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Fire Island’s Joel Kim Booster Explains The Importance Of Addressing Racism And Body Issues Within The LGBTQ+ Community

There’s nothing like a fun summer romantic comedy, and that’s exactly what Hulu subscribers got with the recent release of Andrew Ahn’s Fire Island. The modern day take on Pride & Prejudice has a killer cast of talent, and mixes comedy and drama to delightful results. And writer/star Joel Kim Booster explained to CinemaBlend the importance of addressing racism and body issues within the LGBTQ+ community.

As you can see in the video above, I had the privilege of speaking with Andrew Ahn and the cast of Fire Island (opens in new tab) about their experiencing making the groundbreaking queer love story prior to its release. Throughout the project’s 105-minute runtime, Joel Kim Booster’s screenplay paints an accurate picture of the toxicity that can exist in the LGBTQ+ community, especially related to racism, classism, and beauty/body standards. I asked the star/writer of Fire Island about why this was an important part of this process, and he responded honestly with:

For me it was about realism. As a writer that’s always where I live. And I wanted to write about one of my favorite places in the world, but it’s impossible to do that without addressing some of the peripheral toxicity that can happen that you’re experiencing there.

Touche. While the Fire Island Pines is definitely portrayed as a fun paradise for the queer community, there can still be toxcity in that beloved location. And so when Joel Kim Booster was tasked with writing the screenplay for the movie Fire Island, he had to include both realities in order to ensure that the acclaimed romantic comedy felt rooted in realism.

While Fire Island is still very much a comedy at heart, there are moments where real-life issues are able to pierce the endless supply of laughs. Particularly the conversations shared between SNL icon Bowen Yang’s Howie and Joel Kim Booster’s Noah, where they get real about the pressures to be muscular and successful on the island, especially as Asian men. Noah’s narration also highlights the ways that currency works in the queer community, and the pain of being either ignored or fetishized due to his race.

Later in our same conversation about Fire Island, Joel Kim Booster further explained how he tried to fit these important conversations into a raucous R-rated comedy. As the accomplished comedian put it,

The movie, and this was always the goal, allows us to live in that reality. But I hope it empowers people to push through it as well. And that was definitely, I wanted it to be a trojan horse in a way. That snuck in some of those issues but still ended in a note of queer joy.

Personally, I feel like Joel Kim Booster was super successful in this effort. Fire Island is still a comedy above all things, even when it also has more serious moments. And on top of being groundbreaking in terms of representation, the movie was able to address issues plaguing the queer community that might not be known by straight audiences. 

Both critics and audiences have really responded to the realism of Fire Island, with the new Hulu comedy currently at an impressive 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. The comedy’s got musical numbers, raunchy adventures, and plenty of pop culture references to spare. Joel Kim Booster clearly succeeded in crafting a movie that is both entertaining and emotional. 

You can watch Fire Island now on Hulu. Be sure to check out the 2022 movie release dates to plan your next movie experience. 

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Double majored in theater and literature during undergrad. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his famous actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid.