Opposition to Film ‘Basic Instinct’ Rises : Entertainment: A coalition of women’s and gay rights activists fears the movie’s depiction of bisexuals and lesbians will result in increased violence against women.


A coalition of gay rights activists escalated their protest of the film “Basic Instinct” Friday, marching in front of a theater in Westwood to complain that the movie portrayed homosexuals in a negative light.

“This movie links up sex and violence in an irresponsible way,” said Jehan Agrama, co-leader of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). “We are not asking people to boycott this movie. We are not calling for censorship. We just want to educate people.”

Members of another protest group, Queer Nation, took a more aggressive stance. Several of them chanted slogans revealing the plot of the movie, a tactic that irritated several moviegoers.


“I’m angry all right,” said Tom McManus, a UCLA student, after the first showing of the film. “I paid $7, and they gave the ending away.”

Lisa Roth, a management consultant from West Los Angeles, said she was troubled by the protesters.

“I’m going to see this movie, but I don’t think I’ll enjoy it,” she said before entering the theater. “After seeing all these protesters, I’ll feel too guilty to enjoy it.”

Several groups opposing the film acknowledged that their efforts could serve to boost ticket sales. Representatives of the National Organization for Women (NOW), the Southern California Coalition on Battered Women and other groups said the risk of added publicity was necessary to spur vigorous debate over the movie.

Tammy Bruce, president of the Los Angeles NOW chapter, called the movie “the most blatantly misogynistic film in recent memory.”

The movie’s message “is that women like violence, women like to be used, women want to be raped,” said Bruce, who was among a number of activists who viewed the movie in a private screening arranged by the film’s distributor.


Lesbians, in particular, are portrayed as “psychopaths and man-killers” who secretly want to be men, Agrama said.

“Basic Instinct”--a big-budget thriller directed by Paul Verhoeven, written by Joe Eszterhas and starring Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone--has been a source of controversy from its conception. The story is about a detective’s investigation that leads him into a relationship with a bisexual serial-murder suspect portrayed by Stone.

The movie’s creators have defended their work, saying the depictions of individual characters should not be viewed as a blanket indictment of bisexual women or lesbians. Critics have said such campaigns for “political correctness” represent an effort to mute artistic freedom.

TriStar, the film’s distributor, had earlier accused GLAAD of acting in bad faith after obtaining a draft of a GLAAD press release that criticized the movie before group members had attended a TriStar screening. The group was then “dis-invited,” but Agrama attended despite the ban.

Activists, who said they long have been offended by the depiction of gays and lesbians in Hollywood productions, disrupted filming of the movie last year in San Francisco. Some radical activists, including members of Queer Nation, have threatened to disrupt the 64th annual Academy Awards presentation on March 30 because of what they feel have been negative portrayals of gays and lesbians in such films as “JFK” and “The Silence of the Lambs.”

Groups represented at the news conference at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Community Services Center also included the Fund for the Feminist Majority, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and Queer Nation.

Savi Bisnath-Malone of the Southern California Coalition on Battered Women and Dr. Sylvia Rhue of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Community Center faulted Hollywood’s portrayal of sex and violence as a contributing factor in rising incidents of violence against women.

“This film is contributing to a climate in which hate crimes are rising to epidemic proportions against lesbians and gay men,” Rhue said.