August 31, 2011

Queer Review: Outrage (2009)

Director: Kirby Dick
Writer: Kirby Dick
Cast: Tony Kushner, Barney Frank, Larry Kramer, Andrew Sullivan, Dina Matos McGreevey, James McGreevey, Dina Matos, Mike Rogers

Kirby Dick's documentary about closeted gay politicians and the hypocrisy of those who engage in political agendas that are bigoted and damaging to our community, is paradoxically extremely detailed and well researched, yet still feels like it's only skimming over the more compelling aspects of the situation.

Outrage tackles the controversial issue of closeted politicians who have been outed and who engaged in anti-gay political agendas. Some attention is also paid to the social and political forces that lead to so many politicians being in the closet while being virulently homophobic and the damage done by those same political leaders.

The Queering
I do not want to be the hater here as I believe that Kirby Dick's motives are pure, but the major flaw with Outrage is that he is not presenting any new or particularly shocking information here. There is nothing that will shock anybody who pays the slightest bit of attention to the news, but any attempt to inform people about a well known phenomenon seems, well, somewhat pointless to me.

That is not to say there is some worthwhile material here, just that it feels like most of what is covered can be gleaned from reading headlines. Very rarely does Kirby Dick peel back the layers to reveal deeper insights. What I would consider worthwhile material here includes a segment where Dina Matos - the wife of James McGreevy, the former governor of New Jersey who resigned after coming out - tearfully explains how much it hurt to have been deceived by her husband. An analysis of the damage caused by closeted politicians, particularly with regards to the AIDS crisis, also makes for compelling viewing.

However, the attempts to explain why closeted politicians are also the most homophobic will be familiar to anyone who has studied the work of Sigmund Freud. The only way that part could have been made interesting would be if Kirby Dick had summoned the ghost of Freud to deliver it.

Ultimately, the medium used to deliver the message can sometimes be just as important as the message itself and I would argue that the material here would be better suited for a blog. It is no surprise then, that Outrage draws heavily from the blog BlogActive by Michael Rogers, who is featured in Outrage.

Like I said though, I do not wish to be the bad guy here. The subject matter alone warrants additional media coverage and analysis beyond what mainstream outlets have afforded this issue. It's just that I tend to demand more from feature films then what is delivered by Outrage.

Outrage gives viewers plenty of reasons to get outraged at the situation, but not quite enough reasons for those who pay attention to the news to actually seek it out. Unless one has been living under a rock, there's little new or substantially interesting information here to justify an unqualified recommendation.

The Rating


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1 comment:

  1. Great review!

    We're linking to your article for Kirby Dick Documentaries at

    Keep up the good work!


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