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C. Jay Cox
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A comic take on the issue of gay marriage, "Wedding Wars" asks the question: What would happen if every gay person in America suddenly went on strike? An argument between two brothers inadvertently triggers the strike, and it's up to the siblings to solve their differences before the entire country is shut down in this outrageous comedy that explores gay rights, equal treatment under the law, and what it means to be a brother. Written by
During the first scene of Shel picketing in front of the Governor's house, one side of the the home-made sign he is carrying reads "Vote for Conrad Welling" and the other side, facing the street, reads "Strike for Gay Marriage." In the subsequent picketing scenes, both sides of the sign read the latter message. See more »
Lots of people in the gay and straight press berating this film for being too "fluffy" and making light of an important subject. The film reminded me of Kellogg's Frosted Mini Wheats.
Let me explain ... when I was a kid, I would fight any attempt by parental figures to get me to try any nutritious, whole grain cereal like Shredded Wheat. Even when told I could sprinkle sugar on the big pad of shredded wheat, it had about as much appeal to me as chewing on a piece of wood. But when they came out with Frosted Mini Wheats, smaller bite-size shredded wheat with sugar frosting on one side, it made it palatable enough for me to try.
I think that's what this made-for-TV movie was striving to do (and mostly succeeded): to take a BIG issue that isn't palatable to most people out there (gay marriage), sugar-coat it (do a fluffy comedy with stars popular to many TV viewers), and serve it up in small portions over a two hour period. IMO, this approach had the potential to educate people MORE about the issue than a gaggle of gay rights advocates and GLAAD spokespeople giving speeches could ever hope to do.
And the message *was* definitely there, though sugarcoated and inserted in small portions throughout the two hours on A&E: (1)that "civil unions" are better than nothing but fall far short of marriage in terms of equal rights and protections, (2) the fact that a majority wants something doesn't mean it is right, and even some elected officials who may personally feel that same sex marriages should be allowed are often forced into pandering to the conservative majority in this country in order to stay in office, (3) that it is likely that you have a gay or lesbian member in your family, although they may not be "out" to you, because they suspect a negative reaction (which is caused, in no small part, by the fact that so FEW of us are out to everyone, so many people don't get to actually "know" anyone who is openly gay), 4) that even some gays have a problem reconciling the concept of committing to another man "till death do us part", mostly because we have been conditioned by society not to see that as an option, and (5) just KNOWING a family member or friend is gay is different than accepting them without reservations (illustrated by the interaction between Stamos'character and his straight brother, played by Eric Dane.)
As far as the "gays on strike" concept goes, as ludicrous and unlikely as that was portrayed in the film, it still made the point that there are a hell of a lot more of us around than people think, and (contrary to what that cartoonish TV reporter thought) we are not all hairdressers, decorators and florists, but pretty much cover the entire gamut of professions and industries, making up a fairly good size chunk of this nation's economy. In the film, the "gay strike" looked like it would make it impossible to put on a big wedding, even when the event was to be held at the home of the governor of the state.
I got that some of the humor was deceivingly tongue-in-cheek, such as the magazine covers and newspaper front pages signifying that the "strike" was picking up nationwide support. If you look closely, the content of each page matches the stereotype of that publications: sensationalism for the NY Post, a fashion spread for Out, Stamos standing shirtless on Genre, as a rock star for Rolling Stone, etc. A few memorable lines (e.g., when the director on a news show decides to join the protest, the anchor repeats what he sees on the TelePrompter: "Up next, I'm out of here too, a**wipes!") I also thought that the choice of "It's Not Unusual (to be in love with anyone)" as the first song we hear at the wedding party was clever, a connotation of that song I never thought about before.
Was it a great movie? Hell, no; it was a tacky and cheaply made as MOST made-for-cable films today. Despite a few cringe-inducing scenes (his singing, pointing out that this was a good day for him to picket and show off his calves, etc.), John Stamos did a good job overall in the role of a non-stereotypical gay man (certainly as good as, or better, than anything we've ever seen on "Will & Grace"), as did Sean Maher as his lover (who wasn't sure if he was ready for marriage). But it wasn't meant to be a documentary, wasn't meant to intelligently argue the pros and cons in the gay marriage debate. It was meant to entertain the average American cable viewer and - along the way - perhaps spoon-feed them some aspects of the issue they might otherwise never have paid attention to hear. IMO, that makes the film worth acknowledging and worth encouraging others to see.
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