Jun 28, 2013

Jake T. Austin's Gay Posse

18-year old Jake T. Austin was formerly the gay-vague wizard Max on Wizards of Waverly Place,  and is now starring in ABC Family's The Fosters, about a family with two Moms. He also has upcoming movies playing Huckleberry Finn and a misfit zebra named Khumba.  He's never made any public statements about his sexual identity, but he's seen with guys all the time, and the rumor mill has linked him romantically with nearly every teen hunk he's ever met.  Most aren't gay, and some don't have any gay connection at all.

1. Christian Fortune, who has appeared in some Disney Channel teencoms and shorts, and will star in the upcoming buddy-bonding horror movie Youngville (2013).  He and Jake are doing a webseries together, The Adventures of Sebastian, about a nerd (Jake in glasses) and his cool brother (Christian).  No gay connection.


2. Moises Arias, previously the villainous Rico on Hannah Montana and Sue's wrestler boyfriend on The Middle.  He played Max's conscious on Wizards.  Gay connection: buddy-bonding on Hannah Montana, and Biaggio, the "person without a gender" who thinks he's gay in The Kings of Summer (2013).  (Nothing yet on Moises' brother Mateo).








3. Ryan Ochoa from The Perfect Game, plus recurring roles on Nickelodeon and Disney Channel teencoms, a member of the boy band The Ochoa Boyz.  On my list of Unexpected Disney Channel Teen Hunks.   He and Jake are seen together often in real life.  Androgynous.

4. Gabe Morales (left), from The Perfect Game.  Primarily a dancer, he starred in the 2013 comedy In Security with Ethan Embry.  Gay connection: well, he's a dancer.




5. Cole Sprouse, who starred in the Disney Channel's Suite Life of Zack and Cody and Suite Life on Deck (pictured: his twin brother Dylan).  He's currently attending NYU, studying archaeology.  Gay connection: two subtext series.

6. Jansen Panettiere, who also played a kid with two moms.  Another of Jake's frequent companions.  They have collaborated on a webseries called Tales of the Closet.




7.Gregg Sulkin, who played Alex's werewolf boyfriend on Wizards, and the object of Max's gay-subtext crush.  Gay connection: the gay-themed movie White Frog (2013).

8. Adam Irigoyen, who plays Deuce Martinez on Shake It Up.  Gay connection: subtext series.






9. David Henrie, Max's older brother Justin on Wizards of Waverly Place, who will be appearing in Grownups 2 later this year.  Gay connection: actually, he appears to be homophobic in real life.

So, which ones has Jake really dated?

Best bets: Christian and Ryan, but probably none.  He tweets quite often about the attractiveness of ladies, so he's probably Straight but Not Narrow, with both gay and heterosexual buds in his posse.

North Dallas Forty: The Gay Locker Room

Take arch-conservative Nick Nolte, who starred in the heterosexist classic Who'll Stop the Rain (1978), and would go on to partner with the arch-homophobe Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours (1982), and play a homophobic cop in Q&A (1990) and a homophobic gangster in The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (2008). 









Pair him with Mac Davis, Country-Western music star who wrote such heterosexist classics as "Baby Don't Get Hooked on Me," "One Hell of a Woman," and "Forever Lover."

Put them into a movie about foul-mouthed, homophobic football players.

What do you get?








Right: A gay romance.

North Dallas Forty (1979) is about Phil Elliott (Nick), an aging player for the North Dallas Bulls (based on real-life player Peter Gent, who wrote the original novel).  Elliott is increasingly dependent on painkillers to keep up with his teammates' macho sex, drugs, and raising-hell lifestyles.  And he is increasingly antagonized by his mercenary coach, who can see only profits.




Elliott meets young gun Seth Maxwell  (Mac Davis), based on real-life quarterback Don Meredith, and soon they are partying together, hanging out naked together, and hugging a lot.  In the novel, Maxwell is an antagonist, a friendly enemy who tries to seduce Phil to come to the Dark Side, but in the movie they are Hawkeye and Trapper John from MASH, two friends standing up against the world.






Up to a point.  In the end Maxwell betrays Elliott, who is fired.  The final scene has the dismal taste of rejected romance.  Elliott is leaving the Bulls office, when he runs into Maxwell.  Hoping for a reconciliation, Maxwell throws him a football.  Elliott lets it bounce off his chest and fall to the ground, and walks away.




The novel  hints that two of the players are gay, and involved with each other.  That was excised from the movie in favor of some homophobic jokes and lots of discussion of the size, shape, and potency of each others' penises.

I generally hate sports movies. I was only talked into seeing this by the promise of hunks in the locker room.  There are plenty of tight uniforms, 1970s codpiece pants, and guys walking naked toward the showers, including Bo Svenson and John Matuszak (who posed nude in Playgirl in 1982).

But, if you can ignore the various hetero-orgy scenes and the Girl who is waiting to change Elliott's life, the same-sex romance shines through.




 

Jun 27, 2013

ICarly: Gay Villains and Bisexual Brothers

The Nickelodeon teencom has a mixed record.  Drake and Josh, Zoey 101, and Victorious are masterpieces of gay subtext.  What I Like About You and Wendell and Vinnie are undefatigably heterosexist.  ICarly (2007-2012) combines gay subtext with homophobia.









Miranda Cosgrove (center) plays Carly, a Seattle teen who lives with her older brother, a free-spirit artist named Spencer (Jerry Trainor, top).  She produces and stars in  a comedy-variety webseries with the rough, aggressive proto-delinquent Sam (Jenette McCurdy) and the nerdish Freddie (Nathan Kress).  Brief clips from the series appeared in each episode, and there were others on the ICarly website.

Carly and Sam can easily be shipped as a lesbian couple, in spite of their endless machinations after boys.

Although Spencer is frequently shown dating women, he is obviously bisexual.

1. He hosts a group of Eastern European bodybuilders in swimsuits.
2. He dreams that, while in drag, he rejects a series of male admirers until he finds the most attractive.
3. He handcuffs a former bully and gleefully spanks him.
4. Carly is searching for Bigfoot through binoculars, but sees "Just two guys.  And they're not even cute."  Spencer responds: "Bummer!"


5. In "IGo Green," Spencer returns to the apartment with a same-sex date, Cal (Jake Siegel), obviously expecting to be alone.  After gamely introducing Cal to Carly ("Come meet the guy I found!),  he keeps trying to steer him into the bedroom, but is stymied by Cal's interest in Carly's science fair project.

6. In "IFind Spencer Friends," the gang thinks that Spencer needs a new "friend," they evaluate several possibilities, including guys wearing only towels in a locker room and a guy who broke up with his boyfriend in the supermarket.  Gibby even approaches a man in the restroom with "a proposition."

So what's the problem?

An ongoing homophobic contempt for gender-nonconformity and gay potential of any sort.

1. Carly catches Spencer browsing an online dating site, and says "That's a dude!" in disgust.
2. Spencer is arrested for appearing in public in drag.
3. Sam frequently calls boys who are inadequately masculine prancies, no doubt meaning pansies.
4. In "IMove Out," the gang run afoul of an evil gay couple who run a pet photography business.
5. The Big Bad of the series, rival webseries host Neville, is a sophisticated, effeminate, gay-coded villain who says things like "Would you like a tapanade?" and "You'll rue the day!"

In contrast to the vocally gay-allied cast of Victorious, the ICarly cast has been suspiciously silent, except for a tweet Jennette McCurdy made in support of Chick-Fil-A.  Nathan Kress (#6 on my list of unexpected Nickelodeon Teen Hunks) and Noah Munck (who plays the effervescent Gibby) are both evangelical Christians.  They might be ok, of course, but the odds are they have adopted the homophobia of their churches.

Victorious: Almost a Gay Victory

Like all tv programs aimed at a juvenile audience, Nickelodeon's Victorious (2010-2013) was set in a decidedly gay-free world: a high school for the performing arts in Hollywood (yeah, right, I'll believe that).

 Of course, the producers, writers, directors, and actors all knew that gay people existed, and they threw in occasional hints.














A love-hate gay subtext  between Tori (Victoria Justice, right) and frenemy Jade (Elizabeth Guilles, second from left), in spite of their respective boyfriends (and the rumor that Victoria Justice is homophobic).


The metrosexual Beck (far left), played by Avan Jogia, #5 on my list of Unexpected Nickelodeon Teen Hunks, who co-founded the gay-allied Straight But Not Narrow group with his bud Josh Hutcherson.

Leon Thomas III (second from right), who played Andre, is another Hollywood teen who is Straight But Not Narrow.  Here's a link to a video he made for the SBNN youtube page.


Ventriloquist Robbie, who doesn't really like girls, in spite of his girl-dating episodes, is played by Matt Bennett, who posted his own SBNN video.

Compare the utter silence about gay people from the cast of ICarly.







The nerd Sinjin (Michael Eric Reid) has a fairly obvious crush on him.

Gay-friendly cast, gay subtexts, gay references.  By this point, we have to start blaming the audience for a stubborn refusal to know.







When one of the teen characters mentioned visiting "my uncle and uncle" in San Francisco, fan boards went wild with hysterical protests that she couldn't have meant a gay couple.
"She has two uncles in San Francisco.  They're obviously two brothers living together, not gay!"
"She just means that she's going to visit one uncle, and then another one.  Not that they're gay!"
"Just because you live in San Francisco doesn't mean you're gay!"

And my favorite:
"Get a life!  This is a children's show!"
If it's aimed at an audience of kids, then by definition, they believe,  it can't have any references to gay people.

Jun 26, 2013

The Shada Brothers

Speaking of Adventure Time, there are three Shada brothers who are acting, modeling, singing and generally making the world a better place for gay teens.













Jeremy (born 1997) is the youngest, but has been in the most gay-friendly and gay-subtext projects. In addition to Adventure Time:

1. Lost (2006-07): he played the young Charlie.
2. Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2009-11): he voiced Robin the Boy Wonder.
2. Diary of a Wimpy Kid (2010), an excellent gay-subtext movie.
3. That's What I Am (2011), about various misfit kids in 1965, plus a teacher rumored to be gay.
4. Paranorman (2012), #6 on my list of Gay Movies I Loved.
5. Aliens in the House (2013) is not yet released, but there's some buddy-bonding potential in the two boys (Jeremy, Charlie Depew) who battle an alien infestation.




His older brother Zack (born in 1992) appeared in a series of nine movies on the Hallmark Channel (2005-2008) about soccer mom Cathy Davis (Lea Thompson), who is really a secret agent code-named Jane Doe.  Sort of like Scarecrow and Mrs. King, except Cathy is married with children, so she doesn't fall in love with her boss (Joe Penny).  Zack played her son, who was cute, fragile, and feminine, maybe gay-coded.

He also played the young Liam (Charlie's brother) on Lost. More recently he has done voice work and appeared in a three-episode story arc on Wizards of Waverly Place.  He also did the voice of Finn in the pilot episode of Adventure Time and Slightly on Tinker Bell. 



Josh, the oldest (born 1991) is primarily into his music -- the 2008 album of his band, JACZ,  includes such songs as "Wanna Party," "Arab Funk," and "Bassic."  JACZ, by the way, is an acronym for the members: Jeremy Shada, Adam Thompson, Christian Vandal, and Zack Shada.

All of them have acting credits, mostly guest spots on the Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon teencoms.










By the way, the top photo was identified as Christian Vandal by my source, 123people.com, but it could be Jake T. Austin's friend Christian Fortune instead.  I can't really tell them apart.



Jun 24, 2013

The Gay Invaders

September 12, 1967, a Tuesday night.  We usually watch The Red Skelton Show at 7:30 -- or rather, my parents watch while I play in the other room, but my friend Doug is staying over, so he gets to decide on the program.  He picks The Invaders (1967-68), which premiered last spring.

Architect David Vincent (Roy Thinnes, a handsome blond with a nicely muscled physique), gets lost on a lonely country road.  He sees a UFO, a "craft from another galaxy,"  land. Now he knows that the Invaders are here, taking human form, infiltrating our society.



He goes on the run, fleeing the aliens who want to silence him, trying to get the authorities to believe his story.

In tonight's episode, David befriends John Carter (Dabney Coleman), who has seen the aliens land several times.  Together the commandeer a flying saucer -- proof of the invasion!  But it doesn't work out.

David made several other male friends during the season, and often rescued them or required rescuing.  And he never fell in love with a girl -- at least, I don't remember any.

Surely the Invaders represented the adults who kept trying to control our minds with their insistance that "one day you'll discover girls."  Later I would call them Tripods.

No more Red Skelton for me -- throughout second grade, Tuesday night meant The Invaders!



The Invaders were indistinguishable from humans, except for hard-to-detect differences, like the absence of a pulse. And they didn't understand human emotions, so they might react incorrectly, pretending to be happy when something sad happened, and so on.

 But they had one tell-tale sign: an extended pinkie finger.

That roiled my sci-fi senses.  If you can disguise yourself as a human with other working fingers, why not that one?

This was the heart of the Cold War, so most people believe that the Invaders symbolized Communists.  People thought that there were Communists infiltrating our society, indistinguishable from us except that they didn't understand human emotions -- Ayn Rand claimed that no one in Russia ever smiled.  No extended pinkie fingers.

So where did the writers get it?



Larry Cohen, who wrote the original screenplay, explains:

The extended pinky used to be a symbol of effeminacy.  When this show was done back in the sixties, the homosexual community was kind of a submerged, invisible community.  People were living secret lives.  I thought, here are these aliens living amongst society, keeping their true identities secret, their true selves secret, and this is funny because the pinky kind of symbolizes homosexuality.

You can read the complete article here.

How ironic that at the age of seven, I believed that David Vincent was gay, fighting the forces of heterosexism, but the writers meant for him to be fighting the Gay Menace!


 

Jun 23, 2013

Uncle Tom Award #1: Todd Graff

Uncle Tom was the slave in the Louisa May Alcott novel who agred with his slavery and did everything he could to aid and abet his masters.  The Uncle Tom Awards go to gay/lesbian actors, writers, directors, and producers who try their best to erase gay people from existence.

Their productions gleefully promote heterosexism, yelling over and over that gay people don't exist, that every story is about The Boy and The Girl.

Of course, lots of heterosexuals do this, but when you're LGBT, the erasure is galling.  Why would someone deliberately contribute to their own oppression?

The first Uncle Tom Award goes to Todd Graff, who writes/directs/produces movies mostly about people overcoming problems through music.


Let's check his opus:

1. Used People (1992).  Elderly widow Shirley Maclaine is wooed by Marcello Mastroinni.

2. Fly by Night (1993). Boomerrey D. Sams leaves his wife and kid to take up a career as a hip-hop artist, and partners with I Tick. There's a gay roommate.

3. The Vanishing (1993).  Wife of Boomer Bridges (left) vanishes, and he struggles desperately to find her.  As Spider-Man reminded us, before I walked out, every good story is about a boy and a girl.


4. The Beautician and the Beast (1997).  Beautician Fran Dreischer accidently becomes the tutor for the children of an Eastern European dictator (Timothy Dalton).  You know what happens next.  So far Mr. Groff sounds like the Beast.

5. Camp (2003).  About a group of teenagers at drama camp.  One is gay, sort of: uber-campy Robin de Jesus crushes on Daniel Letterle (left) and is so frustrated that he has sex with a girl.  Oh, one of those gay guys who can switch teams at will.


6. Bandslam (2009).  Gaelan Connor (of the Cartoon Network's Level Up) plays an outcast kid who forms a band with other outcast kids, among them the Girl of His Dreams.  In an interview, Groff yells, very loudly, that "This is not a gay movie!!!!!!!  There is no gay subtext with Gaelan!!!!!"  And he's right.  This is an utterly gay-free world..

7. Joyful Noise (2012). Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton start a gospel choir in a small town, in spite of the opposition by the townsfolk (yeah, them small town sinners are always trying to oppress good fundamentalist Christians).  Haven't seen it, but there's probably a homoromantic friendship between the two women.  However, the Love Interest comes between their teenage children (Jeremy Jordan, but not the one in the top photo, Keke Palmer).




So: seven "Boy Meets Girl" plotlines, one "Not Gay!!!" yelp, and two gay characters, one who likes girls.  Congratulations, Mr. Graff!