Jun 21, 2018

People of Earth: Gay Subtexts, Gay Characters, and Grays

I love alien abduction stories.  I read all of the greats: Intruders, Communion, Secret Life, The Interrupted Journey.  The problem is, they're from the 1970s and 1980s, with a few from the 1990s.  Since about 2000, there haven't been any.  So a sitcom about alien abductions seems rather anachronistic.

Still, it's fun in a nostalgic way.  Reporter Ozzie Graham (Wyatt Cenac) travels to Beacon, New York to do a human interest piece on an alien abduction support group, and begins remembering his own abduction experience. So he moves to town, gets a job on the local newspaper, and joins the group.

Other members include the standard template of who Hollywood thinks gets abducted: the mousy widow; the sexually frustrated housewife; the taciturn farmer; the obsessed alien researcher; the sassy black woman who thinks this just happens to white people.

We discover that the aliens actually exist.  A bickering trio is orbiting above Beacon, in charge of the abductions: the blond Nordic Don (Bjorn Gustafsson); the classic bug-eyed gray Jeff (Ken Hall), and the reptilian Kurt (Drew Nelson).

Ozzie's boss, Jonathan (Michael Cassidy), is also a reptilian, and has been supervising him since he was abducted as a child.  The reptilians are working toward the goal of taking over the Earth, but it's a 200-year project, nowhere near completed.

Beefcake:  Michael Cassidy (left) is very attractive, and Bjorn Gustafsson (top photo) has a Nordic androgynous look.  The other characters are mostly nondescript.


The connection between being an abductee and being gay is made often: a secret that you're afraid to tell your family and friends.  The group even hosts a "coming out" night where you must bring a family member and tell them about your abduction.  The farmer Ennis (Daniel Stewart Sherman) brings his son, who complains "First you tell me you're gay, and now this?"

There are various gay-subtext buddy-bonding relationships:

1. Between Ozzie and obssessed alien researcher Gerry (Luka Jones), who is desperate to become his best friend.

2. Between Ozzie and Jonathan (Michael Cassidy), a reptilian who has been supervising him since his abduction as a child.  Ozzie gets suspicious and asks "Are you in love with me?"  Jonathan denies it. Apparently interspecies relations are taboo in their society.  Gay and straight, not a problem.

3. When Jonathan goes rogue (leaving the reptilians to side with the humans), he moves in with Officer Glimmer (H. Jon Benjamin), a police officer "in the know."  Everyone assumes that it's a gay relationship.

4. After Kurt is killed in an auto accident, Jeff is heartbroken, and vows vengeance.  Other characters suggest that he was in love with Kurt, but he denies it.

Overall, worth the trip.

Warning: I've only seen the first season.  I hear that the second season gets considerably darker.

See also: The Interrupted Journey of Betty and Barney Hill.

The Gay World of Pablo Picasso

When I visited the Pablo Picasso Museum in Barcelona, I saw many portraits of women, but only a few of men, and they were all fully clothed.  I concluded that the artist (1881-1973), well known for his many wives and girlfriends, was simply not interested in the male form.

But it turns out that the museum was keeping some of his works under wraps.  Such as this Cubist fragment of a man who is all eyes and penis.

In fact, during his years as a student in Barcelona, Picasso produced many realistic paintings and drawings of nude men, such as this model from 1897.

During his Blue Period (1901-1904), when he fell into a deep depression after the death of his friend Carlos Casagemas, Picasso consoled himself with a number of nude images.

He was in a cheerier mood during his Rose Period (1904-1906), when he was living in Paris.  He continued to produce male nudes, but specialized in adolescents, such as Boy Leading a Horse.

Picasso was very prolific during his long life, producing thousands of paintings and drawings. But, except for a few adolescent boys, his male portraits are often censored, left out of books, not displayed in museums, to give us the impression that he only ever used female models, and perhaps to erase the awareness of same-sex desire from the world.

Did Picasso have any same-sex interests of his own?  Probably -- he wanted to try everything in life, so he must have taken time out from his pursuit of the feminine for some same-sex dalliances.  His biography uncovers an affair with a gypsy boy when he was 17, and suggests that he and Casamegas were romantic partners.

We know that he was nonchalant about gay identity.  He had many gay friends, including Gertrudge Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Sergei Diaghilev, Jean Cocteau, art dealer Paul Rosenberg, and collector John Richardson.  He enjoyed surrounding himself with gay men, if only because they adored him for reasons other than his art.

60 Movies I Will Never See

There are 6 basic emotions, 1 positive (happiness), 3 negative (sadness, anger, and disgust), and 2 which could be either (surprise, fear)  The function of a movie, book, song, or other work of art is to elicit positive emotions, to make the audience feel better after viewing than they did before.

So I don't understand movies that deliberately elicit sadness, anger, or disgust.  Why would anyone want to watch something that makes you feel bad?  Don't you get enough bad feelings in real life?

Here are 60 movies that I will never see, or that I saw and regretted.

No dying of long, slow, debilitating diseases.  With scenes of yelling at doctors, reconciling with estranged relatives, sobbing, sobbing, sobbing, and holding hands on death beds.

1. Terms of Endearment (1983). Shirley Maclain's daugher dies of cancer.

2. Beaches (1988).  No one surfing or swimming, just Bette Midler singing and crying.

3. Steel Magnolias (1989).  Women face tragedy in the South.

4. My Girl (1991).  Boy falls in love with a dying girl.

5. Lorenzo's Oil (1992).  Family tries to cure their dying son.

6. Stepmom (1998). Hugging and dying.

7. Here on Earth (2000).  Boy's girlfriend dies.

8. Bridge to Terabithia (2007). With Josh Hutcherson (top, recent photo). They fool you into thinking it's a fantasy movie, like Harry Potter.  It's actually about a boy befriending a dying girl.

9. Moulin Rouge (2008).  Fortunately, I walked out because it was so awful long before the deathbed scene.

10. The Fault in Our Stars (2014).  A support group for people dying of cancer.

Especially no dying-of-AIDS.  Yelling at doctors, reconciling with estranged relatives, sobbing, sobbing, and so on, but with homophobia.  Lovely way to spend an evening.

11. An Early Frost (1985).  Guy dies of AIDS.

12. Parting Glances (1986).  Guy dies of AIDS.

13. Longtime Companion (1989). Guy dies of AIDS.

14. Philadelphia (1993).  I was forced to watch this, but kept my nose in a book the whole time.  Guy faces discrimination because he's dying of AIDS.

15. And the Band Played On (1993). The government refuses to acknowledge that people are dying of AIDS.

16. The Cure (1995).  Guy dies of AIDS.

17. It's My Party (1996, left).  AIDS and suicide!  Fun!

No Holocaust as entertainment.  Um... 6,000,000 people died. How can that be turned into two hours of fun?

18.  Sophie's Choice (1982).  She has to choose which of her kids to kill, and later gets a couple of boyfriends.

19. Schindler's List (1993). He helps some people escape from the Holocaust. 

20. Life is Beautiful (1997).  Set in a concentration camp. Are they kidding?

21. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2009).  More concentration camp hijinks.

No main characters dying, period. Who had th bright idea of killing off the protagonists in car accidents, gunshots to the head, or zombie bites?  Why would I want to get invested in a character, only to have them die?
22. Easy Rider (1969).  I saw this, not realizing that everybody dies, and the movie is ruined.

23. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969),  What's the point of a homoerotic buddy "comedy" if they're just going to die at the end?

24. Thelma and Louis (1991).  I watched this, too.  No one told me that they go over a cliff.

25. Titanic (1997). I was conned into seeing the musical.  Hint: they all drown.

26. The Perfect Storm (2000).  They all drown.

27. Children of Men (2006). Everybody is dying.

28. Pan's Labyrinth (2006).  Girl is dying.

29. Into the Wild (2007).  He starves to death!

30. 28 Weeks Later (2007).  Zombie movies are supposed to have survivors!

31. Burn After Reading This (2008).  I went into this thinking it was a comedy, and walked out when Brad Pitt's comic relief character suddenly died.

32. Apollo 18 (2011).  Dying astronauts.

No inmates on death row.  You know they're going to die from the beginning.  Why bother to watch?
 33. The Executioner's Song (1982).
34. Dead Man Walking (1995)
35. The Green Mile (1999)

No war.  War is one of the biggest tragedies of life, not a source of entertainment!  If the movie is about humorous hijinks far from the combat zone, ok.  But angst-ridden, somber music, people dying of bullet holes -- no way!  I don't care if the whole platoon struts around naked.
36. Platoon (1986)
37. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
38. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
39. We Were Soldiers (2002)

No ends of the world.  Nuclear holocaust, giant meteor, whatever.  Even worse than the main characters dying, the end of everybody and everything, the most depressing thing imaginable.

40. Dr. Strangelove (1965). Why would you yell "yahoo" while plummeting to your death on the back of a nuclear bomb?

41. Miracle Mile (1988).  I actually saw this without realizing that the world ends until it was too late, and I was trapped there with a date.

42. 2012 (2009).  A new flood kills everybody on Earth, except for two hetero couples.

43. Cabin in the Woods (2012). I thought it would be a standard horror movie, with survivors at the end, not "the old gods awaken and start the Apocalypse," and everybody dies.

44. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012).  A "comedy" about a man and a woman (of course) falling in love just before an asteroid kills everybody on Earth.

45. This is the End (2013).  I actually watched this.  Everybody dies. Can you believe it was advertised as a "comedy"!

No LGBT people dealing with homophobia.  Getting yelled at, rejected, beat up, experiencing angst, and dying.

46. Get Real (1998).  I saw this, thinking it would be ok because no one dies.  Horrible!

47. Boys Don't Cry (1999). Transman is killed.

48. The Laramie Project (2002).  A movie about a real-life horrific hate crime!  Just the thing to brighten your day.

49. Brokeback Mountain (2005). Bisexual cowboys facing homophobia and dying.  No way!

No horrifying handicaps.  I don't care if they overcome adversity and find love, having a handicap is depressing.

50.  The Miracle Worker (1962). I got grossed out by the passage in the book where the child Helen Keller doesn't eat at the table, she just goes from plate to plate and grabs whatever she wants.

51. Johnny Got His Gun (1971).  A blind, deaf, and dumb quadriplegic?

52. Tommy (1975).  A blind, deaf, and dumb boy, plus homophobia.  I turned off the DVD and zapped it back to Netflix.

53. The Elephant Man (1980).

54. Mask (1985).  I don't know what it's about, but it sounds gross.

55. My Left Foot (1989). This one sounded even more gross.

56. The Sessions (2012).  A man living in an iron lung decides to have sex.  Gross.

No movies where the plot summary itself makes me nauseous.

57. Harold and Maude (1971).  I saw this one.  Sickening romance between a teenage boy and an 80-year old lady.  No, I don't think it's at all hypocritical that I'm 55 years old and dating twinks. Plus she commits suicide because she loves life so much.  Huh?

58. Pink Flamingos (1972).  According to John Waters, they offered Divine a substitute, but no, she wanted to really eat the dog poop.

59. Funny Games (1997).  A family is terrorized and killed by a pair of psychos.  Uplifting!

60. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).  He ages backwards!  Can you think of anything more disgusting?  I couldn't even sit through the trailers.

See also: 10 Gay Movies  I Hated.


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