Just a few weeks ago Alan Turing was in the news when it looked likely that a parliamentary pardon for his conviction of the “crime” of homosexuality would be supported by the government. It was a blip in the news cycle about one of the most shameful treatments of a national hero, but it did get a lot of press.

Alan Turing was not Eric Lidell as portrayed in “The Chariots of Fire” so why does Hollywood want to portray him as if he was?

Now there is another blip, this time about the up-coming Hollywood dramatization of Alan Turing’s life starring the British actor Benedict Cumberbatch. The film will, supposedly, expunge Turing’s homosexuality and portray Turing as a cross between “Chariots of Fire” and “The French Lieutenant’s Woman”.

Alan Turing’s biographer, Andrew Hodges, last month criticised the script of the forthcoming biopic The Imitation Game. The film focuses on the relationship Turing had with fellow Bletchley Park codebreaker, Joan Clarke, who is to be played by Keira Knightley. Turing and Clarke were briefly engaged until Turing came out to Clarke and said that he could not live a lie by marrying her. It is ridiculous to completely transform a short-lived engagement based on convenience into a Hollywood love story. Joan Clarke was no leading lady in Turing’s life; for Turing, Bletchley was a “sexual desert”.

The film also makes more of Turing’s marathon running to make him appear less “wimpish”. A man who indirectly saved thousands of lives through his breaking of the German Enigma code, suffered the public humiliation of chemical castration and police surveillance, and finally committed suicide, is not indicative of a “wimpish” man. Even if Turing had been wimpish, why should this be a problem to the film-makers? Why is it the case that, for a film to be palatable to a Western audience, the protagonist has to be not only heterosexual but also conforming to traditional gender roles? This is an antiquated model of heroism and one that we would have thought had been left behind after Hollywood successes such as Brokeback Mountain, Milk, Philadelphia, A Single Man, and Behind the Candelabra. To the makers of the film: clearly Western audiences can handle it, so stop treating us as if we can’t stomach the truth about Turing’s life.

Source: PinkNews.co.uk

The film will be about a minuscule interest on Turing’s part in running the marathon, and he will have a female love interest, Joan Clarke, who in real life was his futile attempt to build a respectable façade. He abandoned this when he admitted his homosexuality to Ms Clarke. He didn’t want to lie to her, and to build a life lie with her. That is why he broke up with her, because he did not want to lie.

He then bravely faced the humiliating treatment of the then British government until he couldn’t take it any more and ended his own life. That makes the attempt of Hollywood to heterosexify Turing in this film obscene. Turing is a massive hero to my boyfriend, because he was both gay and brilliant. He is a role model for millions of people like Mark.

And making Turing a heterosexual sports nut is to piss on his memory and his legacy. It is to continue what the British government did to him.

Advertisements