Ithaca College Professor Featured in Article on ‘Battle of the Sexes’ Movie

By Dan Verderosa, October 17, 2017
Ithaca College Professor Featured in Article on “Battle of the Sexes” Movie

If the makers of “Battle of the Sexes” — the new movie about tennis champion Billie Jean King’s historic defeat of Bobby Riggs — wanted to better portray King’s complex relationship with her own sexuality, they should have hired a LGBTQ writer. So says Ithaca College Associate Professor Stephen Tropiano in a article on the film.

“If you are aiming for realism it is definitely in the work's best interest to have someone writing from experience,” Tropiano says in the piece, which criticizes the film’s treatment of King’s romantic relationship with her hairstylist, Marilyn Barnett.

Tropiano compares the treatment of sexuality in “Battle of the Sexes” with another sports movie, the 1982 drama, “Personal Best.”

“The lesbian and bisexual characters are so clearly being written from a male heterosexual viewpoint,” says Tropiano. “But the film was popular among LGBT audiences because there were so few films released at the time.”

The article was written by Jill Gutowitz, a former student in Ithaca College's Los Angeles Program.

Tropiano is the author of “The Prime Time Closet: A History of Gays and Lesbians on TV,” “Queer Facts,” “Rebels & Chicks: A History of Hollywood Teen Movies” and “Obscene, Indecent, Immoral and Offensive: 100+ Years of Censored, Banned, and Controversial Films.” He is the director of Ithaca College’s Los Angeles Program.