THE CINEMATIC INFLUENCE OF MILK

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Can cinema change lives? You bet your ass it can.

People have altered their attitudes or have even considered a different viewpoint after experiencing a particular motion picture.

What will MILK’S legacy be? Well, if it makes some individuals more tolerant towards others and derails horrific measures like Proposition 8, then it will all be worth it in the end.

MILK is one of my favourite films of the year. So I just thought I’d put this up…

For the filmmakers behind MILK and the real life activists portrayed in the OSCAR nominated film, the movie serves as a reminder of how the nation has changed – and how much they miss the slain gay politician.

HARVEY MILK – played by SEAN PENN in the film – was a San Francisco supervisor and California’s first openly gay elected official. In the 1970s, he successfully led the charge against a proposition that would have disallowed gays and lesbians from teaching in California schools.

Three decades later, Proposition 8, a measure that revised the California constitution by defining marriage as being only between a man and a woman, was approved by voters in the recent election.

“They were able to win in a far more homophobic time, so why aren’t we winning now?” asks MILK’S OSCAR nominated screenwriter DUSTIN LANCE BLACK. “This truly has been a devastating year for gay and lesbian people across the country.”

For those who were on the front lines of that fight, the answer is simple: they had HARVEY MILK.

As his activism gained momentum, HARVEY MILK was murdered in 1978 by his onetime colleague, former supervisor Dan White, who also killed San Francisco mayor George Moscone.

White was convicted of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter after a jury accepted his infamous “twinkie defense,” which attributed his crime to a diminished mental capacity caused by spending the night before the murders eating junk food.

“If Harvey had been here, Prop 8 would have never passed,” said CLEVE JONES, a student intern in HARVEY MILK’S Castro Street headquarters who went on to cofound the SAN FRANCISCO AIDS FOUNDATION and conceive of the AIDS Memorial quilt.

“The election in California was just a temporary setback. We shouldn’t look at it as people turning back the clock. It was more that our side ran a very poor campaign,” stated CLEVE JONES.

Indeed, for longtime activists, as difficult as the past year may have been, it is a far cry from the 1970s, when popular entertainers like singer Anita Bryant campaigned against gay rights in openly homophobic terms.

“I’m thrilled with where we are right now,” remarked ANNE KRONENBERG, who was HARVEY MILK’S campaign manager for his successful run for San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors. (She is played in the film by actor ALISON PILL.) “Prop 8 has ignited a whole new generation of people who are going to continue this fight stronger than ever before.”

For Ms. Kronenberg – who went on to marry and have a family and is now the deputy director of the San Francisco department of public health – and others who lived this story, one of the largest measures of the strides made in the movement may be MILK itself, a film financed by a major studio and nominated for ACADEMY AWARDS in eight categories.

“I feel as if the promise I made to Harvey Milk 30 years ago has finally been kept,” said CLEVE JONES.

When he died, I promised I would do whatever I could to keep his name alive. Now that responsibility has been lifted and I could not be more pleased.”

4 Responses to “THE CINEMATIC INFLUENCE OF MILK”

  1. wow, that’s a lot to put on any film.

    hmm…i don’t know how milk is gonna be changing views.
    since the people whose views need to be changed are seemingly 3000% avoiding this film???

    and i also thing the films tradness as got to hit it a bit in the possiblity of change element.

    but i know trad ‘only’ bothers me and not most people…

  2. glim, I agree that it is a lot of pressure to put on any film. But I think that MILK is more than up to the task. I feel strongly that people will be talking and debating about this particular motion picture for decades.

    Especially if it wins some OSCARS.

    You make some very good points that I do not necessarily disagree with.

    But people go through phases.

    Sometimes individuals’ attitudes DO change. It’s different for everyone. There are people that are so blatantly homophobic that NOTHING will ever change their minds. Then there are people that are defiantly liberal. In between are men and women that could conceivably lean one way or the other that could get a lot out of MILK.

    There are individuals that do grow more tolerant or caring – become less harsh or judgmental – over time.

    It’s just like I always say, honey boy.

    The biggest snowstorm begins with one single flake.

    I’ll quote you the last line of the screenplay, glimster.

    You’ve got to give them hope….

  3. I’m with you on this, Miranda.

    I hope the legacy of MILK is that it will remind everyone of the vital importance of the gay rights movement and energize people for the work that is yet to be done.

    It’s a beautiful film. I had to see it twice to fully appreciate it – and it’s not entirely without its faults – but it’s ultimately very timely and inspiring.

  4. Always fabulous to have you here, Pat…

    I understand where you’re coming from regarding MILK. I thought it was wonderful the first time. But my second viewing was a deeper richer more profound experience that hit me EVEN HARDER.

    I’ve seen it three times now and I intend to view it again next week before the ACADEMY AWARDS ceremony. Will likely go back once more after that.

    AT LEAST.

    It really is a lovely poignant film that makes you think. Allows you to realize how far we’ve come as a society and how far we have to go.

    As a straight woman, I think that it’s important that everyone has rights and freedoms equal to mine.

    If not, then this world’s not worth much.

    I am so proud of everyone that was involved with this film. It really is a magnificent experience.

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