Jun 23, 2017

Bob Morley and His Posse

While looking for "Bob Marley" on google, I came across this photo of Bob Morley and his posse frolicking in the sun.

I never heard of any of them before, but it turns out that they're mostly starring in The 100 (2014-2018), about juvenile delinquents sent to a dead Earth to repopulate it

And they all either play gay characters, or are gay in real life, or both.

Bob Morley, in the middle, is a 32-year old Australian actor who has starred in Home and Away and Neighbours.(where he played a gay character).

In Lost in the White City (2014), he plays Avi, an Israeli soldier who has a 3-way relationship with artists Kyle and Eva.

He doesn't like appearing shirtless on screen or otherwise being treated like "a piece of meat."

English model turned actor Rick Whittle, age 35, played gay characters on Holby City and The 100.   He is currently starring as Shadow Moon in the series American Gods.

Straight in real life, but at least he doesn't mind being treated like a piece of meat.

32-year old Sachin Sahel and 25-year old Richard Harmon play a gay couple on The 100.  They neither confirm nor deny that they're dating in real life, but they're definitely bromantic partners.

Toby Levin is from Illinois, and majored in drama and Spanish from Bennington College.  He isn't on The 100, but he had a recurring role as a gay guy on Empire, and in 2012 he was passing out Empire swag in the New York Gay Pride Parade.  He likes guys with beards

The Homophobic Small-Town Manhattan of "Friends"

Friends (1994-2004) was set in the same intimate, "small town" Manhattan as Seinfeld.  But it lacked the New York color -- it could have been set in any big city -- not to mention the witty dialogue, interesting minor characters, and intricately connected plotlines.

And while Seinfeld was mostly heterosexist, assuming that gay people did not exist (except for a few homophobic episodes), Friends knew about the existence of gay people.  And was scared stiff.

It was about six heterosexual young adults who hung out together to commiserate over their terrible jobs -- though they still managed to afford huge apartments in Manhattan -- and terrible love lives -- though the women still managed to date a never-ending stream of chiseled hunks, including Adam Baldwin, Tom Selleck, and Brad Pitt.

The friends differed in personality, class background, socioeconomic status.

Upper class:
Neurotic, easily-befuddled Chandler (Matthew Perry), who worked as a statistician.
Former spoiled rich kid Rachel (Jennifer Anniston), who lost her silver spoon and worked as a waitress.

Middle class:
Nebbish paleontologist Ross (David Schwimmer, left), who had a crush on Rachel in high school.
His sister Monica (Courtney Cox), formerly fat and unpopular, now a control freak caterer.

Lower class:
Italian-American stereotype Joey (Matt Leblanc, top photo), a muscular but dimwitted aspiring actor.
Ditsy Phoebe (Lisa Kudrow), who worked as a masseuse, and had an equally ditsy brother (Giovanni Ribisi).

Eventually they paired off into Chandler-Monica and Rachel-Ross.  Joey and Phoebe stayed unattached.

Gay people intrude in a number of episodes, as problems to be solved:

Chandler is horribly embarrassed by the fact that his Dad is a drag queen.
Ross's ex-wife is "now" a lesbian, and actually intends to "marry" her girlfriend.
Ross is horrified when his male student comes on to him.

But more common, in nearly every episode, is the men's homophobia -- a literal fear of gay people.

Tijara Mamula has uploaded a remix, "Homophobic Friends," with the highlights of the homophobic and transphobic jokes that form a constant undertow to the series.

Turns out that friendship itself is problematic.

If a guy has male friends, people think "he likes guys, he's gay."
If he has female friends, people think "he's like a woman, he's gay."

Chandler, Ross, and Joey are each mistaken for gay at various points in the series.  To gales of audience laughter.  To be thought gay is second worst humiliation possible.

The worst humiliation: to really be gay.  So the guys often criticize each other, and the other male characters, for acting "too gay."  They police the slightest gender-atypical behavior, horrified that signifies some inner gayness that must be stopped before it grows like a malignant tumor and destroys them.

Ross didn't know that his wife was a lesbian!  He must be gay!

Joey and Chandler hug!  They must be gay!

While on a ride-along, Ross refers to himself as the cop's "partner."  He must be gay!

So much for the cozy, small-town Manhattan of Friends.

But it gets worse: An incredibly homophobic joke in the first season turned a million gay fans away from the series forever.

See also: Homophobia on "Friends": This Time It's Serious.; and Giovanni Ribisi

Jun 22, 2017

Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin

On winter afternoons in fourth or fifth grade, I was stuck in the house listening to my kid brother's Disney record.

He loved that darn thing, and played it over and over and over.  It was a small house, so there was no place to escape from the torture.

It begins with "From all of us to all of you, a very Merry Christmas," a song I've never heard anywhere else.  Then we get some non-Christmas stories:

1. Little Black Sambo, who has a New York accent: "All the tigahs have turned into buttah!"

2. Scrooge McDuck ships his money to the moon for safekeeping.

3. Winnie the Pooh, a fat, stupid bear with a chalkboard-grating voice, braves a natural disaster that floods his home.  Winnie is a girl's name, and "pooh" means feces, and it only goes downhill from there.  

Later I found that the nightmare-inducing hell-voice came from the evil Sterling Holloway (1904-1992), who also voiced the Cheshire Cat in Alice in Wonderland and Kaa the Snake (who hypnotizes and tries to eat Mowgli in The Jungle Book).

I've been blessedly spared the Disney movies, but in school I had the original books inflicted on me.  They are the diabolical work of A.A. Milne (1882-1956), who began his degradation and despair in poetry collected in When We Were Very Young (1924).

Little Boy kneels at the foot of the bed,
Droops on the little hands little gold head.
Hush! Hush! Whisper who dares!
Christopher Robin is saying his prayers.

The teacher expected 10 year olds raised on a diet of Lost in Space, Star Trek, and Magnus Robot Fighter to read this?  And like it?  Really?

But the main atrocity, the Pooh Demon, comes from stories originally published in St. Nicholas, Punch, and other magazines before settling down into two books, Winnie-the-Pooh (1926) and The House on Pooh Corner (1928).

 They star Milne's son,  Christopher Robin Milne, and his coterie of toy and real animals:  Rabbit; Owl (very creative names); Kanga and Roo (mother and child kangaroos); Piglet; Eeyore (a donkey), and the titular Winnie  (although Milne's teddy bear was actually named Edward).

The later book introduces Tigger (a tiger spelled wrong).

The short adventures generally involve Christopher Robin's demonic minions misunderstanding things.  For instance, when he writes a note explaining that he'll be back soon, his demonic minions misinterpret "Backson" as a person, conclude that he has been kidnapped, and mount a daring rescue operation.

Or Eeyore the clinically depressed donkey loses his tail in the woods. Owl finds it, thinks it's a doorbell, and takes it home.  Not to worry, he gives it up without a fuss, and Christopher Robin nails it on.

The beings all have separate houses in the 100 Acre Woods, based on the 500 Acre Wood in Ashdown Forest, East Sussex (100 acres is .15 miles, so about a block and a half square).  It's mostly not woods at all, but swampy fields and dreary sandpits, and a river full of boulders and "rox."   Nice.

The gender-bending "Winnie," with his rather obvious lack of sex organs, has raised the ire of the city council of Tuszyn, Poland, which banned him for being transgender or "a hermaphrodite."

Some internet pundits try to make Piglet into a gay character due to his sense of style and interest in flower arranging -- and desire to see Christopher Robin naked.

But I find no gay subtexts in the books.  Although the characters are all male, except for Kanga, and there is no hetero-romance, no one lives together.  They are isolated individuals, not domestic partners like Toad and Rat in The Wind in the Willows.

And there's no permanence.  Gay subtexts have partners walking off into the sunset together, but the Pooh books are informed by a disturbing transience.  This will all end.  Christopher Robin will learn to spell "rocks," not "rox," write "back soon," not "backson," and become too old for his relationships with imaginary beings.  The end of the second book has him going off to boarding school, leaving forever.

Same-sex bonds belong to childhood.  The cold, hard work of adulthood requires heterosexual marriage and reproduction.

In gay subtext stories, men don't leave!.

Besides...that grating, infuriating voice!

When Lane's mother was sick, he bought her a Winnie-the-Pooh figure, thinking it would cheer her up.  She threw the darn thing across the room.

Rosa and I didn't agree on much, but I have to applaud that act of resistance.

Christopher Robin Milne (1920-1996) was a fey little kid (by parental design: they liked to feminize their boys in those days).  When he left the bear to go to school, he was bullied mercilessly by his classmates, and took up boxing for relief.

  He served in World War II, married his cousin Lesley de Selincourt, and opened a bookshop in Dartmouth.  He wrote several autobiographies, but mostly tried to distance himself from Winnie the Pooh.

Wouldn't you?

The illustrations, by the way, are from actors who have played Christopher Robin during his 31 film and tv appearances, or others who are named Christopher Robin.

1. A model named Christopherobin
2. A costumed Christopher Robin character at Disneyland
3. Frankie Galasso
4. Alex Lawther
5. The real Christopher Robin, his dad, and his demonic hell-beast.
6. Tom Wheatley.

Oumpah-pah and Hubert

Oumpah-pah is a distinctively Belgian comic book, written by René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo of Asterix fame.  After a false start in the early 1950s, it was serialized in Tintin magazine from 1958 to 1963.  Only three albums appeared in 1961, 1962, and 1967 (rather a small number compared to the 36 of Asterix).

They were translated into Spanish, German, Dutch, Greek, and English, but the English editions are very rare and go for hundreds of dollars on Ebay.  There are no plans for re-issues, due to the negative stereotypes of Native Americans as patois-speaking savages.

But on amazon.fr, you can get the French reissues for 10-15 Euros each, or "the complete adventures" used for around 20 Euros.

Why bother, when Asterix is readily available?  Because Oumpah-pah has some advantages that his more famous cousin doesn't.

Oumpah-pah belongs to the Shavashava tribe (based on the Shawnee) during French colonial times.

When French aristocrat Hubert de la Pâte Feuilleté, sent by the king to establish peaceful relations with the natives, is captured, Oumpah-pah rescues him and escorts him back to Fort Petit.  They become "brothers."

In a later adventure, Hubert is captured by the hostile Pied-Plads  (Flat-Foot) Tribe, who use him to lure Oumpah-pah into a trap.

They sail for France to get some horses, and encounter the pirate Brake, who captures Hubert and...

Upon returning to America, they battle Prussians and the evil Foie-Malade (Liver Sick)...

You get the idea.  A lot of captures, a lot of muscles straining at ropes, a lot of nick-of-time rescues and stammered "If it weren't for you, I'd be dead!"

Hubert is scrappy and self-confident, Oumpah-pah muscular, attractive, and dominant, and the countless rescues and walking-into-the-sunset together conclusions provide a much more obvious gay subtext than anything you find in Asterix and Obelix.

Jun 21, 2017

10 Shirtless Pictures of Daniel Skye, Sort of

I never heard of 17-year old Daniel Skye before, but apparently he's one of the top teen idols in the U.S.  
He's got 9 songs listed on AZ Lyrics, all about love, 5 of the 9 using an incessant "girl! girl! girl!"

Sounds horribly heterosexist.

But I still googled "Daniel Skye" and "shirtless" to see what pops up.

1. Two guys, maybe one is Daniel.

2. I'm pretty sure this is Boo Boo Stewart.

3. Blue eyes.

4. Nice abs.  I'm not usually into earrings, but that black one makes his face.

5.  Exceptionally big hair.

More after the break.

Jun 20, 2017

The Beefcake and Homoerotic Art of Ex Libris Bookplates

Back when books were always hardback and frightfully expensive, when a hundred books was a vast library and a thousand out of reach for all but the very rich, you would protect your books from being "accidentally" picked up by visitors or borrowed and never returned by affixing a bookplate with your name on the inside front cover.

"Ex libris" (from the library of) bookplates were first used during the Renaissance, and became very popular during the 18th and 19th centuries.  By the turn of the 20th century, artists such as Robert Anning Bell and Charles Ricketts made practically their whole careers out of designing intricate bookplates for their customers.

Today bookplates are little used, but bookplate collectors have their own subculture, with clubs, magazines, and conferences.

Homoerotic and beefcake-heavy bookplates are especially prized.

1. Wilhelm Mertens, a German herpetologist, professor at the University of Frankfurt and author of 13 books, promises that he's "immer an deck" (always alert), like the semi-nude muscleman looking at the stars.

2. Sigmund Freud's ex libris shows Oedipus being questioned by the Sphinx.  The style is very art deco, reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley.

3. It's hard to see the naked man amid all the trees in this ex libris of Vivian Forbes, the gay poet and artist who committed suicide a few days after his lover's funeral in 1937.

4. A rather minimalist David slaying Goliath, but unusual for its coloration.   I don't know who this was for, maybe painter Franca Moggioli, who died in Turin in 2015 at the age of 94.

5. I feel like I should be saluting Big Brother in this austere fascist bookplate. Born in 1906, George Gates Raddin, Jr. was a painter and novelist from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.

More after the break.

A Beefcake Tour of Amsterdam

This post has been moved to Boomer's Small Town Beefcake
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