The Boys—and the Apologies—Are Back

With the release of the new The Boys in the Band movie comes the same "Please don't think that we're still this unwoke!" monologues from gay men.

Jim Parsons and Matt Bomer in The Boys in the Band (Courtesy Netflix)

Fifty years after the William Friedkin-directed adaptation came out we have a new movie version of The Boys in the Band—and this one is stuffed with gorgeous, out A-listers, including Andrew Rannells, Tuc Watkins, Zachary Quinto, and Matt Bomer. (Possible spoiler alert: Bomer went bare-assed in the Tony-winning Broadway revival; here’s hoping for more of the same.)

Streaming on Netflix beginning September 30, this latest incarnation of Mart Crowley’s uncancelable period piece (set at a birthday party featuring nine gay men in a pre-Stonewall 1968 NYC) has already brought to life the same tired apologies that it’s not reflective of today’s woke, PC gays. And that’s obviously tue, because as we all know, there are no longer any self-hating gay men, performative queens, closeted married men, or promiscuous halves of closed couples. For some gay men it will no doubt be bracing to hear “faggot” tossed around with quite so much aplomb and casualness, but they may also blanch at the frequency of “cunt”—or, as Crowley writes in one memorable exchange, “Çunt. That’s French, with a cedilla.”

This time around, there’s a fun new wrinkle: People unfamiliar with the play watching the trailer and pointing out how the lack of diversity among the cast. “I just LOVE how diverse this is ????????????????????????” commented Michael on Netflix’s YouTube post. Those who have read the play or seen a production of course know that the lack of diversity among the friends group is addressed—pointedly—but why be informed when you can be reactive? (That should be the motto of 2020.) 

So people will go to great lengths to excuse or attack what is, at its core, a very funny, very booze-soaked gay version of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wool? with more camp than even Liz Taylor could deliver. Not to mention unapologetically effeminate characters, the arrival of a sex worker that barely warrants a blink, a whole gay slang that is almost lost to the annals of history, and nine juicy roles for gay actors. There is no “bury your gays” trope here; there isn’t even any cliched sex. So enough hand-wringing and trigger warnings, we’re adults. To paraphrase another deathless line from the play, “What’s more boring than a queen doing a Judy Garland impression? A queen apologizing for The Boys in the Band.”

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About Mark Durane More Articles
When he was a little boy, Mark's mother set the house on fire. (She was like that.) He'll never forget the look on his father's face as he gathered him up in his arms and raced through the burning building onto the pavement below. And he stood there, shivering in his pajamas, and watched the whole world go up in flames. And when it was all over, he said to himself, "Is that all there is to a fire?"
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