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Hey, Kristin Chenoweth -- that Newsweek guy is explaining himself [updated]

Hayes-clooney-web-split Ramin Setoodeh, the Newsweek writer whose article "Straight Jacket" drew the wrath of one Kristin Chenoweth, responded to critics Tuesday, describing what's happened since his essay was published last week and clarifying the point he was trying to make in the first place. 

He says he received a lot of vicious criticism over the weekend, including "e-mails that said I will be fired, anonymous phone calls on my cell phone and a creepy letter at my home." His picture was posted on several blogs, leading inevitably to criticism of his haircut, because that's how the Internet works.

Chenoweth's letter was detailed in a Preach It! post from the Ministry, and though we know this isn't traditional "celebrity" news, we're going to follow up briefly with a few quotes from Setoodeh's response, which can be read in full here.

-- "[W]hat all this scrutiny seemed to miss was my essay's point: if an actor of the stature of George Clooney came out of the closet today, would we still accept him as a heterosexual leading man? It's hard to say, because no actor like that exists"

-- "You can disagree with me if you like, but when was the last time you saw a movie starring a gay actor? The point of my essay was not to disparage my own community, but to examine an issue that is being swept under the rug."

-- "Chenoweth's argument that gay youth need gay role models is true, but that's not what I was talking about. I was sharing my honest impression about a play that I saw."

After reading the original article and Setoodeh's response, do you think Chenoweth was off-base or right on target? Or doth the writer protest too much? If an opinion article has to be explained, perhaps the point wasn't made that well in the first place. Then again, maybe the essay's readers were just too simple-minded to follow the arguments.

Let us know what you think in comments.

[Updated, 7:35 p.m.: "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy has written an open letter, posted at EW.com, asking for a boycott of Newsweek "until an apology is issued to Sean Hayes and other brave out actors who were cruelly singled out" in the "Straight Jacket" article. Murphy also invited Setoodeh to visit the "Glee" writer's room and set. (Setoodeh has tweeted that he likes the show, on which Chenoweth has guest starred.) ]

-- Christie D'Zurilla

Photos: Sean Hayes, left, is gay; George Clooney, right, is straight. But would you buy Clooney as a straight male lead if you suddenly found out he was gay? Newsweek writer Ramin Setoodeh says he doesn't know the answer to that question. Credits: Andrew H. Walker / Getty Images, left; Matt Sayles / Associated Press, right 

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Comments () | Archives (7)

Ms. Chenoweth's response was entirely appropriate because it answered the accusations made in the article. If that is not what the author meant then he better learn how to express his thoughts in a more clear and concise way. People responded to what he wrote, which was unbelievabley bigoted and inaccurate. If I see his byline on any article in the future, it's a safe bet that it won't get read.

I agree with Kacey. This writer works for a publication like Newsweek and yet he has to explain it to people? Sounds to me like Mr. Setoodeh should get his resume ready and not include the Straight Jacket article in his portfolio.

I read the original article in Newsweek, and I remember struggling with it a little bit. I think that I understood what he was trying to say, but there was something about the way that he said it that made me uncomfortable, and felt counter-productive to me. For one thing, if I am not mistaken, Rock Hudson had a very long and prosperous career, convincingly playing romantic male leads, even though he was "gay". People always want things to be black or white, when in truth, reality is much more complicated than that. Didn't Kinsey long ago prove that sexuality, for most people, is a continuum: a few people are exclusively straight, a few people are exclusively "gay", but most lie somewhere in between. I would bet that there are quite a few closeted male actors who are quite convincingly playing straight romantic leads without anyone knowing. Plus, what the writer seems to neglect, is that I think that we are in the midst of a significant change in the way our society is dealing with homosexuality. Not too long ago, a movie star (or anyone, for that matter) could NEVER admit openly to being gay. We are in the midst of a significant change, I think (which never happens over night), and who is to say, as the change continues, and American society gets more comfortable with sexuality, homosexuality, and everything in between, that the time won't come when a "gay" star will emerge who will have the charisma and popularity of George Clooney, and who will be able to play "straight" male roles convincingly? Also, beauty, attractiveness, and masculinity, like so many things in life, are frequently in the eye of the beholder, and not some given, universal quality. For example, I was struck last year by how many women found American Idol contest Adam Lambert sexy and attractive, while many men found him totally effeminate and unappealing. What a man is looking for in another man is frequently different from what a woman is looking for in a man. So perhaps many women look at Sean Hayes performance and see an attractive, believable heterosexual man, while many men look at the very same performance, and see a gay man pretending to be straight?

At the end of the day, I think it is valuable and interesting to have discussions about this issue, but I still think that there was something about the tone or approach of the Newsweek article that, to me, didn't seem very interesting or well-thought-out, and did come off as slightly offensive, despite his intentions.

Ramin Setoodeh is yet another self-hating homosexual only this guy has a pulpit and a megaphone where he can work out his issues. Unfortunately along the way he perpetuates the stereotypes upon which he purports to be shining a light and only succeeds in making an already difficult situation that much worse.

There was a time only a decade (or two) ago when no actor could be out but time and awareness have eased those handicaps and now we have a great number of performers who are honest about themselves in an open and healthy fashion. And, as time moves forward and the awareness gives way to comfort, there will be even greater numbers of openly gay actors performing in heterosexual roles and no one will care because the stigma of being gay or lesbian will have eased to the point of being a non-issue. Alas, articles by Mr. Setoodeh only work to set back that time and undermine progress by fueling bigotry. That such vitriol comes from a gay man is no excuse or justification.

Kudos to Ms. Chenoweth for fighting back.

Ramin has a long history of homophobia….

Not only did he write this piece disparaging gay actors who play straight roles…

Not only did he blame effeminate gays and actors for hurting gay marriage….

Not only did he go on O'Reilly to do a hit piece on Adam Lambert last season on American Idol (where he depicted Kris as a good straight Christian and Adam as a godless heathen gay even though it was known that Adam was Jewish)…..

But he also blamed that 8th grade kid (Lawrence King) that was murdered by his classmate (who shot him in the head in class) for his own murder because he dressed effeminately at school and therefore was flaunting his sexuality.

I don't care what Ramin or his friends say, he is a DISGUSTING SELF HATER who has an obvious problem with effeminate gays.

It is important for us to defend the most effeminate gays because they are the ones who face the most ire from the haters.

Ramin wants us to pile on them too and throw them under the bus.

Ramin's self hating homophobia NEEDS to be condemned by the gay community.

I saw Promises, Promises last month and loved the show. The entire audience was on its feet when Sean Hayes took his bows. I think the real problem here is Sean's tremendous success in Will & Grace. I thought they should have renamed the show Jack & Karen since they were stealing all the scenes. Sean will always be known for his role as Jack (the Cher-worshipping flaming queen) and his comic genius. Sean's role in Promises, Promises may lack some credibility due to typecasting, but who cares about realism in a musical comedy. Did anyone complain about Nathan Lane playing Gomez in the Addams Family?

I think that people took the article out of context. I don't believe he was being anti-gay. Ramin was just pointing out that it is not as convincing for a flamboyantly gay actor to play a completely straight character as it would a heterosexual actor to play a homosexual character. Society for so long has been programmed to view people for superficial reasons. Yes, Rock Hudson was gay during the times that he made great movies, but he and the studios, at the time, went through great lengths to hide his sexuality. The same can be said about Montgomery Cliff and many other gay actors of those times. I don't think that Ramin was being homophobic in the article at all, but I think that he could have worded it differently and still make his points. I have not seen the play, so therefore I cannot comment on Sean Hayes performance. I do watch Glee, and I must say without know anything about the actor, Jonathan Groff does not play a convincing straight boyfriend on the show. Personally, I really don't care about the sexual-orientation of an actor, as long as he/she plays the given character well.


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