Sep 6, 2014

Gotham, 2014: Can We Expect Gay Subtexts?

On the treadmill at the gym, I've been seeing commercials about Gotham (2014-), the upcoming Fox series about a young cop named James Gordon (Ben McKenzie).

He encounters a young boy named Bruce Wayne (child star David Mazouz of Touch), living with his butler, Alfred (Sean Pertwee, left) after his parents were murdered.  Man and boy form an unwilling alliance.

Of course, Bruce will grow up to become Batman, and James into Commissioner Gordon.

As a prototypical Batman and Robin, they run afoul of many of the future villains of Gotham City, such as the Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) and the Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) in their pre-costume days.

Don't expect retro camp; this is the grim, noirish Dark Knight Batman.

Or gay characters, although the villains will probably be standard feminine/sophisticated/gay-vague.

But you might expect some gay subtexts.  The Batman franchise has been deliberately minimizing gay content by getting rid of the teen sidekick, or making him a preteen.  But Ben McKenzie played a gay cop in Southland, so maybe he'll add some glimmers of homoerotic interest to his relationship with coworkers.  

And the young Bruce Wayne might have an occasional male friend.

See also: Batman and the Boy Wonder.

Sep 4, 2014

Kieron Richardson: Questioning His Sexuality

Kieron Richardson was starring as the teenage bad boy Steven Hays on the long-running British soap Hollyoaks.  His character was involved in domestic violence, drugs, and various scandalous behaviors, so the producers thought, "Let's really up the ante and get super-scandalous,  and have him 'question his sexuality'!"

So they made Steven wonder if he might be gay.  While he was wondering, he got involved in a violent same-sex relationship, and later got a new boyfriend and married him.  Apparently while still wondering.

During all of this, Kieron announced that he was gay in real life.

He's been out for several years now, and claims that he never experienced any homophobic bias, slurs, statements, or discrimination.  He reasons, "We're in the 21st century and actually homophobia's more or less been stamped out."

Um...Kieron, have you being paying attention to your own storyline?  The phrase "question your sexuality" is in itself homophobic, asserting that being heterosexual is the default, a universal category, and you turn gay when you become "confused."

That's a Hollywood myth.  I have never once met any gay person who was ever "confused."  They knew exactly who they were attracted to.  It was the heterosexuals who were confused, constantly chiming "What girl do you like?" to gay boys and "What boy do you like?" to gay girls.

Apparently Kieron has never been to a gay event where the bigots are screaming and waving signs.  Or heard politicians make their "gay marriage leads to incest" spiel?  Or lost a job, or never got the interview, because someone in the office thinks he has no right to exist.  Or read the comments at the end of every internet article on a gay topic.

In July 2014, a footballer named Kieran Richardson signed on to the Aston Villa team, thus making headlines in Britain.  Fans confused the two, and thought the footballer was gay.

Suddenly Kieron started receiving homophobic tweets.  He was shocked.

I wasn't.

Sep 1, 2014

Here's Johnny: The Gay Snark of the Tonight Show

One night when I was 10 or 11 years old, I woke up to the sound of the tv in the other room.  I looked at the clock by my bedside -- 11:30!  What could my parents be watching?  There was nothing on tv that late but an emptiness of test patterns and static snow.

I walked out into the living room.  On the tv set, I saw a guy sitting behind a little desk, talking to a row of people in chairs.

"What are you doing up?  Did you have a bad dream?" Mom asked.

"I heard noise.  What are you watching?"

"The Tonight Show."

The people were just sitting around.

"But what is it? What's it about?"  TV shows were always about something: detectives, witches, spies, seven stranded castaways.

"It's not about anything.  It's a talk show."

"You mean....people just sit around talking?  That's dumb!"

"That's why it's on late at night," Dad said. "It's not for kids. Now get back to bed."

A few years later, when I was a teenager, I could stay up until midnight if I wanted to, but I was always in bed or had other things to do.

A few years after that, when I lived in West Hollywood, I could stay up until 1:00 am if I wanted, but I was always in bed or had other things to do.

So to this day I have seen only one episode of  The Tonight Show.  Johnny Carson was supposed to be interviewing a literature scholar who believed that Shakespeare didn't write the plays attributed to him, so I waited through an hour and twenty minutes of boring interviews to hear his five-minute spiel.

To be fair, it wasn't all boring interviews.  There were musical guests, and sometimes Johnny performed in comedic sketches like "Carnak the Magnificent."

Gay content was minimal.  Johnny Carson (1925-2005) had a trim physique and a bulge (always hidden behind that desk).  But he displayed a rather snarky twist on the rampant homophobia of the 1960s and 1970s.

His ongoing "sissy jokes" against singer Wayne Newton ended only when Newton burst into his office and asked "Which of your children have I deserve such treatment"?  (Equating being gay to killing a child?  Really?).

But in real life Carson had gay friends, including gay icon Truman Capote.

In those days gay people often put up with snark.
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