I don’t know who anointed American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis the cultural arbiter of all things gay (that would be John Waters, duh), but Ellis had a huffy week on Twitter getting upset by the perceived gayness of CBS sitcoms.
Ellis’ strong opinions zeroed in on gay actors who play straight roles, tweeting:
"Feel complicated about Neil Patrick Harris on How I Met Your Mother — central joke being that he’s a gay actor playing a het[erosexual] womanizer. Why not cast Jason Segel in the Neil Patrick Harris role in How I Met Your Mother? [Because] the meta-joke is that Harris is openly gay. Lame. You don’t think the makers of How I Met Your Mother didn’t KNOW that Neil Patrick Harris and that would be part of the joke? Really? Look, I like Neil Patrick Harris especially when he’s hosting The Tonys but How I Met Your Mother is, like all CBS sitcoms, a piece of crap."
He also griped about the nerdy The Big Bang Theory. "And please don’t get me started on the gay The Big Bang Theory – I’m too tired to go there," he tweeted. "Gayness personified."
Despite his strongly voiced opinions on "crap," Ellis’ core complaint is unclear. Is he implying that gay actors should only play gays onscreen and straight actors should only play straight ones? Because if Rush Limbaugh called for casting roles that way, we would call it "discrimination." And practically speaking the result would be less work for gay and lesbian actors, given the lack of mainstream roles for gay and lesbian characters.
These tweets by prompted after Ellis tweeted at length against rumored casting White Collar man piece Matt Bomer as the Christian Grey role in 50 Shades Of Grey because Bomer is gay. His objection is that Bomer is gay and Grey has to be straight, for some reason ( despite fact Bomer played a married straight man in Magic Mike and no one cared). It is worth noting that on Friday night, Ellis did a 180 and tweeted, "You know what? I changed my mind. I think a gay actor HAS GOT to play Grey. It’s IMPERATIVE that someone gay plays him…"
I’m not sure if Bomer or NPH’s real-life sexuality are the first thing on all viewers’ minds; they certainly aren’t on mine, nor are the sexual orientations of other actors. As a heterosexual woman, I wonder if Ellis’ observation is acutely sensitive to him because he is gay, yet goes unobserved by others.