Nov 2, 2014

Lucas Black: Gay Subtexts in the South

In the movies, people from the South are homophobic even when they're not.

Take this speech from Sling Blade (1996), in which 13-year old Frank (Lucas Black) explains why his mom's best friend (John Ritter) can't do anything to protect her from her abusive boyfriend:

He's funny, you know. Not funny "Ha-Ha", funny queer. He likes to go with men instead of women. That makes him not able to fight too good. He sure is nice, though. He's from St. Louis. People who are queer get along better in a big town. I wish he liked to go with women, I'd rather he be Mama's boyfriend than Doyle.

So he's got an affliction that keeps him from being able to fight or become Mama's boyfriend.  Sure is nice, though.

But implicit homophobia in Southern characters doesn't prevent gay subtexts; in fact, it facilitates them, since "no one" will believe that a masculine-coded Southerner could possibly be "funny queer."

Check out the career of 30-year old Lucas Black:

1. All the Pretty Horses (2000).  He plays a teenager in the Old West who rides with cowboy buddies (Matt Damon, Henry Thomas) and doesn't get a girl.

2. Killer Diller (2004). Good old boys Wesley and Vernon (Lucas, William Lane Scott) start a band together.

3. Friday Night Lights (2004). About a struggling Texas high school football team, with the coach (Billy Bob Thornton) big-brothering star athlete (Lucas).

4. Jarhead (2005). Marine (Jake Gylenhaal) buddies around with his platoon.  Lucas has only a few scenes as Southern-fried Chris Kruger, but there's a lot of testosterone in the air.

5. The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (2007).  Alabama teen Sean Boswell (Lucas) moves to Japan with his Dad and gets a girlfriend, but buddies with  Han (Sung Kang). Han is killed, and the rage over his death leads Sean to become the champion drift-racer of Japan.

6. 42 (2013). Sports biography about baseball player Jackie Robinson.  Lucas plays Peewee Reese, Jackie's close friend.

Not bad for a Southern Baptist boy from Decatur, Alabama.

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