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Moore Is Less
The folks who asked me to do this column twice a month told me the topic could be about anything, just musings for the week. So this week, I'm musing about Demi Moore. I do that on occasion anyway just for fun, but this weekend I saw her movie, GI JANE, and there are a few things that could stand a comment or two, from the lesbian and gay side of the distaff, as it were.

We all know the armed services are homophobic and one of the largest, most insistent perpetrators of the institutionalized mandatory closet. That's not news, nor is it news that that position is not likely to change. We also know that Hollywood is one of the largest closets in the country, so that's not news either. But the difference is that Hollywood has always had the option to be socially responsible. And for PR's sake, often does make the claim that it *is* an instrument for positive social change. Godnose, the industry could be if it really wanted to be.

Demi is one of the producers of this film, and stars in it, so one would think she could have had a modicum of influence over its content. Although her abs are great, and she shaves her head, and she takes it on the chin, and puts her combat boots in a few deserving groins, all this Xena-esque gymnastics doesn't erase the fact that what the movie is *about* is not what it says it's about: equal treatment for women in the military. If that were what it were about, it would be about equal treatment for lesbians in the military, since there are so many of us there. What the movie is about is the right of *straight* women to die for their country. Equity has little to do with any concerns of any people with power. And the world was ever thus.

Except for lacking a dangling participle, no one can tell the difference between the movie's costar, Ann Bancroft, and any of her male counterparts in the Senate. They all play games and do back room deals and sell anyone they think is "weaker" down the Potomac. Bancroft's character is the one who's allegedly pushing to require the military to allow equity in the ranks. But what Bancroft makes clear is the premise above, that only straight women should serve with straight men. When it's up to her, as part of one of her deals, to be the one to select the applicant for this test case of a woman in a combat role, as the first woman Navy Seal, she rejects any female applicant whose body type even hints that the applicant might be a lesbian. And more than that, she *says* that's why she's rejecting them. Demi is a girlie girl, a smart one and in great shape, so she gets the nod. You can almost hear Bancroft go woooof just like the audience does when she sees her photograph, so one wonders what *else* Bancroft is thinking at the moment her eyes wander over Miss Thing. In the interview with Demi later, Bancroft does a bit more in depth investigation to make sure that Demi has a boyfriend at home and that she's getting *properly* fucked. As opposed to the kind of screwing Bancroft has in mind for Demi at the hands the Navy and the Senate. Can you say "prurient interests"?

Digressing from an exploration of the plot for a moment, I'm confused here about the premise of straight women being the only brand of woman acceptable to the military. If the point of keeping out gays and lesbians is that we create havoc in the ranks by introducing an unwanted sexual component into the morale of the unit, what advantage exactly does a straight woman in a platoon of straight men have over gays and lesbians? Let's look at this a second. Gays are a threat to morale in a unit by being the ever present and nightmarish dropped-soap-in-the-shower menace, and lesbians are a threat by being...what? As good as men and *not* interested in them?

It would seem to me that a lesbian in a group of straight men would make infinitely more sense. And a lesbian in a work group of *any* men, would make more. Gay men aren't interested in her and she's not interested in *any* of the men, gay or straight. They might all actually be friends and comrades, or something really radical like that. She could be proficient at the stated task without wanting to go to bed with her coworkers. What a concept. Or is that the problem? Is the military about sex, or is it about serving one's country? I think we might already know the answer to this, but I'm just asking.

Back to the plot, when Demi doesn't fail as Bancroft expects her to, Bancroft then tries to set her up for accusations of lesbianism. By now, to anyone who follows these things, it should be apparent that don't-ask-don't-tell has become a bigger excuse for a witch hunt than at any other time in the history of the military. I must have had popcorn-induced aphasia at some point in the plot development though--you know how those husks caught in a tooth can distract you--because I didn't really catch why Bancroft wanted Demi to fail, why picking a woman who would fail in the implementation of her publicly announced pet policy would advance Bancroft's career. But somehow, Bancroft has it in her head that it's an advantage to have as the test case a woman who is not obviously physically strong and therefore not a "lesbian-looking" woman, but rather a girlie girl, as if lesbians can't be both. I guess so that if a pretty girl fails, there is no possibility of success for an "unattractive" one. I'm tellin' ya, the plot was more frustrating than that popcorn husk.

The film is as full of homophobia as the military is, and there's no excuse for it. Demi doesn't have to be a lesbian to make the movie socially aware. It would have taken the filmmakers less than a minute of script writing time and only a few frames of film to add a simple and thought-provoking line to fix the entire movie and make a little progress in Hollywood. I know this is like suggesting that one bail the boat with a sieve, but try this one on. When Demi is called in front of the brass to endure what they intend and what she interprets as her reputation being slandered, that she is being labeled a lesbian, all she had to do was say, "I appreciate the compliment, but, thank you, no, I'm not a lesbian."

The most memorable line in the movie is Demi's when she screams at a physically abusive sergeant, "Suck my dick!!" Which is nice to have a woman spit out, and makes the audience cheer, but which is homophobic in itself. It's the quintessential taunt of a man who assumes that that activity could have no value and that the activity consists entirely of an act that is abhorrent, tantamount to rape, I suppose. And of course, that's what men in the military are afraid of about straight women, or gays, or lesbians: that they DO have a metaphorical dick; that they have power. The same power straight men have. Whoa. Booga, booga. Scaaaawy.

The whole point of any witch hunt is that *calling* someone a witch is sufficient. No proof is needed. But for a witch hunt, or a lesbian hunt, to be successful, it is mandatory that the *label* be slander. A very many straight men seem bent on proving that any woman outside of the home for any reason (that is, any woman who is not attached at all times to another man who appears to control her) is either a whore or a lesbian, and it's this man's personal duty to find out which. If she's not interested in him sexually, she must be a lesbian. If she is interested, then she must be a whore. There's no middle ground here, and there's no such animal as a situation wherein this man exists where sex is not the subtext. Come ON, boys! Lordamighty. Can't you just go to work and do a *job*? Like most women have to do every live long day to survive? Must all contacts with every other living soul be about your precious Mr. Johnson and the Boys?

Ok, I'm ranting here, but I'd venture to say that not a few women out there have wondered if it's possible to get through a day at work by just *working*. This seems to be the subtext of this movie, anyway. It's what women, lesbians or not, want to be able to do, and gay men, too: Just go to work and do the job. And not be called names, or have who they are BE an epithet to begin with.

I want Hollywood to wake up. I want the military to wake up. I want a million dollars and immortality, too, but while Ed McMahon doesn't have my phone number, at least there is an outside, eventual chance for the first two. But only if we make enough noise. Besides, there *is* really in the universe a cosmic sense of poetic justice. I just know in my heart that every person who ever maligns us, who ever wishes us ill, will have a child who is gay. And they will have to wake up or lose the love they find most precious on the face of the earth.

Or if not a child, they will have a gay proctologist.


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