Cruising deserves the rap as exploitive. Way too much "Look! Ewww...." I wouldn't go so far as to say it was wrong to put it out, in that way it was supposed to be wrong to release Basic Instinct with the killer lesbian, or, for that matter, the various Jesus movies that have been picketed, with their variously controversial Jesuses. Let the lousy exploitive sensationalist movies come out. And let's call 'em lousy and exploitive and sensationalist.
It was a bit of a surprise that this particular notorious movie is as complicated as it is. Ultimately the complexity doesn't amount to much, though, even in terms of interesting ambiguity; it ends up with merely the pseudo-depth of the haphazard and vaguely pretentious. Sunk by the titillation and the just not-so-smartness of the final script/cut, if there was anything really smart in it to begin with. Which I'm gonna say I doubt. And Starnes's husband was better in The Crazies.