Jun 22, 2019

The Top 10 Hunks of Shazam

Captain Marvel (1941-53) was DC Comics' attempt to circumvent the obvious homoeroticism in the 1940s superhero-teen sidekick relationship by making the two the same person.  14-year old Billy Batson transforms into adult superhero Captain Marvel when he says the magical word Shazam.

Which, by the way, is an acronym for the magical beings who bestowed the power upon him: Solomon, Hercules, Atlas, Zeus, Achilles, Mercury.

It's all very silly, and it provides a new problem: how to give Captain Marvel a girlfriend, when he's really a teenage boy with muscles?  He can't very well be dating Lois Lane.

The 2019 movie has Billy (Asher Angel) turning into an unnamed superhero (played by Zachary Levi).  But it also gives Billy a sidekick of his own, Freddy (Jack Dylan Grazer).

And, in the absence of a girlfriend, they have a gay-subtext romance.

Plus one of his foster-home buddies, Pedro (Jovan Armand) appears to identify as gay when they hide out in a strip club and he says "not my thing."

The result is a pleasantly non-heterosexist superhero movie, which also has a surprising number of hunkoids in the cast.

1. Adam Brody, Freddy's adult superhero alter-ego (left).

2. Zachary Levi.

3. All of the other residents of Billy's foster home morph into superheroes.  Eugene (Ian Chen) into Ross Butler

4. Pedro (Jovand Armand) into D. J. Cotrona

5. Instead of a whole fraternity of immortals from the Bible and Greek and Roman mythology, Shazam is a single person, played by Djimon Hounsou.

6. Cooper Andrews as the beefy foster father to the superheroic crew.

7 Mark Strong plays the Big Bad, Dr. Silvana, who unleashes the Seven Deadly Sins (Sloth, Lust, Envy, and so on) onto the world.  What's with all the villains with Ph.D.s?  Part of the culture of anti-intellectualism?

8. The teen idol set is already familiar with Asher Angel.

9. Evan Marsh as the main bully who is terrorizing Freddy.

10. Landon Doak as the bullying brother who terrorizes a teenage Dr. Silvana.

Jun 21, 2019

Welcome Back, Mr. Iglesias

Gabriel Iglesias (no relation to Enrique Iglesias) is a plus-sized comedian ("I'm not fat, I'm fluffy") who has apparently been popular for 26 years.  He's got 40 acting credits on IMDB dating all the way back to 1993.  A very eclectic assortment: Magic Mike, Cristela, Family Guy, Annoying Orange, and Narcos

Plus 14 producing credits, including: Aloha Fluffy, The Fluffy Movie, Hey It's Fluffy, Fluffy's Food Adventures, and The Fluffy Shop.

Of course, his social media presence is much more important these days: 14 million followers, 370 million views of his youtube videos.

Not homophobic.  In his stand-up routine, he's thrilled that a gay man made a pass at him: "I turned on a man!  I called my girlfriend and said 'You'd better be careful. I've got options."

After all that, it seems rather a let-down to star in a Netflix sitcom, especially a copy of Welcome Back Kotter : a caring teacher tries to reach a class of underachievers (the blurb says overachievers, but it is mistaken).

Mr. Iglesias even teaches the same subject, American history.

The main difference seems to be:
1. A  mostly black and Hispanic cast.
2. An emphasis on the teachers rather than the students

The two main male teachers are Tony (Jacob Vargas, left) and Carlos (Oscar Nuñez, who played a gay guy on The Office)

3. The students seem much younger than the 20-something hunks who pretended to be 16 on Welcome Back, Kotter. The three main male students are Walter (Tucker Albrizzi), Mikey (Fabrizio Zacharee Guido, left), and Lorenzo (Coy Stewart, below)

Gay characters:  Not that I can tell.

Gay references:  The new inclusivity guidelines have proper terms to use for "gender and orientation."  Weirdly closeting the term "sexual orientation."

Beefcake: No


1. Mr. Iglesias' lectures are oddly superficial.  The first was a riff on powdered wigs.  The second, on Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Slayer.

2. The teachers spend a lot of time flirting with each other.

3. The boys spend a lot of time being hetero-horny.  In Episode #2, Mikey can't do his oral report properly because the female teacher evaluating him is too hot. Mr. Iglesias advises "Concentrate on what's up going on up here (points to his head), and forget about what's going on down there (points to his crotch)."

What's the Point:

Well, at least there are a lot of anti-Trump jokes.

Jun 20, 2019

"Detour," Season 4 is Still Obsessed with Boys

Last summer I watched Season 1 of The Detour (2016-), about married couple Nate and Robin (Jason Jones, Natalie Zea)  and their kids (12-year old Delilah, and 11-year old Jared) on a mishap-filled road trip from Syracuse, New York to Florida.  

 I liked the misunderstandings that humiliated the social justice warriors by making them appear racist or homophobic.

I liked the gradual unraveling of the "perfect" nuclear family, as both Nate and Robin reveal game-changing secrets.

I didn't like Jared's body constantly under display, his pubescence a constant topic of discussion.  The character was 11, and actor Liam Carroll 13.  Why so many references to his penis?

Season #2 wasn't about a road trip -- they moved to New York.  And none of the big questions were answered.  It was like Lost, more and more convoluted, with flashbacks that turn out to be flash-forwards, and questions inside of questions.  I stopped watching halfway through.

I gave Season #3 a pass, although heard that they were now hiding out in Alaska.

Season #4, which premiered June 18th, drew me back in with the promise of globetrotting adventure:  Delilah has gone missing, and left word that she doesn't want to be found.  But she keeps sending video clues, so the family jmps on the nearest plane.  First up: Paraguay, Tibet, and New Zealand, with references to Japan and Peru.

Location shots, I assumed.  Maybe some interesting shots of Lhasa.  So I watched.

Nate and Robin are no longer social justice warriors who inadvertently say or do things that seem racist.  The show itself is racist.  The "natives" they meet always try to con them.  Paraguay is full of drug lords, and there are no cars, so they have to travel on horseback.

In a Tibetan monastery, the monks chant "Let's Be Weird," a song they found on youtube.  And by the way, in Tibet they speak Tibetan, not Chinese.

Jared, now 13, has gone hetero-horny, and kisses lots of bikini-clad girls in a dream sequence.  In real life, he gets a Tibetan girlfriend, only to discover, to his horror, that she is 10 years old (don't worry, the actress, Tiffany Alycia Tong, is an adult).  It's not clear how far he's gone with her, but after his discovery he is desperate to get away.

The obsession with Jared's body continues.  In a cringeworthy scene, Nate and Robin are sleeping with Jared between them, naked to share body heat (they're on a mountain in Tibet, after all), when Jared gets an erection.  Nate thinks it's "weird" to have his son's erect penis pushing against his penis, but if they turn Jared around, he will be pushing against his mother's vagina, even more "weird."

Robin points out that boys that age get erections randomly; it doesn't mean that he is attracted to either of them.  And they're being good parents by keeping their son safe.

Am I the only one who didn't think this was funny?

Liam Carroll is now 17, old enough to be a "dreamy" teen idol, and above the age of consent in some states, if you're interested in seeing him drink water with his shirt off.

Or posting a comment about his feet to his instagram page.

But Jared is only 13, and I still don't want to hear about his penis.

Sacralization of the Family:  Lots of "Famiy is everything!" rhetoric

Gay characters: No.

Beefcake: No.  No adult beefcake, I mean.

See also: The Detour

Jun 19, 2019

The Gay Tease of "Always Be My Maybe"

Netflix recommended this movie for me with a 98% match: Sasha and Marcus had a brief romance in high school.  15 years later, Sasha has become a celebrity chef, while Marcus is still living in his parents' basement.  They feel the spark of attraction again, but can they adapt to each other's worlds?

I sat stunned.  Blurbs about movies with gay people don't include the terms "romance" or "spark of attraction."  They say "forbidden love" and "attraction that threatens to destroy their lives."

And the title would never be Always Maybe.  It would be something like Alex Strangelove.    But the illustration -- it's hard to see from across the room -- seems to show two men.  And Sasha and Marcus are both boys' names.

Remember Sasha Mitchell, sitcom star turned martial artist (top photo)?

And Marcus Schenkenberg, the Swedish model who was popping up all over the tv screen in the 1990s?

Could a gay romance be presented so nonchalantly, as "a romance"?  Could gay people be just....people?  How come we overcame, and nobody told me?

Just to be sure, I checked the byline: Ali Wong, Randall Park, James Saito.  Two of those people are Sasha and Marcus, and all three are men.

So I turned it on.

More after the break.

Jun 16, 2019

How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast) and Annoy Every Gay Person in the World

In 2015, the German police burst into the Leipzig home of Max Moritz, and found320 kilos of drugs stored on shelves in his bedroom, plus 13,000 euros in cash and two hard drives detailing the transactions of a drug dealing empire.  The teenager was the biggest drug dealer in Europe, selling online through a website called Shiny Flake.

Sounds like a good story in there, right?  Netflix brought it to the small screen as the short series How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast).  But of course for...um...narrative purposes, the writers had to make a few changes.

1. Instead of booming cultural capital of Leipzig, Moritz Zimmerman lives in Rinseln.  There is no such town in Germany, but it's described as insular, boring, and depressing, where everyone wants to get away.

2. He has a best friend, who happens to be in a wheelchair.

3. He has some family issues.

4. He decides to sell drugs only in order to win the GIRL of his dreams (actually the GIRL who just dumped him). 

That's right, the most cliched, conformist, heterosexist, offensive plotline imaginable.

Hint: gay boys exist, and even heterosexual boys occasionally do things for reasons other than to WIN GIRLS.

Besides, you can't win A GIRL.  They're not prizes in a competition.  If a GIRL is not interested in a social relationship with you, leave her alone.

Who's responsible for this slap in the face of gay people and GIRLS everywhere?

I just ran through it on fast-forward, to see if there might be any beefcake or gay characters to partially redeem the mess.

Beefcake: None.  Nobody unbuttons a button.

Gay characters: No.

Gay subtexts:  Maybe Moritz and his best friend Lenny. 


One episode guide has Lenny  "confiding in a new friend," suggesting some gay-subtext buddy-bonding, but guess what -- the "new friend" is a GIRL.

Well, do the actors at least have a gay connection? .

1. Moritz is played by Maximilian Mundt, otherwise known for a few guest spots on German tv and Tigermilch (2017), about two teenage GIRLS who witness a murder (top photo shows Max and his buddies in another movie ogling a GIRL).

2. Lenny is played by Danilo Kamber, otherwise known for Die Pfferkorns, a long-running series about kids who solve crimes.  Two boys and three GIRLS.

3. Moritz's drug-dealing competitor, Bubba (who thinks of these stupid names?), is played by Bjarne Madel, previously the star of the humorous cop show Tatortreiniger (Crime Scene Cleaner, 2011-2018).  His character is straight, but at least he appears in his underwear.

4. Ruben Brinkman plays another dealer.  In the Dutch drama Feuten (2010-2013), about fraternity hazing, he plays one of the adults.  But at least he takes his shirt off.

5. Daniel Riffert, who The Girl is dating,  is played by Damian Hardung, also seen in the Italian tv series The Name of the Rose alongside John Turturro and Ruper Everett.  Maybe he plays the gay monk.

But he also stars in Das schönste Mädchen der Welt (2018), a retelling of the Cyrano de Bergerac story about a boy trying to win THE GIRL of his dreams.  And his demo reel is about a boy trying to win a Muslim GIRL.

Well, at least there are a lot of beefcake photos of Damian online.

6. Max Von Pufendorf has nothing to do with How to Sell Drugs Online (Fast).  But he popped up when I was searching for "Danilo Kamber" "schwule." 

You could do worse. Like spend more than 5 seconds watching Moritz trying to win The Girl.
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