I recently saw the 2008 Gus van Sant film Milk. I know that I am behind the boat, but this was a good film. I suppose that I should not be surprised, considering that Gus Van Sant and Sean Penn are both respected in their fields, and for good reasons. In case you are like me and haven’t seen it, the film chronicles real-life figure Harvey Milk, who was the first openly gay man in California office. Not only was he elected despite his sexual orientation, but he used his experiences of discrimination to help other homosexuals earn their rights. Though he was unfortunately assassinated eleven months into office, the gay rights initiative that he was able to pass helped make him a cultural icon for his humanitarianism and accomplishment.
The film focuses on his last eight years of his life, which is when he began to take an interest in politics and public service initiatives. (This is another wonderment to his story; consider that this man, who so fought for and was open about issues of sexuality, did not even come out as a gay man himself and had no consideration for politics until he was 40 years of age, long past the point when tradition states that you need to have started the one career you will always follow and never stray from.)
Sean Penn plays a wonderful Harvey Milk, a man who appears soft and small, yet roars inside. Though knowing little about Mr. Milk going into the film, I found the plot easy to follow and the story compelling, no doubt a consequence of Dustin Lance Black’s Oscar-winning script and Gus van Sant’s direction.
Though making strides in earning human rights for all, I do wonder where the world is at this point, and specifically the United States. I just read a book that takes a look at this in an unexpected way.
Pair this film with: The book Dead Men and Cats by Aya tsi scuceblu Walksfar. Though it at first seemed like a murder mystery novel (and it is), I also found it to be an exploration of minorities in America (specifically gay men and cats) and the targeting that they experience. Though I may be looking too far into it, I saw how Walksfar crafted the book to make a statement that gays are, sometimes in America, treated by other civilians like cats; that is to say, less than human. Though there are laws in place, these laws can be easily ignored, as seen by the hate crimes that occur far too often. This might make the book seem like some type of punishing and dry exploration, which it is not. As stated above, the book is fun and a murder mystery that you can piece the clues together. That does not change the subtext of the book, though.
Reader, what do you think? In terms of equal rights for all, how far have we come and how far do we have to go?