Dec 19, 2018

Laying it Bare in Key West

This is an interesting post from 2012, one of the first I posted to this blog.  What's interesting are the comments.  Back then I was much more forgiving of comments like "He can't be gay!  He's not wearing a sign!"  and "He can't be gay!  He's only 12."

The implications, of course, are odious:  everyone must be taken as heterosexual unless the authors explicitly that they are gay. 

There are no gay children; we are all straight until we decide to "turn gay" sometime in adulthood.

Today I would just delete them automatically, but back in 2012, a newbie, I let them stand.

So here's the post:

I have 3 questions about CrissCross (1992), the downbeat but very brightly-lit movie starring David Arnott as a 12-year old boy whose mom works as a topless dancer.  And that's the least of his problems.  His biggest: his name is actually Criss Cross.

1. Who decided to cast decidedly homophobic Goldie Hawn as the mother of a gay kid?

Ok, maybe the producers weren't expecting a gay reading.  But it's hard to miss: as Criss (David Arnott) rides his bike down the mean streets of Key West, searching for a way to make money so Mom won't have to strip anymore (he hits on a plan to steal drugs being smuggled in on a fishing boat, with tragic results), he tries again and again to establish a same-sex bond.

First a male peer, Buggs (Damian Vantriglia); then the grizzled Emmett (James Gammon), who advises him that "The only thing worse than being lonely with yourself is being lonely with someone."

If you're trying to make gay mecca Key West gay-free, shouldn't you patrol for same-sex friendships, and give the kid a girlfriend (he does have a girl who's a friend)?

2.  Why the nudity?

I know it's hot in Florida,  and it's nice that all the male actors are barechested all the time.  It's understandable, I guess, that the kid rides around shirtless, in Daisy Duke short-shorts. But why the nude butt, when the movie is R-rated, so gay kids can't even get in to see it?

50 years ago, preteens were commonly filmed nude in movies to signify their innocence.  But this kid is anything but innocent.

3. What happened to David Arnott?

He gives a good, understated performance, reminiscent of Chris Makepeace in Meatballs (although that's a completely different genre).  He handles the gay-vague subtext with panache.  One one expects him to have a long career as a serious actor, or at least some ecstatic "fave rave" articles in Tiger Beat.  But this was his first movie -- he beat out 3,000 hopefuls in open auditions -- and his last.  Maybe he didn't like acting.


  1. I only saw this movie once and that was like 20 years ago, but I don't remember the kid as having any gay like tendencies at all. In fact, I thought it was pretty clear that he had the hots for the girl who was his friend.

    I thought the shirtless/shorts look was pretty realistic for the time and place, but agree that the bare ass scene came across as unnecessary and even exploitive.

  2. I was looking at his attempts at emotional connection; I didn't really notice any expressions of erotic desire. Maybe that's because I've just been watching a lot of teen movies from the 1980s, where actors depicted erotic desire more overtly: "drool, moan, gasp, eye-bulge, and faint"

  3. Yeah, I don't know where you'd get the idea that he was gay. He was 12, so maybe he was still in that stage of figuring things out. So maybe yes, maybe no, but they didn't suggest that he was. The only time he really got naked was when that girl pulled his clothes off.

    1. Authorial intention is irrelevant. Read the page on "Not Wearing a Sign."

    2. actually, could you put a link to that page, please? (nwas)

    3. If authorial intent mattered one whit, the arts would be a much less interesting field.

      Also, bisexuals exist. "He got busy with some girl." doesn't prove he's not attracted to men as well.

  4. To the what happened to him question, it seems nothing good:


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