How does Newsweek take the huge publicity problem Ramin Setoodeh (pictured) created — and Newsweek published, and then stood behind — and spin it? By using Setoodeh’s original “gays can’t play straight” article as a jumping off point into a larger discussion about gay actors. Which is, supposedly, what Steoodeh originally wanted to do, but miserably failed.
The magazine’s culture editor Marc Peyser had screewriter Dustin Lance Black and GLAAD chief Jarrett Barrios chit chat about Setoodeh’s harmful op-ed. That’s, uh, nice. Here’s Peyser intro’ing their conversation: “Obviously the piece that we’re all hearing about has touched quite a nerve out in the larger world. My hope is more to sort of move beyond that, and talk about what life is really like in Hollywood for gay people. —actors, obviously, but also screenwriters, if you will, and directors.” Notice that Newsweek still hasn’t apologized for its article, which GLAAD has been demanding. Fruitlessly.
In fact, throughout the entire conversation, Peyser continues avoiding the situation at hand: That Setoodeh filed, and Newsweek ran, a harmful column. Isn’t journalism supposed to encourage, and insist upon, accountability? Of course. So it’s remarkable that Peyser refuses to do so. We already know Setoodeh is incapable of admitting his mistakes; now Newsweek joins in.
Here’s Peyser missing the point entirely once:
Peyser: Certainly in regards to the two actors who are talked about most in the piece, I think that yes, he was asserting that those people, for him as an audience member, he [was] not able to believe them as straight characters. But I think that that’s built on this larger idea that the reason we can’t see past an actor’s sexuality is because it’s so rarely out there, so to speak. So few actors come out, and the ones that tend to come out probably have less to lose. The ones that have multi-multi-million dollar careers don’t come out of the closet, and therefore it’s still a novelty and an aberration in some people’s minds. So it’s hard to look past that.
Barrios: With all respect, that might have been what he [Setoodeh] implied, but that’s not what he said. He said, for example, that Sean Hayes wasn’t believable. How could somebody who was “queeny” in Will & Grace be believable in Promises, Promises? As if to say that because in one role he was effeminate, he was no longer a candidate for a non-effeminate role later in his career? That may be what’s going on in his [Setoodeh's] head, but it’s certainly not what the public thinks.
Peyser: But Lance, you work in Hollywood. Do you think than everybody who is gay is out? Are we going to see that all of the gay actors and actresses and, beyond that, people behind the scenes as well, are out? Is that what Jarrett is implying, that in fact we’re very close to?
Black: I feel like this is a separate issue. So I’m happy to move on to talk about it—actually really happy to, I think it’s a really interesting subject. But I want to make sure that you’re getting what Jarrett’s saying and what I’m saying about this article. Because this article said something really different than what the real challenge is, which is making Hollywood a comfortable place for gay and lesbian people to come out and be able to play heterosexual roles.
The points Black and Barrios make are otherwise worth reading, but this exercise in group think only shows Newsweek — a unit of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive (yes, with the period) — remains completely unaware of the harm Setoodeh’s article causes to the gay community, and the harm the magazine’s refusal to admit wrongdoing does to its already deteriorating brand.
Dear Ramin Setoodeh: Here Are Gays Successfully Playing Straight Characters
Ramin Setoodeh Blames You Homos For Missing the Point of His Straight-For-Pay Essay
Cheyenne Jackson Is Ready to Drop Elbows on Ramin Setoodeh