Ellen Page Coming Out Does Matter, Whether You Think So Or Not
By Mack Rawden 2014-02-15 17:37:57
Every time a celebrity comes out of the closet, the conversation goes roughly the same way. A certain percentage of people turn around and loudly clap, use words like “courage” and take the speech or magazine interview or whatever as a sign of forward progress. Then, a certain percentage of other people respond to all the clapping and comments about “courage” and push back by saying, “Why the hell is this news?” It’s a weird, frustrating cycle, and it’s one Cinema Blend gets caught in the middle of whenever an actor or actress like Ellen Page makes her sexual orientation known. So, let’s talk about it. More specifically, let’s talk about why it is news. But to do that, we need to talk about The Lord Of The Rings.
I don’t get The Lord Of The Rings at all. I don’t know if it’s the subject matter, the length or what, but I don’t get it. Those movies mean absolutely nothing to me. They might as well be in Russian. I’m like a brick wall when I’m watching them: emotionless and bored. But you know what? Just because they don’t have the slightest effect on me doesn’t mean the movies don’t matter or their existence isn’t incredibly important. My wife owns the extended editions of every single one, and when she watches them, she has a damn good time. She feels inspired, and in a small way, they improve her life.
And that’s great because movies exist to inspire. They exist to teach, to titillate, to distract, to amuse and to entertain. They help us bond and help us make connections. They offer common ground, subject matter to talk about and excuses to laugh. They’re a diversion with enormous impact, and whether we’re interested or not, the men and women responsible for making these cultural touchstones are idolized, looked up to and talked about on a daily basis by millions of people.
In some ways, this celebrity worship is a bad thing. It’s invasive. It’s silly, and it elevates people who might not be predisposed to being good role models. It also doesn’t always make complete sense. For example: why did we spend a decade going to Oprah Winfrey for book recommendations when we could have found an author to ask for suggestions? Celebrity gossip and hero worship are pursuits often rife with stupidity and superficial thinking, and because of that, it’s really, really easy to roll our eyes at it.
If you can look past this celebrity gossip culture and accept it as a fact, however, you would notice there are some positives that come from reading about George Clooney pranks, just as there’s a ton of good that came from Oprah’s book club. Millions of people reading is never a bad thing, and in that same way, neither is a sensible actress with her shit together standing up and letting people know she’s interested in women and that’s okay. If people are going to obsess about the the stars they see on screen and what they wear, why not aggressively point the finger when their personal life can actually have a positive impact?
It would be awesome if people’s sexual orientations didn’t matter, but the truth is they still do. Gay, lesbian and trans teenagers have suicide rates that dwarf national averages. Right now, there are thousands that are lonely, isolated and sitting at home on a Saturday night because they’re ashamed or because they don’t have people to talk to. Whether we want to make an issue about them or not, these kids exist, and they are desperately crying out for role models. They are crying out to be inspired and to see someone else they can relate to act courageously so they can do so in their own lives. They want to feel a connection to someone in the same way all of us want to feel a connection when we go to the movies, and if they need to get it through an actress because Hollywood isn’t exactly churning out tons of gay characters to feel a connection with every year, so be it.
If you don’t care, that’s fine. I don’t give a rat’s ass about Lord Of The Rings, and that doesn’t make me a bad person. Don’t for one second, however, think because you don’t care it’s not important or it isn’t news to movie fans. I’m not presumptuous enough to assume Lord Of The Rings is a waste of time just because I don’t like it, and it’s faulty thinking to ignore that logic for coming out stories. There are thousands of teenage girls out there who love Juno and love Ellen Page. They now suddenly have a strong, brilliant actress to look up to. They now suddenly have a woman to look at and say, “It can get better.”
Her coming out won’t speed up the release of The Guardians Of The Galaxy trailer, but it still matters to a certain segment of movie fans. So, it matters to Cinema Blend, and it always will matter.
Rock on, Ellen Page. Rock on.