Have you watched “The Boys in the Band” on Netflix yet? It‘s a brilliant, well written, timeless piece and definitely a must-see not only for gays. I already shared my thoughts on the Broadway production in 2018 here on my blog. Now I am happy to see the cast from then reprising their characters in the movie. After sharing my thoughts on the movie version in my Instagram live on October 3, I want to write down my thoughts about the meaning of the movie, my favorite lines and moments here as well, in the form of an interview.
To what character can you relate the most and why?
I can mostly relate to Michael. I feel like I have to look good in order to be liked and generally thought the look is what matters the most. I tend to question everything about myself. I used to put on a show and hide my true self as I could not imagine others will love me for who I am. Michael is as insecure about himself as I am about myself. I feel like I am constantly on the run. Spending money on stuff I don‘t need to please my soul. I mean, others can be their true selves but I cannot, or I think I can‘t. That feels unfair, so there must be at least something good for me that I can take instead. And things don‘t hurt or are mean, right?
What is your favorite line?
„Who is she? Who was she? Who does she hope to be?“ When Harold sees Alan for the first time, he asks these questions. When I left the Booth theater, in which they played the Broadway revival in 2018, I asked those questions to myself. “Who am I? Who was I? And who do I hope to be?” Well, the answer should be „me“, right? But like Michael, I tend to look into the mirror and criticize everything about my myself, my behavior, my whole being. I think Alan is judging himself as well, which he shows when first complaining about Emory and later hitting him. Michael wants Alan to admit he is gay too and comes up with that phone game. However, after Bernard‘s and Emory‘s hurtful calls, Alan must have realized it‘s better for him to stay in the closet, stay with his wife Fran. It‘s devastating to know true love can hurt even more than being dishonest to oneself.
What is your favorite scene?
After Harold tells Michael what he did, all the pain that he caused, Michael breaks down. He starts drinking and smoking again, because of Alan. No matter where Michael is going, he is on the run, wasting time, wasting his life trying to pretend being the “good” and faithful Catholic. His apartment is his safe haven, where he can be his true self and party, have a great time with his friends without fearing judgement. Alan feels like an intruder, one who fits into the group to some point but is too scared to be his true self (yet?). Emory was too much cliché for him, and he doesn’t want to become like him. He gets mad and hits him, when he is in fact mad about himself, just like Michael who wants to help but actually causes pain after he starts drinking again. „If we could just not hate ourselves just quite so very very much.“ That line was so intense for me, and honestly even more in the Broadway production.
Michael does not want to be so hateful, but Alan, the people in the world, the straights ones, make him feel hated. They are allowed to be themselves, why isn‘t he? Why does he have to hide and apologize to strangers for his friends? At least in his apartment he has the freedom to be himself without fearing judgment, and we won‘t let Alan take that away from him as well. Michael starts hurting himself, hurting others, let them realize how painful love can be, when it‘s between the same sex. People used to tolerate but not accept them, or even worse: pretend gays don’t exist. Still to this very day, gays are discriminated. But being gay is no choice, just like skin color or birth gender. Michael is mad, his friends understand that, they feel like him and don’t take it personally when he uses bad language, but Alan is too anxious, doesn‘t feel well about himself and hates without wanting to. „If we could just not hate ourselves just quiet so very very much.“
Why is the story still relevant more than 50 years after it was written?
The cast are all openly gay, and don‘t need to fear of losing jobs or credibility as actors anymore, like 50 years ago. That certainly and luckily has changed. Imagine they were all still in the closet, people would still try to pretend gays don‘t exist. How many more out there would hide their true selves, thinking it‘s not okay to be gay? They would be depressed, mad, sad, feel as outcasts, or even abominations. Now young gays see these characters in „The Boys in the Band“, can relate to them and know they are not alone. The word gay means in its traditional way cheerful and joyful. The happy people, who laugh, love colors, have fun, stand out. You might imagine only a few decades ago, adults usually only worse black, white or maybe grey and simply worked, without reason to smile much. There is nothing wrong with being happy, being colorful, being different. What is more normal than being their true selves? Life is too short to waste it pleasing others. Everyone deserves to be happy, deserves to love and to be loved without any restrictions.
What do you hope will change?
The game that the friends played, telling someone to love them, is actually a nice thing. Who doesn‘t want to hear someone saying to them that they are loved. There is no bad thing about it, basically. I hope that one day, everyone can play that game without fear of judgement. That those who get the call, will be happy to hear such wonderful words. I hope that everyone will realize that love is love. Love comes in many forms and ways, but all of them are wonderful. I think everyone can relate to one of the characters. I hope that people will watch and try to understand everyone, be more open minded. There is no typical gay. They are as different as straight guys. They want to dance, have fun, and love, themselves and others, without fear. Sounds pretty similar to straight guys, doesn’t it?
What have you learned from watching “The Boys in the Band”?
Society is judgmental. People tend to put everyone in a box. I don‘t think I’m safe anymore when hiding in a majority. I only live once. In 14 billion years that the earth exits, there has never been a me before, and there never will be a me again. I want to live my life. Stick out. Be out in the world as who I am. Fitting in makes me feel like run (away), waste (time), spend (money) and disappear in the mist of pain. I will never arrive in happy town, when I don‘t allow myself to be simply me. Sometimes I might wish to be someone else, and I hate myself for that. I don‘t like being around mean people, but I cannot outrun myself. As much as I want others to be happy, equal love means to be nice to myself as well. I don‘t have to be smarter, more beautiful or better. I want to look into the mirror, smile, say to myself, and genuinely mean it: You are enough!
What do you think about „The Boys in the Band“? How do you interpret the scenes? Please leave me a comment. Thank you.
Thank you for reading.
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