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Directed by Kirby Dick
Documentary filmmaker Kirby Dick’s style of muckraking can be classified as a thankfully more information-intensive, even-handed and angry version of Michael Moore’s. In This Film is Not Yet Rated
(2006), he launched a one-man crusade against the MPAA, hiring a private investigator to unmask members of the clandestine organization that rates and censors films released to the American public. In his follow-up, Outrage
(2009), a documentary about outing anti-gay rights politicians who themselves are in the closet, he lets political blogger and activist Mike Rogers take the lead, as Rogers clearly has an excellent handle on the revanchist movement he’s actively leading. As a result, Outrage
is much more angry but woefully less thoughtful in the ideas it espouses.
As organizer of the film, Dick takes great pains to make his film as even-handed as possible. He addresses the pain implicit in outing anyone, hypocritical or not, and interviews everyone from journalists to a psychiatrist on the emotional toll that living in the closet can have. Government officials like Senator Larry Craig and Florida Governor Charlie Crist are rightfully lambasted for actively denying the civil rights of the gay community — but they are also tentatively humanized by fellow queers that backhandedly sympathize with the pressures that these loopy scumbags must be under.
Still, this kind of humane portrayal just makes Rogers' righteous reverse witch-hunt that much more disconcerting. On a talk show, he defends his decision to attack people that would turn their back on their community by saying that it would "put a chink in the armor" of the gay-bashing platform in Washington, but that excuse just doesn't wash. While it's easy to understand why Crist and co.'s current influence make them pressing targets, it's unlikely that Rogers' campaign to start pushing pro-gay legislation is more than just a pipe dream and an excuse.
blatant fact that politicians like Craig got into power because of voters that chose him for his ass-backwards beliefs. It's easy to shoot the messenger, but in this case, the awful truth is that if these guys weren't in office, some other bigot would be. Dick's doc has the foresight to acknowledge this, but the point never really develops into a vocal and viable alternative, making as blunt, facile and angry as the outburst of "Be gay, Larry!" overhead at one of Craig's press conferences — but not as funny.
Opens May 8