Sep 23, 2014

I Was Betrayed by Keanu Reeves

For Boomers, Keanu Reeves is indelibly linked with Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989), a comedy about two "dumb and dumber" teenagers (Keanu, Alex Winter) on a time-travel quest to bring back some "historical dudes" for their history project.  It was wildly popular, spinning off into a sequel and a cartoon series and giving teens of the early 1990s the catchphrase "Excellent!"

But Keanu was nor really cut out to be a comedic actor; his mumbling James Dean style was more suited to quirky indy dramas with gay subtexts, such as The Brotherhood of Justice (1986), about a group of shirtless teenagers becoming vigilantes to fight crime in their gritty urban neighborhood, and Dangerous Liaisons (1988), with 18th century French aristocrats play seduction games.

He also tried his hand at action-adventure movies.  In Point Break (1991), he plays Johnny Utah, an FBI agent assigned to investigate crime in the world of professional surfers, where he bonds with surfer bum Bodhi (Patrick Swayze).  It's gay-subtext buddy-bonding at its best.

He even played a gay (sort of) character in My Own Private Idaho (1991), about hustler buddies ( the Hollywood "men who have sex with sexy women for pay" kind of hustler).  Mike (River Phoenix) is frail, sickly, and gay (does Hollywood have any other kind?)  He pines away with unrequited love for Scott (Keanu).

By this point, I assumed that Keanu was gay in real life, or at least a strong ally who would give us many open gay characters, or at least a series of gay-subtext buddy-bonds.  My friend Will claimed to have hooked up with him during the summer of 1986.

But then I was subjected to a decade of dreary "fade-out kiss" actioners and romances full of heterosexist statements like "every man is searching for the woman he was destined to be with": Speed, A Walk in the Clouds, Chain Reaction, The Matrix, The Replacements, Sweet November.

Where were the gay characters?  Where were the gay subtexts?  Where was the plain old inclusivity?

I felt betrayed, and gave up on Keanu altogether. I haven't seen any of his movies since 2001.

See also: River Phoenix: Running on Empty; Will and Scott's Wild Night with Keanu Reeves.