Dec 28, 2018

"God Friended Me": God Friends Gay People, Too

TV dramas often sent the protagonist out on the road, to encounter new people in different settings every episode.  It provides for more plot possibilities than the "what else can we have happen at that radio station?" of situation-bound dramas. and famous guest stars can draw in the viewers. 

Sometimes the wandering busybody is an angel, or sent by God in some way.  I tend to avoid those shows, as they tend to be treacly "learn to live every moment!" nonsense. 

God Friended Me gives the heavenly helper a twist.  Miles (Brandon Micheal Hall), who runs a popular atheism podcast, gets a Facebook friend request from "God."  Obviously not the Creator of the Universe, but some provocateur, so Miles accepts.  "God" suggests other Facebook friends, all of whom have problems that Miles can solve.

1. A doctor planning to commit suicide.

2. A writer with writer's block and an estranged mother gets into an auto accident, and is assisted by the doctor from Miracle #1.

3. A single mother with an autistic son.

4. A motherless teenager (Jason Genao) and a police office with a dead wife (auto accident) find each other.

5. A woman with a lost love, who turns out to be a lonely gay guy (Will Rogers, left).  They are happy to reconnect as friends.

6. An alcoholic artist with a sister who died in an auto accident feels guilty.

7. A Muslim cab driver who disapproves of his daughter's Jewish boyfriend (Etai Benson, right).

8. Miles' own estranged father, a minister who disapproves of his atheism, and whose wife died in accident.

And so on.  By the way, what's with all the auto accidents?  Sloppy writing, or is Miles in some sort of coma after accident? 

Meanwhile Miles (center) tries determine the identity of this "God" person, along with his Scoobies:

1. Cara (left), the writer from Miracle #2.
2. Ali, Miles' sister.
3. Rakesh (Suraj Sharma, right and top photo), a computer hacker.
4. Jaya, his girlfriend
5. Arthur, from Miracle #8

There's a lesbian couple and a gay man among the miracles, which raises the ire of fundamentalist Christian fans:  "'s about God!  It shouldn't be forcing deviant lifestyles down our throat!"   

Fundie fans also tend to believe that "God" is actually God, communicating out of an updated Burning Bush.  After all, who else would be able to get Miles to the exact location he needs to be in to meet the person who is connected to another person who will help them reconnect with their estranged whoever?

"Bird Box": One Gay Character, Who Dies.

Bird Box appears in articles on "LGBT Movies to Watch on Netflix in December" and "Top LGBT Movie on Netflix."  It even appeared on a Decider list of the "Top 50 LGBT Characters."   So I watched.  Well, I fast forwarded through some of the gross stuff.

The opening: Malorie (Sandra Bullock) tells two children, named Boy and Girl, that they are going on a perilous journey down the river to safety, and they must never take their blindfolds off, or they will die.

Interspliced with the perilous blindfold journey is the back story:

Depressed painter Malorie, who is pregnant with a baby she doesn't want, is meeting her sister, Jessica (Sarah Paulson, who works with horses. Neither of them seems to have much room for other people in theiir lives.   I'm pretty sure they were written as a lesbian couple, and changed to sisters at the last minute. 

They dismiss tv reports of mass suicides in Europe  and mass hysteria in the U.S., and head out to see their obstretician, Dr. Lapham (Parminder Nagra).

Lapham?  Got a problem with Indian names? mean Dr. offended by their many jokes about how much they hate the baby.  She suggests that they give it up for adoption.

On the way out of the appointment, Melonie and Jessica run headlong into the Apocalypse.  Something or some things appear.  Anyone who sees them, including Jessica, immediately commits suicide.  Start running, and don't look back.

We don't know what they look like.  People who see them say "What the hell is that?," "Mom?", and "They're not so bad."  One guy says that they show you the worst of yourself, but that's just speculation.

Melonie takes refuge in the very well appointed house of Greg (B.D. Wong), along with a ragtag band of whoever happened to be running past and invited in.  They're familiar from other stories of Apocalypse survivors:

1. Born leader Tom (Trevante Rhodes, top photo)

2. Survivalist Douglas (John Malkovich).

3. Druggie Felix (rapper Machine Gun Kelly, below)

4. Religious fanatic (Lil Rel Howery, left)

5. Teenage boy.

6. Elderly lady who talks about her dead husband

7. A woman who was out jogging

8. Another pregnant girl

Sorry, I lost track of character names.

Besides, Tom, Charlie, Greg, Gary, Rick?  What's with the whitewashing of everybody's name?

Standard survival stuff ensues -- go on a food run blindfolded, give birth without any medical care, and so on.

A twist comes when some of the people who see the things don't immediately commit suicide.  They stay sentient long enough to force other people to look.  One of those shows up at the house, talks his way inside, and begins tearing down the curtains so they have to look.

Eventually all of the survivors die except Melonie, Tom, and the two kids, who form a nuclear family.  Then Tom dies, too, and Melonie takes the kids on the perilous journey to the sanctuary, which happens to be a school for the blind.

The survivors are mostly blind children, who are immune to the things.

Among the residents is Dr. Lapham, who smiles approvingly at Melonie's two children.

Wait -- has all this been a lengthy morality tale to convince Melonie that having kids is worthwhile?  That the goal of all women's lives should be to reproduce?


No beefcake.  Felix takes his shirt off, but that doesn't count as beefcake, not by a long shot.

Oh, by the way, Greg, whose house they crash in, is gay.  We know because Douglas states that his husband was an architect.

He's the first of the survivors to die (bury your gays).

This by you is a LGBT movie?

Dec 27, 2018

Getting Naked after Christmas: The British Boxing Day Dip

In Britain, Christmas is traditionally a time for caroling, exchanging gifts, going to pantomimes...

And plunging naked into the frosty Atlantic Ocean.

Porthcawl, Wales, has been holding an annual Christmas Morning Dip for chartiy for over 40 years.

Many other seaside towns hold their in Wales and England, like Aldeburgh,  Llandudno, Cromer, and Tenby, hold theirs on Boxing Day, December 26th (so-called because people would box up their Christmas dinner leftovers and pass them out to the less fortunate).

In Aldeburgh, Llandudno, Cromer, Tenby, and a dozen other towns, Boxing Day means a morning of fun and entertainment, followed by a quick costume change and a headlong dash into the sea (typically a frigid 50 degrees Fahrenheit).

Many dress in tuxedos and evening gowns (they're not limited to men, like the Naked Festivals of Japan).  Others go in costumes as Santa Clauses, Elves, Uncle Sams, or Power Rangers.  But most take off as many clothes as they can stand.

The rules are:
1. No full nudity (though occasionally skimpy thongs are ok, and sometimes they "accidentally" slip off).
2. No wetsuits (you have to be cold).
3. It only counts as a "dip" if you get your hair wet twice.

Afterwards the participants dry off, sip Bovril (beef tea)  and wait to see if they have won the prizes for bravest, best costume, and most donations.

Boxing Day Dips aren't gay-specific events, but they're a nice opportunity to see some beefcake during the most bundled-up of seasons, and give to charity.

Dec 26, 2018

Final Space: Gay Subtext, Beefcake-Heavy Sci-Fi Spoof

In the animated sci-fi series Final Space, bumbling small-time crook Gary Goodspeed (Olin Rogers) masquerades as an elite Infinity Guard pilot (to impress a girl -- he's rather aggressively heterosexual). 

His attempt to actually fly a spaceship (how hard can it be?) results in the loss of 92 Imperium Cruisers and a small family-owned Mexican restaurant.

He receives a five-year sentence on an empty spaceship, with no company except the deadpan control computer, HUE (think Hal-from-2001); and the annoying anti-insanity robot companion KVN.

After nearly five years of isolation (and no cookies), Gary is desperate for company, so he eagerly bonds with a cooing round semi-sentient space animal that pops by one day.  He even names it: Mooncake.

Turns out that Mooncake is a baby "planet destroyer" with mega-powers that every baddie in the galaxy is after.  Especially the Darth Vader-like Lord Commander (David Tennant), who was besties with Gary's father before going to the Dark Side.

To protect his new pet and avoid being disintegrated by his Dad's former bff, Gary teams up with a catlike bounty hunter named Avocato (Coty Galloway), and the game is afoot.

Later Avocato is killed, and his son, Little Cato (Steven Yeun), becomes Gary's replacement sidekick. Quinn (Tika Sumpter), Gary's crush, joins the gang, although she adamantly refuses any of his ham-fisted attempts at eliciting romance. Until she doesn't.

The stakes get higher -- a breach in space-time threatens to destroy the universe, and Gary and his team must steal an anti-matter bomb from Earth and fly through enemy territory to...well, it's just a maguffin to help Gary to transform from doofus to hero.

Aside from the obvious Star Wars-inspired plotline, there are echoes of Futurama, Guardians of the Galaxy, Mystery Science Theater 3000 ("He's the only one who can keep you sane") and even Adventure Time (Mooncakes looks sort of like a semi-sentient Jake the Dog).

Gay subtexts abound in this series.  Gary hugs, grabs, and complements physiques with post-gay nonchalance, and he grieves the loss of his bff as intensely as if he were a partner -- and has a child to raise alone.  Plus most of the supporting characters express no heterosexual interest.  Gary had a father but no mother.  Avocato has a son but no wife. 

Beefcake abounds, too.  Underwear shots of Gary and occasionally other characters, bare butts, and once, briefly, a penis. The humans have cartoon stick-figure bodies, but beefcake is beefcake.

Olan Rogers created the characters while a student at the University of Memphis, and uploaded some comedy shorts to his youtube channel. They attracted the attention of talk show host Conan O'Brien, who encouraged Olan to develop the tv series.

By the way, he's a born-again Christian, but writes that he doesn't have a problem with gay people: "I've met some gays that are nicer than straights."

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