With that said, I encourage you to use “throwing shade,” “homophobia,” “homosexuals,” “homosexuality,” and any other terms in the comments section. For the sake of mutual understanding, I only ask that you clarify what these terms mean in your comments if they differ from my definitions. Here's an example of why it's important to understand how people use terms in different ways. In May, a mother in Los Angeles calls her son in Melbourne to ask him, “When are you going to visit me?” The son says, “Some time during the summer.” June, July, and August pass, and the son has not even mentioned visiting his mother, infuriating her. At the end of September, the mother calls her son to confront him, “Why did you say you were going to visit me in summer if you never had any intention of doing so?” Taken aback, the son says, “What? It's not even summer yet!” Then, the son—who has been living in Melbourne for decades—realizes why his mother is confronting him and reminds her, “Oh, mom! We misunderstood each other! Summer in the Southern Hemisphere doesn't begin until December!” If the mother and the son had simply understood each other's different uses of terms, no hurt feelings would have resulted—at least, not because of the terms.
Now, here's how I'm using the following terms:
Throwing shade - to criticize, demean, or insult; to diss or derogate (from here).
Homophobia – Throwing shade at homosexuals' homosexuality.
Homosexuals – People who express romantic and/or sexual attraction toward or practice romantic and/or sexual acts with others of the same sex or gender (adapted from here).
Homosexuality – Expressing romantic and/or sexual attraction toward or practicing romantic and/or sexual acts with others of the same sex or gender.
MARIA RIVA'S BIOGRAPHY
In his March 5 1993 Entertainment Weekly (EW) review of Maria Riva's Marlene Dietrich, George Hodgman stated the following: “The catalog of lovers is interminable, moving across gender lines and back again. Riva is obviously uncomfortable with her mother's bisexual tendencies and her large gay following. The case that she builds against her mother for trying to encourage homosexuality in the young girl by leaving her with a lesbian nanny is shoddy and homophobic.” Due perhaps to word limits, Hodgman did not supply examples of how Riva expressed her discomfort, and he omitted an important detail: Riva wrote that the lesbian nanny had raped her. If I accept Riva's admission of rape as truth, I would posit that Riva's speculation regarding why her mother chose a lesbian nanny was not homophobic; rather, the homophobia in Riva's case rests in how she characterized her lesbian nanny: “Strangely, I never really blamed that woman. She frightened me, disgusted me, harmed me, but 'blame'? Why? Lock an alcoholic into a liquor store and he helps himself—who's to blame? The one who takes what is made available or the one who put him there? Even an innocent parent would not have put a young girl into an unsupervised, wholly private environment with such a visually obvious lesbian.” Not only did Riva compare lesbianism to an addiction, she also asserted that a blatant lesbian shouldn't be a girl's primary caretaker, thus throwing shade at “obvious” lesbians as sexual predators with an appetite for female children. By the way, a 2010 study showed that ZERO percent of its adolescent participants had reported sexual abuse by a lesbian mother or other lesbian caretaker. While this study was flawed in its nonrandom, non-diverse, and small sample, its findings suggest that the experience that Riva suffered was a singular exception. Unless, of course, the sample was composed of only lipstick lesbians.
If you want to explore Hodgman's observation that Riva was “obviously uncomfortable with her mother's bisexual tendencies and her large gay following,” please consider addressing it in the comments section because I won't investigate it at this time. Instead, I will explore whether there were any other instances of homophobia in Riva's book by examining her descriptions of homosexuals. Keep in mind that I will continue listing people in future blog entries--this is only the beginning!
|Banton & Dietrich on Angel set|
|Mercedes de Acosta|
The “boys” (see this blog entry for their possible identities) – Riva referred to them as “comic relief,” “an odd couple,” “their kind,” “scavengers,” and “homosexual cons.” The use of the word “homosexual” was gratuitous, but I don't consider the shade that Riva threw to be homophobic. Riva was describing a particular group of gossipy sycophants who happen to be gay, and she cleverly quoted a gay man, Clifton Webb, as calling the boys “Dietrich's private Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.”
|The Pirate (right)|
Well, here's where I'll end this blog entry, and I will pick up from where I left off to continue reviewing whether Riva wrote homophobic portrayals of others, including Edith Piaf and Noel Coward.