Daily Beast Exploits Robin Williams’s Death to Declare Left’s Victory in ‘Culture Wars’

Leave it to the Daily Beast to throw the notion that folks should avoid politicizing a tragedy right out the window. The Web magazine used the occasion of Robin Williams’s death to laud the late comedian as a hero of the LGBT agenda for his role in ‘Mrs. Doubtfire,’ among other films. With the provocatively titled headline, “How Robin Williams’ Mrs. Doubtfire Won the Culture Wars,” senior editor Tim Teeman made the argument that Williams’s role in the 1993 comedy – and films that followed – opened the minds of Americans to alternative lifestyles and living situations.

Teeman argues that the ending of the movie – showing “two separated parents, united by their much loved children” – was a rare sight for a Hollywood film at the time. He suggested that the release date of the film was crucial:

The significance of this is in the film’s year of release: 1993 was in the white heat of the culture wars, the year after arch-homophobe Pat Buchanan addressed the Republican National Convention to tell the assembled that the agenda that Bill and Hillary Clinton “would impose on America—abortion on demand, a litmus test for the Supreme Court, homosexual rights, discrimination against religious schools, women in combat—that’s change, all right."

Teeman claims that “Pop culture would play a vital role in putting lesbians and gay men on the big and small screens, into the hearts and minds of middle America.” He then cited a slew of movies – featuring cross-dressing gay and straight men – that were released post-Mrs. Doubtfire to intimate that Robin Williams’s character was somehow the beginning of a movement.


The Daily Beast editor raved that Mrs. Doubtfire’s drag transformation was performed by a gay couple:

But it was Mrs. Doubtfire that fired the intriguing and moving opening salvo, and it was squarely down to Williams’ inspired and sensitive performance that it succeeded. Williams’ drag transformation is overseen by a gay couple: Harvey Fierstein, playing Williams’ brother Frank, and Frank’s boyfriend, Jack, played by Scott Capurro.

Buried more than 15 paragraphs into the piece, Teeman noted that “Mrs. Doubtfire doesn’t mention any gay and lesbian families. In 1993—how far we have come in 20 years—this was seen as too blatant.” He followed this with the basic thesis of his piece: "But still, this is the pivotal moment in a Hollywood family-focused film, and the film’s crescendo is to atomize the received notion of “the family,” freeing it, opening it up."

Teeman concluded the piece by naming other recent roles Williams has played as a gay character, and applauded his pro-LGBT political stances. While Williams’s roles and political views are what they are, declaring that Mrs. Doubtfire “won the culture wars” is hyperbolic, and only divides people in the wake of his tragic death.

Connor Williams
Connor Williams
Connor Williams is a contributing writer for NewsBusters.