Aug 3, 2014

Sidekicks: Gay Kid Meets His Crush

One day in the early 1990s, Jim McIngvale, "Mattress Mack," flamboyant owner of the Gallery Furniture chain in Houston, was talking to his BFF, man-mountain Chuck Norris, who sometimes appeared on his late-night commercials and helped him deliver his catch phrase "save you money!"

"Chuckie," Mattress Mack said, "We need to do something about the problem of bullying of LGBT youth in Texas. How about a movie about a bullied gay kid who learns karate?"

"Karate Kid?  It already came out.  And there's a fad of ninja kids right now..."

"Yes, but this one will be different.  The kid will be more obviously gay.  In fact, he's gonna have a crush on you, with homoerotic fantasies and everything."

"Sounds great!  Whatever I can do to help the gay community!  Let's get my brother Aaron to direct, hire some gay and gay-friendly actors, and get to work!"

Actually, this probably wasn't the conversation that got the two ultra-conservative, flamboyantly homophobic Texas good old boys to work on Sidekicks (1992), but it was the end result.

It stars gay actor Jonathan Brandis as Barry, a flamboyantly feminine Houston teenager who can't play sports due to his asthma, and consequently is bullied by nearly everybody, including classmates (John Buchanan) and his gym teacher (gay ally Richard Moll of Night Court).

He has some allies, but no girlfriend -- the requisite hetero-romance comes between his dad (Beau Bridges) and favorite teacher.

Instead of pursuing hetero-romances, Barry fantasizes about martial arts star Chuck Norris.

He decides to study martial arts, like his crush, but the owner of the local karate school (Joe Piscopo) turns out to be a sissy-hating bully.

So the Asian stereotype Mr., I mean Mr. Lee (Mako) agrees to train him.

Soon Barry is so good that he trounces the bullies, incidentally cures his asthma, and beats out the rival team at a karate tournament by chopping a pile of flaming bricks in half.

 But that's not all -- Chuck Norris appears in person, a guest at the tournament, and they share a tender moment on a park bench.

Talk about a happy ending!

Of course, the gay subtext was purely unintentional.  For some reason homophobic nutjobs are really good at them.

See also: Jonathan Brandis; Ninja Kids of the 1990s; Breaker, Breaker