress? No, but he did not realize that there are other areas where she could act. Let’s face it… there is nothing wrong with being on television. Oscar Winner Whoopie Goldberg is on The View. I hope that Gabourey Sidibe can continue to act, because I’d rather see her in movies than people like Lindsay Lohan.

If Lindsay Lohan is reading this, I just said that I’d rather see Gabourey in films than see you, and I did not say why. I haven’t actually insulted you, so you won’t find grounds to sue me for $100 Million.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Hurt Locker: The First Iraq War Film That Worked



This article is dedicated to Conor Donahue, an Iraq War veteran.

Since 1997, I have seen all of the Best Picture nominees before the Oscars and guessed the Best Picture winner correctly in all but two years (Shakespeare In Love and Crash). This year there were 10 Best Picture nominees and the only one I still have yet to see is District 9 (which I have rented on DVD and will try to see today or tomorrow before the Oscars. But I feel that this year I am ready to guess that the Best Picture Oscar will go to The Hurt Locker instead of Avatar. Unlike last year’s Slumdog Millionaire, The Hurt Locker does not appear to have the Oscar in the bag yet, but I must still make my guess. If I am wrong, I will not edit this to say that I guess for Avatar. While neither The Hurt Locker, nor Avatar has a lock on Best Picture, this is the first year in which it appears that all four acting categories have a lock on who will win their awards (Jeff Bridges, Sandra Bullock, Mo’nique, and Christoph Waltz).

The Hurt Locker is about a soldier who disarms bombs in Iraq during the current Iraq War. There have been other films about the Iraq War, but this is the first one that is getting a lot of positive attention. I think one of the film’s strengths is that it focuses on what it is like to be a soldier in the Iraq War instead of in other wars. The majority of the deaths of soldiers in Iraq have been caused by bombs called IEDs (improvised explosion devices). The film tries to show what it is like to be in Iraq, where soldiers are more likely to be killed by a bomb than by a bullet.

The Hurt Locker is not about why we are in Iraq. The words “Bush”, “Cheney”, “WMDs”, and “9/11” are never used in the film. The film is neither pro nor anti-Iraq War. There are no anti-Iraq War comments and no comments about patriotism. The filmmaker, Kathryn Bigelow, focuses on the experience of the new style of war that we are in, and leaves the reasons why we are there to be the focus of other films.

I think that it was time for a successful Iraq War film to be made, and avoiding the reasons for the war was probably a good thing in 2009. While I was against the Iraq War from the beginning, I will admit that our nation is still divided on whether the Iraq War was necessary or not. When we eventually leave, history will render a verdict, as it has on every previous war that we have fought in.

The Vietnam War gave us many powerful films after the war had ended. I really love the films The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now, but both films came out after the war had ended. I believe that when the Iraq War is over, then we may see quality films about the politics of the war. Since we are still in the war, any films that are either support or oppose the Iraq War will be viewed more as partisan instead of historical.

The Hurt Locker gives the audience the experience of the Iraq War without the politics. That does not mean that the film is without emotion. Without going into detail, sometimes innocent people are dragged into the war.

While I predict that The Hurt Locker will win Best Picture, it would not be my personal pick. I thought that Precious was the best film of the year. I did not think that any film was as powerful and emotionally touching as Precious. While Precious is my favorite film of the year, I recommend that people see both Precious and The Hurt Locker.
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