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Why is it likely that Capote's novel Breakfast at Tiffany's does not show the concept...

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etty | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted October 8, 2011 at 8:26 AM via web

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Why is it likely that Capote's novel Breakfast at Tiffany's does not show the concept of homosexuality?  Was sexual freedom accepted at the time the movie was filmed?

Homosexuality is a concept that appears in the novel titled Breakfast at Tiffany's but does not appear in the movie of the same title making me wonder if the filmmakers were playing it safe.

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 8, 2011 at 9:59 AM (Answer #1)

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Truman Capote’s novella titled Breakfast at Tiffany’s was first published in 1958. In 1961, a film adaptation was released starring Audrey Hepburn. The homosexual aspects of the novella do not appear in the film because they would have been too controversial. Indeed, the screenwriter who adapted the novella into a screenplay (George Axelrod) has explicitly said that he couldn’t “mention the homosexuality. So I just eliminated it” (Backstory 3; page 72; see link below).

Discrimination and even violence against gays and lesbians were extremely common in the United States until fairly recently, and this was certainly true in the 1950s and early 1960s. A mainstream Hollywood movie featuring a prominent and appealing gay character would surely have been highly unpopular in the early 1960s. The real beginning of the modern “gay rights” movement is usually dated to 1969 (the year of the famous Stonewall riots in New York), although prejudicial attitudes toward gays and lesbians had been becoming more liberal very slowly throughout the first half of the twentieth century, as the publication of Capote’s book implies. The filmmakers, however, would have been taking an enormous financial risk if they filmed anything in 1961 that might have seemed “pro-homosexual.”

Nevertheless, Luca Prono, in the Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Popular Culture, suggests that the character Holly Golightly herself

best represents Capote’s gay sensibility. In her move from her desolate provincial life to New York, Holly mirrors every gay man’s ambition to escape constraining surroundings and reach freedom in the impersonal metropolis. (page 58; see link below)

 

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