June 30th, 2004

Look at Me, I'm Prancing

I was watching a documentary about Ian McKellen last night. The camera followed him around for a year. He has become a professional gay- he never shuts up about his gayness- but it's all harmless and denatured. The gayest thing he'll do for the camera is make jokes about fairies or wear a silly wig with bows in it. There's not a hint of real sex- not so much as a hug or a kiss. All those hotel rooms- and every one of them a single! I guess we're still afraid of the real thing. We like our gay men to be neutered lifestyle icons- and McKellen, for all his evangelical fervour, is reinforcing this.

But he's a nice bloke. When I was a kiddie theatrical knights like Gielgud and Olivier were fearfully grand. They behaved in public like they were archbishops or prime ministers. Why? Perhaps because the profession they represented was still fighting for respectability. But that battle's been won- or abandoned- (who want's to be respectable nowadays?) and McKellen is free to behave like a real toff- and be frivolous and larky.