Two days ago I ran a two-point riff on the themes of Kirby Dick‘s Outrage. One, closeted gay politicians who support anti-gay legislation are tragic and despicable figures. And two, while I understand and sympathize with those who’ve sought to “out” these hypocrites, I would never out anyone on my own. But I feel differently after seeing Outrage at a Tribeca Film Festival screening last night. Not about my own hesitations, but about how there’s a certain logic and a rightness to outing Washington, D.C. power brokers.
Running only 90 minutes, Outrage seems to me like an exceptionally tight and disciplined and truthful testament. It’s ballsy and straight and coming from a healthy place. It’s certainly one of the best-made films I’ve seen this year, and without question one of the toughest and bravest.
Dick’s aim is to expose a bizarre psychology on the part of closeted politicians who’ve voted against gay civil rights as a way of suppressing their own issues. Bluntly and unambiguously and without any dicking around, Outrage names names. Dick seems to have done his homework; you can sense discipline and exactitude and what seems like solid sourcing all through it. I came away convinced that it’s better to look at this tendency frankly and plainly than to just let it fester.
I still feel opposed to personally outing anyone, but Dick’s motive is clearly to let air and sunlight into a series of Washington, D.C. situations that have been about shadows for too long. That’s what kept hitting me over and over as I watched — i.e., that Outrage is doing a fine job of persuading me that it’s all about telling the truth. I believed it, I believed it, I believed it.
Most of the politicians profiled in Dick’s film are Republicans, which of course fits the spin and deny psychology. Florida Governor Charlie Crist is the headliner. California Representative David Dreier, former George Bush campaign manager Ken Mehlman, Idaho Senator Larry Craig, Rep. Jim McCrery (R-La.), and Rep. Ed Schrock (R-Va.). Private aspects of the history of Democrat Ed Koch, the former New York City mayor, are also reviewed.
Fox News anchor Shepard Smith also comes under scrutiny but not a certain CNN news anchor, mainly because CNN isn’t perpetrating a right-wing agenda and because the anchor is known for his humanistic, right-guy reporting so why go there?
The doc, Dick has said, examines “the issues surrounding closeted politicians and their hypocrisy in voting anti-gay — and how these people have harmed millions of Americans for many years…if someone is passing laws against the LGBT community, and they’re closeted, that is a form of hypocrisy, and the public deserves to know. These people are victims of homophobia too. You can never go into too much detail about anything you do because there will always be the next question, and the next question. That keeps you distanced.”
Openly gay politicans and LGBT advocates-activists Barney Frank, Larry Kramer, Michelangelo Signorile, < Tammy Baldwin, and former New Jersey governor JIm McGreevey all make their views known.
This is a curious observation that I don’t want to express the wrong way, but Outrage feels longer than 90 minutes. It doesn’t drag or meander in the least, but it crams so much solid-sounding, credible-seeming information into an hour and a half that it’s natural to assume without looking at your watch that it runs100 or 110 minutes at least. I mean this as a high compliment.