Aug 24, 2012

In Every Man's Life There's a Summer of 42

During the 1980s, as the gay movement gained ground, film producers tried every way they could think of to assure heterosexual audiences that they had nothing to worry about, that gay people did not exist.  One of their most annoying attempts was a spate of movies involving young boys having sex with older women.  It was not a statutory rape, however; it was presented with flowers and hearts and swelling music, and a voiceover of their adult selves crowing "I learned about life, and love, and being a man!!!!  It was most beautiful, most fulfilling experience of my life!!!!!"

What did the older women want with the young boys, anyway, when there were lots of men their own age around, and their dalliance with the jailbait was patently illegal?  The adult voiceover usually explained: the boys were so incredibly attractive that every woman on Earth wanted them. The one they slept with just happened to make her offer first.

The annoying trend probably began with The Summer of '42 (1971), which stars Gary Grimes as 15-year old Hermie, whose hotness causes an older woman to cheat on her husband (away in the War).  He never saw her again, but that night made him a man.  The tagline even universalizes the young boy-older woman trope: "In every man's life there is a summer of '42."

Jay North played a teenager who beds The Teacher (1974).

But the genre took off in the the early 80s, with countless "bedding the teacher/tutor/friend's older sister/miscellaneous older lady" movies: Private Lessons (1981) with Eric Brown (of Mama's Family),  My Tutor (1983), with Matt Lattanzi; Class (1983), with Andrew McCarthy; A Night in Heaven (1983), with Christopher Atkins; Gotcha! (1985), with Anthony Edwards. In Weird Science  (1985), the boys (Anthony Michael Hall, Ilan Michael Smith) build an older woman robot of their own.

Why did I find these movies so annoying?

1. The promise of beefcake made them a must-see.  But the boys usually had a woman with them to ruin the swimsuit, shower, and underwear shots, and anyway they were overwhelmed by the endless breast shots of the "older woman."

2. So exuberantly hetero-horny were the boys that there was no room for men.  Sometimes men were completely missing; the cast consisted entirely of the boy and some babes.  Sometimes the boy had a best friend, but only as a sounding board, to strategize with and brag to; emotional intimacy was completely absent.

3. These movies loudly proclaimed that they represented all of male experience, that every boy who had ever lived or who ever would live longed to have sex with older women.  But they didn't just ignore gay male experience, they lovingly, emphatically, with elaborate detail, declared that no gay men exist.