Jan 1, 2016

Chrononauts: Sometimes Buddy-Bonding Is Not Enough

This is why I don't read science fiction anymore.

Amazon was aggressively pushing the graphic novel Chrononauts at me.   It's about a big, buffed, square-jawed scientist named Corbin Quinn, who gets lost in time, and his big, buffed buddy, Danny Reilly, goes out looking for him.  Sort of a Time Tunnel thing.

I read the reviews very carefully.  "Jaw-dropping!" "Magnificent!" "Breaktaking!" "Big and fun!"

"A bromance for the ages!"

I searched for the authors, Mark Millar and Sean Gordon Murphy, with the keyword "gay."  Mark Millar included gay characters in his comic books The Authority and Jupiter's Circle, and celebrated the Supreme Court decision on marriage equality by offering fans free downloads.

Ok.  I clicked on "buy."  Chrononauts arrived yesterday.

Quinn and Reilly are indeed bromantic partners.  They are constantly hugging and putting their arms around each other's waists and shoulders.  They rescue each other from danger.  When one exclaims "Leave me and escape while you can!" the other refuses.  "I won't go without you!"  They call each other "companions,"

But they are also heterosexual.  Boy oh boy, are they heterosexual!

Why do they want to go on the time travel mission?  Scientific curiosity?  Adventure?  No - girls: "You'll be banging every co-ed from here to Timbuktu."

Meanwhile Reilly is in love with a woman, and Quinn has an estranged wife.  He wants to stay unstuck in time because he has nothing to live for in the present: "No wife, no family."  But to assuage his pain, he's been dating women from a dozen time periods, including Marilyn Monroe.  He needs a chart to keep track of them all.

At the end of the story, Quinn uses his time travel ability to go back and be a better husband, so when he returns to the present, she and their child are waiting for them:   Unfortunately, when Reilly proposes to his girlfriend, she is already married due to time distortion.

Girls, girls, girls, as the goal of every journey!

Heterosexual romance as the meaning of life!

I did all the research I could, and still got caught in a firestorm of frenzied heterosexism.

I don't read science fiction anymore.

See also: Time Tunnel.

Dec 30, 2015

Even Stevens: Shia Labeouf's Gay Subtext Teencom

Today Shia LaBeouf stars in quirky independent movies, but in the early 2000s, he was the Disney Channel's Next Big Thing, given as much screen time as Simon and Milo music videos. He starred in two Disney Channel movies, Hounded (2001) and Tru Confessions (2002); he guest starred on  The Proud Family and The Nightmare Room; he appeared on all of its reality programs, including Express Yourself, Movie Surfers, and  Super Short Show.

And he starred in Even Stevens (2000-2003), about Louis Stevens, a mischievous middle-school boy who bedevils his upper-middle class Jewish family, especially his older sister Ren and older brother Donnie.

Not a big fan of the gay community, Shia Labeouf today is the source of casual heterosexism, makes casual homophobic comments, and punched a guy in the face for "accusing" him of being gay.  But his Louis Stevens would probably be a strong ally.  He is intensely girl-crazy, and gets a steady girlfriend by the third season, but he is surrounded by gay people.  

His best friend, Twitty (A. J Trauth), is flamboyantly feminine, rarely expresses any interest in girls,  and has an obvious crush on him.  

A.J. Trauth's soft features and flamboyance prompted many real-life gay rumors, particularly when he was photographed wearing a t-shirt that read "Boy Toy."  A boy toy is an attractive younger man who has sex with an older man in exchange for money and gifts. 

But he is apparently heterosexual.  Today he lives in Odessa, Texas and performs in the band Maven.

Ren has a gay-coded best friend, Nelson Minkler (Gary LeRoi Gray), who is prissy, intellectual, not interested in girls, and obviously interested in Louis' older brother, Donnie.  After Even Stevens, he starred as a gay teenager in Noah's Arc: Jumping the Broom (2003), the film sequel of the Logo tv series about a group of gay black men.

Donnie Stevens (Nick Spano) is a bodybuilder who wanders around the house shirtless, providing ample beefcake.  He also expresses no interest in girls; in one episode he states that he has "a date," but carefully avoids pronouns, to leave the question of his date's gender open.  However, he is frequently seen with boys, and he has a particular interest in his coach (Tom Wise).

Prior to Even Stevens, Nick Spano played mostly muscular hunks who were required to take their shirts off, or everything off.  He starred in two gay-themed movies, The Journey: Absolution (1997) with Mario Lopez, and Defying Gravity (1997).  No word on whether he's gay or straight in real life.

With all of that gay-friendly talent and gay subtext, Shia must have felt rather uncomfortable on the set.

See also: Shia Labeouf's "Female Fans"

Dec 27, 2015

What We Do in Shadows

What We Do In the Shadows (2014) is a mockumentary about four vampires sharing a flat in contemporary Wellington, New Zealand:

1. Viago (Taika Waititi, who also wrote and directed), a Byronesque partyboy.
2. Vladislav (Jemaine Clement), a sexually voracious Dracula.
3. Deacon (Jonathan Brugh, left), a newby (only 183 years old).
4. Petyr (Ben Fransham), an 8,000 year old inarticulate Nosferatu.

They are old-school vampires who vaporize in sunlight, have no reflection, and dislike crucifixes, but they have modern problems, like problems over chores, squabbles with friends and slaves, and how to meet potential victims in the increasingly tech-driven world of modern New Zealand.

Vladislav (left) butts heads with a shrewish female ex-lover, and another re-unites with his long-lost girlfriend.  There are no identifiably gay characters.  I counted at least one homophobic slur.  Yet there is a strong gay subtext in the struggles of four men living together.

Particularly with the newly-vampirized Nick (Cori Gonzalez-Macuer), who displays no heterosexual interest, before or after, and who "comes out" as a vampire to his best friend Stu (Stu Rutherford) in scene full of gay symbolism.

Vampires think of humans as either slaves or prey, so human-vampire friendships are scandalous.  Yet when Stu starts hanging out with the vampires, they all come to love him.  Then Stu comes as Nick's date to a vampire-zombie-witch masquerade ball, and they risk their lives to save him from becoming an appetizer.

None of the cast is apparently gay, although in interviews they often compare vampires to gay people, who also must "walk in shadows," hidden from a persecuting world.

In 2014?  Really?

Still, a perfect little vehicle for getting your mind off the roar of Christmas.

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