"Maybe fluffy pancakes and warm maple syrup are more important than gay rights." Max Mutchnick, creator of Will And Grace - New York Times, March 12th, 2016
Really, Max? In these days of 24/7 moral outrage do you really need to give us another reason to be disappointed in someone? Aren't our political candidates breaking our hearts enough? Do we really need tone-deaf shallowness coming from the heroic gay co-creator of one of the most significant and impactful gay comedies on television? For fluffy pancakes?
If you don't already know what this mostly forgotten brouhaha is about, it goes like this: the Sultan of Brunei owns the Beverly Hills Hotel, and a few years ago he reinstated Sharia law that calls for the stoning to death of gay people and adulterers. At this horrific news, people like Ellen Degeneres, Elton John and other queer luminaries and their supporters called for a boycott of the legendary Beverly Hills stomping ground. Now, according to Maureen Dowd's recent column in the New York Times, multi-millionaire, former Hollywood wunderkind -- now middle-aged gay TV Titan -- Max Mutchnick believes that the boycott is just a little too burdensome for his lunching habits. While eating a delicious McCarthy salad (No, I didn't make that name up. That's the real name of the salad), he told Dowd how he thinks it's time to just get over this silly political action stuff and get back into the delicious pink saddle.
Max defended his Marie Antoinette approach by saying that it's really only the little people at the hotel that are suffering by the decline in business -- something the workers themselves have told him isn't exactly true since they are getting compensated for lost wages. More confusingly, Max argues that if he continues to support this boycott it means he's tacitly endorsing everything he doesn't. Really, Max? Think about that for a second. So if ACT UP doesn't boycott absolutely every egregious pharmaceutical company, they shouldn't boycott any? If I can't rescue all dogs, I better just let that one damned pound puppy fry? Logic doesn't seem to be Mr. Mutchnick's strong suit. But hey, it's really the scrumptious food and Max's heart-warming, star-studded memories of tête-a-têtes with David Geffen, and signing with his agent in the Polo Lounge that clearly outweigh any concern for those swarthy, glamour-deprived queers being pelted with stones until dead.
Poor bloody un-famous gays. Let them eat crispy french fries á la Suzanne Pleshette.
The funny thing is if I still lived in Hollywood, I doubt I would've said anything to Max. Not that I ever met Mr. Mutchnick that I can remember. Having lived and worked in Tinseltown for three years, writing a little for TV, and dozens and dozens of award speeches for celebrities, I understand how people can be so consumed with their own power, bubble-wrapped in personal assistants, no one confronting them when they're behaving like assholes. I do know I would have been gushingly nice to him if I had met him -- even if he had said these ugly, shallow, hateful things. That's how Hollywood works. You have to suck up to pretty much everyone who has more power than you, even stupid, sons-of-bitches who say egregiously awful things. You just smile and laugh. Luckily, I left the Hollywood show biz thing a long time ago, and I'm just a totally un-glamourous, queer writer, living back in New York City. (In Jackson Heights, Queens I might add! Stone me for that!) So, saying, "Eww, you suck" now is a lot easier. But, still, what compelled he and Dowd (and Leonardo DiCaprio it seems) to decide now, in the dark night of our Trumpian nightmare, that it was okay to break this boycott? Maybe that's just it: Everything is so damned awful, no one would notice?
Maybe deep inside his power bubble, Max still is that gay hero. He just got lost for a moment. Maybe he'll soon realize that by saying "boycotts" don't matter, he's denying the power of similar political actions that toppled apartheid in South Africa, contributed to the U.S. Supreme Court declaring the Montgomery, Alabama bus segregation laws unconstitutional, lead to Nike revising its use of child labor and becoming a sustainability leader. Yes, boycotts actually do a lot more than ruin lunch, Max.
Enjoy your salad, and say "Hi" to Leo for me.