Apr 16, 2013

Chris Young's Book of Love

I saw Chris Young in a performance of the musical Pippin when I was an undergraduate in 1978.  Of course, I had no idea who the 7-year old playing Theo was, or that we would arrive in Los Angeles at about the same time.  I first noticed him on Max Headroom (1987-88), the sci-fi series about the cyber-journalist rebelling against a future dystopia. Chris played Bryce Lynch, Max's agoraphobic computer-whiz sidekick who expressed no interest in girls.

But that was the end of his gay-vague roles.

In Dance Til Dawn (1988), he's a high schooler who spends prom night with it-girl Alyssa Milano.

On Falcon Crest (1989), he's a rich vintner's son who has an affair with a married woman, and is killed by her husband.\

Book of Love (1990) was one of the many, many "nerd wrests the it-girl from her jock boyfriend" movies of the 1980s. But at least it had the cute Danny Nucci.

Then Chris played a newlywed in Married People (1990-91).

I was about ready to give up on Chris completely.  But then he was photographed surrounded by boy-girl couples, but standing next to a boy himself -- coincidence or not, he deserved another chance.

Besides, he took off his shirt a lot.

Next came the "boys-alone" December (1991), as a prep-school boy in December 1941, when the U.S. enters World War II.  His classmates include just about every young adult hunk in the business, including Balthazar Getty, Jason London, and the main homoromantic couple, Wil Wheaton and Brian Krause.

And Breaking the Silence (1992), which is not actually about homophobic silence, but about a kindly lawyer (Gregory Harrison) dredging up memories of sexual abuse as he defends a teen (Chris) accused of murdering his father.

And PCU (1994), about a duo (Chris, Jeremy Piven) battling "political correctness" at their college, is not as homophobic as it sounds, and even has some buddy-bonding.

Chris was still playing high schoolers in Killing Mr. Griffin (1997), about a high school prank that goes wrong.  His character, a basketball star, has a crush on sociopath Mark Kinney (Scott Bairstow). His girlfriend wants them both.

So we see the opposite of the usual pattern of adolescent buddy-bonding followed by a New Sensitive Man adulthood: Chris Young's Book of Love starts out heterosexist, and then moves into gay subtexts.

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