Aug 15, 2012

Arlo and Chad: Orange County Gay Couple

Orange County (2002), a comedy starring Colin Hanks as a high school senior torn between buddies at home and and a distant college, features an explicit same-sex romance.

I assumed that buff slacker buddies Arlo (Kyle Howard) and Chad (RJ Knoll) were standard movie buddies with a unstated homoerotic attraction, like Dave and Chainsaw in Summer School -- especially when they were shown trying to pick up girls.  But then they make an announcement:

Chad: Last night we’re at this party, little Arlo here decides to profess his undying love for me. Didn’t I tell you he was a fruitcake?

Arlo: That’s not true, Bro. Here’s what really happened. Chad crashed at my house, right, and I woke up in the night, he was fondling my. . . .

Chad: Dude, I lost my keys. I was looking for ‘em.

Very clear, isn't it: they have had sex, and they are in love. They are sitting in their car in a position of quiet intimacy, at peace with each other. They are delighted that there is no longer any doubt about whether they are lovers. Their friends respond with approving grins, not with surprise, since they were aware that the two were a couple all along.

Oddly, the screenplay was written by Mike White, who also wrote and starred in the execrable Chuck & Buck (2000).

But most fan reviews of Orange County on and the Internet Movie Database seem utterly confused: “What the heck does that scene mean?”; “Weird scene”; “It’s a joke, right?”; “Are they supposed to be gay, or what?”

Why are reviewers baffled?  Because they believe that no fictional characters can be gay unless they are Wearing a Sign.  Arlo and Chad have never explicitly stated "We are gay," so they must be taken as heterosexual. Why would they profess their "undying love" and have sex?  It must be a joke.