One thing people don't know about Jay is that he is a total movie hound. He LOVES to watch movies. All kinds...good, bad, or indifferent. The Netflix people must have a special courier just for our house because those little red envelopes never seem to leave. A great deal of what we get are total stinkers, In my humble opinion. However, every once in a while, a great movie comes along, much to my surprise. "Shelter" was just such a movie. It was directed by Jonah Markowitz of Quinceanera fame and starring Trevor Wright and Brad Rowe. But my reason for posting about this movie is in more than just its story.
"Shelter" tells the story of Zack Whose sense of responsibility to help keep his chaotic family together is at odds with his need to build his own life and all of this comes to a head when he falls in love with his best friends brother. But why listen to me prattle on...Watch this:
This was an incredibly sweet movie that had an emotional impact that came close to "Brokeback Mountain" on the sweetness scale. The characters were well done and were very like people I have known in real life...and the family element of the story is reminiscent of our own family histories. This movie told a sweet love story between two men and how difficult it can be to come out to yourself let alone your family and friends too. I wont give away the ending...that would just be too cruel...lets just say that this movie was satisfying to watch and didn't leave you feeling like you wasted two hours you can never get back.
My issue with the movie is this: Why is it rated "R" ?!
There was only one mild sex scene scene with the two men in bed and you only saw them kissing and rolling around. All of it was shot from the waist up. No nudity...nothing too suggestive.
I assert that if this movie had been a heterosexual love story, this movie would have been "PG-13". So why the "R" rating? Because its gay content? We can watch people role around in faux sexual situations all the time on network television but when its two men, it becomes taboo?
I guess I should feel lucky they didn't make one of the characters a raging alcoholic with AIDS, who dies at the end of the movie. Reinforcing the idea that we all end up that way......those are the television/movie images I grew up with about gay people. I am glad that, at least, we have moved beyond portraying our lives as inherently doomed.
So why is love between two men rated "R"? Being that there was almost no sexual content to the film and definitely no violence I am left to assume that whoever rated this movie doesn't like seeing honest portrayals of gay people. In the end it becomes another subtle message that "you gays don't belong". Clearly you don't have to contain any violence or any sex to be rate "R", you just have to be gay.
How does this affect us in our day to day lives?
A recent poster asked me if I felt comfortable holding hands with Jay in public. Sometimes I don't. Aside from the practical, personal safety issues, part of the reason is because of the subtle messages we get in society that we are not acceptable. Those messages become a part of how we deal with the world. When you know you are not acceptable as you are, you learn to hide. To make my point, You can't show two men dating on "Project Runway"...one of the gayest shows on television. Nor will they allow two men to dance together on "So You Think You Can Dance", a show with a ton of gay cast members. And The very high profile cases of "And Tango Makes Three" and "King and King" Two great children's books whose only crime is showing gay people in a positive light, being among the most banned children's books.
All of these messages become a part of societies stance toward gay people, and we get the message loud and clear. In most of us these messages get internalized in a variety of ways but suffice it to say...we know the world is not safe.
Discovering that this sweet and very entertaining movie was rated "R" really cheesed me off. I think its high time that America gets over its fear of gays and its belief that Gay=weak. Nothing could be further from the truth. Watching two men kiss will NOT make your kids gay....nor will the fabric of society come unraveled. But what WILL happen is that maybe...just maybe.....the world will become a more loving place, gay men and women will get to grow up to have happy healthy relationships, and America will finally live up to all she says she stands for.
Purchase "Shelter" from Amazon on our GLBTQ Reviews page here. It was an awsome movie and I gave it two thumbs up.