Apr 21, 2013
Teenagers often find themselves pushed into heterosexist vehicles, regardless of whether they support gay inclusitivity or not. Jansen Panettiere is no exception.
The younger brother of female star Hayden Panettiere, Jansen began securing guest roles on tv in 2002, at the age of eight. He also did voice work on cartoons and appeared with his sister in the thriller Tiger Cruise (2004).
But his first star vehicle was the Nickelodeon movie The Last Day of Summer (2007), in which the 12-year old Luke (Jansen) relives the same day over and over, and uses it to win the girl of his dreams. Yawn.
At least he took his shirt off, in case any gay preteens in the audience weren't too upset by the heterosexism to look.
After the evangelical Christian Secrets of Jonathan Sperry (2008), Jansen starred in The Perfect Game (2009), about a group of Mexican boys who become the first non-U.S. team to win the Little League World Series. It's an underdog-triumphing film, with nearly every Hispanic child actor in the business, including Moises Arias (Hannah Montana), Jake T. Austin (Wizards of Waverly Place), Ryan Ochoa, Gabriel Morales, and Carlos Padilla.
No girls around, and Jansen became best friends with the gay-friendly Jake T. Austin. They uploaded a youtube video called "The Closet Chronicles," which doesn't appear to be about the gay metaphor.
Next came 8, a 2012 movie version of the play about the fight to repeal Proposition 8, the amendment that banned gay marriage in California. Many actors, gay and allied, appeared, including Kevin Bacon, Matt Bomer, George Clooney, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Brat Pitt, Martin Sheen, and George Takei.
With all the star power, there was still room for Jansen as Elliott Perry, the teenage son of two moms denied the right to marry (played by Jamie Lee Curtis and Christine Lahti).
I haven't seen Jansen in The Forger (2012), which stars gay ally Josh Hutcherson as a young art forger and Hayden as his girlfriend. Or The Lost Medallion (2013), about two teenagers who use a magic medallion to go back in time (he plays a South Pacific native named Huko). But both look promising.