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A kiss is just a kiss.

Norma Desmond said it best: "This is my life ... just us, and the cameras, and those wonderful people out there in the dark." In the dark. In a big dark room where we wonderful people can lose ourselves to a flickering image, forgetting the world outside, with the exception of an occasional yowling baby or earnest candy-unwrapper. Is there anything more annoying than an out-of-focus projector or a muddy sound system or a movie that groans to a halt in the middle, the victim of some unseen demon? I take it personally. I made this investment, not just in money and bloated popcorn tummy but in time and energy.

I could be home watching The West Wing or other videos featuring Rob Lowe. But I made the effort, damn it. I'm at the mall! I parked the car on the fuchsia level and waited for the elevator to take me to the persimmon level (where the box office is) and then back in the elevator to the marigold level (where the theaters are). I enjoyed the trailers and the dancing candy bars and the admonition not to smoke or speak or spit or fart and whatever else they could throw up on the screen to get me through the first industrial-size diet Coke. I want my movie to be perfect.

So it's always appalling when something goes wrong. Especially when it's the audience. Over the years many people have told me how they found themselves part of an audience at Braveheart that cheered when the crown prince's snaky boyfriend was thrown out a tower window. That was not the experience I had. However, in the last few years I have had occasion to put down the Mason Dots and pause as my fellow wonderful people wrenched me out of my fantasy world and coldcocked me with a group reaction. It happened most recently at Adam Sandler's summer hit, Big Daddy. This is the one where the irresponsible sad sack winds up being a foster father to an adorable kid (so you don't confuse it with the irresponsible sad sack caddy or the irresponsible sad sack millionaire or the ISS band singer movies).

If you haven't seen the movie, which has recently been released on video, you've seen the billboard, featuring Adam and the kid peeing against a wall. Now you remember.

Well, among our hero's close friends are a very attractive guppie couple--suits, ties, briefcases. And at a certain completely logical point in the action, they exchange a kiss. Not a swooning Rhett-has-something-to-tell-Scarlett kiss, but an ordinary see-you-after-I-stop-at-the-dry-cleaner's kiss.

"E-e-ew!" the audience went--loudly. Not all of them. The younger ones--the core group of Adam Sandler fans.

My companion, an older bride like myself, began huffing and bridling and eventually stormed out. When I found him, peeing against the wall of the theater in an almost flawless Adam Sandler impression, I didn't have to ask him what was wrong.

"Does Adam Sandler think two men kissing is a gross-out on the order of a kid puking all over a living room?" (This also happens in the picture.) "Wasn't that calculated to draw that reaction?"

Actually, I don't think so. I think Adam Sandler thought the opposite. He drew a couple of gay characters in a totally human way. In the long run, the audience sees that his gay friends are the equal of his straight friends, which I think is a very important message to his core audience.

Those particular wonderful people have to get over their knee-jerk reaction to a kiss. It's the same reaction those same people had to the Kevin Kline-Tom Selleck kiss in In & Out. In fact, it's the same reaction much older and presumably wiser people at TV networks have whenever gay characters attempt to physicalize their relationships.

These guys didn't have an Adam Sandler in their youth to show them that it's OK, the world isn't going to end because gay people have passion. If he ever has to do public service, as nine out of ten stars in Hollywood seem to wind up having to do, they should let Adam do sensitivity-training videos, so he can reach all those people who aren't so wonderful yet.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:"Big Daddy"
Author:Vilanch, Bruce
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 7, 1999
Previous Article:Y2K? Because it's here!
Next Article:Dirty dancing.

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