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Will Smith movie Hancock criticised for homophobic dialogue

Ann Turner July 8, 2008

Hancock, the story of a seriously messed up superhero starring Will Smith, took home the top spot at US cinemas last weekend, taking home an estimated $66 million (£33m) for Sony Pictures.

Meanwhile, fans who haven’t yet had the chance to indulge in the guilty pleasure of the film are furiously busy online uncovering the film’s third-act plot twist spoilers.

Some gay fans, however, may not be so pleased with Hancock.

Smith, star of such action hits as Independence Day and Men in Black, looks to have another hit on his hands with Hancock.

The film, which features an unhappy and often destructive superhero (Smith), had the second largest July 4th opening weekend behind 2007’s Transformers.

Following up in second place over the weekend was Disney’s animated film WALL-E, with the Angelina Jolie assassin action-adventure Wanted in third place.

Hancock, which also stars gay-friendly actress Charlize Theron, has so far scored over $100 million in the U.S. for Sony, with an estimated additional $78 million coming in from overseas markets.

Smith has so far starred in a record eight consecutive number one opening films, starting with Men in Black II in July, 2002.

On Monday, the Internet was buzzing with news of the film’s highly successful opening weekend.

A slew of fans searched the Web for spoilers about the movie’s reported unexpected plot twist in the third act.

While some critics have accused the film’s creators of mucking with a potentially good story by throwing in a cheap plot twist, others have been impressed by the creativity of the ending.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) is up in arms about the film over derisive anti-gay language spouted by Smith in the movie.

Smith’s character uses the term “homo” in what the organisation calls a ‘derogatory’ manner three times.

“At approximately 24 minutes into the film,” GLAAD writes in a statement regarding the film, “while Jason Bateman’s PR whiz works to rehabilitate the superhero’s tarnished image, he shows Hancock three comic book images in an effort to inspire him. But Hancock rejects the traditional image of costumed superheroes as he responds to each one: ‘Homo. Homo in red. Norwegian homo.’

“The audience is prompted to laugh and there is no response to or retribution for Hancock’s remarks.

“Bateman’s character, the father of a young son, could have easily spoken up instead of giving Hancock a pass,” GLAAD states.

GLAAD goes on to ask why the scene was left in the film when it added no value to the storyline.

“No one would have missed the line if it wasn’t there, but an unfortunate choice was made to go for the cheap gay joke,” GLAAD points out.

“In that moment, young gay people in the movie’s audience are put in the position of being ridiculed by a character they are expected to regard as a hero.”

While GLAAD acknowledges that the character of Hancock is intentionally distasteful in some ways as part of the film’s storyline, “Hancock’s use of the slur sends a problematic message that it’s okay to discriminate using such hateful words… To have a heroic character—and by extension actor Will Smith—use, and by implication, approve of, this kind of language is simply unacceptable.

“GLAAD understands that sometimes anti-gay language shows up in dramatic narrative to reveal a character’s true colours, or to convey a message, but there’s a big difference between using it to highlight a character’s anti-gay attitudes and making a cheap, unfunny shot at gay people.”

© 2008; All Rights Reserved.

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