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What Impact on Oscar for Gay Protest? : Movies: Activists may stage disturbances at Academy Awards over demands for positive portrayals.

March 16, 1992|DAVID J. FOX | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Will the gay and lesbian activists protesting the movie "Basic Instinct" have any impact when the sexual thriller opens on Friday? And will they be able to shake up the 64th Annual Academy Awards ceremony two weeks from tonight?

Those questions are being asked in Hollywood after reports surfaced last week giving the impression of a growing activism against what is perceived as the movie industry's failure to produce positive images of gays and lesbians.

On Friday, articles were published in the show-business trade newspapers and elsewhere, suggesting that a disruption could occur at the movie industry's biggest annual show, the Oscars. Earlier in the week, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said that it plans to continue protests against "Basic Instinct," which it termed "gratuitously defamatory" toward lesbians and women in general. The movie stars Michael Douglas as a detective and Sharon Stone as a bisexual serial murder suspect.

So far the gay activist movement largely has been sporadic and unfocused toward the film industry. But with the Academy Awards--the subject of worldwide attention--the groups may have found a focus.

Rick Wilson of Queer Nation, a homosexual rights group, said that the organization's West Coast branch plans to "stop cars from getting to the Oscars. It'll be a stall-in. And we're going to be inside the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion when they give out the awards." There are reports that the group also plans to hand out maps to the homes of gay stars.

Scott Robbe, a founder of Out in Film, said that his group of entertainment industry employees will join Queer Nation in the protest: "These actions promote discussion. . . . Silence is our enemy."

Much of whatever form the current activism takes can be traced to last April, when the producers of "Basic Instinct" had to obtain a court injunction to ward off protests during filming by Queer Nation, ACT UP and GLAAD, which complained about the negative portrayal of lesbians in the film. They are planning further demonstrations when the movie opens this week.

Indeed, GLAAD Los Angeles co-president Jehan Agrama said that her organization will not take part in any Oscar protests because, "Although we have complaints about the way gays are depicted in two of the nominees for best picture ("Silence of the Lambs" and "JFK"), we have our hands full with the opening of 'Basic Instinct.' "

When "Basic Instinct" opens Friday, GLAAD said that it will stage protests at theaters in major cities and hand out informational flyers about negative on-screen images. Queer Nation is planning similar protests. In San Francisco, one group of protesters said that it hopes to discourage ticket buyers by revealing the film's ending: who the killer is.

As for the threatened disruption of the Oscars, Academy Awards producer Gil Gates said, "Anyone can protest about anything they want outside the show." But he said the standard, "generic response" to something happening during the ceremony on camera, "would be to cut to a commercial."

Academy officials said there will be no additional security planned.

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