Oct 27, 2018

Ross Lynch and His Brothers: Gay Positive or Homophobic?

You may think of Ross Lynch as just a voiceover artist and the star of the Disney Channel's Teen Beach Movie, or the gay-subtext Austin & Allie, along with Calum Worthy (middle), who stars in this satiric anti-straight marriage PSA.










Both appear on my list of 12 Unexpected Disney Channel Teen Hunks.

But the talented actor and singer, born in Colorado in 1995,  is just one of a whole family of performers.  He is in the group R5, along with brothers, sister, and friend.

I've had approximately 100 of their close friends and girlfriends informing me that they're heterosexual.  What I can't figure out is whether they're gay-positive, heterosexist, or homophobic.






Riker, born in 1991, appears on the gay-positive Glee as Jeff, a student at rival Dalton Academy and  member of the Warblers singing group.  His character is often assumed gay and is shipped with Nick (Curt Mega).

But both Riker and Rydel, the female member of R5, retweeted a tweet that complained that Glee was  "gay, gay, gay, gay, gay, gay."  Sounds like they're a bit homophobic.  But then...he stars in Glee. Maybe it's commenting on the homophobia?


Rocky, born in 1994, is deeply invested in the band, but he has also appeared on screen a few times, notably in The Wedding Band, about four slackers who sing at weddings, including gay weddings.












Ellington Ratliffe, the drummer of the band, has appeared in Victorious, Red Scare, Raising Hope, and All You Need. 

 He tweeted to Riker that he was the "King of Swag," whereupon Riker told him that "Swag" means gay ("At least now you come out.")  Ratliffe responded: "Swag is still cool."  Homophobic or not?

So, how heterosexist are their songs?  "Can't Get Enough of You" and "I Want You Bad" are loaded-down with "girl! girl! girl!", but "Without You" and "Look at Us Now" omit pronouns.  And in "Never," the singer feels cold, so he gets his sweetheart's jacket wrapped around his shoulders.  That sounds like a male sweetheart.



To be complete, I should include Ryland (born 1997).  He's not in R5, but he stars in the Nickelodeon sitcom The Fresh Beat Band (2009-) as Mini Twist, leader of a group that hero-worships the older Twist (Jon Beavers, who played a homophobic jock in A Gaggle of Saints ).

Homophobic, heterosexist, or gay-positive?



Gay Boys and Ghosts: Jeremy Lelliott

Born in 1982, Jeremy Lelliott skipped the kid-comedy routine and went straight into a soap, playing the noble, longsuffering David Patterson on Melrose Place (1997-98).  Threatened kid roles followed: the son of a KKK leader hiding in a safe house in Ambushed (1998), and the son of a bomb expert being held hostage by the Serbian Liberation Front in Diplomatic Siege (1999).

The short-lived Safe Harbor (fall 1998) was about a small town sheriff (Gregory Harrison) and his mother (Rue McClanahan of The Golden Girls) raising three sons. Only 10 episodes were aired, but they gave Jeremy an opportunity to buddy-bond with a friend, lounge around the pool, and show off his slim, lanky physique.

The paranormal movie Disappearance (2002) gave Jeremy more buddy-bonding.  A nuclear family is driving through Nevada, along with a boy named Ethan (Australian actor Jamie Croft).  No one explains what Ethan is doing there. Is he a foster son?  Did teenage son Matt (Jeremy) invite a school friend along on their vacation?

Whatever brought them together, they are doomed.  The family stumbles onto a small town where the people behave like sleepwalkers and bizarre things happen.  While trying to solve the mystery, they discover that they are trapped.  Eventually they become sleepwalkers, too.


Soon Jeremy's characters moved beyond gay-vague.

In Gacey (2003), Jeremy plays a gay boy who becomes one of the serial killer's victims.



In Race You to the Bottom (2005), travel writer Nathan (Cole Williams) and Maggie (Amber Benson) both have boyfriends, but they're having an affair as they explore the California wine country for an assignment.  Nicholas (Jeremy),  Nathan's partner, is not amused.








Driftwood (2006) stars Raviv Ullman as a death-obsessed teenager who is sent to a re-education camp to be brutalized.  There he is haunted by the spirit of a gay boy who was murdered in the camp, and helps Noah (Jeremy), who has been sent to the camp to be de-gayed, to stand up to his oppressors.

Jeremy has a MFA in acting from California State University, Fullerton.  Today he works as the artistic director for the Coeurage Theatre Company in West Hollywood, which is dedicated to making fresh, exciting theater accessible to everyone with its "pay what you want" admission policy.

Oct 26, 2018

Ricky/Rick Schroder

Ricky Schroeder was the iconic "cute kid" of the 1980s.  With his cherubic round face, baby blue eyes, and dimpled cheeks, he looked like a Campbell's Soup kid, or Richie Rich before his muscle spurt -- perfect for heart-wrenching roles on movies-of-the-week like Something So Right and A Reason to Live.

 In 1982, at age 12, Ricky was cast as a poor little rich boy on Silver Spoons -- his dad (Joel Higgins) is the fabulously wealthy owner of a toy company, so they live in a mansion that looks like a giant toy store.  Ricky has a series of same-sex chums, many of whom went on to teen idol careers  -- Anthony Starke, Jason Bateman as a bad boy, Billy Jacoby as another bad boy, Corky Pigeon as a nerd, Bobby Fite as a cowboy, and finally Alfonso Ribeiro, who grew into a bodybuilding hunk.

By 1987, Ricky was 17, muscular, and no longer cherubic, so Silver Spoons ended. Ricky renamed himself Rick, dropped the "e" from his last name (it merely signifies an umlaut in German), and started a massive re-invention campaign.



No more rich kids, nor more sophisticates.  If the role didn't require a Southern accent, he wasn't interested.  He played cowboys, country boys, rednecks,killers, and sports stars.  He was shirtless or sometimes completely nude in Too Young the Hero (1988), Across the Tracks (1991), and lots more.










And he did a substantial amount of buddy-bonding,

Rick has remained very active in moves and on tv.  In 2008 he made headlines by playing what was probably the first openly gay character on a tv science fiction series, Major Bill Keene on  The Andromeda Strain.

Though he is a long-term Republican, a member of the NRA, and a Mormon, three groups not known for their gay-friendliness, Rick is not at all homophobic.

There is a celebrity hookup story about Ricky on Tales of West Hollywood

Jake Thomas in the House

The Disney Channel teencom Lizzie McGuire (2001-2004) had the usual gay subtext, between Lizzie (Hilary Duff) and her best friend Miranda (LaLaine).  10-year old Jake Thomas was underutilized as the usual teencom little brother, manipulative, worldly, and mercenary.









Jake has been utilized since.  During his teens he was cast primarily on kid oriented vehicles like Soccer Dog (2004), Monster Night (2006), and the Disney Channel's Cory in the House (2007-2008), where he played the evil antagonist to Cory (Kyle Massie) and Newt (Jason Dolley).  But as he grew tall, slim, handsome, and intense, he recognized a talent for serious dramatic roles.

The first: on Without a Trace (2004): his Eric was subjected to a savage bullying, and attempted suicide.

Since Cory ended, Jake has avoided sitcoms to play teens who are sick, troubled, or dying on Cold Case (2008), ER (2008), Lie to Me (2009), Eleventh Hour (2009), and many other series.

Sometimes Jake's characters are blatantly heterosexual -- he plays a teenage rapist on Criminal Minds (2010) and a high schooler who gets his girlfriend pregnant on Locked Away (2010).

But more often they don't express any heterosexual interest, which leaves open a space to interpret them as gay:

A teenager accused of murdering his parents in  The Whole Truth (2010).

The flamboyant best buddy of an adopted girl searching for her birth parents on The Assignment (2010).

A teenage drug addict in Betrayed at 17 (2011).

No word on whether Jake is gay in real life, but the "Question and Answer" section of his website is awfully coy:

Q: "Do you have a girlfriend?"
A: "I have lots of girls who are great friends."

Q: "Are you looking for a girlfriend?"
A: "I think we're all looking for somebody."









You can see Jake Thomas today in Baja (2018), about a rich kid and his friends who get involve with gangsters on a road trip to Baja, Mexico.

No update on whether he's gay or not.  If he is, he's not saying.

Oct 25, 2018

The Hunks of the Millennium's Worst TV Series, 2010-2018

And now on to the clickbait list of the worst tv series of 2010-2018, and the mega-hunks who (almost) made them worth a look:

2010.  Mental: A psychiatrist (Chris Vance) can see into his patients' heads, but is worried about becoming schizophrenic himself.  Vance isn't bad, I suppose, but he pales in comparison to Nicholas Gonzalez as his horndog coworker.











2011.  S*** My Dad SaysStar Trek fans tuned in to see William Shatner playing a crotchety, conservative Archie Bunker clone, head-butting with his liberal, middle aged sons (Jonathan Sadowski, Will Sasso).  Sasso is a little chunky (he played the chubby one of the Three Stooges), but Sadowski is rather hunky.














2012. Charlie's Angels.  Did anyone really want a retread of that 1970s show about female private detectives being told by an unseen voice to go undercover at bikini ranches?  The main cast consisted only of the angels, the voice of Victor Garber, and Ramon Rodriguez as the assistant Bosley.  The original Bosley was asexual, but this one was hetero-horny, and partied with the angels.  Not a bad physique.










2013. Guys with Kids.  Three guys raising their babies.  None are gay; in fact, they all have wives or ex-wives.  So the hilarity comes from the bizarre spectacle of men actually being fathers?  The three are played by former teen idol Jesse Bradford, Anthony Anderson of Black-ish, and comedian Zach Cregger.  I've seen a hundred pics of Bradford, and Anderson is a bit homophobic, so here's Cregger.














2014. Dads.  Two guys living together (one married, one single) are befuddled when their dads (not gay) both move in . Talk about strained premise.  The two guys are played by the cute but homophobic Seth Green, and the formerly cut but now sort of mousy Giovanni Ribisi.  Which to choose?

Ribisi has better abs.

More after the break















The Hunks of the Millennium's Worst TV Series, 2000-2009

My clickbait said that these are the worst tv shows of the 21st century, by year.  The ones I remember were decidedly awful, but they still managed to display some hunkitude.  Here are the top hunks of each of the horrible series:

2000: Tucker.  Eli Marienthal, the obnoxious, hetero-horny kid in the American Pie series, plays a foulmouthed, devious, hetero-horny kid trying to win the Girl.











2001: Black Scorpion.  Based on two Roger Corman movies about a female cop/superhero, who fights Frank Gorshin (The Riddler on Batman) as well as Batman himself Adam West.  There were several ex-hunks in attendance, but my favorite is Brent Huff, from softcore porn and actioners, as the firefighter turned super-villain Inferno.


2002: That 80s Show.  Young adults instead of high schoolers, and San Diego instead of Milwaukee, but the same dreadful plotlines and predictable character hetero-romances. Glenn Howerton played the focus character, an aspiring musician who works in a video store (a big deal in the 1980s).














2003: Luis, with the cute Luis Guzman as a...well, I guess Hispanic stereotype.  There seems to be an Asian stereotype in the cast, too, Reggie Lee as Zhing Zhang.  Soap hunk Wes Ramsey (here naked and absworthy) was involved somehow.












2004: Hawaii, a Hawaii 5-0 Clone with by-the-book cop and young, greenhorn partner (played by Sharif Atkins) patrolling Waikiki.

More after the break
















Oct 24, 2018

Tarzan Also-Rans

Most people prefer Johnny Weissmuller's Tarzan.  In 12 films (1932-1948), the former Olympic swimmer embued Edgar Rice Burroughs' creation with a savage innocence borrowed directly from Rousseau.

Others prefer  Mike Henry's suave 1960s James Bond-style Tarzan, Denny Miller's beach boy, Ron Ely's lanky environmentalist, or Miles O'Keeffe's New Sensitive Tarzan of the 1980s.  But there have been many others.  Twenty men have played Tarzan since Elmo Lincoln in 1918.  All provided ample beefcake, but some were better than others at evoking homoromantic subtexts:

1. Buster Crabbe, better known as Flash Gordon, played an exceptionally buffed Ape Man in a 1933 movie serial.  He invented the Tarzan yell, and fell in love with a girl named Mary.

2. Herman Brix, who changed his name to Bruce Bennett so he wouldn't sound German,  competed with Weissmuller in two movies, The New Adventures of Tarzan (1935) and Tarzan and the Green Goddess (1938).  His Tarzan was cultured, sophisticated, and spoke proper English.  He rescued girls, but never fell in love with them.









3. Lex Barker took the mantle from the aging Weissmuller and played the Lord of the Jungle five times (1949-1953).  He had Jane at his side just as often as his predecessor.













4. Gordon Scott, who had an amazingly v-shaped torso, played Tarzan six times (1955-1960), with a "Me Tarzan" patois that sounded very odd coming from an immaculately coiffed 1950s head. He was uninterested in heterosexual romance most of the time, but never met a man who wasn't planning to stab him in the back.

5. Jock Mahoney, at age 44, became the oldest Tarzan in Tarzan Goes to India (1962) and Tarzan's Three Challenges (1963).  He doesn't have a girlfriend, but in Three Challenges he gets a sidekick, the young Thai prince Kashi (Ricky Der).







6. Greystoke: the Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984) was an attempt to provide a realistic view of the Ape Man mythos.  Though this was the era of the man-mountains, Christopher Lambert was not particularly massive, because the Ape Man's diet would not have been good enough for bulking up.  He had romantic relationships with both Jane (Andie McDowell) and Philippe (Ian Holm)

7. Joe Lara starred in Tarzan in Manhattan (1989), with Jane as a cab driver, and Tarzan: The Epic Adventures (1996-97), with no Jane.







8. Wolf Larson (left) became the second TV Tarzan in the French-Canadian production (1991-94), and the only one to have a teen sidekick (played by Sean Roberge). Jane (Lydie Denier) became a French environmental scientist.

9.  The last live-action Tarzan on the big screen was played by Casper Van Dien in 1998.  He's engaged to Jane Porter.

10. In 2003-4, a WB series transformed Jane Porter  into a NYPD detective, and Tarzan (Travis Fimmel) into her industrialist boyfriend. Sounds awful.

Oct 23, 2018

Ten Teen Idols of the "Goosebumps" TV Series

Goosebumps (1995-98), based on the long-running series of children's horror novels by R. L. Stine (231 to date), provided chills for the pre-teen set.  A jack-o-lantern comes to life.  The lunch lady turns out to be an alien.  An abandoned house holds a dark secret.  A piano teacher named Mr. Schreek has a sinister motive.  It was scary but not too scary for kids, with bravery and ingenuity triumphing over the evil, and no one being actually killed or eaten.

The protagonists were kids or teenagers, sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs of best friends or siblings.  Since an anthology series needs a new cast every week, producers scoured the ranks of Canadian child actors, coming up with sat least 10 who would become teen idols, or go onto a hunky adulthood.


1. Corey Sevier (4 episodes), major teen idol of the 1990s, more recently appearing in tv movies like The Tree that Saved Christmas (2014)





2.. Kaj-Erik Eriksen (2 episodes) of The Commish and Boston Public, now appearing in even more tv movies like A Christmas Detour (2015).  451 tv movies with "Christmas" in the title appeared between 2010 and 2017.















3. Brendan Fletcher (2 episodes), star of Freddie v. Jason (2003) and more recently IZombie.  No Christmas movies.












4.Daniel Clark (2 episodes) went on to another paranormal series, The Zack Files, and the teen soap Degrassi: The Next Generation.










5. Kevin Zegers (1 episode) starred in Air Bud, about basketball-playing dog, and a number of indie movies where he takes his shirt off.  He was last seen on Fear the Walking Dead.















6. Tyler Kyte (1 episode) appeared in many indie movies, including Prom Queen: The Marc Hall Story (2004)





















7. Ben Cook (4 episodes).  His last role was in Camp Rock 2 (2010).





















8. Mpho Koaho (1 episode) is now starring in the sci-fi series Falling Skies.






















9. Dov Tiefenbach (3 episodes) has appeared in many Canadian tv series, and in an indie band.

















10. Blake McGrath (2 episodes) is a pop singer and contestant on So You Think You Can Dance.






Oct 22, 2018

Jaws and Gay Romance

In 1975, I was too young to see Jaws. I saw it anyway.  All of my friends told me that it was terrifying -- and it was -- but no one mentioned the sizzling intensity of the attraction between police chief Martin Brody (43-year old Roy Scheider, veteran of many two-fisted shirtless roles):



And grad student shark expert Matt Hooper (27 year old Richard Dreyfuss, fresh from playing a high schooler in American Graffiti). 


Gruff Brody hates his small town by the ocean, and citified Hooper doesn't fit in among his intellectual grad student peers.  At their first meeting, Brody and Hooper feel an instant affinity: both are using the sea to escape from themselves. Later, Brody returns to his house, feeling guilty because he has not warned people adequately about the shark attacks. His wife tries to console him, but then Hooper arrives with bottles of wine in hand and asks, with compassion, “How was your day?” The wife, increasingly ignored as they seek solace with each other, butts out. 

For the next few days, Brody and Hooper are inseparable. They dissect a shark; they take a moonlit cruise in search of a lost ship; and they hire a sailor named Quint to help them seek out the killer shark. Hooper’s expertise is superfluous once Quint is on the case; but he stays at Brody’s side anyway, even though it means skipping a glorious eighteen-month long shark-study expedition that he has long desired. 



They sail out into the ocean and find the mad super-shark, and Hooper decides to descend in a shark-proof cage and shoot it. He gives Brody his glasses to hold, and since his hands are occupied, Brody puts them in his mouth. The gesture is amazingly intimate. 

The shark bites through the cage and attacks Hooper, who floats to the sea bottom, apparently dead. Then it eats Quint, and almost eats Brody, but he manages to fire his gun at an air canister it is chomping, exploding it. 




The original Peter Benchley novel is over, but the movie isn’t. As Brody floats, alone and heartbroken, clinging to the wreckage of the ship, Hooper reappears, unharmed. He swims over and places his arm atop Brody’s and smiles. It is their first deliberate touch, aching with joy and desire.

When the credits started to roll, I knew that the story was just beginning. Brody had found his redemption in Hooper’s smile, and Hooper had found a home in Brody’s arms. 

 

Oct 21, 2018

Best Worst Weekend Ever: Best Teencom Ever

Teen movies have two pitfalls that generally make them unwatchable:
1. Incessant bullying.  The protagonist lives in a world where all boys are sneering, chest-pounding Neanderthals.
2. Incessant heterosexism.  The plot involves getting The Girl to dump her Neanderthal boyfriend and go out with him.

Best, Worst Weekend Ever, a 2018 Netflix limited series, avoids those pitfalls altogether, creating a pleasant if rather simplistic 8-episode outing.


The protagonists are three unlikely best friends, Zed the Operator (Sam Ashe Arnold, top photo), Argo the Nerd (Cole Sand, left), and Treece the "Oh no you didn't!" Aggressive Black Girl (Brianna Reed).

 Think Zack, Screech, and Lisa from Saved by the Bell.

The trio. who call themselves the Crash Crew, share an unlikely passion in this era of online LARPS: comic books.  But this interest does not result n any bullying or exclusion; Argo easily fits in with the smart kids, and Treece is recruited by a group of what, in other movies, would be Mean Girls to play on the soccer team.  Zed is left in the dust.

So he plans the Best Weekend Ever before they go to high school and drift apart.  hey will go to the town Comic Convention, meet the creator of their favorite book, and show him their conclusion to his unfinished cliffhanger issue.  

Of course, there are complications.  Lots of complications involving Treece's tagalong older stepsister, Argo's authoritarian father, Zed's juvenile delinquent older brother (Felix Mallard, left), a bear, a kidnapping, an Evel Knievel-type daredevil, a lost dog, the FBI, several car crashes, and a LARP-war.

Of course there has to be hetero-romance.  Argo confesses that he "like-likes" Treece. But it's not the focus of the story, and Argo and Zed have an ample gay subtext of their own.














The conclusion of Dad's acceptance of Argo, for instance, has him telling Zed, "Have [my son] home by curfew."  Obviously he intends for the two to go out on a date.

Argo's Dad, by the way, is played by the uber-hunky Matt Battaglia.

















Plus Treece has two Dads.  An actual gay couple is mentioned in a teencom, and even shows up at the end.

That alone is worth the admission price.



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