'Foxcatcher' subject Mark Schultz goes on tirade against director Bennett Miller

Posted by · 10:06 am · December 31st, 2014


As is often the case with biographical films, accuracy can become an easy target for criticism. Regardless of how changes or alterations reflect dramatic and thematic intent, and that narrative films aren't meant to be documentaries, those with a bone to pick about how history is seen through an altered lens will lash out, particularly if a film is an Oscar season threat. We've already seen it happen with “Selma,” but now Bennett Miller and “Foxcatcher” are taking on fire…from one of the very people depicted in the film.

Yesterday Mark Schultz, played by Channing Tatum in the film, took to Facebook for a lengthy screed detailing beat for beat what is inaccurate in the film. After running through that laundry list, regarding a film he obviously saw months and months and months ago, he then took umbrage with an undercurrent of homosexuality that some critics have read into the text of the film.

“The personalities and relationships between the characters in the film are primarily fiction and somewhat insulting,” Schultz wrote. “Leaving the audience with a feeling that somehow there could have been a sexual relationship between duPont and I [sic] is a sickening and insulting lie. I told Bennett Miller to cut that scene out and he said it was to give the audience the feeling that duPont was encroaching on your privacy and personal space. I wasn't explicit so I didn't have a problem with it. Then after reading 3 or 4 reviews interpreting it sexually, and jeopardizing my legacy, they need to have a press conference to clear the air, or I will.”

The latent homophobia laced in those sentiments aside, Schultz obviously appears to be reacting to critical interpretation of the film more than anything else. This element has been in the ether for a while now, going back at least as far as the Telluride Film Festival, where I first saw the film a few months after its Cannes premiere. But no one really touched it.

“This is incredibly difficult for me to talk about it,” actor Steve Carell said at the time. “Any two people watching it will come away with different interpretations as to what du Pont's relationships might have meant. And I hope I'm not evading the question. It is very complex and I think we all approached it with a gentle touch. There are so many theories about who du Pont was and what drove him, and we had to make our choices about what that was, but I'd rather not say my personal choices.”

Miller then added to that, saying, “the filmmaker in me, interested in the metaphor, really doesn't like labels. There's enough representative in the film, I think, to characterize how it felt, how the experience of this behavior was, and we chose to leave it at that and not make any conclusions or points about it.”

Tatum addressed it a little more directly. “Because it's so uncomfortable to be wrapped in another man that closely, I guess the homoerotic jokes that have to take place is a whole part of the culture,” he said of amateur wrestling. “But du Pont, as far as that goes, I don't know. I just settled on he's asexual. I never really looked at this as a sexual thing, personally. I looked at it way more in the emotional rather than the physical.”

So while Carell and Miller certainly came at it with ambiguous notions, Tatum, the guy actually playing Schultz, made it clear that – due respect to anyone who wants to take that reading – he saw nothing sexual about this relationship. I guess that was enough for Schultz for a while, but as more and more interpret the work of art as they will, it's apparently not sitting well. Like, REALLY not sitting well. Here is a string of posts he apparently put up on Twitter but removed soon after:

Mark Schultz Foxcatcher

A few more Tweets went up, however, and they're still there to see (EDIT: They've been removed, too.):







Obviously there's a conversation that needs to happen between Miller and Schultz here, a conversation I imagine has taken place at least once already. I'll just say this: It shouldn't qualify as “insulting” if people think you're gay, bro.

FINAL UPDATE: Schultz has taken to Facebook to apologize for the “harshness” of his language, though he stands by his criticisms of the film:

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