Rick McGinnis reviews Milk — and touches on “blurring the distinction between civil rights and human rights” that’s brought us to our current sorry state:
There have been some complaints that Penn “played gay” a bit too broadly with Milk, but even a casual glance at documentary footage of the man reveals that the fluttering hands and other queeny gestures are actually a remarkable approximation of Milk in person.
It took much longer for the connection between Jim Jones’ People’s Temple and Moscone and Milk to be recognized – the cult leader had made himself a major player in San Francisco city politics, and members of the Temple worked on Milk’s campaigns, though Milk was apparently wary of them. Moscone appointed Jones to the city’s Human Rights Commission in 1976 in gratitude for his help in getting him elected, and shut down the investigation into the Temple after Jones and his followers fled to Guyana. Jones was also a major supporter of Jerry Brown’s bid for the California governorship – such is the tangled web of progressive politics in San Francisco and California, and you can’t help but wonder why Van Sant’s film ends without a mention of Jones.
Read the whole thing.
Meanwhile, Sailer also observes:
By the way, what kind of camera store is used as a political clubhouse? Camera shops are normally the worst meeting halls imaginable because they’re crammed with fragile and expensive merchandise. Yet, Milk’s “Castro Camera” is depicted as a shell with little inventory other than orange Kodak film boxes. (My guess: it was mostly a drop-off for amateur photographers who wanted their gay porn pictures developed discreetly — an easy little business that left Milk with plenty of time on his hands for politics.)
A great tragic story could be made about how Milk’s gay liberation movement unleashed its own nemesis. Within two decades of Milk’s arrival, gay rights had transformed Castro Street into the plague spot of the Western world, with AIDS killing its 10,000th San Franciscan in 1993.
Mentioning a little thing like how industrial scale promiscuity set off the worst American health catastrophe of the last generation wouldn’t be On Message, however, and “Milk” sticks to its political talking points with the same tenacity as its namesake did. …