Jul 8, 2013

Johnny Depp's Lone Ranger: For Heterosexuals Only

Johnny Depp makes movies by heterosexuals for heterosexuals, positing a gloriously gay-free world of oddball outcasts who both swish and leer at the ladies: Edward Scissorhands, Benny and Joon, What's Eating Gilbert Grape, Don Juan Demarco, The Ninth Gate, Sleepy Hollow, Blow, From Hell, Pirates of the Caribbean, Public Enemies, The Tourist, Dark Shadows, and even Rango all begin and end with The Girl.  He says "all of my characters are gay," by which he means they all have gender-atypical mannerisms. None are gay.  Not even Ed Wood, who wears angora sweaters but falls for The Girl.  Not even The Libertine, who claims to like both men and women, but is shown with only women.

What about the Lone Ranger and Tonto,  the masked vigilante of "yesteryear" and his faithful Indian sidekick, a  classic gay-subtext couple, who roamed the West through twenty years of radio, tv, comic books, and movies without ever glancing at a lady?  In The Best Little Boy in the World, a classic gay Boomer autobiography, John Reid states that he first figured "it" out through his fantasies of the Lone Ranger and Tonto riding into the sunset together.

Nearly 60 years after the tv series ended and 30 years after the last of the cartoons, cameos, and spoofs faded away, Johnny Depp has re-invented the franchise with an origin story that has conservative stick-in-the-mud lawyer John Reid, aka the Lone Ranger(Armie Hammer), and outcast oddball Tonto (Johnny Depp) working together to capture the outlaw Butch Cavendish (William Fitchtner).  Along the way, they will discover that they can't trust anyone, neither the Indians nor the representatives of white government and big business.

To be blunt, the story stinks.  Butch Cavendish is both a spooky paranormal villain who eats the body parts of his victims, and a mercenary who teams up with an evil industrialist to steal silver from Comanche country.

 Tonto is insane, constantly feeding the dead crow perched on his head.

 John Reid is absurdly square, a Dudley Do-Right in a white hat (this beefcake shot is not from the movie).

There are three -- three! -- train-fight scenes, with leaps onto or off moving trains, fistfights atop boxcars, crashes into bandstands or bridges, shooting through walls, and rescues. I don't know why -- by the third, I wasn't paying attention to the plot anymore.

And Johnny Depp has once again heterosexualized everything he touches.  John Reid is in love with his brother's widow; he rescues her; they kiss.  Tonto's heterosexuality is established when he turns out to be a regular at a brothel. Butch drools and slavers over his female hostage.

There is a gay crossdresser: Frank, a member of Butch Cavendish's gang, likes to wear ladies' clothes, and implies that he wants to be "violated" by Tonto. (Played by Harry Treadaway, top photo, with his brother Luke in Over There).

So everyone is heterosexual except for a probably-gay crossdressing villain. Way to reinforce outdated homophobic stereotypes, Johnny!

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