‘Stonewall’ writer: ‘Judge the film on its own merits’

Jeremy Irvine,  in a scene from 'Stonewall'

Jeremy Irvine, in a scene from 'Stonewall'

A scene from 'Stonewall'

A scene from ‘Stonewall

“I hope the exchange below is a useful part of the discussion around the marketing, and making of Stonewall, which is being decried by many who have not or will not see it based on a trailer (sigh), which I saw only when others did, online. I have tremendous respect for Roland Emmerich, for producing and directing and paying for a movie which no studio would give a cent to. Including the studios he has made a great deal of money for. I admire his reach and ambition, and his intentions, which are utterly uncynical, totally honorable. His film making skills are realized here to a degree we have not seen before, and his sole goal was to honor the heroes of that time. AND I also have tremendous empathy for those who think they are being erased, removed and made once more invisible. I really do not think that’s what this movie is, and as I say below, I could be blind, because when you make a film, the chaos, the uncertainty, the conditions ‘on the ground’ can lead to a kind of ‘snow blindness’ to use an ironic phrase. But such an erasure would be heart breaking to me, as a man of principle, who tries to grow wiser and broader in my vision of what the world should be. The movie is about an awakening, one young man’s awakening to the reality of what it means to be ‘the other’. It is not the definitive story of a revolution; that film has yet to be made – but its a humanist’s dramatization of how the disenfranchised are empowered by rage, and it traces a point in an arc towards justice that began with the Mattachine Society, continued through the bravery of a group of psychiatrists who refused to accept the pathologizing of homosexuality, and continues today with the fight for marriage equality and is now starting to focus on trans rights. It’s a point on an arc, a moment, a story — the prejudgements are understandable to me, and there’s not much I can do except be honest about my role in making the movie, and our intentions. I don’t think the film needs defending, really, but I am reminded of Jesse Jackson’s words, when reflecting on some of his mistakes: To quote: — “My head – so limited in its finitude; my heart, which is boundless in its love for the human family. I am not a perfect servant. I am a public servant doing my best against the odds. As I develop and serve, be patient. God is not finished with me yet…” I stand before people who are angered by a film they have yet to see, and ask that their open hearts allow that the film be judged on its own merits, and not by the demands of a marketing department, because marketing is based entirely in fear, whereas art is based in rage and hope and fire. American film (sigh) somewhere in between – nervously shifting its weight between commerce and something greater, and stumbling all the time.”

— Jon Robin Baitz, author of the Stonewall screenplay, in a note posted to his Facebook page in response to the growing number of LGBT people calling for a boycott of the upcoming film based on seeing the trailer and their perception that trans and people of color are largely absent from the historical drama (read director Roland Emmerich’s statement here, and Larry Kramer’s opinion here.

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