From Yahoo News comes the highly relevant documentary, “Uniquely Nasty: The U.S. Government’s War on Gays,”a well-constructed look back at the U.S. government’s pointed attack on gays in its workforce and in surround political activities. The 30-minute show, part of Yahoo’s “Viewfinder” series provides some interesting background — albeit from decades past — that offers context and perspective to the recent Supreme Court decision related to same-sex marriages.
The talents of chief investigative correspondent Michael Isikoff, who serves as reporter and voice for the project are evident as each of “Uniquely Nasty’s” three chapters are narratives built around individuals whose lives were greatly impacted by the unconscionable witch hunt. The dastardly deeds, led by men who live in the shadows such as Joseph McCarthy and former FBI chief, J Edgar Hoover, presented in the doc with an even hand where the facts speak for themselves. The stories are ones of betrayal and personal tragedy, but also ones of character as those impacted have carried forward with their personal beliefs and tireless campaigns to put a reasonable voice to a major sociopolitical issue.
Charles Francis, a close friend and advisor to President George W Bush, initially carried with him a powerful voice for gay rights but his words were silenced when Bush sided with conservatives who pushed against same-sex equality and only for traditional marriages. To this day, Francis continues his investigation into deliberate discriminatory acts against gays in the government. The same goes for Charlie Baker, a former dental assistant who worked for President Johnson, fired for what was determined to be unsavory acts as a gay man. Baker later sued the government and won even though (as he points out) the case is buried to the point of being nearly untraceable.
Profoundly sad is the story of Lester Hunt, Jr., whose father, a U.S. Senator, committed suicide against the backdrop of an investigation of an arrest of the younger Hunt for allegedly solicited gay sex from an undercover D.C. police officer. The film, “Advice and Consent” turned the event into a blockbuster novel and film which serves as a time capsule of a time of intolerance and fear. “Uniquely Nasty” includes an interview with Hunt, Jr., who speaks for the first time about the horrible time from his past.
As a documentary, “Uniquely Nasty” does an excellent job of capturing the time and place during which these attacks occurred. I would have liked perhaps a bit more context on how the earliest part of these activities took place against the backdrop of the Cold War and a nation less than a decade after World War II. I also think some mention of the role the media played in perpetuating these myths.
The producers of the documentary seamlessly added a new ending to the film after the SCOTUS ruling — a nice touch with illustrates the contrast between the past and future. “Uniquely Nasty” is living history lesson that is must viewing for all.
While not as ambitious and overblown as 1988’s “Punchline,” “Shambles” is a quirky and clever look at the manic world of stand-up comedy in London. Fraught with peril, backstabbing, and some tidy bits of humor, “Shambles,” debuting July 9, projects to be a webseries that will gain momentum with each new weekly episode.
Our hero, if you will, is sad sack Harry whose initial act is a comedy quiz show that lacks any redeeming value let alone humor. His nemesis is Jimmy, a slicker (perhaps funnier) performer who doubles as emcee. The pair cross paths again at Aces and Eights, a pub that doubles as a comedy club. The byplay between the pair is the funniest part of the debut episode.
Veteran comedian Harry Deansway plays the lead in “Shambles” with a touch of art imitating life. In a later episode, the show also features UK’s John Kearns, Foster’s Comedian award winner for 2013’s best newcomer. The debut of “Shambles” includes short stand ups from Andrew O’Neill, Lou Franken and Lou Sanders.