Sep 14, 2019

The I-Land: "Lost" Written by a Writing-School Dropout

10 people on a desert island, with no memory of who they are or how they got there.  Sounds interesting, sort of Lost light.

We discover almost immediately that this is a computer simulation (the title I-Land is one clue.)  But that's ok, maybe a combination of Lost and The Prisoner.   Does someone want in-for-mation?

Except: the people are complete jerks.  They immediately start bickering, hooking up, and trying to rape each other instead of looking for food, water, and shelter.

For plot complications, there is a cannibal among them, and two bounty hunters named Bonnie and Clyde (Clyde played by KeiLyn Durrel Jones, left).

We learn all the details in Episodes 3 and 7 (the finale),  which are all long plot exposition discussions.  Hey, did anyone take Creative Writing 101?  Show, don't tell?

Due to global warming, Texas is now mostly underwater, so the crime rate has increased, and the prisons are full:   "So many more people are criminals, now that the water has reclaimed the land, that we have to find a way to redeem them."

Um...we've had rehabilitation programs for over 180 years.  Job training, GED classes, life skills classes, drug treatment, counseling....

 So they are trying out a program to give parole to murderers if they can prove that they have been reformed.

Um...what about the non-violent inmates?  Maybe parole them first?

So the murderers are memory-wiped, put into young, hot bodies, and dumped on a hologram-island to see what happens.  This group consists of:

1. Chase, who killed her husband and children
2. KC
3. Cooper
4. Moses (Kyle Schmid, left)
5. Blair

6. Mason, a mass murderer
7. Donova
8. Taylor
9. Hayden
10. Brody (Alex Pettyfer, left)

It would be very interesting to see the back stories of all of these people, to learn how and why they became murderers, but nope, the writer never took Creative Writing 101.  We learn nothing about the lives of most of them.

Therefore I have no idea if any of them are gay.  Some shy away from hetero-hookups, but that's as far as it gets.

I sort of liked the scenes set back in real life, with Bruce McGill as the Warden channeling the Rich Texan from The Simpsons.  He is so incredibly over the top that I thought he must be a parody.  After all, Bruce McGill has been in a lot of movies.  He must have taken acting lessons, right?

Now, if we can just get the writers into Creative Writing 101....

Sep 12, 2019

Mid90s: Drugs, Suicide, Homophobia, and Pedophilia

Jonah Hill says "It was important to tell the truth" in Mid90s, his directorial debut, and hopefully his swan song.  I think it's more important to not make viewers sick.

When I searched for one of the cast members, Gio Galicia, this photo came up, with the caption "Screenshot of Bohemian Rhapsody."    It's obviously from Mid90s, not Bohemian Rhapsody, nor is Gio Galicia in the shot.

Goes to show how f*ked up this movie is.

Oh, sorry, we're being real.  The movie is fucked up.  It's a piece of shit.  It is especially offensive to gay viewers, even though producer Scott Rudin is gay.

It's a Kids reboot about a little boy named Stevie, 13 years old but played by 12-year old Sunny Suljic.  Apparently Jonah Hill cast him deliberately to get someone who looked "young."  He's living with his neglectful mother and abusive older brother (Lucas Hedges, top photo) in Los Angeles in the mid-90s.

I lived in Los Angeles in the mid-90s.  It was great.

Stevie tries to alleviate his pain by hanging out with some older kids at a skate park.

Way older.  Their leader, Ray, is played by 25-year old Na-Kel Smith.

Stevie learns to smoke marijuana, fight, get drunk, and use racist and homophobic language (every other word is "fag"),

I agree that it's "real"  There are real racist, homophobic assholes in the world.  Why make a movie about them?

Of course Stevie has sex (with a girl played by a 23-year old actress).

That's a Class 1 Felony. Even pretending to have sex with a 13-year old is inappropriate.

But Stevie's newfound drug abuse and prepubescent sexual activity does not bring happiness.  He gets two head injuries, one in a skateboarding accident and the other in a car accident, and attempts suicide.

One would expect at least some buddy-bonding among the skateboarders.  But they mostly argue, posture, and fight.  .

\No beefcake.  We see Stevie's prepubescent body, of course, and Ian (his older brother) briefly in his underwear as he's beating up Stevie. 

Here's the only shirtless photo of a cast member I could find, Olan Prenatt, who plays  Fuckshit.

My rating:Is there anything lower than F-?

How about fuckshit?

Christopher Knight/Peter Brady

I was saddened to hear of the death of Florence Henderson, who played (among other roles) Carol Brady on The Brady Bunch, surrogate mom to millions of Boomers.

Every Brady Boomer had every episode memorized, and had an ongoing series of crushes on one or more of the six Brady kids.

Most gay guys liked Greg (Barry Williams), the oldest boy, and the self-appointed hunk of the group, but he was obnoxiously girl-crazy.  I liked Peter (Christopher Knight), the middle boy, who hardly ever displayed any interest in girls, and had other traits that would get him dubbed "a Fairy" in my junior high.

He liked to sing; he belonged to the Drama Club; he donned a Campfire Bluebird uniform to sell cookies door-to-door.  A great role model for boys growing up in small towns with no interest in girls or sports.

And, as the years passed, Christopher Knight grew hunkier than Barry Williams.  He was displayed in shirtless spreads in Tiger Beat long after the series ended, and was asked to take off his shirt on tv a lot.

Though he's been busy with various Brady spin-offs and sequels, he's had time for a lot of tv appearances, on The Bionic Woman, Chips, Happy Days, The Love Boat, and others.  He starred on Joe's World (1979-80) and the soap Another World (1980-81), and as himself on The Surreal Life and My Fair Brady (2005-2008).

Today Christopher Knight is probably the most gay-friendly of the exceptionally gay-friendly Bunch.   He starred in two of Greg Araki's gay-themed angst movies, Nowhere and The Doom Generation, and played half of a gay couple (with tv brother Barry Williams) a 2006 episode of That 70s Show.  He was interviewed on the gay talk show Queer Edge. 

And he still has an amazing physique.

See also: Barry Williams/Greg Brady.

Sep 11, 2019

Bobbseys, Boxcars, and Beefcake

I was never much of a fan of the mystery genre, but many gay kids liked the gentle, pre-Hardy Boys exploits of The Famous Five or their American counterparts, the Bobbsey Twins and the Boxcar Children.

Laura Lee Hope’s Bobbsey Twins series lasted through 72 installments from 1904 to 1979.  Originally the two sets of twin siblings aged normally, but when the series was revised and extensively rewritten during the 1960s, Bert and Nan remained twelve (but behaved as adolescents), and Freddie and Flossie remained six (they all seemed to behave somewhat older than their "real" ages, or maybe that is just a reflection of the extra freedom kids had in earlier generations).  In the 1960s they also began to have more dramatic adventures in realistic locales, though the titles were still aimed at a youngish market: The Secret of Candy Castle, The Doodlebug Mystery, The Flying Clown.

Gay boys found most resonance in Bert, who was in his last days of childhood, still happy to play with his sister and younger siblings but obviously longing for emotional connections outside the group.  In fact, an ongoing theme of the books is the conflict between the comfort and safety of family and the need to “leave the nest” and find one’s own way in the world.  But girls play no part in any of the stories; instead, in nearly every book, in the midst of piecing out clues and solving mysteries, Bert goes off on his own with a boy.

The Boxcar Children were another group of siblings, Henry (14), Jessie (13), Violet (10), and Benny (6), orphans who moved into an abandoned boxcar in the 1924 novel by Gertrude Chandle Warner.  Then, in the late 1940s, Warner realized that the four would make ideal child-sleuths.  She had them adopted by their wealthy grandfather, Mr. Alden, who traveled around the country to keep track of his various business investments, thus providing lots of exotic locales for sleuthing.  Eighteen new installments appeared between 1949 and 1976, sending the kids to haunted houses, bedeveled ranches, mountain cabins, and seaside resorts.   The children age through the adventures, and by #19, Benny Uncovers a Mystery, Henry is in college.

Like Bert, Henry is trying to establish his independence while still remaining part of the family, but, unlike adolescent boys in children's media today, he is never portrayed as girl-crazy.  Instead, when his life outside the family appears in the novels, he is usually seen in the company of a boy (the girl on this cover is his sister).

Sep 10, 2019

Kamal Ellis

Kamil Ellis is the young Australian actor who starred in seasons 3-4 of Nowhere Boys.  This was the first time he played a generic role: previously his characters tended to embrace his aboriginal heritage.

Cleverman  (2016-17) sounds like a psycho-slasher, but he is actually the leader of the Dreamtime in a tv series about hairymen (sort of aboriginal Neanderthals) experiencing racism and discrimination in contemporary Australia.  Kamal plays Mungo, a boy who tries to escape capture and ends up being beaten to death.

Deep Water (2016) is based on the real-life murders and disappearances of gay men near Bondi Beach, Sydney, in the 1980s.  Kamil plays Jason, a boy who hangs out on the beach.

The reality series Bushwacked (2014) sends Kamil and journalists Kayne Tremills and Jordan Walters into the outback in search of Australia's weirdest animals. 

Dance Academy (2010-13) traces the lives of mean girls and it-boys at Sidney's National Dance Academy (apparently they dance shirtless on occasion).  Kamil appears in 3 episodes as Jayden, a street kid with dancing cred.

In addition to his on-screen acting, Kamil has had a long career as an aboriginal dancer and singer.  His credits include:
Ganang Spirit Dancers
Secret River Sidney Theater
Bangarra Dancers
Koormurri Dreaming 

He's done so much of interest as a kid, I can't wait to see him as an adult.

Sep 9, 2019

The Top 10 Nowhere Boys

Nowhere Boys, on Amazon Prime and Vudu, is an Australian teen supernatural drama about four boys who get lost in the woods on a school field trip,  When they return, everything is different.  A disabled brother can walk.  A single mom is married.  One boy doesn't seem to exist at all.

With the help of various allies and love interests, they figure out that they have somehow become lost in a parallel world.  It sounds like a science fiction premise, but it is actually supernatural.  Getting home requires magical spells and fighting demons.

The four boys are:
1. Popular it-boy Sam (Rahart Adams).

2. Goth Felix (Dougie Baldwin)

3. Nerd Andy (Joel Lok).  I don't see any gay subtexts, but at least he doesn't get a girlfriend.

4. Jock Jake (Matt Testro)

In Season 2 (2013-14), the boys discover that they can now control the four elements (air, water, fire, earth).  Now they must travel between the two parallel worlds.

5. For instance, Jake's father Gary (Damian Richardson) is a cop in the alternate world.  Somehow the Mega-Demon arranges for them to encounter each other, but if they make physical contact, the world will explode.

In Seasons 3 and 4, at least five years has passed -- one of the students is now a teacher, and the four original boys are the subject of a stage play.

This time several kids and their principal are zapped into Empty World, where all of the people have vanished (along with most of the food).  The main group consists of:

6. Luke (Kamil Ellis), a science fiction nerd who keeps saying  "This is just like that episode of Next Generation where Dr. Crusher..."  He doesn't get a girlfriend.

By the way, Kamil belongs to the Wiradjuri, the largest Aboriginal tribe in New South Wales.

7. Popular Heath (Joe Klocek, left)

It-girl Nicco

8. Drama queen Jesse (Jordie Race-Coldrey).   He gets a boyfriend.

9. Outsider Ben (William McKenna).

10. Principal Blake (Nicholas Coghlan) arrives in Empty World a year before the others, and the isolation has driven him daffy.  And maybe a bit evil.

Not a lot of beefcake photos available.  But everybody does't need to have their pecs and abs on display all the time.  There's nothing wrong with looking like the Boy Next Door instead of a 28-year old fitness model.  In fact, after a diet of Riverdale and its clones, it's a pleasant change of pace.

The Subtext in Casper the Friendly Ghost

When I was a kid in the 1960s  and 1970s, my favorite comic book title was Harvey, with its odd jack-in-the-box logo and its fantasy characters (Casper the Friendly Ghost, Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost, Hot Stuff the Little Devil)

Harvey also produced comics about human kids, like Richie Rich, Little Dot, and Little Lotta.  Casper the Friendly Ghost was about a ghost boy who lives with three nameless adult guardians in the Enchanted Forest (Not to be confused with the inferior Charlton knockoff Timmy the Timid Ghost).

In Casper’s world, ghosts were not dead people, but beings in their own right, who are born, grow up, take jobs and houses, and eventually grow old and die.  Their main pastime and means to social prestige is scaring, but Casper refuses to scare. 

Gay-coded, but no sissy or milquetoast, Casper is a strong-willed nonconformist, a Vietnam-Era pacifist who refuses to follow the hawkish status quo of ghost society. So strong are his principles that even when his life is in danger, he refuses to “boo” his way to safety.

Casper has an ally and confidant in Wendy, a blonde-haired, blue-eyed witch girl in a red jumpsuit who lives with three guardians of her own. They are not romantically involved; they are merely friends and comrades, thrown together by their common disdain for the social institutions that tell them they must scare. Neither expresses any heterosexual interest. (The 1995 movie starring Devon Sawa turned Casper heterosexual.)

But occasionally Casper moves beyond a simple lack of heterosexual desire to offer a glimpse of that other world. His efforts to bond with other beings (almost always male) sometimes transcend the merely friendly, especially whe the objects of his attention are perfect strangers whose struggles may cost him his life.

He accompanies Oliver Ogre on a perilous journey to the moon (Casper 113, January 1968), and helps an ancient Egyptian pharaoh regain his throne from a villainous usurper in (Casper 117, August 1968).

 When his new friends are adult humans, pixies, or Greek gods, drawn with the hard tight chests and rippling biceps more commonly associated with the DC and Marvel lines, it is easy to locate romantic attraction among his motives.

We see similar gay subtexts in “The Evil Planet” (Casper in Space 6, June 1973): Casper dreams that he has joined the deep space expedition of Crash Hammerfist, a Buck Rogers-type adventurer drawn as a brawny muscleman. They land on The Evil Planet, where flying bird-men abduct Crash’s female companion, Gale. While Casper calmly evaluates their options, Crash goes to pieces:

Crash: This is a disaster! Look – my cape is ruined! I can’t explore this evil planet looking like this!

Casper: [Trying to keep him focused on the crisis.] Is Gale your girlfriend?

Crash: No. . .she’s my seamstress. She made this entire outfit. [Hand swishily on hip.] Do you like it?

Casper: [Looking decidedly suspicious.] Er. . .yes.

At Casper’s urging, they ignore the soiled cape and set out to rescue Gail. They discover that she is being forced to compete in a beauty contest; the winner will become the wife of Emperor Zinzang, a young, slim Castro Clone. 

 When Crash bursts in, flexing his muscles and issuing taunts, the Emperor seems quite impressed, if not downright attracted; he forgets all about the beauty contest and challenges the superhero to single combat. They spend several panels lunging, grabbing, and jumping on top of each other, in the process accidentally shredding their outfits so the interplay of their muscles becomes even more evident.

During a lull in the battle, the Emperor explains to Casper that he really likes Crash, and he’s not evil, he’s just crazed with power – he received a year’s worth of invulnerability for his 27th birthday, and he’s been behaving rudely ever since. But in a few minutes he’ll be 28, normal again, and Crash will annihilate him.

Casper suggests that he call a truce and apologize for abducting Gail, and then he and Crash could start over as friends. The Emperor agrees.

 Then, abruptly, Casper wakes up. We never find out if the Emperor selects a wife, or if Crash and Gail ever leave the Evil Planet. Should we attribute this sudden jerk into “reality” to the writer’ incompetence, to running out of space in the issue, or to the realization that the only logical conclusion to the story as portrayed involves Crash and the Emperor arm in arm, watching the sun set on the Evil Planet?
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