Nov 21, 2018

UFO: the Shirtless SHADO Warriors

Before books like Whitley Strieber's Communion (1985) and Budd Hopkins' Missing Time (1988) popularized the idea of aliens grabbing people from their beds to perform scientific experiments on, the  tv series UFO (1970-71), part of the 1970s British invasion (The Prisoner, The Tomorrow People, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy), had a similar premise: in the near future, the worlds' governments become aware that aliens are abducting people to harvest their organs.  They set up the secret organization SHADO to combat them from a fake movie studio, a submarine, and a base on the Moon.

Oddly, everyone at SHADO headquarters, men and women both, wear see-through shirts, so there was a huge amount of beefcake for a science-fiction series.

At first the protagonist was former American astronaut Edward Straker (Ed Bishop).

In the second episode, lone wolf British test pilot Paul Foster (Michael Billington) witnesses a SHADO operation, and is given the choice of signing up or being killed.  Foster decided to join, and Michael Billington soon became the standout star, and a favorite of teen magazines.

In the third episode, Foster is brainwashed by the aliens into attempting to kill Straker.  Later Foster is captured by the aliens, and Straker has to come to the rescue.  The grudging love-hate relationship continued  through the series, and provided fodder for many slash fiction stories.

Only 26 episodes were aired, but there were two novels, comics, toys, action figures, a board game, and eventually a video game. And from 1975 to 1977, the same universe was used for Space: 1999, in which the Moonbase (and the moon with it) is swept away from the Earth's orbit for interstellar adventure.

Later Michael Billington played two-fisted heroes on many British tv series (The Onedin Line, Spearhead, The Collectors) and attended innumerable fan conventions.  He never married. He died in 2005, five days before his UFO costar Ed Bishop.

Nov 20, 2018

The Gay Language of the Philippines

Tagalog has 28 million native speakers and another 45 million second-language speakers in the Philippines, plus 3-4 million in the rest of the world.  It is in the Austronesian family, related to the Pacific island languages of Fiji, Samoa, Hawaii, and New Zealand, with strong influence of Spanish from 300 years of colonial rule (days of the week, months of the year,  and most numbers derive from Spanish).

Beki, or Swardspeak, is a Tagalog-English patois that gay Filipino men used to communicate with each other in the old closet days.  Now it's more or less mainstream, used by entertainment folk and anyone aspiring to sound witty and cool.

It's loaded with pop culture references, most with a complicated etymology:

Catch: Julie Andrews
Debt: Oprah Winfrey
Give: Debbie Gibson
Horny: Ella Fitzgerald
Hungry: Tom Jones
Lesbian: Lulu
Old: Thundercats

And modified English words:

Beautiful: Ganders  (you're taking a "gander")
Boyfriend: Bufra
Cheap: Chucky
Hustler: Colbam ("Callboy")
Oral Sex: Hada ("Head")
Penis: Nota

Gay is Uranus, maybe because gay men used to be called Uranians, or maybe because of the connotation with anal sex.

There are also many Tagalog puns, visual images, and mispronunciations that take you awhile to figure out.

Long: Portugal  (it's a long, narrow country).

Masturbate: Nueva Viscaya  (the capital of that province is Bayombong, which sounds like the word for "bounce")

Naked: Oblation (a statue of a naked man on the campus of the University of the Philippines). 

Nothing; Washington DC (a mispronounciationof walang bagay)

Testicles: Werlog (itlog= egg)

Nov 18, 2018

Sunny's Mac Finds His Pride

I last posted on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia in 2013.  I was a big fan of the show, about five schemers who run Paddy's bar in Philadelphia.

1.-2. Self-absorbed Ivy League educated Dennis and his sister Dee (Glenn Howerton, Kaitlin Olson)
3. Their wealthy con-artist father Frank (veteran actor Danny Devito)
4. The dimwitted but highly bulgeworthy Charlie (Charlie Day)
5. Conflicted muscleman Mac (Rob McElhenney)

Some of the episodes went for cringe-inducing bad taste, but there was buddy-bonding, a strong gay subtext between Charlie and Frank, and a lot of beefcake, so what's not to like?

Well, I didn't like Mac much.  He was muscular but homophobic.  He dates a transwoman and worries that it makes him gay. He goes off on a Leviticus-rant at a gay couple.

TV sitcoms become more and more extreme over time, as character traits are exaggerated. Homer Simpson becomes not just a little dim, but a complete idiot.  George Costanza moves from self-absorbed to sociopathic.  Sunny upped the cringe-inducing poor taste, and the gang began manipulating each other.  Cruelly.  So I stopped watching.

I just discovered that Mac figured out that he was gay at the end of Season 12:  he had a vision of a beautiful woman who turned out to be God, and said it was ok to be gay.  But he's still conflicted:  "I don't know where I fit in as a gay man.  I don't know who I am."

He's not ready for sex or a relationship yet.

A whole year after coming out?

In the last episode of Season 13, Frank tells him that he has to "find his pride."  He has an ulterior motive, of course: he wants Mac to dance on the pride parade float that the gang is building to draw gay customers into the bar.

The other characters are absent, or appear only briefly.  This story is about Frank and Mac.

Frank forces Mac to go to a S&M club (with a buffet) and then a drag club, on the way making stunningly homophobic statements like "If any of these fairies makes a pass at me...", "Are you the boy or the girl?", and "I don't get it.  I'll never get it."

(Photo copyright FX).

I don't get it, either.  Frank was never homophobic before.  And if he's so homophobic, why is he on board with the plan to attract gay customers?

Mac announces that sex is not the way for him to "find his pride."  He wants to come out to his father, who is in prison. 

His first attempt to come out fails: Dad thinks he's going to become a father. 

So for Try #2, Frank arranges for him to speak to an auditorium full of inmates, including his father.

Mac rips off his shirt to reveal a crazy ripped body and performs a beautifully choreographed ballet with a woman.  They separate, long for each other, reconcile, separate again.  He rejects her.  She screams, trying to get into his life, but he rejects her.  She chases him.  Finally, exhausted, Mac falls into her lap.  She caresses him and says "It's ok."

Dad leaves in disgust, but Frank, his foster father, exclaims "I get it!", tears running down his cheeks.

I don't.  How is this coming out?

Maybe if the woman is God, it's a sort of Hound-of-Heaven thing.  Mac keeps rejecting God, or thinking that God rejects him, due to his gayness, but finally he gives up.  God tells him that it's ok to be gay.

I can see that.  I had the Blessed Virgin telling me that it was ok to be gay, and I wasn't even Catholic.

He couldn't be dancing with a guy: a pas-a-deux with some muscle hunk would indicate that he was already out, and this is about his struggle to accept his gayness and God's love.  Finding his pride.

It's a stunning conclusion that almost makes Frank's out-of-character homophobia ok.

See also: Why You Should Watch "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia."
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