Feb 24

“Stay Weird”: Some Stirring Advice from Screenwriter Graham Moore

“Stay weird,” concluded Graham Moore during his Oscar acceptance speech Sunday night for best adapted screenplay for The Imitation Game. 

It started this way: “…When I was 16 years old, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird and I felt different, and I felt like I did not belong.”

This line alone brought tears to my eyes when I first saw a clip of his speech yesterday. He continued:

And now I’m standing here, and so I would like this moment to be for this kid out there who feels like she’s weird or she’s different or she doesn’t fit in anywhere. Yes, you do. I promise you do. Stay weird, stay different and then, when it’s your turn, and you are standing on this stage, please pass the same message to the next person who comes along. Thank you so much!

Some in the media wrongly assumed from this that Moore is gay, as was Alan Turing, the subject of the movie script that won the award. Even the GLBT-oriented TheAdvocate.com described Moore yesterday as an “out screenwriter” before correcting it.

Sasha BronnerHuffington Post, in fact, quotes Moore as saying after the show, “I’m not gay, but I’ve never talked publicly about depression before or any of that and that was so much of what the movie was about and it was one of the things that drew me to Alan Turing so much,” Moore said. “I think we all feel like weirdos for different reasons. Alan had his share of them and I had my own and that’s what always moved me so much about his story.”

It’s common to feel weird and different, especially in one’s teens, and the possible reasons for this are too numerous to mention. One phrase I clung to earlier in my own life came from psychologist Sol Gordon (1923-2008), who’d written a book for youth called You! (with a superlong subtitle) in which he advised those struggling with a weirdness identity to adopt a stance of being “positively weird.” Take away the negative stigma, in other words—it’s okay to be weird.

Another great and moving moment from the Oscar telecast, by the way, was the performance of the John Legend/Common song “Glory” from the film Selma. And I’m pretty sure Moore would appreciate that Martin Luther King, Jr., himself once said, “Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted.” The positively weird.

Stay weird.

Jan 06

“The Imitation Game”: Some Truth and Some SPOILERS

The movie boasts its own inspirational rallying cry, repeated three times in case you miss it, which would be perfect for embossing on a holly-bedecked greeting card: “Sometimes, it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one imagines.” Susan Wloszczyna, rogerebert.com, regarding The Imitation Game

As told in Morten Tyldum‘s well-praised The Imitation Game, such a person was mathematician Alan Turing (played by Benedict Cumberbatch), a closeted gay man who was instrumental in cracking the Enigma code during World War II.


Chris Nashawaty, ew.com:  “It’s no wonder he was so drawn to ciphers and games. After all, he had to live in code.”

More about the portrayal of Turing from A.O. Scott, New York Times: “…Turing, whom the film seems to place somewhere on the autism spectrum, is as socially awkward as he is intellectually agile. He can perceive patterns invisible to others but also finds himself stranded in the desert of the literal. Jokes fly over his head, sarcasm does not register, and when one of his colleagues says, ‘We’re going to get some lunch,’ Turing hears a trivial statement of fact rather than a friendly invitation.”



The screenplay is based on a biography by Andrew Hodges. David Edelstein, Vulture.com, states the following, however:

You’ll get an F if your only source for a paper on Turing is The Imitation Game; it telescopes like mad…The film is true, though, to the extraordinary friendship between Turing and Joan Clarke (Keira Knightley), a rare female colleague and one he almost married. It’s intriguing, their meeting of minds on both Enigma and the possibility of a nonsexual union between two unique individuals in a firmly sexist, homophobic culture.

And L.V. Anderson, Slate, writes what she learned after reading the book: “…The Imitation Game takes major liberties with its source material, injecting conflict where none existed, inventing entirely fictional characters, rearranging the chronology of events, and misrepresenting the very nature of Turing’s work at Bletchley Park. At the same time, the film might paint Turing as being more unlovable than he actually was.”

How does the film handle Turing’s sexual orientation issues? A.O. Scott, New York Times: “Turing’s sexuality is mystified and marginalized, treated as an abstraction and a plot point…Mr. Hodges’s biography, threaded with quotations from Walt Whitman, gives eloquent and sensitive testimony to the contrary.”

Specifically about the film’s endingAlex von Tunzelmann, The Guardian, notes that the focus on Turing being suspected of espionage is untrue, as is the related accidental discovery that he’s gay. “In real life, Turing himself reported a petty theft to the police – but changed details of his story to cover up the relationship he was having with the possible culprit, Arnold Murray. The police did not suspect him of espionage. They pursued him with regard to the homophobic law of gross indecency.”

Claudia Puig, USA Today, tells us what viewers learn at the end, which is apparently true: “Turing is credited with saving the lives of 14 million people and cutting the war’s length by two years. He was repaid for his extraordinary service by being arrested in 1952 for gross indecency and chemically castrated because of his homosexuality, then illegal. He committed suicide two years later, at 41.”