Oct 26, 2019

"Daybreak": Saving the Non-Gender Specific Person in Distress

I was definitely planning to skip the new Netflix drama Daybreak, about teenagers surviving the apocalypse while the adults are all zapped. Riot Girls, The Last Kids on Earth, Nowhere Boys....I've seen it all before.

More importantly, the promo is all about Josh (Colin Ford) trying to reconnect with the Girl of His Dreams. What does that even mean? It's heterosexist brainwashing.  How about a new mantra: so many girls, so little time, how can I choose?

Plus Colin Ford has nice abs, but attended a evangelical Christian school, has starred in heartwarming productions, and "has never been accused as a gay."

So I was noping my way out of there when I read that his sidekick in the show is gay.

It wouldn't hurt to take a look.

Episode #1:  A narrating Josh, aka Ferris Bueller, thinks that the post-apocalypse is awesome.  Sure, everyone over 18 (and, one assumes, under 10) melted into goo  or turned into trudging "ghoulies," roving gangs are kidnapping kids to "turn into hummus," and Sam, the Girl of His Dreams, has vanished, but you can get all the fast cars and glitzy gear you want.  It evens out.

Josh hears a girl screaming as Golf-Team cannibals prepare to eat her, and rushes to the rescue.  "Let the girl go," he says, "and I'll leave you to whatever circle jerk you have planned for tonight."

"That's tomorrow night," the gang leader, Terry (Chester Rushing, left), tells him, pointing out that gender norms don't exist anymore, so gay sex is no longer shameful.

Not to worry,they still throw around homophobic slurs.  Gay sex is still shameful.

So Josh rescues the foul-mouthed 10-year old Angelica. Then they encounter Wesley (Austin Crute), a gay black bully (I've never seen those three words together before) turned Asian-wisdom spouting street samurai. 

After battling the Mad Max-style Turbo Jock, the trio heads to the  mall, where reputedly Sam is being held captive by the evil Baron Triumph.  No Sam, and the evil baron turns out to be Eli (Gregory Kashyan), a former poor kid now holed up in the mall.  The only other resident is The Witch,  aka Mrs. Crumble, a deranged, semi-zombified former biology teacher.

Kind of derivative, with boring flashbacks, and why did Josh rush to rescue a girl, when a moment before he just watched while a boy was dragged to his death.

Right -- the Girl.

I'll just sample some other episodes.

They turn the mall into a free zone, for kids who didn't belong to a clique before the apocalypse, and try to live as normally as possible.  They even hold a "welcome to being alive" prom, with a gender-neutral ruler instead of a king and queen.

Although ostensibly the "good guy" leader whom everyone loves, Josh is rather jerk-like.  When a new Asian refugee is admitted to the sanctuary, he tells her that he's the new ICE, and she has to vote for him in the upcoming election or he'll have her deported.

Not approp, dude.

There's a lot about power struggles in the Turbo Jock tribe.

Wesley turns out to be dating one of the jocks, Turbo Bro Jock (Cody Kearsley, Moose on Riverdale), who is partially melted and cannot speak.

Principal Burris (Matthew Broderick), who somehow survived being melted, wants to finish "cleansing" the world by setting off a bomb.

Fade out kiss?  Well, Wesley and Turbo Jock Bro get one, but not Sam and Josh.  She rejects him in the end.  Turns out that she never needed rescuing, and she never wanted to be his girlfriend; all of this  dreamy romance-stuff was in his head.

Who'd have thought, Josh as unreliable narrator?  How postmodern!  I might have to go back and watch this after all.

Oct 24, 2019

The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie

When I was in junior high in the 1970s, the anthology series The ABC Saturday Superstar Movie grabbed kids and teens (and sometimes adults) from live-action sitcoms and put them into badly-animated adventures:

The kids from The Brady Bunch are trapped on a desert island.

The Nanny and the Professor kids tackle spies.

Gidget (who actually hadn't been on tv for a decade) tackles smugglers.

Ann Marie from That Girl goes to Wonderland.

I watched sometimes -- it was pleasant to see some of my mega-crushes, like Greg Brady and David Doremus (from Nanny and the Professor), even in animated form.

And there was plenty of animated beefcake, like this hunk, a cousin of Tabitha and Adam from Bewitched who plays in a pop group in a circus, or something.

Besides, the only other option was Scooby-Doo.

But the stories varied in the quality of their animation, and their level of ridiculousness.

Yogi Bear flies around with Hanna-Barbera characters in a giant ark, ridding the world of bigotry, greed, sloppiness, and lack of niceness (all caused by mad scientists with ray guns).

Warner Brothers stars Porky and Daffy clash with The Groovy Ghoulies from Sabrina the Teenage Witch.

The absolute worst was Popeye and the Man Who Hated Laughter, which aired on October 7th, 1972.

I would love to hear the conversation in the board room at ABC:

"Let's do a cartoon special about newspaper comics!  Kids love reading the newspaper, right?"

Um...no, we didn't.

"Great idea!  We can include all of their favorite comic strip characters -- Jiggs and Maggie, Tim Tyler, Mandrake the Magician, The Little King, the Katzenjammer Kids, the Phantom..."

Right, comic strips that were last popular 40 years before we were born!  

They added Popeye, another character from ancient days who was having something of a renaissance on Saturday morning cartoons.

And a plot was created about a mad scientist who hates laughter, so he kidnaps the source of most of the world's laughter -- characters from doddering, long-forgotten comic strips.  The only way they can escape is to convince him that laughter is not so bad after all.  So they put on an idiotic talent show.

The only song I remember is: "Hi, my name is Iodine, and I'm feeling so fine, doing the comic strip rag."

"Rag" was a dance craze from before World War I.

Well, at least you could see The Phantom and Bluto together.

See also: 1970s Saturday Morning Beefcake; Gay Subtexts in "Bringing Up Father."

Oct 23, 2019

The Bisexual Fairy Godfather of the Summer of 1984

Between 1982 and 1984, I was studying for my M.A. in English at Indiana University.  I did not do well.  I couldn't focus on any one topic, or any one department -- I rushed around in the 3,000+ courses taught every semester, grabbing onto things like Mandarin Chinese and Russian Folklore, and ignoring my actual English classes

Besides, who had time to study?  I had just discovered bar pickups.  My friend Viju and I were out at Bullwinkel's, or a a gay bar in Indianapolis, two or three times a week, and we never came home alone.

Sometimes I brought a guy home, had sex with him, then went back to the bar to pick up someone else.

Meanwhile my classes faltered, and I squeaked by with B's and an occasional C+. But who cared?   I was going to become a book editor, not a literature scholar.

In the spring of 1984, I sent out resumes:130 publishing companies, 48 newspapers,  34 television stations, and 16 translation agencies.   No openings, no openings, no openings, no openings.

Classes ended. I received my M.A..  No job. I spent ten days visiting India with Viju, then a week in Rock Island, then returned to Bloomington.

I couldn't afford our apartment any more, so I got a room in Eigenmann Hall, and went back to my old job in the snack bar.

It was fun when I was a student.  But as my life's work?.  I imagined myself at age 50, still living in that coffin-sized room with the bathroom down the hall, still selling burgers and fries to undergrads.

All of my friends had graduated and moved away.  And any new friends I made would graduate and move away, again and again, an every-changing blur of faces and cocks for the rest of my life.

That summer was an endless cold, dark night.

The lunatic in the White House (not as bad as the Orange Goblin, but still a lunatic) almost ended the world by "joking" that the U.S. had launched nuclear missiles at the Soviet Union.

The AIDS crisis was making national news for the first time, and dubbed "a gay disease."  Fundamentalist churches latched onto it to decry the "clinically insane, disease-ridden homosexuals" coming for your children.

All four of the factories in Rock Island closed, doubling the unemployment rate.  My father and brother were both laid off.  I couldn't even fall back on a factory job.

The movies I saw (by myself) are now hailed as classics, but I found them depressing: Ghostbusters, Gremlins, The Karate Kid, The Neverending Story, Revenge of the Nerds, Bachelor Party, Conan the Destroyer

Laura Branigan's "Self Control" was playing on the radio:

I live among the creatures of the night.

I haven't got the will to try and fight.

I must believe in something, so I guess I'll just believe that this night will never go.

Then came my fairy godfather, aka Ben, who worked in the bank downtown.  He was my teller when I withdrew some money (this was before ATMs), and two nights later I saw him at Bullwinkle's.

About ten years older than me, a chunky redhead with a long face, a smooth chest, and no biceps to speak of.  Not at all my type.

And bisexual -- he mentioned watching Family Ties, not for the hot teen idol Michael J. Fox, but for Meredith Baxter Birney, who played his mother!

I couldn't help imagining Ben screwing the lady.  His butt bouncing up and down, squeezing her breasts, kissing her.  Gross!  Complete turn-off.

But I was depressed, and I would have gone home with Boy George just to avoid going back to my coffin-sized room in Eigenmann Hall.

Ben had a house in Unionville, about 10 miles of dark, scary country roads from campus. An old-fashioned wood-and-plaster living room, a four-poster bed with black sheets, a drawer-ful of porn magazines, both gay and straight.  Very cold for July.

[Sex scene is censored]

Afterwards, it was too early to sleep, and I didn't want leave, so we sat up and turned on Saturday Night Live. I told Ben about my master's degree, my dismal job prospects, and my future at the Eigenmann Hall snack bar.  He said that he was working on a Ph.D. in sociology --- very slowly.  This was his seventh year in the program, and he wasn't nearly ready to start his dissertation.  The job at the bank took up most of his time.  But he still planned to finish, and get a job as a college professor.

"I love being in front of a class -- it's an amazing rush.  Hey, why don't you go to work at a college?  They always need teachers."

"Yuck!" I exclaimed.  "I taught during my first year.  Ssurly students who didn't read their assignments, didn't know even the basics about...well, anything, and made homophobic comments."

"It beats making hamburgers, I bet.  Besides, just think of the beefcake!"

"But it's July.  Won't they have all the teachers they need for the fall?"

"Let's find out."  Ben walked naked into the next room and came back with The Chronicle of Higher Education.  5 English teaching jobs available in the fall that required just a M.A.

A month later, I was heading for Hell-fer-Sartain, Texas, an English instructor. It would be horrible, but later, I would teach as an adjunct, then get my Ph.D. (not in English), and spend the next twenty years standing in the front of classrooms.

It definitely beats making hamburgers

The full story, with nude photos and explicit sexual situations, is on Tales of West Hollywood.

Oct 20, 2019

"LIving with Yourself": A Techno Take on the Identical Cousin Trope

Miles (Paul Rudd) is a middle-class heterosexual shlub with problems out of a John Updike novel:  he's bad at his job selling amalgamated sprockets, bad at his marriage, overweight, under-appreciated, and probably infertile. 

His jerk coworker Dan (Desmin Borges, below) tells him about a spa where, for $50,000, you get a "full cleansing," body, mind, and soul."  So, in a midlife-crisis desperation move, Miles decides to empty his savings and go.

Even after it turns out to be in a dingy galleria, run by two sinister-looking mad scientists playing on anti-Asian stereotypes, who strap him to a guerney and administer an anaesthetic.

He awakens in his underwear, in a plastic bag, buried in a shallow grave in the woods.

Wait -- if he was in the plastic bag for a long time, wouldn't he suffocate?

Just go with it.

Miles finally makes it home, only to discover a doppelganger in bed with his wife.

Turns out that the spa produces a clone of their clients, ages it to adulthood, adds all of its memories, and fixes all of its genetic defects, resulting in a duplicate who is stronger, smarter, more enthusiastic, more confident, and better in bed.  Then they kill the original.

Just go with it.

Except somehow original Miles survived, so now there are two Miles: the original, signified by his bad hair, belly, glasses, and slouch, and the fresh-scrubbed, powerlifting, green tea-drinking, first-name-using clone.  They will have to learn to live together while hiding their secret from the world.

So Living with Myself  turns out to be a "my secret" comedy. I've only seen two episodes, but I can imagine the others from Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, and The Patty Duke Show.
"Take my place at the big presentation"
"Go on a romantic weekend with my wife,but don't have sex with her."

There is a deliberate gay subtext:  Miles and New Miles are often mistaken for a gay couple.  When determining if New Miles has an appendectomy scar, Miles gets on his knees, and a passerby thinks they are having sex and yells "Get a room!"

When New Miles decides to go off by himself, they "break up," complete with returning the wedding ring.

But no gay characters.  Even  Miles' ultra-butch sister (Alia Shawkat)  has a heterosexual partner.

Miles visits Left (Rob Yang), one of the mad scientists, and finds him living with his small daughter.

"And wife?" Miles asked.

Left hesitates.  "No." Does he mean his wife is gone, or that he never had a wife because he's gay?

The wife is gone. Gay people don't exist in this world.

Other than Paul and Paul, the male cast seems rather limited.  Desmin Borges (left) as previous clone Dan.

 Tom Brady, whoever that is, playing himself ("I've had the treatment six times.")

Rob Yang as the mad scientist.

Hopefully there will be some buddy bonding down the line, or some gay references other than jokes.

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