Nov 3, 2013

The Gay World of Dr. Seuss

When I was a kid in the 1960s, I hated fairy tales, but I liked Dr. Seuss.  No heterosexist boy-girl plotlines, no boy-girl romances of any sort, just pleas for tolerance of diversity, ambiguity, nonconformity.  Lots of alternative families.  Lots of gay subtexts.

Horton Hatches the Egg (1940): Gay man takes over for a neglectful mom, and proves to be a wonderful father.

Horton Hears a Who (1954): Nobody will believe that a community exists until they all shout "We are here!"  Sounds like the Gay Rights Movement.

The Cat in the Hat (1957):  An emissary of chaos, accompanied by the gay couple, Thing 1 and Thing 2.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1957): a gay outsider is accepted by the community.

Green Eggs and Ham (1960): People are into all sorts of different things.  Deal with it.

The Sneetches (1961): Insignificant personal characteristics, like whether you are attracted to men, women, or both, can create crazy prejudices.

But Seussical, the 2000 musical, is a disappointment.  It amalgamates a huge number of books, including some that I never heard of, into two confusing plots -- one for adults, one for kids.

Wait -- those books have no continuity.  They take place in different universes, some populated by humans, some by animals, some by other beings.

And there's a hetero-romantic primary plot, between Horton the Elephant and Gertrude McFuzz (a bird in Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories who thinks her tail isn't fancy enough).

The secondary plot is promising: Oddball outsider JoJo (here played by teen idol Aaron Carter) is ridiculed for "thinking thinks" and finally sent to military school.  He helps save the day without getting a girlfriend.

He buddy-bonds with Horton, but there's not much of a gay subtext between the little boy and the adult elephant.

Except in some local productions where the two actors are the same age, and Horton's elephantness is conveyed through pin-on ears, not an elephant costume.