gods and monsters


Carina and I watched Gods and Monsters the other night. It was Carina’s second viewing, my first. We watched it largely because we enjoyed Ian McKellen so much in The Lord of the Rings and wanted to see some of his other works.

It’s a fictional account of the final days of Jimmy Whale, director of Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and The Invisible Man. It’s an interesting account of the waning glory of a Hollywood star, as well as a period examination of homosexuality. McKellen, himself a gay man, plays Whale with aplomb – his affectations are subtle and nuanced. I thought Brendan Frasier was a little heavy-handed at times in his role as Clay Boone, the fictional garderner that strikes up an unlikely friendship with the eccentric old poof, but I suppose the character’s backstory of a failed Marine explains at least some of that.

I really enjoyed the movie. The pace was perfect, the characters well realized. It was neat to see McKellen in a role other than Gandalf, and he played it perfectly. I can’t wait to see some of his other works (well, everything except Apt Pupil).

The homosexual themes in Gods and Monsters were a little a propos, since the issue of gay marriage keeps floating up every couple of months (currently as an issue in the California Gubernatorial recall move). I just can’t see what people object to. I mean, we allow sterile heterosexual couples to marry, as well as fertile heterosexual couples who expressly do not want children. So marriage can’t be just about children. Same-sex marriages would mean that gay spouses would be entitled to employer benefits, and this may in some way suggest that the government “condones” homosexuality. Well, abusive heterosexual spouses get benefits, so does that mean that The State sanctions spouse-abuse? Or child abuse? I don’t buy for one minute the argument that same-sex marriages would weaken or erode the “community” or its values. Gay people experience love and feel passion and committment in the same way as heterosexual people – it’s just the object of that passion and committment is different (or the same, I guess. Bad pun). Same-sex marriages wouldn’t undermine a community in any other ways than heterosexual marriages can and do. People who are unhappy (and stupid) will still continue to be abusive, or cheat on their spouse, or do whatever; and people who are happy will continue to participate in their community’s events, support their local economies, and generally improve the standard of living – regardless of what sex their spouse is. (I suppose the real complaint is that gay people might be “mainstreamed”. Can you imagine? A gay man or woman coaching soccer or lacross? The horror! But that is still a seperate issue from same-sex marriage.) The only argument against same-sex marriage that I can’t really counter is the religious argument: that homosexuality is somehow a sin, and should be punished or at least avoided at all costs. But I can’t stand those kinds of religious zealots, anyway, and I personally don’t think they should be making political policy. They can make sure their exclusive white clergy continue to deny same-sex marriages in THEIR church. I mean, those poeple don’t recognize civil marriage ceremonies anyway, so same-sex marriage is in no way a net loss for them.

Wow. What a tangent. Anyway, Gods and Monsters is an excellent film and I suggest that you go see it, if you haven’t yet. In the meantime, I’m going to find more Ian McKellen films!

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