This October, I plan to begin a podcast dedicated to gay films, gay tv shows, gay plays, and gay books. The hope of the podcast is to celebrate the heroes of these works of art and celebrate the men and women who helped bring this art into existence. Think of it as part gab-fest, part film criticism, and part “why was this piece of art good for the LGBTQ movement.”
Now, I have four episodes already planned. But on this blog, I wanted to talk about one film that is near and dear to my heart.
That film is, of course, BURLESQUE.
The 2010 film that starred Cher and someone else. I jest (partly). Christina Aguilera shared the screen with her. Christina plays a small town Iowa girl who moves to LA and begins working as a waitress in a burlesque club on the LA strip. Soon, she becomes a dancer on the team. And her big city dreams are complete when one fateful night, she belts out a song and everyone realizes she’s a star.
The film has in its DNA a long line of star-making films. Flashdance, A Star is Born, Dreamgirls, Rocky, even.
Burlesque is not a perfect film. By no means. But I love it. I love Cher in it most of all. Cher plays the hard-edged club owner, Tess, who has to deal with her club being on the rocks. Cher also gets to perform “You Haven’t Seen The Last Of Me” at the 11th hour, which is just an incredible song. My favorite part of that scene is she comes in, sits down, finds her light, sings, and then just leaves. Boom. Mic drop. She’s out. Why can she do it? Because she’s Cher, bitch.
I wouldn’t say Burlesque moved the gay needle forward. But it was written and directed by a gay man, which is always nice to see. Cher and Christina are both gay icons. Stanley Tucci plays gay again and has a nice little romance with a guy. Why do I think it’s worth taking about? Because it’s a fun musical, it’s campy, it’s happy, and it was something different at the time.
We don’t see a lot of these kind of films anymore. Those fun, lively, over-the-top musicals. I love films like Flashdance. I love a good dance montage. Nowadays, movies like this are just lampooned as if we have grown and matured so far past this. Ugh. Please. Like the films being made in 2016 are beacons of brilliance. Some are, sure. But some are also not that good.
Every film has flaws. Every film has its issues. Personally, I love watching Burlesque. I watch it whenever it's on tv. I love how silly it is. I love the singing. I love that Christina, in the final scene, is handed a song by her boyfriend two minutes before curtain, and he’s all like “Here’s my song.” And boom, cut to: she knows the entire song and all the choreography has somehow been memorized. It’s completely absurd and I love it. It’s almost as crazy as the final dance scene in Center Stage. If you have’t seen Center Stage. Watch it now. I'll talk about it on the podcast as well.
The world needs escapism. The world needs fun musicals. The world needs Cher and Stanley Tucci quipping back forth. The world needs Cher and a drunk Kristin Bell having a fight outside the club that gets so heated that Cher takes a golf club to Kristin’s car. That's what the world need. And I'm not ashamed to admit it.