Jan 30, 2014

Nothing Like Before: Homophobia Condemns a Gay Teen

They say "hello" pleasantly as you pass on the street.  They don't cringe when you hold hands on the bus.  They let you join their churches, as long as you don't take on a leadership role.  They will even sell you a cake for your wedding, sometimes.  But when sickness, unemployment, or tragedy strikes, the veneer fades away, and the screaming starts.

In the German tv movie Nichts mehr wie vorher (Nothing is Like Before, 2013), a young boy is molested and murdered, and 16-year old Daniel Grudermann (24-year old Jonas Nay, top left) becomes the prime suspect.

He claims innocence, but he has no alibi.  He can't tell anyone that he was at the lake that night waiting for the boy he has a crush on, Sven (Gerritt Klein, left).

Daniel's mother and lawyer support him, but his father is suspicious, especially when he discovers a link to a gay hookup site on Daniel's laptop.  Gay men are uniquely violent, prone to murder those who reject their advances, right?

When news of Daniel's gayness reaches his classmates and the townsfolk, they call for his lynching.

The media goes crazy with homophobic condemnations.  We were so stupid to pass all of those gay rights ordinances --  to permit them domestic partnerships -- to elect a gay Vice Chancellor!  This what gay people are really like!  

Then someone else confesses to the crime, and Daniel is released.  He goes home.

But he can't go home again.  He can't forget the suspicions and accusations, particularly from his father.  He now knows what's lurking just beneath the smiling "hello" of tolerance.

 This is a gripping, depressing story about the tenaciousness of homophobia.

Jan 27, 2014

Robert De Niro's 10 Gayest Movies

In addition to being one of the most accomplished actors of our time, Robert De Niro is a strong gay ally.  One reason why: his father, artist Robert De Niro Sr., came out as gay when he was three years old, and divorced his wife but stayed close to her and his son.  In the documentary Remembering the Artist, the elder De Niro is remembered as a father, an artist, and a gay man.

You could write a book about the films of Robert De Niro (and there are several), but the most memorable for gay fans must include:

1. Bang the Drum Slowly (1973): buddy-bonding between two baseball players, one dying an incurable disease.

2. Mean Streets (1973): buddy-bonding between two Italian-American hoods, De Niro and Harvey Keitel.

3. 1900 (1976): buddy-bonding between two Italian boys, one rich, one poor (De Niro, Gerard Depardieu).  Their three-way encounter with a woman features frontal nudity.

4. Taxi Driver (1976): Travis Bickle becomes a vigilante, and rescues lesbian Jody Foster. Mega beefcake.

5. New York, New York (1977): "Lullaby of Broadway" romance between De Niro and gay fave Liza with a Z.

6. Raging Bull (1980): De Niro as a self-destructive boxer.  Beefcake.

7. The Mission (1986): buddy-bonding in 18th century South America, between a Jesuit priest and a reformed slave trader (Jeremy Irons, De Niro).

8. Midnight Run (1988): Bounty hunter De Niro and prisoner Charles Grodin become the hunted.

9. We're No Angels (1989): Escaped cons De Niro and Sean Penn hide out as priests.

10. A Bronx Tale (1993): Father (De Niro) disapproves of his son's friendship with a gangster (Chazz Palminteri).

11. Flawless (1999): Homophobic cop (De Niro) moves in next door to a drag queen.

Sorry, I ran out of room in 1999.  There's another 14 years to go.

Sanjay and Craig: A Boy and His Snake

I heard that Maulik Pancholy, previously on Weeds and now the voice artist for Nickelodeon's Sanjay and Craig (2013-14),  is gay, and recently got engaged to long-time partner Ryan Corvaia.  So I watched some episodes to see if there were any gay subtexts.

It's a "my secret" series about an ordinary boy, Sanjay (who is of South Asian ancestry), and his best friend Craig, a talking snake (Chris Hardwick, left, who looks presentable in a speedo).  A master of disguise, Craig often masquerades as a human boy.

Other recurring characters include parents, friends, bullies, a girl who has an unrequited crush on Sanjay, and a girl on whom he has an unrequited crush.

Any gay subtexts?  A few
They idolize a washed-up action hero named Remington Tufflips.
They try to save their friend Hector from wolves.
They drool with lust over the ginormous calves of an overdeveloped police officer, and even invent a "mirror on the shoe" device to spy on him better:
Sanjay: Those calves are the best!
Craig: Glorious!

And gender ambiguity:
Snake-hating neighbor Mr. Noodman is feminine-coded.
Craig has many feminine mannerisms.
Craig masquerades as a girl to enter a beauty pageant, and loves his new role.
Sanjay believes that he is pregnant.

Nothing spectacular, but Nickelodeon animation has always had a pitiful gay-subtext record, especially when compared to the Cartoon Network's Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy.  This is a good start. 

Jan 26, 2014

Reb Brown: Man-Mountain from the Future

In the way of Arnold Schwarzenegger's Conan the Barbarian (1982), studios started scouring the countryside for man-mountains that they could shove into loincloths for barbarian hijinks.  Yor, the Hunter from the Future (1983) is one of the more infamous attempts, with tacky sets, a horrible theme song, and a ludicrous plot about a cave man who fights dinosaurs, blue-skinned people, sand mummies (don't ask), and flying saucers.  And he turns out to be living in a post-Apocalyptic future!

Everyone thought that superbly muscled 34-year old Reb Brown, who played Yor, was named after the Confederate Army's Johnny Reb, but he was actually born as a more humdrum Robert Brown in Los Angeles, and adopted the Southern redneck name for reasons unknown.

A football star at USC, then a pro boxer, and deputy sheriff, he had been bouncing around movies and tv since the snake-horror Ssss (1973); he gets snaked to death while soaping up his enormous pecs in the shower.  He appeared in such muscle-flexing roles as Football Player in The Girl Most Likely To (1973), Lifeguard on The Rockford Files (1975), and Weightlifter in Six Characters in Search of an Author (1976).  

In 1978 and 1979, he played Captain America in two tv-movie adaptions of the comic book hero.  Not the most becoming outfit, but it least it's bulgeworthy.

After Yor, Reb starred in some of the standard "Man-Mountain rescues someone in Southeast Asia" actioners, some of which resulted in ample homoerotic buddy-bonding (he bonds with Sylvester Stallone in Cage, 1989).  All of which resulted in ample shirtless and semi-nude scenes.

Plus a few more movies so bad that they rated Mystery Science Theater 3000 riffs, such as Howling 2: Your Sister is a Werewolf (1985) and Space Mutiny (1988). 

Gradually he moved out of acting into production.  Probably not gay in real life.

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