The genius behind 2012 and 10 000 BC is at it again. Even if Roland Emmerich‘s latest film Stonewall has already failed as a biography in how it shoves aside the transgenders and colored people that were the actual centerpiece of the 1969 Stonewall riots, only to make room for some fictional white guy, there is still plenty more to complain about here. I am pointing this out in case it getting 3 stars on IMDb within the week of its premiere isn’t enough proof that there’s a couple of things wrong.
Stonewall tells us of the “beginning of Pride”, a concept that has made a lot of Christians very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move (but thankfully only by people who’d lose against sea cucumbers in a game of chess). Either way, it doesn’t matter, because it is unthinkable that the events of Stonewall took place even remotely the same as Emmerich depicts them here. Is it fair to say that a “gay rights” movie this inaccurate and bad counts as a victory for the bigots?
Whereas many agree that the true star of the film in question should be a transgendered black woman, preferably one named Marsha P. Jones (Otoja Abit), since she was so central to the real-life events, we instead primarily follow Jeremy Irvine as the made-up Danny Winters. I’ve seriously, honest-to-God no joke, heard people praise this decision by claiming they would rather look at a cute blonde boy than “some black guy in a dress”. And that right there, folks, is why we need to think harder about when and why we use euthanasia in society.
Let me be clear, Marsha isn’t even one of the major characters either. Instead we join Danny as he flees to New York in 1969, and among the first people he meets are a dude named Trevor (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and Stonewall Inn owner Ed Murphy, played by Ron Perlman. Now, I love Ron Perlman more than I love most of the people in my life right now and I know that he notoriously says yes to almost every offer he gets, but he should have thought extra hard about this one.
Another character worth mentioning, however, is a gender-fluid one named Ray, or Ramona when they feel like it, who takes a liking to Danny. The film seemingly expects us to take it as a given that someone as beautiful as Danny could never be with someone like that.
There are a lot of things about this film’s entire being that just don’t make sense. Why is the man known for his “fun” and moronic disaster blockbusters selected to make a serious drama about the Stonewall riots? Why was his first instinct to make it about an adorable little white gay boy destined to lead all the black people and cross-dressers into battle when the day arrives even though they themselves where the frontrunners? Why is it so counter-productive in its appparent sex-shaming? Why do we get scenes where Danny, our supposed protagonist and new symbol of gay liberation, looks at drag queens with disgust? Why is everything about this seemingly engineered to miss the entire point?
I am aware that Emmerich himself is gay and that maybe he wanted to re-tell the story as though the centerpiece of it all was someone like him. Sure thing, Emmerich, but I’d rather you did that stuff on FanFiction.Net and left the filmmaking to someone else for a bit.
As I stated earlier, several things are wrong about this film that are unrelated to its botched depiction of historical events. The characters are either stereotypical or just not especially interesting, the sets look cheap, the writing is only as dignified and intelligent as the man behind The Day After Tomorrow will allow, and Marsha P. Jones is depicted as a one-dimensional comic relief during the brief moment she’s actually allowed in the movie. Yes, I know I’m supposed to be done talking about the white-washing and the innacuracies by now but, holy hell, how do you miss the point of a historical event this direly?
I know that I have at certain points in life scoffed at people throwing around words like “white-washing” and “racism” however they themselves please, but I’d say this is the most accurate use of the “white-washing” term any of us will ever see. I am going to award this movie a 1/5. Ron Perlman, that absolute sweetheart, is the one thing that prevents me from shooting lower. I’ll get you next time, Emmerich.
I won’t post a trailer this time. Instead I’ll post this BuzzFeed video where members of the LGBTQ community discuss the trailer and its implications. Yes, I have finally become so damaged by a film that I share a BuzzFeed video on purpose. I am ready to pull the plug on my Davros-esque life support system now.