The Players: GQ Australia, which "prides itself on offering readers the best possible advice and insights that help you be modern, successful gentlemen"; Dustin Lance Black, gay, Oscar-winning screenwriter (Milk) who might be working with Taylor Lautner.
The Opening Serve: In their November cover story, GQ prodded Taylor Lautner about his sexuality. "[My publicist] Liz [Mahoney] says I don't talk about my personal life," he said when asked about a rumoured split from his Abduction costar Lily Collins." Mickey Rapkin, who wrote the article, adds, "His check flannel shirt is spread wide, revealing what appears to be the 19-year-old actor’s very first crop of chest hair ... His smile is Cruise-like, packed with the kind of porcelain that has never been stained by a lick of red wine." Perhaps unsatisfied by the a Cruise-like answer Rapkin took a stab at a Cruise-like rumor. He asked Lautner about being spotted with Gus Van Sant and Dustin Lance Black who are both gay. asked whether either Van Sant or Black made a pass Hollywood's highest paid teen said, "No, definitely not. I think they know I'm straight. But they're great guys. They're a lot of fun."
The Return Volley: Dustin Lance Black didn't care for Rapkin's insinuations. The very first post on his new blog was dedicated to ripping into Rapkin and GQ. "Really Mr. GQ writer? I’m curious, will you be asking all of the handsome actors I’ve ever had the privilege of working with or meeting if I made passes at them as well?" wrote Black. "I’d love to be there when you ask Sean Penn that same question. Or, Mr. GQ writer, were you projecting your own unprofessional desires onto me and Gus? Perhaps?" Black continued:
Or worse still, are you a homophobe? Above and beyond this clear attack on my character, I’m shocked that GQ would allow their writer to lean on the scurrilous, outdated stereotype that gay men are by nature sexual predators. I mean, would you have asked this same question if it were Diablo Cody and Kathryn Bigelow at dinner with Mr. Lautner? Leaning on lies, myths and stereotypes about gay people is hateful, harmful and outdated. It’s not the 1950s anymore GQ, it’s 2011 and it’s time to grow up.
GQ took to their Facebook page last night and tried to clear the air. "We’ve seen some of the comments floating around regarding our recent interview with Taylor Lautner and apologise if anyone was offended by anything in the article," wrote GQ's "Nick" (presumably it's Nick Smith, GQ Australia's editor). "It certainly wasn’t our intention to paint anyone in the story as a sexual predator. The point we were actually trying to push was that Taylor is irresistible to virtually everyone – regardless of sexuality or gender."
What They Say They're Fighting About: Dustin Lance Black's professionalism and GQ's insinuation that he'd engage in a "casting couch" type of scenario.
What They're Really Fighting About: GQ's professionalism and image. Black even admits he's "shocked" at GQ's behavior--not only from Rapkin, their writer, but presumably from the editors that thought it fine to publish the sequence. He expected better from a magazine entrenched in the fashion and entertainment industries. But GQ may just chalk up the descriptive lines in the interview to the "Taylor is irresistible to virtually everyone – regardless of sexuality or gender" effect.
Who's Winning Now: Dustin Lance Black. Clinging to the "omnipotent beauty of Taylor Lautner" defense often isn't a good strategy. Neither is assuming that gay men can't help but make passes at good looking men. Black has a good reason to be angry, since it isn't common practice for GQ to ask Natalie Portman or Scarlet Johansson or the next ingenue to spill the beans on which of their Oscar-winning employers/screenwriters/directors makes passes at them. Asking the question seemed to say more about GQ's fantasies than Black's.