Thursday, August 6, 2015
And A White Boy Shall Lead Them: The Whitewashing of the Stonewall Movie
The other day, we saw the trailer for Roland Emmerich's Stonewall. Most people know the movement was instigated by LGBT people of color living in New York City. So, you would believe the movie would focus on them.
Well, not so much.
In this trailer, we are introduced to Danny, a young white boy with a dream.
He travels to New York City during the time of the revolution. Once he realizes what going on, he steps forward and leads the rebellion, and the rest is history. But here's the thing-- this isn't what happened at all. The people who were truly involved in the Stonewall riots (Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera and Storme DeLarverie) are now secondary characters to Danny.
It's almost insulting, but not surprising to see how Hollywood has basically whitewashed our history in this film. From this trailer alone, it seems that this fictional character is the Luke Skywalker/Captain America of LGBT of movement. Again, I am completely judging all of this from the trailer. But the purpose of a trailer is to sell the movie. Did they think by placing this white boy as the lead would make this film more appealing to the audience? Probably so, Hollywood has a deep track record of creating White saviors for films. I guess what makes this film any different, right?
The crapfest doesn't stop there. If you check out the IMDb page for Stonewall, you will find that two of the main people involved in the riots are not there. The person playing Marsha is near the end of the credits, while Sylvia are Storme are not even listed at all. However, the fictional characters are at the very top of the credits. When you stop and think about it you should be angry. Because what we're seeing is a complete and unabashed whitewashing of LGBT history. It seems that everything that went down and the people who were involved were cast aside to tell Danny's story. Was it so hard to tell Marsha P Johnson or Sylvia Rivera's stories? What about researching the other people involved in the movement? And since creating fictional characters is the thing to do, what adding more characters of color to tell the tale?
We may never know what was behind the creation of this movie and the story, but what we do know is this isn't the Stonewall we've appreciated and respected for over 40 years. The people who were truly a part of the movement are gone, and in their place, is a White Knight and the horse he rode on.