"Milk" of human unkindness

There are two kinds of opportunism. Here's an example of the good kind.

Gus Van Sant’s “Milk” is a biopic starring Sean Penn as San Francisco City Supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man ever elected to a public office. He was gunned down  on November 27, 1978, and so the film opens next week in part to honor the 30th anniversary of that assassination. Given the groundswell of protest aroused by the passage of California’s Proposition 8 on November 4, a bill that would ban same sex marriages (and the passage of similar bills by three other states), “Milk’s” screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, together with Cleve Jones, a longtime activist and protégé of Milk who consulted on the film, recently issued a manifesto on SFgate calling for an ongoing series of peaceful protests beginning on November 27 and continuing until Barack Obama’s inauguration on January 20. The film, they hope, will engender more interest in and enthusiasm for these demonstrations.

Sounds like a good idea to me. But, a gay website, wonders if this all could be a cynical marketing ploy for the movie. Now I’m as big a sucker for a harebrained conspiracy theory as the next person, but even I balk at this. Wouldn’t it involve Black, Jones and the rest of the “Milk” team fixing the election so that Prop. 8 could win thus giving them this marketing opportunity? Sounds a little twisted and, having interviewed Jones yesterday and seeing firsthand the intensity of his commitment to his cause, utterly ridiculous. If their manifesto serves to drum up a few million more ticket sales for “Milk” on the way to achieving their goal of equality, so much the better.

An here’s an example of opportunism  so cynical, venal and hypocritical that it inspires awe.

Alan Stock, CEO of Cinemark, donated $9,999 in support of Prop. 8. He stands to make much more than that by exhibiting “Milk” in his chain of movie theaters. Or will he? The tactic of boycott, so effective in recent years for the religious right, was once also a tool of the left. As can be seen in the film, it was used by Milk with canny success early in his campaign. Why not use it again?  Those interested in putting the screws to Cinemark should check out the facebook group “No ‘Milk’ for Cinemark.”  (Note: the only Cinemark Theater in Massachusetts is the Cinemark at Hampshire Mall in Hadley -- so this should be an easy boycott for locals to maintain).


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