Jan 27, 2013

A Real Heterosexual Boy: Pinocchio

Hardly anyone outside of Italy reads the Carlo Collodi novel, The Adventures of Pinocchio (1883).  If you do, prepare for a shock; it is nothing like the 1940 Disney movie.

The Disney version was about Gepetto, who wants a son but not a wife so the Blue Fairy brings his wooden puppet to life.  Pinocchio (Dick Jones, who would later become a tv star on Range Rider and Buffalo Bill Jr.) longs to be a real boy, which means obeying your parents, going to school, and conforming to 1940s society.  Of course, he fails.  He is lured to "Pleasure Island," an all-boy paradise where boys can smoke, gamble, get into fights, and stay up late, ultimately turning into donkeys.  His salvation comes when he sacrifices his life to save his father.  He is resurrected as a real boy (insert Christ metaphor here).

The gay content:
1. A son created without a wife, a single-father family.
2. An oddball outsider longs to fit in, to become a "real boy."

Later versions have often noticed -- and tried to "fix" -- the gay content, often with disastrous results.

1. The 1968 musical version starred rocker Peter Noone (right) as Pinocchio and Burl Ives as Gepetto.  It minimized the woodenness to emphasize the alternate family.

2. In 1996, Jonathan Taylor Thomas became a rather disturbing version of the wooden boy, in a film dedicated to a realistic portrayal!  What would a boy made of wood look like, act like, negotiate everyday life?

3. In a heterosexist 2000 version, comedian Drew Carey became a middle-aged Gepetto, with Seth Adkins as the wooden boy and Julia-Louis Dreyfuss as the Blue Fairy/girlfriend/surrogate mother.

4. In 2002, Roberto Begnini became a rather old version of the wooden boy.  This time he's the one who gets the Blue Fairy girlfriend.

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