GLEE Star Jane Lynch Responds To Newsweek Controversy
On April 26, 2010, Newsweek printed an article entitled ‘Straight Jacket' in which openly gay contributor Ramin Setoodeh questions the believability of gay actors playing straight men. GLEE Creator Ryan Murphy, GLAAD and actors including Kristin Chenoweth, Cheyenne Jackson and Michael Urie have spoken out against the article, calling Setoodeh "horrendously homophobic" (Chenoweth), an "asshole" (Jackson) and "unconscionable" (Urie). Others beyond them have had even more strongly-worded responses.
Now, GLEE star Jane Lynch has weighed in on the Newsweek controversy via Entertainment Weekly. EW reports: " EW spoke with Glee star (and out lesbian) Jane Lynch, who applauded Murphy and Chenoweth's statements but also believes that Setoodeh is allowed to have his own opinions. "The thing is, actors are actors: You can't play gay anymore than you can play somebody who's Catholic," says Lynch. "Aaron Sorkin wrote a wonderful thing in the Huffington Post. I don't think you have to slap somebody down for making an opinion that you don't agree with. But I do think what Kristin and Ryan did was so important, and I'm glad that they said it. It doesn't mean, ‘Off with [Setoodeh's] head.' But I'm very glad, and I thought it was very heroic what the two of them did."
Famed playwright Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The Farnsworth Invention), issued his own response to the ongoing dialog on May 13, surprisingly coming out in defense of Setoodeh.
In an excerpt from The Huffington Post, Sorkin writes:
"This is a sentence I never thought I would type: I'm coming to the defense of a theatre critic...
I'm proud to say that my friend, Kristin Chenoweth, who stars opposite Mr. Hayes in the show...led the charge -- posting an online rebuttal to Mr. Setoodeh in which she called him homophobic. For an actress who makes her living and her reputation on Broadway, throwing down with a prominent theatre critic isn't something you do as a career move. In her response to Setoodeh, Ms. Chenoweth made good point after good point after good point...
...and missed the point.
So did Setoodeh.
First things first. An actor, no matter which sex they're attracted to, can't "play" gay or "play" straight. Gay and straight aren't actable things. You can act effeminate and you can act macho (though macho usually ends up reading as gay), but an actor can't play gay or straight anymore than they can play Catholic. The most disturbing thing to me about this episode is that the theater critic for Newsweek didn't know that. Of COURSE gay actors can play straight characters -- it's impossible to believe that Mr. Setoodeh would prefer if Ian McKellen would stop doing King Lear.
But with sincere respect to Ms. Chenoweth and the hundreds and hundreds of Internet posters who've crashed down on Setoodeh in the last few days -- some understandably passionate and some unfortunately hostile -- I don't think Setoodeh was being homophobic. Just wrong.
The problem doesn't have anything to do with sexual preference. The problem has everything to do with the fact that we know too much about each other and we care too much about what we know."
To read Sorkin's comprehensive remarks in The Huffington Post, click here.