Aug 30, 2013

Cody Simpson and His Gay Crew

When I was little, I thought of Australia as a "good place," where same-sex desire was open and accepted.  Visiting Australia in the summer of 1986 (just before moving to Japan with Alan) didn't change my mind.  But I might have to change it after hearing about Cody Simpson.

Born in 1997, Cody Simpson began to record songs on youtube, and was discovered in 2009.  He has four albums to date.  The most recent, Surfer's Paradise (2013), includes the following songs:



"Pretty Brown Eyes": a girl with brown eyes.
"La Dee Dee": a girl he likes.
"No Ceiling": no ceiling on our love.
"Sinking In": falling in love
"Summertime of Our Lives": being young and in love
"Imma Be Cool": he can't find a girl who gets him.
"If You Left Him for Me": the girl he likes, likes another boy
"Love": "love, love, love, love, love."

You get the idea: not a lot about social issues or friendship, lots of "girl! girl! girl!"

He has one acting credit, playing one of the "ambassadors for peace" along with other surfers and models in Isolated (2013), along with Chris Galya and BooBoo Stewart.

Many musicians are gay-friendly in real life, even when their music is heterosexist, but in January 2012, Cody and best friend  and occasional collaborator Jake Thrupp (left) appeared in a UStream discussion with fans, and dropped the "g" bomb:



Jake: Do we have to say their names when we respond?
Cody: All that gay stuff, like 'No, I'm not gay like Campbell [Carsley].
Jake: Look at their twitter [names]

Cody took down the UStream and apologized to fans for "calling them gay."  Big insult. no doubt.

Campbell Carsley (left) is another of Cody's friends and occasional collaborators, who also throws "gays" around at random to mean inept, inane, or uncool. He has apparently invented a dance called the "Are you gay?" shuffle.


Other friends and occasional collaborators include Josh Winnington and Oliver Crane.

Sorry, I can't tell them apart.  They're all blond, buffed Aussie teenagers who think "gay" is something bad.

For gay-positive Australian performers, check out Xavier Samuel and Ryan Kwanten.

Aug 29, 2013

Kidz Bop: Teaching Kids Homophobia since 2000

Have you seen those commercials for Kidz Bop?  They're an ever-changing group of preteens who have been covering contemporary pop songs in albums sold via tv commercials and box stores.  For instance, Kidz Bop 24, released in July 2013, contains covers of:

"Come and Get It," by Selena Gomez: "Come and get it, it's an open invitation"
"I Knew You Were Trouble," by Taylor Swift.  "I knew you were trouble when you walked in."
"Mirrors," by Justin Timberlake. "I don't want to lose you now, I'm looking at the other half of me."

That is, the entire romantic mythos of unbrindled desire, searching for The One, falling in love with unbrindled joy, Finding The One, suspicion, unfaithfulness, breaking up, aching with grief, moving on, and lots of sex, all distilled and prepackaged and ready for the indoctrination of 10-year olds.  And, of course, loaded down with girls singing "boy! boy! boy!" and boys singing "girl! girl! girl!," doggedly, emphatically proclaiming that everyone in the world is heterosexual.


They did perform Lady Gaga's gay anthem "Born This Way," but deleted any reference to gay people, in a move that has been criticized as homophobic.   Don't want kids to know that the song is about LGBT acceptance!   Don't want gay kids to exist, period!

I hate everything about those commercials.




But the albums are really popular among kids and their parents, whoever is scouring the music racks at Wal-Mart.  The Kidz Bop Kids go on world tours.  They have a website with 900,000 registered users (plus, for some reason, a shirtless picture of Cody Simpson), plus a radio program, an X-Factor-like talent show, and a series of books, including novelizations and the how-to guide Be a Pop Star!

Kidz Bop Kids retire at age 15, but some have been grabbed up by kids' tv:: Ross Lynch (top photo), Keke Palmer (True Jackson VP), Noah Munck (ICarly), Jake Short (ANT Farm).  Most have faded away.

The current crop includes 3 girls and 2 boys: Steffan Argus (left) and Elijah Johnson (right). Both of whom are presumably heterosexual.

Beerfest: Gay-Positive Guys Behaving Badly

The first thing you notice about Beerfest (2006) is the lack of emphasis on female breasts.  The DVD cover zeroes in on the breasts of a fraulein serving beer, but in the movie itself, the frauleins are tastefully dressed, and manage to serve the beer without the camera going wild.  In fact, there's minimal girl-ogling, no hetero-romantic plotline, and no fade-out kiss.

The second thing you notice is the lack of homophobic panic and gay slurs, very unusual for a "guys behaving badly" movie.  In fact, one of the protagonists is gay but not a swishy stereotype.






It's about two brothers, Jan and Todd Wolfhouse (Paul Soter and Eric Stolhanske) who must defend their grandfather's honor by winning an underground drinking competition.  They bring their friends, competitive eater Landfill (Kevin Heffernan), scientist Fink (Steve Lemme), and gay prostitute Barry (Jay Chandrasekhar).  Each uses his special talents to defeat the evil German team.  There's also a stolen beer recipe, a spy, an identical twin brother, and a great-grandma who was a prostitute.




Not a great movie, but the lack of homophobia and non-stereotyped gay character are both refreshing.

The main cast belongs to the Broken Lizard Comedy Troupe, formed when they were students at Colgate University.  Their Super Troopers (2001) also lacks homophobia, and has a bisexual character who isn't evil: the cop Ramathorn (Jay Chandrasekhar), who makes a date with a male-female couple, and approaches them both with equal gusto.








Kevin Heffernan bragged that his  nude scenes (including this frontal) got him named Bear of the Month by a gay magazine.  Steve Lemme complained that he hasn't won any gay awards, though he is quite muscular and  often semi-nude.

I don't think any are gay in real life, but they certainly sound like gay allies.

However, Club Dread (2004) contains a homophobic slur, and Slammin' Salmon (2009) contains a panicked reaction to an implication of gayness.

Why do they alternate gay-positive and homophobic?


Aug 28, 2013

Richard Denning: The Hunk from the Black Lagoon

I stumbled across this photo on the internet -- a blond hunk in a leopard skin loincloth, carrying a phallic knife.  I thought I knew all of the Tarzans and Tarzan clones who swung from the trees during the 1930s and 1940s.  But it appears that the 28-year old Richard Denning was playing a Tarzan parody, Jackra the Magnificent, in Beyond the Blue Horizon (1942).  It was really an excuse to get current it-girl Dorothy Lamour into a leopard skin of her own.









According to the indispensable Brian's Drive-in Theater, the hunky actor took his shirt off several times during his long career, notably to fight with Buster Crabbe in Caged Fury  (1948) and a web-foot monster in Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), #2 on my list of the Top Horror Movies of the 1950s.  He starred with the equally hunky Richard Carlson, and even got a few bulge shots.





I've only seen him in Black Lagoon, which has a strong gay subtext, in spite of the ubiquitous posters showing  swimsuit-clad girl being carried off by the monster. Ichythologists David (Richard Carlson) and Mark (Richard Denning), The Girl, Kay (Julie Adams), and some scientists head up the Amazon in search of a strange living fossil from the Devonian period.

While David and Mark go...um...skindiving... alone together, The Girl goes off swimming by herself and encounters the Creature, who is so entranced by her beauty that it follows her.

It is captured but escapes and kills half of the crew, including Mark.  Then it captures the Girl.  David is overcome with grief, but rallies enough for a last-minute rescue and a heterosexist ending.











Richard Denning had 114 movie and tv appearances, including both actioners and comedies, from 1937 to 1980.  Boomers may recognize him as the governor of Hawaii on 71 episodes of Hawaii Five-0, or as the star of the radio series My Favorite Husband, with Lucille Ball.  No word on any gay connection in real life.

The Boy Band Project: Homophobia and Beefcake

The Boy Band Project, previous Invasion, is, according to their tumblr site: "ready to invade the hearts of screaming Girls all over the World."

Later it says: "Ladies and gentlemen, boys and especially girls."

Quite a heterosexist beginning (and with a writer who is a little lax on the rules of capitalization).

Formed in the fall of 2012, they have been performing regularly, most notably at Girlfest, a girl scout jamboree.  Their first single is "Find That Girl": "Ooh, I gotta find that girl, find that girl, find that girl"



They also cover Drake Bell's "Hold on, We're Going Home": "You're a good girl, and you know it.
And Justin Bieber's "Boyfriend": "Girlfriend, girlfriend, you could be my girlfriend."

When you say a word over and over, it starts to sound funny. Like their use of the word "girl."

At least the band members don't have to wait for Tiger Beat to notice them and send a photographer.  They often  post their shirtless photos on the internet:

1.-2. Nick Dean, a finalist on the American Idol spin-off X-Factor, and his bff Zac Mann (top photo).

3. Mathias Anderle (left), who performed for Kidz Bop (preteens performing heterosexist songs), and starred in School Gyrls, about a girl band.


4.-5. Bffs Brandon Pulido and Levi Mitchell

I've checked their instagrams, tumblrs, tweets, and facebook pages, and have found no gay content, although Brandon's older brother is a model-dancer-make up artist with gender-atypical interests.








But their teenage fans are strikingly homophobic.  Every so often a fan complains that one of them, usually Brandon, is "a gay,"  and others rush to his "defense" (without the use of the word "is").

"Why you got to talk trash?  He got more swag than you!"

 "Everybody knows he not gay cause you gay!"
 
"He not gay, he hot!"

Makes you long for the days of David Cassidy, Donny Osmond, and Menudo.

Aug 27, 2013

Cameron Monaghan: Being Not-Gay is a Choice

I've never seen Shameless, the long-running British series (2004-) or its American counterpart (2011-), about the antiheroic Frank Gallagher and his sociopathic brood.  One of his "problems" is a gay son, Ian (played by Gerard Kearns in the U.K. and Cameron Monaghan, left, in the U.S.).

My problem: Ian often has relationships with women (at least in the U.K. version).  In the sixth season, he settles down to a long-term relationship with a woman.  Asked if he's bisexual, he replies "No, I've just found the right person."  Apparently every man, gay or straight, is looking for the Woman of His Dreams.





It's become quite a film convention to present "gay" male characters who prefer relationships with women (other examples can be found in Party Monster, Transamerica, Noah's Arc, Chelsea Boys, and of course Will and Grace).   Instead of stating that the characters are bisexual, producers insist: "No, they're gay.  It's just that, like all men, they find sex and romance with women infinitely superior." A blatant Uncle Tom attempt to demean, diminish, and erase same-sex desire.



Gerard Kearns apparently disliked playing a "gay" character for six years; in an interview, he said that the gay sex scene were "awkward" and "made him squirm."

But Cameron Monaghan doesn't seem to have a problem with it.  He previously played a gay teenager in the short Two Boys (2010).












And in the Disney movie Prom (2011), his gay-vague Corey helps best friend Lucas (Nolan Sotillo) get a date with the Girl of His Dreams, but Lucas realizes that he would rather be with Cory.  They blow off the prom and go to a concert together.

Still, the actor doesn't seem to be very savvy about gay identity, implying in an interview that his character "made the choice" to be gay.

He is so often rumored to be gay that he recently "came out" as not-gay on Twitter: "No, I'm not gay. Yes, I play a gay character. No, the question should not be relevant."  Apparently he is not familiar with the terms "straight" or "heterosexual."

Aug 26, 2013

Sam & Cat: The Gayest Show on Children's TV



Nickelodeon has been rather skimpy in the gay subtext department for the past few years, after the glory days of Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, Fairly Oddparents, and Drake and Josh.  Other than the obvious bisexual Spencer, ICarly tended to prefer homophobia to subtext, and the aggressively gay-friendly cast of Victorious was mostly silenced on screen.

So I wasn't hopeful about the new Nickelodeon teencom Sam & Cat (2013-).

It sends cynical, streetwise Sam Puckett of ICarly (Jeannette McCurdy, left) from Seattle to Los Angeles (presumably she has broken up with Carly).  She meets the upbeat, naive Cat of Victorious (Ariana Grande).  

They become roommates in a fabulous apartment, which they finance through an after-school babysitting service (I'd like to see their rate schedule.)  Their interaction is heavily physical, and Sam all but states that she finds Cat hot.  Oh, wait, she says that.

Did I mention that Sam is pushy, aggressive, masculine, and favors jeans and leather (seen here off-camera with costar Cameron Ocasio), while Cat is soft, passive-aggressive, feminine, and favors pastel dresses?  It's a little unusual for lesbian couples to have such a blatant butch-femme configuration nowadays, but not unheard-of.  

I can't think of anything else producer Dan Schneider could do to make it any clearer that they are a lesbian couple.  Maybe have them watch gay-themed tv or movies.  

Oh, wait: their favorite tv show: What a Drag, about a family of crossdressers.

Maybe keep them from the standard teencom convention of expressing heterosexual interest every five seconds.

He does that, too: they express no heterosexual interest.

On the masculine side, next-door-neighbor Dice (Cameron Ocasio, left), a 12-year old operator, manages a mixed-martial artist named Goomer (Zoran Korach, center).  They also have an aggressively physical interaction.  









Ordinarily I wouldn't count a bond between a 12-year old and an adult as a gay subtext, but Goomer is a big kid, effectively younger than Dice (he requires a babysitter when Dice goes out of town).  It's hinted that he suffers from brain damage from his fighting career. 

 Unconventional, but arguably a gay-subtext couple.

Dice and Goomer don't express any heterosexual interest, either, at least in the nine episodes to date.

That could all change in Episode #10, but for now, Sam & Cat is the gayest show on children's tv.

Michael Copon: Power Ranger, Gay Ally

Born in 1982, Michael Copon got his start on the most recent of the Power Rangers series, Power Rangers: Time Force (2001-2002).  

He also starred on the evening teen soap One Tree Hill (2004-5) as Felix, a homophobe who writes an anti-gay slur on the locker of his sister's girlfriend.

And on Beyond the Break (2006-2009) as Vin Keahi, the boyfriend of two female professional surfers.








But it's in movies that the bonding -- and the beefcake -- really shines.  He specializes in movies about female bonding:
All You've Got (2006): volleyball players
Sideliners (2006): cheerleaders
Bring It On (2007): cheerleaders

But there's also some male bonding.  He also goes on a quest with Peter Butler in the Vin Diesel prequel, The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior (2008).

And he starts a BoyBand with Ryan Pinkston (2010).







No gay characters, but he's a gay ally, so maybe someday.

Edward and Jacob: Twilight's Power Couple

The Twilight novels and movie series have taken the media vampire to a whole new level.  There were lots of sexy, tortured bad-boy vampires before, on Dark Shadows and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in the novels of Anne Rice, but never whole tribes of them.  And uber-muscular, macho vampires, not sophisticates and androgynes.  Perfect for erasing the gay symbolism from the vampire mythos and producing a totally gay-free world.

And it is.  There are dozens of vampire, werewolf, and human characters, but not a single gay one, in the books or any of the movies.

Are you really surprised?  The series is aimed at an audience of teens, who are never, ever allowed to know that gay people exist.  It's fantasy, and gay people appear almost exclusively in comedies set in the real world.  And the author, Stephanie Meyer, belongs

But that doesn't mean that gay teen boys must be content to watch actors looking sullen with their shirts off.  There are always subtexts, either intentional or accidental, especially among the gay or gay-friendly members of the cast: Christopher Heyerdale (Marcus), Cameron Bright (Marcus), Xavier Samuel (Riley), Boo Boo Stewart (Seth), Michael Welch (Mike), Justin Chon (Eric), Matt Bushell (Phil), Kiowa Gordon (Embry, top photo).

Head vampire Edward and head werewolf Jacob are played by Robert Pattinson (left), and Taylor Lautner (below).  The script calls for them to snipe suspiciously at each other, compete for Bella's affection, and eventually work together to save Bella, a classic triangulation.




  Plus there are enough smouldering looks and hands on shoulders to provide fodder for any number of slash fictions.

The intensity of the love-hate relationship caused ample speculation that the two were gay in real life, perhaps fueled by the kiss they shared at the MTV Music Awards.  Both are heterosexual, but gay allies.

Pattinson played surrealist painter Salvador Dali, who romanced Spanish poet Federico Garcia Lorca, in Little Ashes (2006), and he will play T.E. Lawrence in the upcoming Queen of the Desert (2015).   He stated that he would like to see a gay romance in Edward's past displayed at some point in the movie series, but the producers nixed the idea, arguing that  "there might be kids in the audience..."

Taylor Lautner hasn't done any specifically gay characters to date, but he's discussing a project with director Gus Van Sant and writer Dustin Lance Black.

Aug 25, 2013

14 Snappy Comebacks to Stupid Questions Gay People Are Asked

1. Why do gay men always act like girls?
It's an attempt to avoid discrimination by imitating people who are never, ever discriminated against.  Is it working?

2. What do gay men think about ___
I don't know, I missed the last board meeting, but I'll get back to you.

3. My cousin is gay.  Do you know him?
I'm not sure.  We all look alike.

4. Are you the boy or the girl in your relationship?
We're both Martians.

5. I've got nothing against gays, but what you do in bed makes me sick.
How did you find out I'm into feathers and ice cream?  Have you been reading my diary?

6. Why do you need parades to announce that you like gay sex?
It's really, really great.

7. Why do gay men all like Judy Garland?
She takes our minds off current problems, like the Depression and World War II.

8. Don't worry, your secret is safe with me.
And yours is safe with me!

9. There weren't any gay people a hundred years ago.
You're right.  Everyone was straight until that lab exploded in 1965.

10.  There aren't any gay people in this college (neighborhood, town, state).
You're right.  After you get your gay card, they give you two weeks to relocate to San Francisco.

11. There aren't any gay men over age 40.
You're right.  At age 35 they all turn into elderly Jewish women and move to Fort Lauderdale.

12. Don't you know that God hates you?
When did this happen?  He sounded fine when I talked to him earlier today.

13. How old were you when you turned gay?
Well, I decided to turn when I was 16, but it took a couple of years to get through the entire procedure.

14. Haven't you ever tried being straight?  You might like it.
You're right.  It's impossible to tell if you find someone physically attractive just by looking.