Oct 23, 2012

Let's Hear it for the Boy

In the early 1980s, I listened mostly to classical music.  I was too old for teen idols,  and adult music was dreadful, all about hetero-romance, hetero-sex, or large breasts.  Especially when MTV began playing music videos to illustrate the songs.

For instance, let's look at the charts for the spring of 1984, when I was working on my master's degree:

Phil Collins, "Against All Odds": a girl left him, and now he's depressed.
Lionel Richie, "Hello": a girl left him, and now he's depressed.
Ultravox, "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes": a girl left him, and now he's depressed.
Julio Inglesias, "To All the Girls I've Loved Before."
Nik Kershaw, "Dancing Girls."  'Nuff said.

But there were exceptions.  A dozen songs of the early 1980s could be appropriated, read as gay-positive regardless of what the performers intended.  Especially "Let's Hear it for the Boy," by Deniece Williams

The lyrics are standard pop hetero-romance, about the female singer's boyfriend, who is not rich, a fancy dresser, or a good singer, but nevertheless provides hetero-romance.  In the music video, however, she praises a variety of boys, starting with with a tap dancing little kid (Aaron Lohr, later photo), who of course is not her boyfriend.

Here's another recent photo of Aaron, in a stage version of  The Full Monty.

The scene shifts to a teenager who plays the piano and dances, badly, then to more teenage boys and adult men, playing chess, playing football, dancing with her, dancing with each other.  Some are athletic, some aren't, some are shirtless, some aren't, but all of them are beautiful due to their exuberance, their energy, and their fun-loving joie de vivre. Who has time to even think about muscles?

 Finally there are thirty men and one woman on stage.  The song has become a paeon to the entire male sex.

And that's not all.  It's the background music in the intensely romantic montage in Footloose (1984) where city boy Ren (Kevin Bacon) teaches redneck Willard (Chris Penn) to dance, and they end up posing, running, frolicking, hugging.

With the absence of a female focus character, it becomes a paeon to men loving men.

See also: Ocho Rios: Tracking Down a Jamaican Bodybuilder.