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November 19, 2004

The Problem With Stone's Alexander « Social Issues »

In my opinion, the problem with Oliver Stone's Alexander is that he justifies highlighting Alexander's homosexuality by saying, ""We go into his bisexuality. It may offend some people, but sexuality in those days was a different thing."

Well, sure. Sort of.

The problem is, based on some of the early reviews that have come out (pun sort of intended) so far, Mr. Stone is not depicting Alexander's sexuality the way it was back then. He's putting a stereotypical modern-day homosexual male in what seems to be a fairly blunt attempt to leave a positive impression of the purity of homosexual love. One reviewer even complained that Alexander was made to look like something out of "Queer Eye for the Macedonian Guy". From the stills I saw, that description was pretty accurate.

From what I understand of history, homosexuality or bisexuality in those days was most like NAMBLA's stated goal (the use of a young boy for a few years for purely sexual gratification) or like the stereotype of prison sex (the strong uses the weak for purely sexual gratification, but it is only the 'receiver' who is considered gay).

I haven't seen the movie, and won't. But in my opinion, Oliver Stone has made an essentially dishonest movie, attempting to misrepresent that nature of historical fact as a pretext to advance an agenda for which he has sympathy.

Which is his right. But don't hold your breath waiting for me to support it.

Posted by Nathan at 01:02 PM | Comments (4)
» The LLama Butchers links with: Queer Eye for the Macedonian Guy?

I've read a lot of Greek history lately and I think things are a little different than you had stated. Macedonian norms may have been different, so keep that caveat in mind. From what I've read, there were standard practices for this: an older man would take a young boy as his lover, as the boy got older though the relationship was supposed to end. The older man would choose his next boy, etc. The boy that grew up would get married and homosexual relations were supposed to end... until he was old enough to take a young boy as a lover, etc. For all I know, the whole thing was part of education to an extent. In some states, when a man got married his bride had her hair cut extremely short--probably to help ease him into a heterosexual relationship.

There seems to have been heavy social pressure to do things by whatever norms were accepted (which were quite different in the various Greek states). Extremes were frowned upon. However, Alexander's relationship with his older friend (which may or may not have continued beyond what was acceptable) was clearly outside those norms. So maybe Stone is not totally dishonest...the facts just aren't clear enough to base a story one way or the other.

I've oversimplified things, and from what I've read it seems Macedonian relationships may have been quite different. So an apology is due to those that have studied these things much more and can summarize them better.

One of my favorite quotes from Alexander, though, is along the lines of "Sex and sleep alone make me conscious that I am mortal." Which has nothing to do the discussion, but I love it anyway. OK, enough rambling...

Posted by: Chrees at November 22, 2004 11:14 AM

Point taken.
And I have no problem conceding that your knowledge in this matter is clearly greater than my own. I've never studied Macedonian history/society to the degree that you obviously have. My opinion was formed more on a general understanding of what homosexuality meant back then, if that's not clear. In that, you describe it pretty much how I understood it, but your explanation clears up some aspects that leaves a different impression.

Posted by: Nathan at November 22, 2004 11:57 AM

My pleasure. And I didn't mean to pick nits.

VD Hanson's books finally pushed me over the edge to actually read the source material from way back when. And it is incredibly fascinating stuff.

Posted by: Chrees at November 22, 2004 12:49 PM

I didn't see it as picking nits, but rather an extension of the original issue.

Posted by: Nathan at November 23, 2004 07:33 AM
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