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"Outrage" on HBO

By admin Published: October 2, 2009

The Kirby Dick documentary -- about closeted gay politicians who publicly take anti-gay positions -- will have its HBO premiere on Monday at 9 p.m. After the jump, I have posted my review of the movie from its theatrical run here in June.

Besides the premiere, telecast times on HBO include: Oct. 5 (2:30 a.m.), 8 (1:00 p.m., 8:30 p.m.), 11 (10:30 a.m.), 14 (4:25 a.m.), 15 (6:00 p.m.), 20 (3:30 p.m., 12:05 a.m.), 24 (6:30 p.m.) and 30 (4:00 p.m.). And on HBO2: Oct. 14 (8:00 p.m.), 22 (12:05 a.m.) and 28 (11:00 a.m.)

From the Akron Beacon Journal, June 18:

Kirby Dick is a deliberately provocative filmmaker, but also an effective one. His acclaimed documentary, This Film Is Not Yet Rated, not only pointed out the arbitrariness of the movie-rating system, it forced the people doing the ratings to make some changes in their process.

But Dick's latest film, Outrage, is so provocative, even some of the reviews have proven controversial.

The subject is gay politicians, but not just any gay politicians. It reserves its scorn for those who are gay, in the closet and — to protect their secrets — support anti-gay policies. One well-known example is Larry Craig, the former Idaho senator who was arrested in a Minnesota airport men's room, allegedly for making a sexual advance toward an undercover police officer; Craig at first pleaded guilty in the case but later tried to get the plea overturned. He has denied being gay.

Nor are the anti-gay gays Dick's only target. He also questions news organizations' decisions not to expose the hypocrisy of the anti-gay gays; in one example in the film, Bill Maher referred to a politician as gay on Larry King Live, but CNN deleted the reference from a recorded version of the interview.

It's naming names that has gotten some reviewers in trouble, too. While Dick talks to some politicians about their experience both in and out (such as former New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey), in other cases he exposes politicians who are not openly gay.

He does so methodically. As was the case with This Film Is Not Yet Rated, Dick works from facts and on-the-record interviews to build his case, and includes denials in addition to the evidence he has collected. On the other hand, the film's promotion has been somewhat coy; press material for Outrage does not name all the names in the film, either, and a list of the documentary's ''subjects'' consists of people interviewed for the film but not all of those covered.

In addition, some news organizations, including National Public Radio, have deleted the names of some politicians Dick covered. NPR policy, its ombudsman noted, ''is not to publish or air rumors, allegations or reports about private lives of anyone unless there is a compelling news reason to do so.''

Dick, I think, makes an argument that there is ''a compelling news reason'' to talk about someone like Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who is closely considered in Outrage but who has denied he is gay.

As a governor, and as a possible future senator from Florida, Crist is in a position to make policy affecting millions of people, straight and gay. He was also said to be on the short list of vice presidential possibilities for John McCain in 2008, and has been mentioned as a presidential contender in 2012.

The current economic troubles notwithstanding, gay rights remain a major social and political issue, and it's important to know where Crist — and any of the other politicians in Outrage — stand.

Moreover, Dick's documentary does not simply look at closeted gays in terms of public policy. The interviews and analysis also point out the considerable personal cost of not coming out. Nor is it just a price paid by the politicians. When they marry, and have children, as part of their illusion, the families suffer, too, especially when the politicians' deception is uncovered.

As I said, Outrage provokes. And, as clearly as it makes the case for politicians coming out, it ends with a voice and image that also acknowledge that coming out has its perils.

The voice and image belong to Harvey Milk, the openly gay politician. He was an often successful advocate for gay rights; he was the subject of an acclaimed documentary and of the award-winning movie Milk, where Sean Penn portrayed him. And he was gunned down in his prime.

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