During his promotional tour for the upcoming film “I Love You Phillip Morris” Jim Carrey stopped by “The Late Show” and sat down with David Letterman. Things got off to a great start, and David seemed to really enjoy watching the film as well as Carrey’s portrayal of Steven Russell. Here’s a synopsis of the film:
Steven Russell is happily married to Debbie, and a member of the local police force when a car accident provokes a dramatic reassessment of his life. Steven becomes open about his homosexuality and decides to live life to the fullest – even if it means breaking the law. Steven’s new, extravagant lifestyle involves cons and fraud and, eventually, a stay in the State Penitentiary where he meets sensitive, soft-spoken Phillip Morris. His devotion to freeing Phillip from jail and building the perfect life together prompts Steven to attempt and often succeed at one impossible con after another.
Then David asks Jim the question, “And, in terms of a leading man, a heterosexual playing a homosexual, do homosexuals say ‘well, that shouldn’t have been a homosexual’ or do you worry about your image as a heterosexual leading man playing a homosexual?” Jim replies, “Boy, we haven’t grown at all, have we? We haven’t grown at all … we’re still children in the schoolyard. Honestly. No offense Dave, for God’s sakes, have you ever seen a gay man? Are there gay people in Indiana? Is it OK to be gay there, is what I’m asking. There’s not a policy against gay people there or here?”
I’ve always thought David was a reasonably funny guy. You can’t survive in television as long as he has without being funny. Just the comfort factor alone of seeing the same face for nearly 3 decades at the same time every day is a good enough reason to like the guy. But every now and then there are moments during his shows that are so cringeworthy (and in this case hypocritical) it almost defies description. Here’s a thought experiment for you Dave: if you had posed this question to Jim and replaced the word “homosexual” with the word “black” you may very well have found yourself suspended (if not fired) from your cozy position at CBS, without pay, and faced with years of image rehabilitation ahead of you. It’s societal “barometer moments” like this that reveal just how much work the gay community has ahead of itself in its search for equality and destigmatization. And here’s another question for you Dave: if Jim’s character in this film was a real-life serial killer, would you have been equally as “worried” about the public’s perception of him? Just a thought.
Following the broadcast of the interview, Jim Carrey said there were no hard feelings: “He honestly said to me that he’s been watching me for a long time and that this movie was really special and he thought it was the best thing I’ve ever done. [Letterman] was super, super, super supportive of it.” Yes Jim, no one is doubting how much Dave loves your work in the film. The real issue is here is Dave’s belief that a straight actor is risking sabotage of his career by playing a gay role.
It’s no wonder David Letterman shies away from press and public events with an almost Greta Garbo-like obsession. I’d be afraid to open my mouth too if I had the intellectual capacity of a prejudicial hillbilly. But no hard feelings, Dave. I’ll still be watching you: very closely, and hopefully CBS will as well.
The question pops up at the 4:46 mark:
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