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Movie review: Outrage -- 4 out of 5 stars
Idaho Congressman Larry Craig stands in front of the microphones and declares that despite being caught soliciting a cop for sex in a men's room, despite lovers telling their stories of him to the press, that he is not gay. And in the background a bystander calls out -- "Come on Larry, be gay!"
Just an early outrageous moment in Outrage, the new documentary from the director of This Film is Not Yet Rated. Filmmaker Kirby Dick sets up his target -- conservative politicians attacking the sexual habits of others but living a double life themselves. In the film, Dick takes aim after those who are more than happy to legislate your sex life, just so long as it doesn't curtail their own.
Politicians who attack gay rights who are, in fact, gay themselves, campaign managers who mastermind "wedge issue" campaigns, helping conservatives appeal to homophobic voters -- but who are gay and closeted -- all are "outed" in Outrage.
There's Earl Schrock, a conservative Virginia Congressman heard soliciting for male pick-ups on a phone sex hotline. And Ed Koch, the New York mayor who, the film alleges, hindered the city's efforts to fight AIDS.
Journalists and activists have their say, but gay Democratic Congressman Barney Frank is the one who justifies this -- "There is a right to privacy. But not a right to hypocrisy."
Florida's anti-gay-marriage Governor Charlie Crist lands in Outrage's crosshairs. The film spends much of its running time detailing second- and third-hand accounts of Crist's alleged appetites, the whispered-about nature of his marriages.
Dick doesn't have a "smoking gun" on Crist. He lets disgraced ex-New Jersey Governor James McGreevey explain how living a double-life can distort a politician's views, without mentioning how McGreevey fell from power (giving a cushy job to a lover). Dick's charge that there's a "conspiracy" keeping the mainstream press from exposing these politicians is poppycock. In the film Crist is asked, repeatedly, the sexuality question by reporters -- and he answers, more convincing at some times than at others, but never losing his cool.
But Outrage, in ways that are sometimes more aesthetic than journalistic, should make voters leery of any politician who plays the "anti-gay" card. Sometimes, they're not just cynics exploiting voter's fear. Some folks play that card because their whole life is a bluff.