Shalit—the 31-year veteran movie critic of NBC's
Today show—came under fire Thursday by the Gay
and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation for his review of
Brokeback Mountain. GLAAD says that Shalit
"used the occasion to promote defamatory antigay prejudice
to a national audience."
In a bizarre piece of commentary for the
"Critic's Corner," Shalit deemed Jake Gyllenhaal's
character, Jack, a "sexual predator" who "tracks Ennis
down and coaxes him into sporadic trysts."
The "characterization of Jack as a 'predator'
and Ennis (Heath Ledger) as a victim reflects a
fundamental lack of understanding about the central
relationship in the film and about gay relationships in
general," GLAAD said in a statement. "It seems highly
doubtful that Shalit would similarly claim that
Titanic's Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) was a 'sexual
predator' because he was pursuing a romantic relationship
with Rose (Kate Winslet)."
Shalit did praise Ledger's performance and said
the movie does have a few dramatic peaks, but he added
that the film was "wildly overpraised, but not by me."
The GLAAD statement added that "Shalit has every
right as a film critic to criticize Brokeback
Mountain. But his baseless branding of Jack as a
'sexual predator' merely because he is romantically
interested in someone of the same sex is defamatory,
ignorant, and irresponsible. And it is equally irresponsible
for NBC News to have given Shalit a platform for his
gratuitously offensive comments."
adult son Peter, a physician, is gay, could not be reached
for comment. An e-mail from an NBC publicist stated only,
"Sorry, Mr Shalit does not do interviews about his
reviews." Shalit did comment on his son's coming-out
in a 1997 Viewpoint article published in The
Advocate, which is now posted on Advocate.com. To
see the video of Shalit's review, go to GLAAD's Web site
and follow the links. (Advocate.com)