Milking It

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

David Meyer, professor appointee of cinema studies at The New School and film editor for The Brooklyn Rail, discusses whether movies like the biopic Milk can, or should, help push forward political agendas.


David Meyer

Comments [14]

Angela at A Sea Change from Midwood, Brooklyn

As a filmmaker and lover, I don't think that most films have a direct, quid-pro-quo effect. It's subtle, intangible often, and more about a slow change in the zeigeist than an immediate charge to the phone to get Prop. 8 revoked. That said, there are of course certain films intended to evoke prompt action in the audience, whether in the form of discussion or signing a petition or (in the case of the film I'm working on now), altering our lifestyles to minimize our carbon footprints. Too often these films give up subtlety in exchange for pedantry. Notable exceptions: Thin Blue Line, gorgeous, evocative, compelling, and instrumental in getting Randall Adams released from prison. And, more recently, Margaret Brown's *The Order of Myths,* which treats the historic segregation of the Mobile Mardi Gras (yes, there's both a black and a white celebration) with irony, delicacy, and a complete absence of didacticism.

Nov. 26 2008 11:13 AM
John from Brooklyn

While it might be true that "Milk" is introducing the country at LARGE to the story of Harvey Milk, it's worth noting that many WNYC and NPR listeners will long since have come to the story through the Oscar-winning 1984 documentary "The Times of Harvey Milk."

Nov. 26 2008 11:07 AM
no on 8

I well remember the assassinations, as I was living in SF at the time, it was a horrible time for the city, coming on the heels of the Jonestown massacre. I am surprised that the focus is all Milk all the time. It's as if Moscone hadn't been a more important game-changer. He was the mayor who got non-whites and gays into positions of power for the first time in SF.
Sean Penn isn't nearly as lovely as Milk physically, but I'm sure he's good in the film.
PS the twinkie defense myth is still going around, even on NPR.
There was no twinkie "defense". It was brought up as an aside, as an indication of White's spiraling depression post-Vietnam.

Nov. 26 2008 11:04 AM
Anna B

The movie The Constant Gardener by Fernando Mierelles opened my eyes with the story of a drug corporation that exercised its power to both ignore the more easily treated diseases of the third world and use Africa's population for unofficial research and development.

The screenplay was based on a novel by john Le Carre and not on a true story, but I found it very persuasive.

Nov. 26 2008 11:00 AM
O from Forest Hills

Mormons don't see gay as demonic, they see it as a violation of Scripture, Leviticus 18:22

Nov. 26 2008 10:59 AM
J Weinstein from East Village

Why are you interviewing someone who about "Milk's possible social/political effects who hasn't seen the film? Plenty of experts out there have.

Nov. 26 2008 10:57 AM
no on 8

I voted no on 8 this fall, but I'm fascinated by the self-criticism going on in the gay community in California over how the No on 8 campaign was handled.
There was a town hall held last night, which I missed, but it sounds like the majority of people were furious with the old-guard representation of the leadership - they totally ignored black and hispanic gays and lesbians who said, "hey, we have to do some outreach in ethnic communities." They were told point-blank that black and hispanic votes didn't matter. And of course, no one listened to black and hispanic supporters of gay marriage who said that pushing this as a civil right wasn't the best marketing to non-white minorities, esp. that large, non-white minority that didn't get their civil rights legislation until 100 years after they were freed from slavery.

Nov. 26 2008 10:55 AM
RJ from NJ

I agree with O. I did not want to spend my hard earned money on a movie like "the Passion", like wise those who are anti-abortion will not want to watch a movie sympathetic to pro-abortion. similarly anti-gay will not be watching this movie.

Nov. 26 2008 10:55 AM
Glenn from Manhattan

Crash poked fun at black and white racism and won best film and also best film by the naacp

Nov. 26 2008 10:54 AM
Karen from Manhattan

Two older movies, both featuring Gregory Peck: "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Gentlemen's Agreement," about racism in the south and covert anti-semitism, respectively.

Atticus Finch remains one of my all-time fictional heros. The movie made me want to become an attorney. (I am one now, for many reasons.)

The key is to tell a story about human beings rather than preach.

Nov. 26 2008 10:53 AM
Evan Walter from middlesex NJ

Many political biopic movies seem to comment better on the injustices of the past rather than changing the political injustice's of the present.

Nov. 26 2008 10:53 AM
happyNYC from NYC

Hi there. Just got engaged and my fiance got me a gorgeous ruby instead of a diamond...the movie Blood Diamond reinforced my disire to get a non-diamond engagement ring. And I couldn't be happier! :)

Nov. 26 2008 10:53 AM
Jacqueline from Manhattan

For me, a movie and book changed my mind, when I read and watched Dead Man Walking my freshman year in college. I am no longer in favor of the death penalty.

Nov. 26 2008 10:51 AM
O from Forest Hills

I don't think this movie will have much impact because anti-gay people, especially religious fundamentalists won't even bother to see this movie.

I think to make a difference for gay rights we have to work in Congress and the Supreme Court to get an amendment protecting the right to marry regardless of to a man or woman.

As long as it is two consenting adults, let them do what they want. Deal with this in Washington and Legislature and Case Law is how this will be achieved. We need to focus our attention there.

Nov. 26 2008 10:50 AM

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