The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) have announced the nominees for the 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards, and one name on the nomination list seems to have struck a nerve in many people. James Corden, nominated for his performance in The Prom, a musical in which the actor/comedian played a gay man. A lot of this disdain comes from what people call Hollywood’s reinforcement of the gay man stereotype and the idea that the Corden’s role should have been played by someone who is gay.
It is not the first time Hollywood producers have come under fire for their casting choices. For instance, in June 2020, Disney announced Halle Bailey was cast in the lead for The Little Mermaid’s live-action version. This announcement was met with many negative remarks on how the singer/actress bears no resemblance to the fictitious character’s animated version.
Still, I think it’s important to distinguish between the fight for more representation for minority and marginalized communities and saying a gay man must play a gay man’s role in a movie.
Seeking more representation is asking to see more accurate portrayals of the different communities while demanding that a gay man only play a gay man’s role in a movie is implying that only those who have walked in the shoes can accurately portray it.
I love that we live in such a vocal generation that speaks up, but I think we should be careful not to create battles to douse an itch to fight.
Acting is an occupation and asking for an employer to offer employment for any reason other than being the most qualified candidate is wrong on many levels. And yes, I want to see more LGBTQ+ and other actors from minority and marginalized communities on my screen, but it shouldn’t have to be a re-enactment of their real lives.
It’s okay to say James Corden does not deserve the nomination because he was quite frankly terrible in his role as Barry Glickman. And shame on the casting director and producers for letting that performance slide. But, like Neil Patrick Harris in How I Met Your Mother, don’t we want to see each actor at their full potential, not limited by their socioeconomic status, race, or sexual preference?
The problems with movies like The Prom that create socio-cultural stereotypes have little to do with the cast; rather, it stems from not having diversified inputs at the pre-production and production levels. A gay writer, staff, crew member or even consultant would most likely have caught the errors in Glickman before it hit our screens.
So, before we turn activism into a circus, let’s fight the right fights: diversity on our screens, and making stereotypes a thing of the past. A conscious effort to include minority and marginalized communities in the film production process will make this possible.