Anita Bryant biographical film set to fail?
A film is being developed about Anita Bryant, former beauty queen, singer and all round celebrity in America through the fifties, sixties and seventies, however it looks set for disaster, and will undoubtedly face a huge boycott. Why? Well it's because of what she then did after becoming a celebrity.
She is known for her work as an anti-gay activist, and was featured in archival footage in the film Milk (Filmstalker review), about Harvey Milk and the time when he was fighting the very act she was trying to see become law, the act of firing gay teachers from American schools.
With the gay rights in a very similar position as it was back then, with political activists hiding their own sexuality, voting against gay rights, and a large religious section of America still trying to quash the rights and lives of gay people, I really don't see a film about one of the leading activists of that movement being successful.
Anita Bryant won several advertising contracts when she was at the height of her career, working for huge companies from Coca Cola to Kraft Foods and the Florda Citrus Commission, however she lost her long standing contract and sales of her books and songs fell sharply during the height of her anti-gay activism. So much so that a relaunch of her singing career failed and she had to file for bankruptcy.
Now after that can you really see a film about her life doing well in the cinema? Well Hollywood seems to think it will, and according to The Hollywood Reporter Chad Hodge is writing the script right now.
"She is a fascinating person on every single level...The twists and turns of her life are incredible."
Born into a religious family she became a Christian celebrity and her popularity grew and grew, and in 1977 she turned to political activism. In Milk (Filmstalker review) we see the threat of the Save the Children campaign, something she fought for and won in Miami-Dade county. They had brought in a new act making it illegal to discriminate against sexual orientation. She overturned that within a year and it took some twenty years after that to change it back.
At the time she said:
"As a mother, I know that homosexuals cannot biologically reproduce children; therefore, they must recruit our children...
...seek help and change for homosexuals, whose sick and sad values belie the word 'gay,' which they pathetically use to cover their unhappy lives."
You can see right there in those few lines why the film is going to be a huge divider and may well face a boycott from gay rights movements, and quite rightly so.
However let's give it a chance. We don't yet know which way this film is going to go and how really it will portray the woman and her life. Perhaps it won't be a glorious view, perhaps it might be an unbiased one, a condemning one, time and the script will tell.