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Patrick Goldstein and James Rainey
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'Glee's' Ryan Murphy says boycott Newsweek for its mind-blowing bigotry [Updated]

May 12, 2010 | 11:58 am

Ryan_murphy Poor, poor, pitiful Newsweek magazine. It's bad enough being a newsweekly in the Time of the Internet, where all of the news and information you used to carefully collect and analyze has already been disseminated, debated and digested long before your magazine ever hits the newsstands. It's bad enough that business is so terrible that your parent company has put you up for sale -- and is having a hard time finding any buyers.

But now the coup de grace. "Glee" creator Ryan Murphy is urging an immediate boycott of Newsweek until the magazine apologizes to all of its gay readership for what Murphy calls a "needlessly cruel and mind-blowingly bigoted piece" by Ramin Setoodeh that seems to imply that gay actors shouldn't be playing straight characters, a position that Murphy calls shocking and "blatantly homophobic," in part because Setoodeh is gay himself.

Yikes! What's happening here?

Setoodeh's piece seems to have been inspired by the fact that "Will & Grace's" now openly gay Sean Hayes had been playing a straight guy romancing Kristin Chenoweth in the Broadway revival of "Promises, Promises." Setoodeh panned his performance, saying:

"Frankly, it's weird seeing Hayes play straight. He comes off as wooden and insincere, like he's trying to hide something, which of course, he is. Even the play's most hilarious scene, when [Hayes' character] tries to pick up a drunk woman in a bar, devolves into unintentional camp. Is it funny because of all the '60s-era one-liners, or because the woman is so drunk (and clueless) that she agrees to go home with a guy we all know is gay?"

First off, let me be very clear. Setoodeh's piece isn't just weirdly homophobic. It's also nasty and bitchy, in a very Rex Reed sort of way, and intellectually dishonest. But mostly it's just plain dumb. It claims that openly gay actors still have reason to be scared, meaning they have good cause to remain in the closet, but then dings them for playing straight parts because -- wink, wink -- we know they're actually gay. So what parts are they supposed to be able to play?

That said, you also have to read the reaction in terms of score settling. Setoodeh's piece has already inspired a cutting response from Chenoweth, who basically sticks up for her costar (you can read Setoodeh's response to Chenoweth's charges here). And it seems clear that Murphy wasn't just weighing in for the good of all gay people, but because Setoodeh had taken some shots at "Glee's" also openly gay Jonathan Groff, mocking his performance on the show, saying that "in half his scenes, he scowls -- is that a substitute for being straight? When he smiles or giggles, he seems more like your average theater queen."

Murphy has every right to be offended, though I think the idea of a Newsweek boycott is way over the top, since if we really advocated a boycott every time we read something dumb or insulting from a critic in a magazine or (gasp!) a commentator on Fox News, we'd have to all go back to living in caves and scrawling crude drawings on the walls. If you boycott Newsweek for the incredible lameness of Setoodeh, then you wouldn't be able to read the wonderfully sublime political analysis of Fareed Zakaria either, which would be a huge loss.

For now, I'd say that simply heaping insults and derision on Setoodeh is reaction enough. Why boycott a magazine that seems to be doing a perfectly good job of shooting itself in the foot all by itself?

Photo: Ryan Murphy with Lea Michele at the Golden Globe Awards in January. Credit: Valerie Macon / AFP/Getty Images

[Updated: An earlier version of this story misidentified the woman in the photo with Murphy as Olivia Wilde.]