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19 April 2009 @ 09:11 am
Looking at things from a different perspective...  
This community primarily focuses on the portrayal of gay characters on TV. However, today I'd like to look at things from a different point of view. In the United States, Neil Patrick Harris is one of the very few out gay Hollywood actors. When he talked to Ellen back in 2007 he said that one of the reasons he had kept his private life private was because he wanted to be able to be "believable" in all different types of roles.

Now he's out, to the degree that he takes his Partner David Burtka to red carpet events but more notably, his character Barney on How I Met Your Mother has fallen in love with a good friend of his, a woman named Robin.

What is really fascinating to me is the overwhelming fan community that has grown around the Barney/Robin relationship.

What are your thoughts on the significance of an out gay actor being embraced by fans in a romantic straight role?

For those of you unfamiliar with his work I've attached a Robin/Barney vid and also a vid of Neil and his Partner singing at a cabaret.

poisontaster on April 19th, 2009 09:53 pm (UTC)
I'm not really familiar with HIMYM (though a lot of my friends are and I'm osmosis-familiar) but I would think it would really kind of depend on how clued-in/tuned-in the viewer is with the community.

A great deal of my family is very American-Midwestern, rather conservative, uncomfortable with homosexuality, etc., and I think it's easier for them to gloss past NPH's homosexuality or to avoid thinking about it when they see him playing a straight role and doing it with such verve. I mean...even on a fandom level, where we see chemistry, we often WANT to ascribe it to something more than "just good acting". So when/if they see NPH having such huge chemistry with a woman, I think it helps reinforce the "maybe he just hasn't met the right woman" kind of bigotry. And I think it can/would almost strip him of the acknowledgment of his talent, because it would seem natural for him to react to a woman in that manner, instead of him just being a damn fine actor.

Whereas, I don't feel like I can lose the awareness of his orientation in the same way because I'm much more involved in a community that is conscious of and talking about...passing (in ways that relate to more than sexual orientation) and being some kind of minority and having to deal with a over-culture that doesn't support or completely provide for you, in whatever fashion. And as a result, I can think that NPH is a phenomenal actor (and I do) and I can think that he does a great job of creating believable sustainable chemistry with his costar, but I can't forget that he's acting. Though...to be fair, I don't know that that's a good thing. I'm not sure that I wouldn't rather be swept up in his acting and the story enough to forget the actors themselves. It's just not often how I interact with my media, anymore.
meg: HIMYM - suit up!bakerlooline on April 20th, 2009 12:53 am (UTC)
I was kind of torn about NPH when he first came out/got more open about it with the press. I was really happy that felt like he could do it, and that he didn't seem to be hindered at all by it in his career. He seems like he's completely comfortable and happy about his life, and that made me love him even more than I already did.

It DID take me out of his character though. It was hard to watch HIMYM for a while without thinking about it, which bothered me a lot. I completely understand why he wasn't very open about it for so long, for especially the reason he said. It changes the way you view an actor/actress and all their characters.

Actually to be honest, from watching HIMYM I have to remind myself sometimes that he's NOT straight, he plays the part so well.

But I still love him, and the show. And thanks for putting up the video of him and his boyfriend singing, it's so cute!!
recycledstarsrecycledstars on April 20th, 2009 06:28 am (UTC)
Well, it actually seemed weird to me at first that there would be a problem with a gay actor playing a straight person? But then I'm one of those very odd people who doesn't really get celebrity ... I'd really be much happier pretending that NPH was actually Barney and that the HIMYM universe actually existed.

(Actually, regarding the comment by poisontaster above that it might make it easier for people to write off his sexual orientation as a "phase", it sort of just makes me think of Barney as a little bit gay rather than the other way round.)
adafrogadafrog on April 21st, 2009 02:18 am (UTC)
It's really about the character for me. So what if NPH is gay, that character isn't, and a good actor will make you believe it. I don't watch HIMYM, but he was believably in lust with a girl in Dr.Horrible.
Also, John Barrowman is an out actor/singer, and I've seen him opposite women, and completely believed it.