James Corden’s nomination for Netflix’s “The Prom” shows the real face of Hollywood
James Corden’s nomination for Best Actor in a Comedy for The Prom at the 2021 Golden Globes has sparked a backlash among the film’s fans.
James is nominated against Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton), Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat Subsequent Moviefilm), Dev Patel (The Personal History of David Copperfield), and Andy Samberg (Palm Springs).
The Prom hit Netflix back in December, with Ryan Murphy adapting the Broadway musical of the same name for film. Murphy assembled a killer cast to bring the story to life, including Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, Andrew Rannells, Keegan-Michael Key, and Kerry Washington. Actor and late night host James Corden also starred in the leading role of Barry Glickman. In this case, in order to play a gay man, Corden put on a lisp and swished his way around the set.
Playing the gay
Seeing Corden “play gay” with such over-the-top characteristics made for an uncomfortable viewing experience– especially for a movie centred around queer characters and the call for acceptance. It’s a characterization that many LGBTQ folks found offensive, not a surprise that it was shocking to see him honored with a Golden Globe nomination.
There’s been a ton of negative comments about Corden’s characterization, and his nomination feels like it is part of a larger Hollywood problem.
And the OSCAR goes to
But it was another time and “another Hollywood”. 26 years ago it was a major experiment how the audience will accept a well-known straight actor playing a gay person. Or actually, two: Antonio Banderas’ breakthrough roles came in the early ’90s, when he appeared in Philadelphia as the lover of AIDS-afflicted lawyer Andrew Beckett (Tom Hanks).
“Nobody was talking about gayness at that time, and they have to be portrayed on the screen — not the simple screens, the screens of Hollywood.” – recalls Banderas for Entertainment in 2020.
“Tom Hanks embodied his role in an Oscar-worthy performance, allowing us to watch as his lovely and lively Andrew Beckett deteriorate before our eyes. Tom Hanks and the writers took to task the difficult and annoyingly controversial hurdle of playing the “gay” character and placing the “straight” audience into that different world. Stereotypes are mostly shied away from in the script with a few “fem” gays and drag queens. These scenes are few, but are also a reality.” – says the review on IMDb 26 years ago.
Representation and inclusion
In the past few years there’s been an ongoing conversation about the importance of representation and inclusion. GLAAD and The Harris Poll’s Accelerating Acceptance report shows that 20% of Americans aged 18 to 34 – a significant audience demo to networks and advertisers – identify as LGBTQ. If broadcast series want to win audiences – discerning consumers with multiple options – they must include LGBTQ characters whose stories are new, interesting, told with depth, nuance and authenticity, which reflect the full diversity of the LGBTQ community.
Of the 773 series regular characters scheduled to appear on broadcast scripted primetime television this season, 70 (9.1 percent) are LGBTQ. This is a decrease from the previous year’s record high percentage of 10.2 percent, and the first season to see a decrease since the 2013-14 report.
Long running debate
Corden’s controversial casting in the movie musical, which premiered 4th of Dec on Netflix, has reignited a long-running debate as to whether straight and cisgender performers should be hired to play LGBTQ+ characters — especially because the comedian’s portrayal has been widely panned as offensive to the community it represents.
“The unrepentant violence that is James Corden doing a homophobic portrayal of a gay man in a musical about gay rights,” wrote comedian Phillip Henry on Twitter.
Seeing James Corden put on a fake lisp and attempt to be more feminine when playing a gay men felt like it lacked the nuance of other performances. And that performance is being given one of the biggest honors in the film industry shows: Hollywood still has much more to learn.
Along with James’ nomination, The Prom is also nominated for Best Movie, Comedy or Musical.
When scrolling through social media, there were a number of moviegoers who were shocked by the actor’s Golden Globe nomination.
It was just a few years ago when movement like #OscarsSoWhite highlighted the lack of ethnic diversity in major acting nominations. While the 2021 Golden Globe Nominations certainly honored more people of colour, James Corden’s nomination for The Prom seemingly highlights the work that still needs to be done.
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Sources: GLAAD, cinemablend.com, imdb.com, Twitter