Rewriting History

Crusty Old FBI Agents Mad That J. Edgar Portrays Hoover as a Big Fat Homo

j-edgar-posterCritics have already savaged J. Edgar, Clint Eastwood’s biopic about longtime FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover. Now his government contemporaries are slamming the fact that the iconic Mr. Hoover, revered in the Bureau, was portrayed as a gay lover to his confidant Clyde Tolson. They aired their grievances in the Washington Post:

“We were led to believe this would be an accurate portrayal of Mr. Hoover,” said Thomas McGorray, who runs the e-mail list xgboys. “Everybody feels betrayed. It’s typical Hollywood. They went off on the sex stuff.”

“Xgboys,” BTW, is not a NSFW list-serv where pervy old men trade pictures of child stars gone bad. It’s a private mailing list for ex-FBI agents, obviously! A more sensible agent named Scott Nelson is less grumble-grumble about the matter:

As a technical adviser on the film, former agent Scott Nelson said he also advised the filmmakers it was “gratuitous” to include a scene showing Hoover and Tolson kissing and to show Hoover putting on his mother’s dress in his grief after she died.

But Nelson thinks some of his fellow former agents are overreacting.

“It’s a biopic. It’s not a biography,” said Nelson, who now runs his own security firm in California. “That doesn’t mean it’s factual. Agents deal in fact, and they’re offended at the literary license taken by the screenwriter. I know why they’re offended.”

However, Nelson said, the film does not disparage Hoover, and the speculative focus on his personal life was part of dramatic storytelling: “That’s Hollywood.”

So it’s all screenwriter Dustin Lance Black‘s fault. In the article, they say “historians agree that there is no evidence that either man was gay,” and Hoover expert Cohen called DLB out on this publicly back in March.

Do you blame the openly gay writer for taking a close friendship between two FBI dudes and turning it into repressed gay love? Maybe his ham-handedness with that subplot is indicative that he should he stick to winning Oscars for writing movies about definitively gay people. Or maybe just star in pictures of his own?

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