Oct 26, 2012

Matthew Broderick's Gay Fans

During the mid-1980s, gay teenagers had to stick with television and an occasional pop song.  Movies starring teenagers or young adults -- Stand by Me, Pretty in Pink, and St. Elmo's Fire were awful, incessantly heterosexist, and oozing with homophobia.  I walked out of Teen Wolf (1985) when Michael J. Fox assures his best friend that he's "not a fag,"  and out of The Breakfast Club (1985) when the very first scene warned "fags" to keep away from Judd Nelson's locker.

But movies starring Matthew Broderick were completely reliable, with no homophobic slurs, minimal heterosexism, ample beefcake, and even some buddy-bonding.  

Born in 1962, Matthew started his career with War Games (1982), a comedy about a boy and his girlfriend who accidentally hack into the U.S. nuclear defense system and almost start a nuclear war.  They're a heterosexual couple, but romance doesn't fuel the plot.   

Then came Ladyhawke (1985), a sword-and-sorcery adventure about a hawk that turns into a lady.  Except Matthew's character doesn't fall in love with the lady; he merely facilitates a heterosexual romance between lady-hawk and hero.

Many teen stars of the 1980s, including Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, and Michael J. Fox, played operators, boys who manipulate events from behind the scenes.  Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) was Matthew's entry:  

Ferris (Matthew) engages in incredibly complex machinations in order to skip school and spend the day downtown with his girlfriend, Sloane (Mia Sara) and male buddy, Cameron (Alan Ruck). 

Ferris and Sloane are technically involved, but again, their romance doesn't fuel the plot; they could easily be best buddies.  Cameron expresses no heterosexual interest, but a homoromantic devotion to Ferris.  It's hard to tell who is the romantic partner, and who is the buddy.

And there are many beefcake shots, revealing that the quirky operator had a well-toned physique.

Biloxi Blues (1988) works the same way, giving army recruit Eugene (Matthew) both a girlfriend and a male buddy.

In 1988, Matthew played one of the first positive gay characters in the movies, in Torch Song Trilogy: Alan, a male model who falls in love with Arnold (Harvey Fierstein) and is later killed by gay bashers. Brian Kerwin played Arnold's first boyfriend.

Always a gay ally, he ensures that his characters, although heterosexual, are never heterosexist.