Pop Style Opinionfest: Hanging with the Boys in the Band

Posted on September 30, 2020

Let’s start with this, so Rotten Tomatoes can have a pull quote:

The 2020 film adaptation of The Boys in The Band is a beautifully acted, sensitively directed, exquisitely art-directed snapshot of pre-Stonewall gay male socializing, with all its attendant shade, sorrow and self-loathing. It’s more than worth your time to catch this cast of out gay actors delve into material written for men who never enjoyed the freedom and openness they do today.

But oh, kittens. You just know we have way more to say than that.

Rather than offer you a strict movie review (the above paragraph pretty much sums it up), we decided to do a more personal exploration of the play, both filmed versions of it, and how it’s all changed for us in meaning and tone. We’re gay men who came of age in the 20th Century, which makes our experiences a lot closer to the characters than any Millennial or even late Gen-Xer. As such, our feelings about it have evolved tremendously from the days when we first saw the 1970 filmed version, roughly 30 years ago.

Which isn’t to say we don’t give you a more involved and nuanced critique of the film than our opening paragraph. We have much to say about the casting and whether it really works, the directing and whether it managed to bring something new to the table, the acting and who among the cast deserve to be singled out and rewarded for their performances (there are 3 that are Oscar-worthy), as well as the costume design and art direction, one of which is exactly the same as the OG film and one of which managed to out-do it in terms of accuracy.

 

MUCH to unpack! Which we do for nearly a full hour, touching on everything from Stonewall to the AIDS crisis to queer liberation, plus an examination of the history of toxicity in gay male social spaces, how the film manages to highlight most of the characters’ whiteness and privilege without changing the script and why a viewer in 2020 who may not be familiar with the history of such things needs to prepare themselves for a version of mostly white gay male life that is anything but aspirational. All this, plus the phrase “BOMER DICK,” which gets bandied about more than once (the phrase, not the dick).

 


Always and forever, thank you for listening, dolls!

 

[Photo Credit: Netflix – Video Credit: Netflix via YouTube]

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