Feb 27, 2016

The Stonewall Movie: Convoluted Plot, Not Enough Beefcake

I've read books on Stonewall, the riot that sparked the Gay Rights Revolution.  I've seen documentaries.

Now I've seen the 2015 movie.

Wow, who knew it was so convoluted.

1. Danny Winters (Jeremy Irvine), a clean-cut all-American kid from rural Indiana, gets a scholarship to Columbia, but before his parents can fill out the scholarship papers, they discover that he is gay and kick him out.  His boyfriend, disgraced, refuses to talk to him.

So he goes to New York anyway, where everybody -- repeat, everybody falls in love with him.

He lives on the street, and works as a hustler (although the look of pure disgust he gets whenever a client tries to go down on him would probably limit his success).

He hangs out with a group of androgynous gay and transgender street kids led by Ray, aka Ramona (Johnny Beauchamp).

2. They are regulars at the Stonewall Tavern, run by Ed Murphy (Ron Pearlman), who has connections to the Mob and may have murdered a street kid who was Ray's lover.

3. Meanwhile Danny gets involved with Trevor (Jonathan Rhys-Meyer),  who picks up twinks by playing Procul Harem's "Whiter Shade of Pale" on the jkebox.  Trevor belongs to the establishment-gay rights Mattachine Society, with its ineffectual message of accommodation and "waiting."

Danny hates it; he wants a revolution!  But he actually drops out because he sees Trevor using "White Shade of Pale" to pick up someone else.   Back to the Stonewall street-kid crowd.

4. There are regular police raids, giving the cops an opportunity to harass, belittle, assault, and arrest the gays.  Until the gay-friendly Deputy Pine (Matt Cravan) takes over and orders his men to be nice to the gays.  He continues the raids, but only because he's trying to solve the murder, and thinks Ed is responsbile.

5. On the night of the riots, the mob kidnaps Danny and forces him into tricking with J. Edgar Hoover in drag.

6. Meanwhile Deputy Pine realizes that Ed is in the bar, and sends out a squad car to pick him up, letting the gay patrons go.  But the cops outside let Ed escape, and that makes the gay patrons so mad that they start yelling "Gay power!,' and Danny throws a brick.  The police and some of the patrons rush back inside.

So it wasn't police harassment, it was letting a mob boss escape, that caused the Gay Rights Revolution?

7. Afterwards Danny goes back to Indiana to see his sister, who turns out to be a gay rights advocate, his mother, and his ex-boyfriend.  Mom and Sister even come to the Gay Rights March held the next year.

This is the most convoluted, crazy version of Stonewall that I've ever seen.  It's not even about Stonewall, it's the boring coming-out story of a Golden Boy who has a perfect body, scrubbed Mormon good looks, and a scholarship to Columbia.

There isn't even a lot of beefcake to keep your mind occupied while you're trying to digest the plot convolutions -- these are all pictures from other projects.  Danny and Trevor show some chest.

Feb 26, 2016

Back to Low Risk

After three days of being "Medium Risk" according to the McAfee Site Advisor, I'm back to "Low Risk."  I still have no idea what caused the flag, but it decreased traffic to the site by 20%.

Orphan Black: Male Nudity, Gay Characters, and Clones

Orphan Black (2013-) is a Canadian science fiction series about a con artist named Sarah Manning who discovers that she is a clone, created through Project Leda by an evil corporation called the Dyad Institute.  There are clones scattered all over Canada, Britain, and Finland.  Some are self-aware, some are not.  They have monitors to keep them in line.

Along with some of her fellow clones and allies, Sarah founds the Clone Club and tries to discover the sinister reason for her creation, while trying to avoid capture by the evil Neolutionists and assassination by an anti-clone hate group, the Prolethians.

In case that's not enough mythology for you, there are also Castor clones, with suspect motives, secret government installations in Finland, secret alliances, mistaken identities.  Sarah has a daughter, the only known offspring of a clone, drawing the attention of even more nefarious corporations, mad scientists, and clone liberation groups.

Oh, and Sarah has taken the identity of her clone Beth, a police officer, so there are police cases to deal with, plus druggie ex-boyfriends and miscellaneous scalawags.

 Felix (Jordan Gavaris, left), Sarah's foster brother, is a street kid, hustler, wannabe artist, and gay.  He doesn't have a lot of romantic interaction, although he does date the transman clone Tony (Tatiana Manslany).

There is also a lesbian clone, Cosima (also Tatiana Manslany -- these are clones, so one actor plays several characters).  A graduate student at the University of Minnesota, she dates several women through the course of the series.

Or you can just watch for for the beefcake.  Orphan Black pushes up the nudity factor, in male clones, allies, and kid brothers.

1. Ari Millen (top photo) as the evil Prolethian Mark Rollins and several other clones.

2. Jordan Gavaris

3. Dylan Bruce as Paul Dierden.  When Sarah takes on Beth's identity, she has to deal with Paul, Beth's boyfriend and monitor.

4. Kevin Hanchard as Art Bell, Beth's police partner.

5. Michael Mando (left) as Vic, Sarah's drug-dealing ex-boyfriend.

6. Josh Vokey as Cosima's classmate at the University of Minnesota, who eventually joins the Scoobies.

7. Kristian Bruun as Donnie, husband of the clone Allison (Tatiana Manslany).

8. Justin Chatwin as Donnie's drug supplier.

9. Michiel Huisman as Cal, Sarah's ex-boyfriend and the father of her daughter.

10. Daniel Kash as Tomas.  It would take too long to explain.

In the U.S., Orphan Black airs on BBC America.

Feb 25, 2016

The Graduate Revisited

This post on The Graduate (1967), starring gay ally Dustin Hoffman, finds lots of gay subtexts in the tale of the alienated young man who has an affair with his girlfriend's bored Establishment mother.

Gay symbolism aside, I didn't enjoy The Graduate.   It was too deadly serious.  Everyone was trying way too hard to be depressed.  And Benjamin Braddock was something of a twit.

Guess what?  It was supposed to be a comedy!

Find me one humorous scene in the gut-wrenching suburban angst!

Find me one joke!

Find me any way at all to read the final scene, when Benjamin and Elaine drive off into oblivion while Paul Simon sings "Hello darkness, my old friend..." as anything but depressing!

But at least we get so see a good deal of Dustin Hoffman's body.  He's naked often, and in at least one scene floating in a pool with a phallic beer can protruding from his crotch.

In 2000, Terry Johnson, a London playwright who specializes in the fictionalized meeting of historical characters (Alfred Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Salvador Dali, Sigmund Freud), wrote a stage version of the original novel.

It opened in London, and ran for a respectable 380 performances on Broadway, with Jason Biggs as Benjamin Braddock, Alicia Silverstone as Elaine (the girlfriend), and Kathleen Turner as Mrs. Robinson (the older women).

The reviews were horrendous.

A mish-mash of iconic scenes from the movie, with new scenes that don't make any sense, characters stuck in the 1960s but with modern sensibilities, or stuck with 1960s sensibilities in the modern era.

The gay symbolism is gone.  But at least the homophobia of the original novel is gone, too (Benjamin no longer talks about assaulting "queers.")

Elaine is a dolt, Mrs. Robinson veers from skittish virgin to trollope, and Benjamin...well, he's still rather a twit.

I guess the main draw is Benjamin shirtless in bed, played by such hunks as Tom Carmen, Matthew Rhys, Eric Pierce, Jerry Hall, and Brad Burgess.

Swiss Family Robinson

When I was a kid in the 1960s, most books were gender-coded, but both boys and girls received copies of Gulliver's Travels and the Johann David Wyss classic Swiss Family Robinson (1812) for their bookshelves.  Boys were expected to read it for the shipwreck and savages, and girls for the family setting up housekeeping on the desert island.

I didn't like it much. I had bad memories of The Book of Cute Boys that my father threw out the window.

 At least there was no heterosexual fade-out kiss -- the family encounters another shipwreck survivor, an "American cousin" whom no one bothers to fall in love with.  But there was little homoromance, either, with no one on the island but family.

But the tropical setting provided some beefcake potential, so I kept a close watch on the various film and tv versions.  Unfortunately, many of them upped the role of The Girl to create a heterosexual romance.

1. Swiss Family Robinson (1975-76). The  tv version with Adam-12 hunk Martin Milner and up-and-coming bodybuilder Willie Aames. No girl-craziness, but everyone was fully clothed throughout.

2. Swiss Family Robinson (1960).  The Disney version with James MacArthur, Tommy Kirk (left), and Kevin Corcorran.  Muscular physiques everywhere, but both Fritz and Ernst swoon over a girl.

3. The New Swiss Family Robinson (1998) is set in the modern era and adds a French-speaking jungle girl (Yumi Iwama), who kidnaps older brother Shane (John Asher of Weird Science).  They dive Tarzan-and-Jane style into the lagoon, kiss, and plan a wedding.

But at least younger brother Todd (Blake Bashoff expresses no interest.

4. Stranded (2002), with Jesse Spencer as Fritz.  Nuff said.

Feb 24, 2016

Simpsons Beefcake: Homer, Bart, and Friends Bulk Up

The Simpsons is the longest running network tv program of all time, with 547 episodes to date over a period of 25 years, surpassing even The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet.  I watched religiously for the first ten years or so.  Now my viewing is a little sporadic; some episodes are still very good, and others mediocre but worth watching, but most are "been there, saw that!"  After 25 years, it's hard to be fresh and innovative.

At first it was queasy about the presence of LGBT people; Waylon Smithers, toady to town billionaire Montgomery Burns, came out slowly, painfully, a running joke over many seasons.  The only other gay regular character is Patty, Marge's sister, who came out in a gay marriage episode.  There have been a few other gay characters, here and there, over the years, mostly fey stereotypes, but nothing like the jaw-droppingly nasty homophobia of other Fox animated sitcoms like Family Guy.  

Plus occasional references to the fluidity of desire.

And tons of beefcake.  Shirts come off regularly.  Here are the top 10 beefcake hunks:

1.   Groundskeeper Willie first ripped off his shirt in "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Badaass Song" (1994),  to chase a dog through the ventilation system: "Grease me up, woman!" he orders Lunch Lady Doris.  He's repeatedly ripped off his shirt since, displaying an incongruously massive physique.  Also a nude backside.

2. Ned Flanders, the Simpsons' fundamentalist Christian neighbor, has another incongruously massive physique, first displayed when he played Stanley Kowalski in the 1992 episode "A Streetcar Named Marge."  He has been shown exercising many times since, to the consternation of homoerotically-challenged Homer "Stupid sexy Flanders."

3. Perennial thief Snake tones his muscles in the prison exercise yard, giving "hope to scrawny young men everywhere."

4. The Arnold Schwarzenegger parody, beefcake actor Rainier Wolfcastle, first appeared in "The Way We Was" (1991), and has been a perennial beefcake presence ever since, even giving a buffed-up Homer a job as his personal trainer

5. The Mike Tyson parody, boxer Drederick Tatum, first appeared in "Homer vs. Lisa and the 8th Commandment" (1991), and has flexed in the ring or soaked in a hot tub 22 times.

5. Bart Simpson?  While usually nondescript or fat,all of the Simpsons have bulked up in the series or in the comic books: Bart, Homer, Marge, Lisa.  Even Grandpa Simpson has shown major hunkage in flashbacks to his World War II days.

6. Duffman is the heavily-muscled spokesperson for Duff Beer, parodying the former Budweiser catchphrase "Oh, yeah!"  He is gay, and in a long-term relationship.

7. Radioactive Man, Bart's favorite comic book character, also has his own real-life comic book title.

8. The gay men Homer encounters tend to be feminine stereotypes, but they also know their way around a gym.  Homer accidentally takes Bart to an all-gay steel mill in "Homer's Phobia" (1997), and later he moves in with two buffed, feminine gay guys in "Three Gays of the Condo" (2003).

9. Muscular billionaire Hank Scorpio turns out to be a supervillain in "You Only Move Twice" (1996).

10. There are many, many more muscular, shirtless guys in the background in tv episodes and tie-in merchandise: lifeguards, athletes, college fratboys, boy band members.  This is a juggler who performs at the Springfield Squidport in the video game The Simpsons: Tapped Out

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