Clint Eastwood’s biopic of famed lawman J.Edgar Hoover is ruffling a few feathers among former FBI agents
The screenplay by Dustin Lance Black, the Academy Award winning screenwriter of Milk, portrays Hoover (Leonardo DiCaprio) as a driven man who used the FBI for his own ends. But the biggest issue for the ex G-men is not the insinuation that Hoover was an unrelenting paper pusher and rule stickler, but rather that he had a long-term secret relationship with aide Clyde Tolson (Armie Hammer). According to an article in today’s Washington Post, since the release of J. Edgar earlier this month, hundreds of agents have griped about the film on xgboys, a closed e-mail list for FBI retirees. But only former FBI agent Gregg Schwarz has gone so far as to undertake that great newfangled American pastime and go on YouTube to make his case.
Sitting in front of Hoover’s grave in Congressional Cemetery (an inspired touch) Schwarz argues that in the movie, “Mr. Hoover was portrayed as an individual who had homosexual tendencies and was a tyrannical monster…That is clearly not true.” To prove his point, Schwarz mentions that the real Hoover wrote personal notes to his agents to mark births, deaths and anniversaries. For Schwarz this is clear enough evidence that Hoover was not an administrative monster with no social life. But it is the same love of rules that also implies to Schwarz that there was no chance that Hoover was homosexual.
Schwarz’s belief is based on the notion that Hoover condemned extra-marital affairs and anyone who was homosexual was considered a “security risk.” (Although if Armie Hammer was your assistant you might bend the rules, too.) For Schwarz, there is no way a man who condemns homosexuality could possibly be gay. Apparently he has chosen to ignore the many former Congressmen and religious leaders who put the lie to that belief and is also completely unaware of the human capacity to protest too much.
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