Last year, I was excited to hear a movie was going to be made about Stonewall. I wasn’t so excited when I heard it would be directed by Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Patriot). Then I thought to myself, well, how bad could even Emmerich do, it’s a great story, filled with amazing people. Optimism really doesn’t pay off. After last September, I heard many negative noises about the film, and promptly forgot about it.
Did you see Stonewall? Based on its abysmal box office performance, it seems safe to assume you did not. The terrifically abominable thing — just a badly-planned and shoddily-executed work from start to finish — premiered last September and grossed just $187,674.
Stonewall is offensive on two counts: Not just for being a lousy movie, but also for whitewashing history. The 1969 Stonewall riots, as has been well-documented, was a landmark event for LGBT rights; two of the most prominent protesters were trans women of color, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.
But Stonewall director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, The Patriot) wanted his movie to appeal to the masses, he explained to Buzzfeed, and in order to get that mainstream appeal, he created a fictional protagonist, Danny. Danny is gay but, in Emmerich’s words, “very straight-acting.” He is cis and he is white. He moves from Indiana to New York City and, in the film, is the brick-throwing rebel that incites the riots that sparked a movement.
:Gobsmacked: So Emmerich thought a white, cis-het appearing, apple pie and mom guy would magically appeal to the ‘mainstream’. Who did he think was going to be the major audience for a movie about Stonewall? This reminds me of the often blank reaction people get when they realize that indigenous people are still around – Stonewall was in 1969, and no, not everyone there and involved is dead, let alone long dead.
Perhaps it will not surprise you to know that many, many LGBT individuals and allies objected to this act of erasure — Johnson makes little more than a cameo, Rivera is M.I.A. — and over 20,000 people signed a petition promising to boycott the movie altogether.
No, that doesn’t surprise me at all.
One might think that Emmerich, nearly a year out from his film’s release and subsequent commercial and critical failure (Rotten Tomatoes rating: 9 percent) would, upon reflection, realize his errors. Or not! In an interview with The Guardian pegged to the release of sure-to-be-cinematic-masterpiece Independence Day: Resurgence, Emmerich “sighs at the memory of his passion project’s reception.”
“My movie was exactly what they said it wasn’t. It was politically correct. It had black, transgender people in there,” Emmerich said. “We just got killed by one voice on the internet who saw a trailer and said, this is whitewashing Stonewall. Stonewall was a white event, let’s be honest. But nobody wanted to hear that any more.”
Stonewall was a white event. Did I say I was gobsmacked before? No, Stonewall was not a white event. It wasn’t even close to a white event. Titus Montalvo, a Stonewall vet, put the crowd at 70% Hispanic and Black. That’s not overwhelmingly white, but I suppose to an Independence-minded Emmerich, that constitutes a white event. Mr. Emmerich, please, stick with your idiot pleaser popcorn flicks, and consider staying very, very quiet about events such as Stonewall. No one appreciates your continued whitewash.
Full Story Here.