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    August 23, 2007

    Ebert is a bigot, ol' chum

    Posted by: Chris

    Cabaret At the risk of facing revocation of my gay card, I'll admit that I saw "Cabaret" with Liza Minelli for the first time this week. Late Wednesday night on Logo, I finally saw the 1972 classic about a young American singer at the Kit Kat Club in decadent pre-WWII Berlin. For those like me who haven't seen the film, "Cabaret" revolves around a bisexual love triangle, featuring Minelli, a young British writer (Michael York) and a German aristocrat (Helmut Griem).

    Curious to see how critics viewed "Cabaret," I did a Google search during one of Logo's 15,000 commercial breaks — every one selling "Guys Gone Wild" home videos. Anyway, I came across the original review written by none other than Roger Ebert, published on Jan. 1, 1972.

    Roger_ebert You might be surprised at his take:

    "Cabaret" explores some of the same kinky territory celebrated in Visconti's "The Damned." Both movies share the general idea that the rise of the Nazi party in Germany was accompanied by a rise in bisexuality, homosexuality, sadomasochism, and assorted other activities. Taken as a generalization about a national movement, this is certainly extreme oversimplification. But taken as one approach to the darker recesses of Nazism, it may come pretty close to the mark. The Nazi gimmicks like boots and leather and muscles and racial superiority and outdoor rallies and Aryan comradeship offered an array of machismo-for-rent that had (and has) a special appeal to some kinds of impotent people.

    Nice, huh? This kind of soft bigotry is a product of the times, of course. But it's a bit surprising that Ebert and the Chicago Sun Times are still hosting this review, sans any sort of note or clarification, on their website.

    For what it's worth, I loved the movie. To me it was a story about how a culture exploring the boundaries of decadence was forced to deal with the consequences (good and bad) of its carpe diem in the midst of the Nazis' rise to power. Most of all, I finally "get" the Liza thing. Back in the day, she was an amazing talent.

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    Comments

    1. dj on Aug 24, 2007 10:33:21 AM:

      It's ALSO rather surprising as Ebert wrote the screenplay to BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS which delves deeply in to the psychology of everything laid out in that review! (Best review ever, though, hands down still has to be TV Guide, "A young woman is transported to a surreal land where she kills the first woman she meets. She befreinds 3 total strangers and goes on to kill once more...." "The Wizard of Oz.")

    1. Sean on Aug 25, 2007 5:54:39 AM:

      Ebert has cancer now and I'm sure he is impotent because of it. Does that mean that he's now into muscles and racial superiority? LOL It's funny looking at what he thought back then and it's also not funny because this stuff kills. People read this stuff and form prejudices against gay people.

      He was able to pick up on gay men's sensibilities toward "boots and leather and muscles... and outdoor rallies".

    1. Robbie on Aug 27, 2007 11:16:08 AM:

      I'm a pretty faithful reader of Ebert, and he's been very gay positive for as long as I've read him (about fifteen years).

      I think you're reading Ebert's words slightly in error, though. It sounds like he's saying that hypermasculine attitudes and costume are an underlying sign of a feeling of impotence. Sort of like, "Someone's compensating." Which isn't a very controversial statement. I don't think he was applying it to all gay people in his review.

      And it's not as if there isn't a streak of hyper-masculinity in certain segments of gay culture. Many of the accoutrements of the leather community are cultural descendants of the androphilic tendencies of Nazism, the idea of the super-male, costume as a reflection of male power, etc.

      The cultural side of Nazism was filled with androphilic excess, and I don't think it's out of bounds to note it.

    1. Double T on Aug 27, 2007 12:23:42 PM:

      If everyone is going to cut Bill Richardson some slack for every stupid thing he says 35 minutes ago, I'll cut Ebert some slack for what he said 35 YEARS AGO.....I think Ebert has "grown" over the years.

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