Printer Friendly

White out: writer-producer Mike White comes out and discusses the gay subtext in his new comedy, Orange County. (film).

Mike White's unforgettable turn as a childlike gay man in 2000's creepy comedy Chuck & Buck--a film he also wrote--raised questions in more than a few quarters about his own sexuality. Two years later White is ready to answer them. "It's not really just trying to be ambiguous--it takes all kinds, and I'm one of the `all kinds,'" says White, son of gay activist the Rev. Mel White, revealing his bisexuality while promoting his latest screenwriting project, Orange County. White is currently seeing a man, he says, although "I think it's about to end, so I'm not going to go there."

White is willing to go to Orange County, a raucous, loosely autobiographical comedy from MTV Films. It stars Colin Hanks (Tom's son) as Shaun, a surfboarding high school senior who decides to enroll at Stanford University to study writing and escape the vacuous mall culture of Orange County, Calif. A few obstacles stand in the way of his goal, however, including a flaky college counselor (Lily Tomlin); a clingy, alcoholic mother (Catherine O'Hara); and a devoted girlfriend (Schuyler Fisk, Sissy Spacek's daughter), who realizes theft relationship is doomed if he leaves.

"I went through the main character's experience in a lot of ways--and am still going through it," White admits. "You wonder if, in a culture where great literature doesn't have a high value, there's a place for you--and does that mean you need to escape, or can you stick it out?"

Luckily, White has managed to do both, infusing subversive winks and personal resonance into mainstream-friendly fare like TV's Pasadena and Freaks and Geeks and the upcoming Jennifer Aniston movie The Good Girl.

That he always aspired to writing comes as no surprise. White's father, Mel, is a best-selling scribe who once worked as a ghostwriter for Pat Robertson, Billy Graham, and Jerry Falwell--before coming out and forming the gay religious activist group Soulforce. But Orange County's self-absorbed, wealthy father (John Lithgow), White says, "is really nothing like my dad, who was always [prolific]. He never sat down."

And while he relates to his Orange County hero's literary ambitions, White says his romantic life in high school was no inspiration for the film, since he barely had one. In fact, anxiousness to explore his sexuality became a major motivation to leave home for college. "That's certainly the underhanded gay reading of Orange County, if there is one," he adds. "If you substituted `I'm a writer' with `I'm gay,' you could certainly see there is a veiled coming-of-age gay story there."

For those demanding more overt pink power--and laughs--White tossed in a lesbian kiss, a pair of very close surfer dudes, and even a gay smooch for young Hanks--from legend Harold Ramis of '70s and '80s comedy show SCTV! Recalling Hanks's filming of that kiss, White smiles: "I think Colin felt that he didn't sell the kiss well enough."

For a longer version of this conversation with Mike White, go to
COPYRIGHT 2002 Liberation Publications, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2002, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Ferber, Lawrence
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 5, 2002
Previous Article:Death of a kingly actor: Oscar-nominated actor Sir Nigel Hawthorne was circumspect about his sexuality but extravagant with his talent. (film).
Next Article:Gentlemen preferred Haines: a new documentary traces the life of 1920s movie idol Billy Haines, who quit acting rather than closet himself, then...

Related Articles
End of the innocence.
LEGENDS of the Fall.
The straight season: the mainstream choices for lesbian and gay movie lovers may be thin this summer, but that's mainly because our stories have...
Where the gays are: a quick look at the queerest movies the season has to offer. (Summer Movie Special).
From Sordid to Queer: Del Shores, writer of the cult hit Sordid Lives, talks about his journey from Texas comedies to the staff of Queer as Folk....
Tarantino's incarnational theology: Reservoir Dogs, crucifixions and spectacular violence (1).

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2022 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters |