Saturday, November 20, 2004

Queer eye for a Macedonian guy 

The Euro-American culture wars have reached the level of "who are you calling a fag?"
"A group of Greek lawyers are threatening to sue Warner Bros. film studios and Oliver Stone, director of the widely anticipated film 'Alexander,' for suggesting Alexander the Great was bisexual.

"The lawyers have already sent an extrajudicial note to the studio and director demanding they include a reference in the title credits saying his movie is a fictional tale and not based on official documents of the life of the Macedonian ruler.

" 'We are not saying that we are against gays but we are saying that the production company should make it clear to the audience that this film is pure fiction and not a true depiction of the life of Alexander,' Yannis Varnakos, who spearheads the campaign by 25 lawyers, told Reuters on Friday,"
echoing Seinfeld's famous "not that there is anything wrong with that." And so, Europe's much vaunted tolerance crashes on the rocks of machismo disguised as commitment to historical accuracy.

Greeks might have a point in a way - after what Oliver Stone has done to the Wall Street, the Vietnam War, the JFK assassination and Richard Nixon, who knows what he might have done to the poor Alex the Great. Still, Alexander's bisexuality is not something that Stone has come up with one evening when thinking how to add some spice to the tired old story of a 33-year old who had conquered the largest empire the world has seen up to that time. The issue of Alexander's bed partners has been debated for ages, without clear evidence falling one or the other side of the controversy. But it's certainly misleading of Varnakos to analogise that "We cannot come out and say that (former U.S.) President John F. Kennedy was a shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team and so Warner cannot come out and say Alexander was gay." Doubly so, since he's talking about the same US movie industry and the same Oliver Stone, who have brought us John F Kennedy as the victim of a giant right-wing Cuban/CIA/military-industrial complex/Mafia conspiracy. By comparison, Alexander the Gay seems so much more plausible a speculation, not to mention so much more harmless.

Note too, that the Greeks' Mediterranean neighbors, the Italians, seem to have a much more relaxed attitude about their past great, Julius Caesar, who in his time has been described tabloid-style as "every woman's man and every man's woman."

But the ultimate irony, of course, is that Alexander, a Macedonian monarch who was treated by his Greek contemporaries as an uncouth barbarian despot from the wild northern borderlands of the Hellenic civilization has now been so thoroughly claimed as one of their own by the modern-day Greeks, that defending his sexuality can now be seen as a point of national honor.


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