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In suggesting gay actors can't play straight, Newsweek downplayed Neil Patrick Harris

Nph-host2 At a time when Newsweek is fighting for its life, the last thing America's Number Two newsmagazine needs is a high-profile spat that makes it look out of touch.

But that's just what the for-sale magazine has now, following Glee creator Ryan Murphy's public jihad against the publication, calling for a boycott until Newsweek disavows an April 26 article which says there are no superstar, openly gay actors who believably play heterosexuals.

Leaving aside Murphy's passionate criticisms that such a statement is the equivalent of saying black people must play domestics, I'm wondering one thing:

Why did the author downplay Neil Patrick Harris?

This is a guy who has hosted to the Tony and Emmy awards, been nominated for a few himself, and plays a wolfish womanizer on one of CBS' most popular sitcoms, How I Met Your Mother. And he's been an openly gay man for several years now.

Isn't he proof that gay men can play straight with some success?

I guess that's the problem with stereotypes. Somebody's always coming up with inconvenient facts to disprove them.

Read the Newsweek piece, and it's obvious this story is much more about how the author perceives gay actors playing straight -- and by extension, how the public treats them -- than what the actors are doing themselves. In defending himself, that's what the essay's author said his piece was about -- but he doesn't really make that point until the column's last line.

Would have been nice to read a piece asking why audiences may contribute to an atmosphere in Hollywood where gay leading men may feel like they can't come out. Frankly, if I was gay, I'm not sure I would want to play a guy who kisses on women all the time -- certainly, I'm not sure I could do the reverse as a straight man.

Mostly, this story feels like a desperate attempt to write something to cast a new light on the Glee phenomenon that failed pretty badly -- while making the argument that a sale might not be the worst thing that could happen to Newsweek.

[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 3:07pm]


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