Feb 6, 2016

Kaliman and Solin: Magician and Boy Pal

Spanish class didn't offer a huge selection of teenage adventurers with boyfriends, or teen magazines featuring frontal nudity, but it did give gay students some spectacular beefcake and a Batman and Robin-like adult-juvenile relationship.

Kaliman, el Hombre Increible, an orphan adopted by Prince Abul Pasha of Kalimantan, Indonesia, grew up to immensely muscular, gifted with magical powers, and dedicated to fighting injustice.

He first appeared on Mexican radio in 1963 (where his program still runs), and soon moved into weekly comic books.  Over 1,000 issues have been published to date. There is also a Colombian version read throughout Latin America.

Kaliman wears a turban emblazoned with a K and an all-white outfit, though he often takes his shirt off before fighting the bad guys.

He has antecedents in Mandrake the Magician and other magical superheroes of the pulps, but he is a distinctly Latin American creation, with the colorful enemies -- the vampires, aliens, mad scientists, and evil cultists -- that one would expect of a Santo or Blue Demon.

Sometimes he rescues attractive women, but he rarely expresses any romantic interest in any of them.

Most often he rescues his youthful companion, Solin, whom he picked up in ancient Egypt.  Solin's age is not specified, but he looks 12-14.  Because he is depicted with black curly hair and a cute girlish face, because he wears eyeliner and mascara, and because he becomes "the damsel in distress" nearly as often as Robin, fan fiction writers sometimes transform him into a girl.

But when he must rescue Kaliman or perform some other act of bravery, Solin proves more than capable.  There are hints that he will take over the job of protecting the world from evil when Kaliman retires.

There have been two movies (1972, 1976), with a third in the works.  Kaliman was played by the American Jeff Cooper, who unfortunately wasn't as buffed as his comic book counterpart.

Solin was played by Nino del Arco and Manuel Bravo.

Feb 3, 2016

The Chronicles of Narnia

When I was in high school, the neopagans, anarchists, stoners, and dungeons-and-dragons players all read The Lord of the Rings.  The fundamentalists, Young Republicans, cheerleaders, and Junior Achievers all read The Chronicles of Narnia.  

C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were friends, but Tolkien never let his Roman Catholicism intrude into Middle Earth, while Lewis was a conservative Christian apologist whose Chronicles of Narnia (1950-1956) was distinctly theological, even though it was set in a Medieval fantasy world with swords and dragons.

I liked the first four books of the series, which starred the Pevensie children, Peter, Edmund, Susan, Lucy, and eventually their cousin Eustace.  They enter Narnia in various ways to deal with the crisis at hand -- usually an evil woman who has wrested the throne from its rightful male heir -- and  on the way one or the other experiences a personal redemption.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: the White Witch, who has made it "always winter and never Christmas"

Prince Caspian: Caspian's evil uncle.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Caspian (played by Ben Barnes, left, in the movie version) leads a quest for the end of the world.
The Silver Chair: a witch with a subterranean lair, who tries to convince them that there is no world outside.

I didn't like the last three:
 The Horse and His Boy: anti-Muslim prejudice.
The Magician's Nephew: a silly tale of the creation of Narnia
The Last Battle: everybody dies!

Unlike Tolkien, C.S. Lewis was aware that gay people exist.  One of his works (I forget which) discusses the proliferation of "the third sex" as a problem of modern culture, and in another, he states that maybe they don't all, necessarily, choose their "disability."

Maybe for that reason, there is no buddy-bonding or male-male rescueing in Narnia. The adventurers come in boy-girl pairs, which effectively eliminated buddy-bonding. Edmund (played by Skandar Keynes, left, in the movie version) and maybe Eustace  are gay-vague: soft, prissy, non-athletic, beset-upon by allergies and the other problems of modern culture -- but they are redeemed, and become exact replicas of the other boys in the series.

But there is no hetero-romance either.  The children -- and most of the adults -- remain blissfully asexual, lacking romantic or erotic interests of any sort.  Marriages sometimes occur in afterthoughts ("And later he got married"), but in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the four Pevensie children grow into adults, and become co-rulers of Narnia, without ever experiencing or desiring romance.

Those few people who are attracted to someone are evil --in  The Magician's Nephew, evil Uncle Andrew finds the Witch "a dem fine woman."  Or doomed -- in The Last Battle, Susan's interest in dating and romance bars her from Paradise.

The first few of the Chronicles have been filmed twice.  The 1988-89 BBC series starred Richard Dempsey, Jonathan R. Scott, David Thwaites, and Samuel West.  I didn't see it.

The 2005-2010  movie series starred William Moseley (left), Skandar Keynes, Will Poulter, and Ben Barnes.  Executive producer Perry Moore (who died in 2011) was gay, and added some buddy-bonding between Eustace and Caspian.  Not enough to incite audience interest.

See also: Shocking the Nazarenes with C.S. Lewis

100 Things To Do Before High School: New Nickelodeon Teencom with Major Hunkage

Have you watched Nickelodeon lately?

Me, neither.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, it produced high quality, creative teencoms, with interesting premises and witty dialogue.  Things you could actually sit through for reasons other than research.

Now, research or not, I can't bear to sit through The Thundermans and Henry Danger.  The laugh tracks are constant, the characters are stupid, and the situations dull.

Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn is about...well, who knows? I can't stand it for even a few seconds.

But there may be a bright spot on the horizon: 100 Things To Do Before High School, created by Scott Fellows, who produced the gay-friendly Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide. 

It sounds like Ned's Declassified, with the same three friends:
1. Central character C. J. (Isabela Moner)
2. Crispo (Owen Joyner), a mega-popular Golden Boy.
3. Fenwick (Jaheem King Tombs), the nerdish feminine black kid.

Except instead of rules for survival, each week they go through one item on a bucket list (their "bucket" is high school, not death).  Some are sound advice (make a new friend, join a club), some are crazy:

1. Start a Garage Band
2. Run with Bears
3. Say "Yes" to Everything for a Day
4. Be a Fairy Godmother
5. Find Your Superpower

In the year since the pilot, they have already grown considerably.  One sees major hunkage on the horizon for 15-year old Owen Joyner.

There is also the usual Nickelodeon attempt to provide tweens with as many hot guys as possible in the supporting cast:
1. The guidance counselor (Jack De Sena of All That).
2. Two big brothers (Max Ehrich, Garrett Clayton).
3. Chazz Nittolo, who is billed as Gorgeous Eighth Grade Boy

We'll see whether it lives up to the glory days of Nickelodeon's gay subtext teencoms.

See also: Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide.; Garrett Clayton

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