Gays of America, Tina Fey has been on our side for years. And now she needs our help.
Her latest movie, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, is circling the box office drain: according to Box Office Mojo, its opening weekend earned only $7.44 million, unable to compete for attention against Zootopia and Deadpool. For a movie with a production budget of $35 million, plus an additional $10-20 million or so for marketing, it doesn’t look good.
The movie itself isn’t the problem. On the contrary, it is exhilarating and fantastic. Fey produced and stars in Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, which is based on the true story of Kim Baker, an American journalist reporting on the war in Afghanistan from 2004-06. Baker accepted a job as a temporary news correspondent in the Afghani capital of Kabul to flee the monotony of her boring desk job, but upon arriving she discovered getting stories on the air was tough. The war in Afghanistan was old news, overshadowed by the U.S.’s other war in Iraq, and the American public seemed to care little about those news stories beaming in from half a world away. So Baker repeatedly threw herself into the middle of the violence in the hopes of capturing a few moments of something exciting and terrible to show back home, and an addiction to adrenaline consumed her. She stayed in the war zone for years, both to show America what was happening in the war and also to justify her refusal to return to her former boring, unfulfilling life.
There are many reasons to see Whiskey Tango Foxtrot (which, if you haven’t yet caught the joke, is military alphabet lettering for W-T-F). First, and, of course, most important, is the fact that it is a stunning movie. Fey’s turn as a dramatic actor brings refreshing life and light to the character of war reporter Baker, who could have seemed terribly morose and uptight. The story certainly depicts the war, but the central thread follows Fey’s character as she learns how sometimes in life, if you want to get ahead, you have to grit your teeth and kick ass. Of course because this is Tina Fey, there are unavoidable moments of humor. But a comedy, this is not.
This is where the movie landed in the giant pile of shit that has caused it to suffer so sadly at the box office. It seems the American public was confused by the movie’s identity: Tina Fey is in it, so is it a comedy? Unfortunately, the idea of a wacky romp through the fields of Afghanistan seems quite unappealing, especially when portrayed by the awkward, cringeworthy trailer that lumped together the few funny in the movie with no apparent reason, and those bits have almost no impact on the actual plot. Whoever edited this trailer should be blacklisted from making trailers ever again. The whole fiasco is a shame, not only for the movie, but especially for our beloved friend.
Tina Fey has long championed the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness for our community. She has created some of the sparkliest, funniest LGBT characters on her shows, from 30 Rock to The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt to that icon of teen angst Mean Girls. In her book Bossypants, she wrote an elegant essay admitting she, like so many heterosexuals, could not fully accept the idea of two gay men falling in love until she confronted her squeamishness over the idea of men having anal sex. Tina Fey is not just a fun straight girl who wants to go dancing at gay bars. She is the best friend the LGBTQ community could ask for, and our community should thank her for all she has done.
Go see Whiskey Tango Foxtrot. There are no openly LGBTQ characters, but that doesn’t matter. If we want people like Tina Fey propping up our community, we should support her as well. The world is a better place with Tina Fey in it, making us think and argue and, yes, sometimes laugh.