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Even Newsweek‘s Editors Truly Don’t Understand How Terrible Ramin Setoodeh’s Article Is

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.

And twice:

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

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  • TheAwfulTruth

    Lance and Barrios should have not agreed to be a part of this conversation. Even while making their points, they gave credence to what Ramen Noodle wrote.

  • Cam

    Wow, you would think that professional writers could come up with explanations a bit less tortoured. I love it when they say things like “I think he was asserting” Well thats funny, why don’t you ask him. And additionally, if you are educated about this issue, and have to GUESS at what his meaning was…doesn’t that mean it was a pretty poorly written article?

    Newsweeks problem isnt’ that he was misunderstood. It’s that he was understood perfectly and they are scrambling.

  • ducdebrabant

    And now The Hollywood Reporter’s Andrew Wallenstein is defending Newsweek and Setoodeh (and attacking Kristin Chenoweth as a “hatemonger” while he’s at it) basically by saying that he too can’t get past a gay actor’s sexual orientation when he plays a straight role. Disgraceful. In fact, although THR prints an exclusive statement by Black and GLAAD President Jarrett Barrios criticizing Newsweek and Setoodeh, they link to Wallenstein’s piece at the end of it.

  • Jack Smythe

    i am glad to have seen black and barrios confront this in a manner not heretofore in evidence. this is what i would have wished had occurred on the behar show. they refused to take the bait and get sidetracked.

  • Andrew

    It’s a mix of desperation and foolishness. Newsweek need all the publicity they can get, that magazine has been going downhill for a while.

  • David Ehrenstein

    The biggest gay homophobe of The Golden Age of Hollywood was Hollywood Reporter columnist Mike Connolley.

  • Mike

    Wow, didn’t we turn this thing into a big deal. I’m amazed that DOMA and DADT are still in place, we’re such a organized community with a great ability to focus on important stuff…

  • Josh

    Some of Ramin’s views regarding Lawrence King was unforgivable. He should have been fired back then.

    As I’ve posted elsewhere Ramin has a history of targeting effeminate gays in his writings.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    Same with the Hollywood Reporter. They need attention because they are bleeding readers. But just like all the entertainment trades these days, THR is a day late, dollar short to the controversy to properly milk it. Idiots.

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Mike: Why do you think that DADT and ENDA are so hard to pass? To answer my own question, look at how the bigots use preset images of gays during any battle over marriage equality at the ballot. They use these stored up images of what gay people are to to stoke the bigotry high enough to win. It would not be as easy to pass these bills if people had a different preset button that did not make it so easy to manipulate them. That’s why these sorts of discussion become important- each piece relates to the greater battle for reform and equality. And, by the way, the ENDA and DADT battles are actually going well right now despite the president’s attempt to derail them.

  • Mike

    @D’oh, The Magnificent: The point is that if the gay community put as much effort into real stuff, like we do this bullshit, DOMA and DADT would be history already.

    Quote from Huffington Post article:

    Gay actors are in absolutely no danger of losing parts in Broadway shows, so if it were me, I’d re-direct my anger to the real problem. The honest-to-God, no kidding around, small-minded, mean-spirited, hysterically frightened, pig-ignorant bigots who don’t think homosexuals are fit to get married, adopt children or fight and die for their country. The ones who hold signs saying “God Hates Fags.” Those people aren’t in the backwoods of Idaho, they’re in Congress. Fight THEM. I’ll help.

    Too true!

  • alan brickman

    it’s still free speech even if it is badly written….please don’t censor me….

  • D'oh, The Magnificent

    @Mike: The point is that you don’t have a point other than trying to pit one thing against the other, and, having been proven wrong, you are now left defending it because thats what people online do when they are called out of their bubble.

  • David

    Ramin doesn’t have much room to be criticizing effeminate gays… he’s not exactly what one would describe as masculine.

  • David Ehrenstein

    @David: And that’s PRECISELY why hehas such hang-ups about effeminacy. I guess he doesn’t own a mirror.

  • edgyguy1426

    I wonder if this is a by-product of Ramin’s persian background which much like the macho latino perspective: Well if you’re gonna be gay ok, just as long as you’re the top.

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