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McConaughey's AIDS omission draws criticism

Matthew McConaughey didn't mention AIDS in his acceptance speech.
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images

It's been a rough week for actor Matthew McConaughey.

Negative comments about McConaughey have been burning-up social media since Sunday night, largely from members of the gay and lesbian community upset that McConaughey’s rambling speech didn’t even mention AIDS. As pioneering AIDS activist Cleve Jones wrote on Facebook, “He won the award for portraying an actual human being engaged in a very real struggle and in his speech failed to mention either the man or the cause. Unbelievable.”

Contrast McConaughey’s remarks to those of the elegant Lupita Nyong’o, who won Best Supporting Actress for “12 Years a Slave.” The first words out of her mouth, after thanking the Academy, were, “It doesn’t escape me for one moment that so much joy in my life is thanks to so much pain in someone else’s,” referring to the young slave woman whom she portrayed.

And then there were the words of McConaughey’s co-star, Jared Leto, who won Best Supporting Actor for the same film. After thanking his mother, who was present, Leto said, “This is for the 36 million people who have lost the battle to AIDS. And to those of you who have ever felt injustice because of who you are and who you love, I stand here in front of the world with you and for you.”

McConaughey, who instead talked about God and the fact that his hero is himself (a few years in the future), has now managed to draw attention to what’s wrong with his film in the first place.

The former New York Times drama critic Frank Rich said on Twitter, “Dallas Buyers Club: a very important movie if made 25 years ago.”

Others have been more blunt, like Emmy-winning TV writer Patrick Mulchaey. In a Huffington Post piece titled “Not Buying Dallas Buyers Club,” Mulchahey said the movie is, “Bad news for LGBT history and the history of AIDS activism.”

And indeed, watching the film you would think McConaughey’s character, a heterosexual redneck, was the only one on the scene who was getting anything done about AIDS. Never mind the marches, the role of ACT UP or the AIDS agencies that sprang-up overnight from New York to Palm Springs to take-on federal inaction and AIDS phobia.

But that’s the trouble with myth-making Hollywood style: history becomes as whitewashed as Matthew McConaughey’s tuxedo. ###

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