Newsweek just cannot seem to catch a break lately: Not only is the news weekly up for sale following massive losses, but the creator of a confusingly popular television series is calling on fans to boycott the magazine.
Glee creator Ryan Murphy has written an open letter posted to EW.com’s “PopWatch,” calling for a boycott of Newsweek after it published an article which discussed gay actors not being able to “play straight.” The article, “Straight Jacket,” was written by Ramin Setoode, himself a gay man, and singles out Promises, Promises star Sean Hayes, who recently came out publicly, and Glee‘s Jonathan Groff as two examples of actors who play straight unconvincingly. Setoode even referred to Groff as being too like “an average theater queen” to play a believable straight love interest.
The article was met with disappointment by actress Kristin Chenoweth, who is currently starring with Hayes in Promises, Promises and played a recurring role on Glee. Chenoweth wrote directly to Newsweek in a letter available via Broadway.com. In it, she writes:
I’d normally keep silent on such matters and write such small-minded viewpoints off as perhaps a blip in common sense. But the offense I take to this article, and your decision to publish it, is not really even related to my profession or my work with Hayes or Jonathan Groff (also singled out in the article as too “queeny” to play “straight.”)
This article offends me because I am a human being, a woman and a Christian.
Ryan’s letter is, perhaps, a little more blunt in its criticism:
Today, I have asked GLAAD president Jarrett Barrios to stand with me and others and ask for an immediate boycott of Newsweek magazine until an apology is issued to Sean Hayes and other brave out actors who were cruelly singled out in this damaging, needlessly cruel, and mind-blowingly bigoted piece.
Setoodeh has responded to the criticism in a post on Newsweek‘s site, noting that he has received numerous threats via email, phone calls and even a letter to his home. And he stands by his original point, adding that the article was meant to inspire discussion, not provoke animosity:
Instead of hiding behind double entendre and leaving the obvious unstated, I wrote an essay in the May 10 issue of Newsweek called “Straight Jacket” examining why, as a society, it’s often hard for us to accept an openly gay actor playing a straight character. You can disagree with me if you like, but when was the last time you saw a movie starring a gay actor? The point of my essay was not to disparage my own community, but to examine an issue that is being swept under the rug.
It remains to be seen whether the proposed boycott will have any sort of impact (Do Newsweek readers care what Glee‘s creator has to say?) but, if this little kerfuffle proves anything, it might be that Newsweek can still maintain a degree of cultural relevancy to the point that it can still make or break watercooler conversation.