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July 2007 (UK)  »

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Mostly balanced and interesting discussion around male homosexuality 40 years on from legalisation
10 September 2007 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

The drama Clapham Junction depicted modern male homosexuality as a strange existence – on one hand male sexual relationships seem excepted and cottaging is see occurring but then conversely prone to violent attacks and unable to shake themselves out of the habits of drifting around the dark edges of the habits from when all homosexuality was in the shadows. Following the film's screening, David Aaronovitch debates how accurate to the modern gay experience the film was and what it means to be gay in today's Britain.

Shown as part of the seemingly quite mixed season of films on Channel 4 that marked the 40th anniversary of the legislation of male gay sex in the UK, this programme is one of those "round table" discussions about the subject. In one way I do like this sort of debate and do watch Newsnight Review because it is interesting to hear a discussion that works at a level beyond pub chat. However on the other hand the genre also throws up lots of potential for pretentiousness and intellectual bores. This show did have a bit of that but mostly it was quite interesting and, although the panel unsurprisingly contained nobody who wanted everyone back in the closet or shot, there were still contrary opinions and debate.

The discussion opened with an unusual sight for a programme about male homosexuality – a woman being f***ed by several men. My attempt at humour aside, it is strangely enjoyable to see the producer of Clapham Junction (Elinor Day) talking about the film only to have the others rip her to bits for the negative view of male homosexuality – as Matthew Parris said, it was a good portrayal of the homosexual experience, of twenty years ago. The rest of the programme is a bit more of a debate and asks whether the whole "gay thing" is really an issue anymore and what the identity of the modern gay man is. It is interesting but it does rather put people into boxes and it is only the addition of Simon Fanshawe who forces it out of stereotyping (although he does get a bit annoying after a while).

Overall though it was an interesting discussion. The views of the panellists are not that extreme so mostly we have a debate about the subject and not a daytime-TV style slanging match from either end of the argument; that said, it is still fun to see Day treated like an intellectual piñata.


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