Guy Ritchie: How Gay is He?

madonnaguy Guy Ritchie: How Gay is He?

Is the hus­band of the world’s most fam­ous ‘gay man trapped in a woman’s body’ a homo­phobe?  Or a con­flic­ted homo­phile? Or both?

Promoting his new book, Madonna’s brother Christopher Ciccone has been claim­ing that absurdly straight act­ing Guy Ritchie’s homo­pho­bia is one of the reas­ons why he and his slightly more fam­ous sis­ter are no longer on speak­ing terms.

You don’t have to buy Ciccone’s mem­oirs though to unearth evid­ence that Guy has some ‘issues’. Just watch his homo­erotic, homoso­cial and homo­phobic gang­banger movies — all the ‘homos’ are here.  As luck would have it, there’s another due out shortly, called RocknRolla.  I’ve yet to see it, but reportedly, it’s even more ‘homo’ than his pre­vi­ous films — and no less confused.

In the mean­time, here’s a dia­gnosis I penned for the Independent on Sunday eight years ago when Ritchie’s second film Snatch was released. Like Eminem, another gangster/gangsta groupie who came to prom­in­ence around the same time as Ritchie in the early Noughties, the homo­pho­bia in his work seems like a kind of highly con­flic­ted and highly erotic homophilia.

Actually, it’s more like homo­mania — lit­er­ally being unable to stop think­ing and talk­ing about bum­ming and prac­tic­ally draw­ing pic­tures for us. Which is prob­ably what I have in com­mon with him — though I’d like to think I’m slightly more self-aware.

In Ritchie’s world — as in Em’s — bug­gery is the only kind of sex there is. The only ‘snatch’ in Snatch belongs to men.

what sort of a guy’s guy is Guy Ritchie?

Mark Simpson won­ders whether Madonna’s hus­band is a gay man trapped in a straight man’s body

(Independent on Sunday, August 27, 2000)

Do you have big brave balls,” asks human Rottweiler Vinnie Jones in a stand-off moment in Guy Ritchie’s new movie Snatch, “or min­cey fag­got balls?”

We don’t enter­tain any doubts about the cir­cum­fer­ence of Vinnie’s testicles — and not just because he flashes a gun big enough to make Linda Lovelace gasp. What’s more, with the birth of Guy Ritchie’s son Rocco, the whole world knows that the 31-year-old writer-director of the spec­tac­u­larly suc­cess­ful Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels has balls big and brave enough to impreg­nate Madonna.

But is this middle-class gangster-groupie so sure about what kind of balls he him­self dangles? On the basis of his curi­ously sexu­ally ambi­val­ent out­put, it seems Ritchie — like his vast, appre­ci­at­ive young male audi­ence — is more than a little wor­ried about the pos­sib­il­ity that he might have “min­cey fag­got balls” after all.

Let’s not beat around the bush here: the Lock, Stock and Snatch genre — and the lad magazine cul­ture from which it seems to have sprung — is a kind of gay porn for straight men (or, rather, straight boys). As with his first film, Snatch is obsessed with bug­gery. Its “mock­ney geezer” dia­logue is thick with ref­er­ences to “‘aving me pants pulled down”, being “bent over”, “full pen­et­ra­tion”, and being “f–ked”. This isn’t very sur­pris­ing since, as in Ritchie’s Lock, Stock and the spin-off TV series he executive-produced, women are con­spicu­ous by their absence — the only snatch in Snatch belongs to other men. Hence the obses­sion with “hard men” and “pussies”; those who take and those who are taken. The erot­ics of Ritchie’s cine­matic uni­verse seem to be that of the prison showers (or the pub­lic school dormitory).

Ritchie is a hot ticket at the moment because, in an age of mas­cu­line con­fu­sion, he is the pre-eminent example of a rising phe­nomenon: the homo­hetero. Exclusively and adam­antly het­ero­sexual in the bed­room, the homo­hetero is nev­er­the­less entranced by mas­cu­line images, forever fan­tas­ising about a world of homoso­cial­ity that is just a dropped bar of soap away from homo­sexu­al­ity. Could it be that Guy Ritchie — who lives with the woman fam­ously described as a gay man trapped in a woman’s body — is a gay man trapped in a straight man’s body?

Perhaps this is why Snatch begins with a jokey dis­avowal of homo­sexu­al­ity. “Turkish”, the cent­ral char­ac­ter and nar­rator (played by the very hand­some “man’s man” Jason Statham), intro­duces him­self and “me part­ner, Tommy”, adding quickly, “I don’t mean ‘part­ner’ in the sense of ‘old­ing ‘ands.” And there’s cer­tainly a lot to dis­avow. The nearest thing to a sex scene in Lock, Stock was the lov­ingly shot, soft-focus, all-male pub party where the lads get very drunk, wrestle and light each other’s farts, before fall­ing into a bliss­ful, exhausted post-orgasmic sleep. In the first epis­ode of the TV series, they try to flog some dodgy porn to a fence. “It’s not gay, is it?” he asks, wor­riedly. “Do we look like a couple of rear-gunners?” the pretty boys retort.

Well, now that you ask, yes.  After a fash­ion. Certainly, as shown in his films, Ritchie’s rela­tion­ship to mas­culin­ity is a bit “gay”. Like Loaded and FHM — lad mags selling a com­mod­i­fied, aes­thet­i­cised mas­culin­ity back to a gen­er­a­tion of young men ali­en­ated from it in their own lives — it’s the sup­plic­at­ory, ner­d­ish and slightly mas­ochistic per­spect­ive of the wan­nabe. Take Ritchie’s idol­at­rous, near-erotic camera-worship of “hard man” Vinnie Jones. The most mem­or­able scene in Lock, Stock fea­tures Vinnie repeatedly slam­ming a car door on a man’s head in slow motion to uplift­ing music. The power of this reli­giously intense scene stems from the way that much of it is shot from the point of view of the vic­tim — Ritchie and the audi­ence are look­ing up admir­ingly at Vinnie “doing his nut”. It’s a moment which Jean Genet could have directed.

Ritchie can be touchy about his image. Asked a few wor­ship­ful ques­tions recently about his taste in clothes by FHM, he became a tad defens­ive, spray­ing about the words “fruity”, “queeny”, “f—ing fruit-tree” and “min­cey”, and declar­ing that he would be hap­pi­est “in a gla­di­ator out­fit” (a leather skirt?).

But then, Ritchie’s dis­avowal is deep-rooted. Though he now denies claim­ing any­thing of the sort, Ritchie is fam­ously said to have rein­ven­ted and relo­cated his past: “I’ve lived in the East End for 30 years,” he was quoted as say­ing last year. “I’ve been in a load of mess-ups … I’ve been poor all of my life …” It was sub­sequently revealed that he spent much of his child­hood at Loton Park, the 17th– cen­tury home of his bar­onet step­father. Coming from this back­ground, Ritchie under­stands that “street” is sexy — and that, con­versely, middle-class balls are “min­cey fag­got balls”. “They’re poofs. Soft as shite … fag­gots” is the ver­dict of one of Ritchie’s crims in Lock, Stock on the clown­ish public-schoolboy ganja grow­ers — who are humi­li­ated and dis­pensed with early on in the film.

It’s not just the nice middle-class boys, though. In a post-feminist era, most men are won­der­ing what a mas­cu­line world might look like. As Brad Pitt puts it in another homo-hetero movie, Fight Club: “We’re a gen­er­a­tion of men raised by women. Maybe another woman isn’t what we need.” (Appropriately enough, Pitt makes an appear­ance in Snatch, repris­ing his Fight Club role as a bare-knuckle fighter.) No won­der a gen­er­a­tion of boys is so inter­ested in see­ing “big brave balls” at the cinema.

But this fas­cin­a­tion doesn’t come without its own anxi­et­ies. And, iron­ic­ally, it’s the squeam­ish­ness of Ritchie in par­tic­u­lar — and homo­het­eros in gen­eral — about actual homo­sexu­al­ity that gives the lie to their lowlife fantas­ies. In Lock, Stock, one of the lads explains the per­fect scam: place an ad for “Arse Ticklers Faggot Fan Club anal-intruding dildos” in gay magazines, and wait for the cheques to roll in. Then, send out let­ters say­ing that you’re out of stock and enclose a cheque stamped “Arse Ticklers Faggot Fan Club”. “Not a single soul will cash it!” we’re told. (Obviously Ritchie didn’t know many fags when he wrote that.) It could be said that Ritchie and lad cul­ture have been run­ning that scam ever since the appear­ance of Lock, Stock — selling us a prom­ise of some­thing tit­il­lat­ing that never quite arrives.

All in all, it seems both a para­dox and entirely apt that big brave ball-fixated Ritchie lives with the ulti­mate gay icon: a woman whom many men would con­sider to be the biggest ball-buster in the world; an older part­ner whose own suc­cess and fame eas­ily dwarfs his. But watch­ing Lock, Stock, Snatch et al, maybe Ritchie’s interest in Madonna isn’t so sur­pris­ing. As he puts it him­self: “I like her, because she’s ballsy”.

Copyright Mark Simpson 2008

This essay is col­lec­ted in Sex Terror: Erotic Misadventures in Pop Culture

Madonna and Guy — An Old Fashioned Celeb Couple

guy1903 Madonna and Guy   An Old Fashioned Celeb CoupleMadonna inter­viewed with this month’s Elle magazine, excerp­ted this week in the Daily Mail under the head­line ‘My amaz­ing sex-life’. Apparently hubby Guy has encour­aged her to be more feminine.

Madge said: “I think I’ve been hon­ing and fin­ess­ing my fem­in­ine side. I’ve always been very com­fort­able with my mas­cu­line side — the con­fid­ence, the ball­si­ness. I’ve learnt to be more pli­ant, more vul­ner­able — and to be com­fort­able with that.“‘

I know it’s rude to quote your­self, espe­cially in pub­lic, but it does remind me of some­thing I wrote for this month’s Out magazine about tran­sexy celebs who are oblit­er­at­ing sexual dif­fer­ence with botox:

Even when a celebrity couple, like Maddy and Guy, act out a reas­ser­tion of tra­di­tional roles, it only serves as par­ody. When Madonna brags about her mock­ney gang­ster groupie hus­band boss­ing her about, it only serves to make it clear that Guy is the English nanny whose duties include hav­ing to pre­tend to dom­in­ate Madonna seven or eight times a week.’

But what, I won­der, was Guy say­ing when the pic (left) was snapped?

Given this story from last year about Madonna’s sex toy gift for him, per­haps it was: “The strap-on was that big I couldn’t get my hand around it!”