A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Do I Sound Gay? is a deeply personal exploration into filmmaker David Thorpe's life and his journey to become more accepting of who he is. The film is framed as an examination of speech patterns within the gay community, including Thorpe and his friends, and eventually expands to cover broader topics about what it means to be gay -- and to look at how the ways people speak and act can reveal their personalities, sometimes by choice and sometimes not. Scenes include discussion (sometimes quite racy) about sexual practices, and there are a few clips of heavily blurred gay porn films, as well as moderate swearing and drinking and references to anti-gay hate crimes. One extended sequence includes an in-depth discussion of gay subtexts in well-known Disney films.
What's the story?
Finding himself suddenly single and in his 40s, filmmaker David Thorpe decides to take a deep dive into his psyche, trying to figure out what it means to be a modern gay man. Specifically, in DO I SOUND GAY? he wants to find out more about his speech patterns and whether he has what some might describe as a "gay accent" ... and if so, how did he pick it up, and can he change it? From there, he expands his focus to social norms in the larger gay community, including vocal habits, and how certain traits have come to be seen as stereotypical homosexual traits.
Is it any good?
This interesting film follows Thorpe as he explores what he considers a "problem" that has bothered him for years: his obsession about "sounding gay." He wonders, "Who can respect, much less love, an old braying ninny like me?" So begins this film, which takes Thorpe on visits with experts including a speech pathologist, a voice coach, and a speech scientist -- as well as friends and celebrities like Tim Gunn, David Sedaris, and George Takei) -- all while he examines the stereotypes people knowingly or unknowingly tap into as part of daily life.
Fascinating and often funny, though at times overly detailed with minutiae, Do I Sound Gay? is part linguistics study, part sociology, and part memoir, making for a compelling whole. Thorpe invites viewers to join him on his journey of self-discovery and self-acceptance, taking interesting detours into TV and film history, speech therapy, and his South Carolina family’s past. There are some surprising takeaways, such as how villains speak in Disney movies, which somewhat justifies the movie's meanderings. But it would have benefited from a more refreshing ending -- or at least a more refreshing route with fewer breadcrumbs on the trail that viewers couldn’t easily spot coming.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the premise of Do I Sound Gay? Is there such a thing as a "gay accent"? What does David Thorpe learn about himself and about stereotypes throughout the course of making the film?
What does Thorpe's examination of his speech patterns reveal about the broader gay community?
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