Legendary Hollywood film director William Friedkin appeared on HuffPost Live on March 25 to discuss his use of "shocking material" throughout his career. Host Ricky Camilleri brought up Friedkin's 1980 film "Cruising" starring Al Pacino as a cop investigating a series of murders set against the backdrop of a hardcore, gay, S&M underground in New York City.
The shock of the film has died down over the last three decades but at the time of its release, the film was labeled as homophobic and an affront to the gay community as some thought it depicted gay people as criminally insane and sexually deviant. Village Voice Arthur Bell went so far as to ask readers to hassle the crew on the streets.
"This promises to be the most oppressive, ugly, bigoted look at homosexuality ever presented on the screen," he wrote. "The worst possible nightmare of the most uptight straights. I implore readers... to give Friedkin and his production crew a terrible time if you spot them in your neighborhoods."
While reflecting on the film on HuffPost Live, Friedkin was somewhat regretful. He told Camilleri:
"I thought there might be some negative criticism of it, but I thought that that would come from more of the so-called 'straight community' who were not used to seeing those events depicted. To be accurate, the film was about the S&M world. It was a murder mystery set against the backdrop of the S&M world at that time, in the late-seventies. It was not about the gay community at all. But, here's the historical fact about it. Gay liberation had begun to make powerful steps forward and I'm sure when 'Cruising' came out, it was not the best foot forward for gay liberation. I recognize that in hindsight but I didn't at the time."