Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions.
Last week we talked about race in HBO’s LGBT properties while briefly discussing Dee Rees’s Bessie. If there’s one thing media in general (but gay media in particular) needs to work on is intersectionality: ay attempt, for example, at framing the gay rights movement as “the new civil rights” movement not only suggests the plight of black people in America has been “won” but it refuses to understand how they intersect in sometimes very troubling ways. This week we're jumping on HBO's most recent release, Mapplethorpe: Look at the Pictures, which aired just this past Monday and which I got to see last week in the big screen. Not only is the doc wonderful, featuring candid interviews with those who knew (and posed for!) him, but it dovetails nicely with these issues of sex and race that we keep discussing.
The film borrows its subtitle from the famous words Jesse Helms used during a congressional hearing about Mapplethorpe's "pornographic" pictures: "Look at the pictures!" he implored, arguing that one couldn't deny the fact that they were not art. Cannily, this HBO documentary lets us admire plenty of Mapplethorpe's pictures—I didn’t count but the doc is exhaustive, showing us hundreds of photographs, scanned and offered up to us for close inspection.