Jan 18, 2020

"Living Biblically": A Hard No, In Spite of the Beefcake and Bulges

Just the title of the tv series Living Biblically is terrifying.   And the plot synopsis:  a guy tries to follow all of the rules listed in the Bible.

Surely he doesn't plan to get circumcized, offer animal sacrifices, enslave his neighbors, and stone people to death.

More likely he'll be following what fundamentalists think are Biblical rules: avoid alcohol and movies, go to church twelve times a week, try to win the souls of your friends, and scream "God hates you!" at gay pride festivals.

Spoiler alert:  The Bible doesn't mention gay people. Modern gay identity did not exist in Bible times.  The "thou shalt not lie with man as with woman" passage prohibits temple prostitution, not same-sex dating. But everybody thinks that the Bible screams "hate gay people!" on every page.

But one of the executive producers is Johnny Galecki, who has played gay characters, and another is Patricia Fass Palmer, who has produced both the original and modern versions of One Day at a Time, with gay characters.  Plus Sarah Gilbert, who is a lesbian, appears in six episodes.  How homophobic could it be?

Turns out the guy hasn't actually read the Bible, and believes that the only rules it contains are the 10 Commandments. 

Piece of cake. When was the last time you were tempted to kill someone?  A few might be a problem, like "Remember the Sabbath."  The Commandments don't specify how to do that, so the Nazarenes filled in the blanks: no working (including homework), no shopping, no restaurants, no Sunday newspaper,  and spend six hours in church.

Each episode addresses a different Commandment:

1. "Thou shalt have no other gods before me": Throw away your cellphone, it's getting between you and God.

2. "Love thy neighbor."  Be nice to your noisy neighbors.  Not one of the 10 Commandments, but ok.

3. "Thou shalt not steal."  Return the office supplies that you have accidentally brought home.

4. "Honor thy father." But what if Dad is a jerk?

5.  "Thou shalt not bear false witness."  No little white lies.

6. Chip's atheist mother-in-law visits. Maybe "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'"  But that's not a Commandment.

7.  Rabbi Gill, one of Chip's spiritual advisors, moves in with him.  There aren't any Commandments about annoying roommates.

8. "Wives, submit to your husband."  Not a Commandment, it's from the Apostle Paul.

9. "Thou shall not covet."  Chip and his coworker Vince are up for the same award.

10. "It is better to give than receive."  Not a Commandment, just a proverb like "Don't cry over spilled milk."

11. "David and Goliath"  Chip takes on the big boss. Not a Commandment.  God doesn't actually require you to fight big guys.

I'm still terrified of watching.  I just know that there will be some "God hates gay people" rhetoric.  Besides,  it has an 18% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Maybe I'll just stick to checking on beefcake.

1. Jay R. Ferguson as Chip, the Biblical guy.   You may recall Jay as a teen idol in the 1990s with at least one gay role, and more recently as the father of a gay teen on The Real O'Neals.  There are underwear shots online, but the ginormous bulge makes them inappropriate to post here.

2. David Krumholtz (second photo), who you may recall as the cute math whiz on Numbers, as Rabbi Gill, one of Chip's spiritual advisors.

3. Ian Gomez, who you may recall as the gay Jauvier on Felicity, as Father Gene, Chip's other spiritual advisor, a chubby bear with nice biceps.  Haven't you ever wondered what your preacher looked like naked?

4. Tony Rock, younger brother of comedian Chris Rock, as work friend  Vince.

5. Ravi Patel (left) as Doug. I wonder if he plays a Hindu whose soul Chip tries to win.

6. Charles Emmett, who has appeared on such gay-friendly shows as Will and Grace and The Fosters, as a Baptist minister who Chip meets on a field trip.

There's apparently some beefcake-heavy cast members.  But I'm still not watching it.

See also: Jay R. Ferguson, Teen Idol

Jan 17, 2020

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe

I disliked He-Man  and the Masters of the Universe (1983-85), the cartoon based on the Mattel toys.

First of all, the term "he-man" roiled me.  Whether you measure it by chromosomes, hormones, a penis, or external affect, a man is a man.  There's no degrees, there's no "he does this, so he's more of a man than you."  Everything men do is what men do, which is everything except give birth.

This particular He-Man is just a run-of-the-mill 1980s sword-and-sorcery hunk, except he has the rather Biblical title Prince Adam of Eternia (Holy Garden of Eden, Batman!).

The Elders of Eternia, who live in Castle Greyskull, decided that they needed a hero, so they chose Prince Adam.  To become a superhero, he raises his penis...um, I mean his sword...and yells "By the Power of Grayskull, I am the Power!"

He then transforms, Shazam-like, into...well, exactly the same person.  He just takes his clothes off and puts a Christian cross on his chest.

His main nemesis is Skeletor, a hyperbolic skull-faced guy with purple muscles and a bone-cross, who wants to..well, you know.

His main allies are:
1. Battle Cat
2. The Girl, aka Teela the "Warrior Goddess"
3. The Sorceress, who may be Teela, too.  All women are the same woman, the Eternal Feminine.
4. Orko, a weird ghost-thing who acts as comic relief.  If you need any.

But he also fights with the Masters of the Universe -- rather a hyperbolic title, since they really defend only Planet Eternia.  They include characters with bizarre names like Man-E-Faces, Buzz Off, Snout Spout, Sir Laser-Lot, Wun-Dar, and Sy-Klone (I'm not making this up).

Every episode is a morality play, with the moral helpfully provided at the end.

Ileena is drugged by the evil wizard Jarvon.  Moral: Drugs are bad.

He-Man and Skeletor must team up to defeat the evil plant-monster Evilseed.  Moral: Cooperation is good.

A villain named Darkdream blots out Eternia's sun.  Moral: Nightmares can't hurt you.

Often the moral had only a very loose relationship to the story:

Skeletor steals Castle Greyskull.  Moral: Overeating is bad.

He-Man is forced to fight as a gladiator.  Moral: Books are better than tv.

Adam and Teela explore an old castle and awaken its residents from an enchanted sleep.  Moral: You should go to bed at the same time each day.

Seriously, who was watching this?

Somebody was.  In 1985, a spin-off series introduced Prince Adam's twin sister Adora, who was kidnapped as a baby and raised on Etheria.  She becomes She-Ra, Princess of Power (What, no She-Woman?), with comrades named Cowl, Bow, Frosta, Perfuma, Castaspella (really?), and enemies named Catra, Mantenna (I'd like to see his man-tenna), Scorpia, and Entrapta.

In 1990, a new line of toys required a new series: .He-Man moves from Eternia to Primus, where struggles against Skeletor and his army of mutants.

Ready for the list of crazy names?  Quakke, Slush Head, Gross, Butthead, Gleep, and Karatti.

In 2002, yet another series appeared, with another toyline. Back on Eternia, He-Man fights Skeletor and his Snake-People,

There was a live action movie, Masters of the Universe, in 1987.  Dolph Lundgren (top photo) played a He-Man who somehow ends up on Earth and befriends two 1980s teens, Kevin and Julie (Robert Duncan McNeill, later of Star Trek: Voyager, Courtney Cox, later of Friends).  Critics jeered.

A new movie version has been announced several times over the years.  Professional surfer Laird Hamilton and more recently Kellan Lutz have been mentioned as potential future He-Men.

Jan 15, 2020

Rupert Grint's Biceps Drive Boys Mad

In Driving Lessons (2006), Julie Walters plays a free spirit actress who takes an interest in shy teenager Rupert Grint. She originally thinks that her protege is gay, so she knows that gay teenagers exist. But still, on the DVD commentary, she exclaims: "Those biceps! The girls will go mad!" She no longer believes that there is a single teenage boy in the world who might go mad over Rupert Grint's enormous biceps.

Heterosexism aside, in the Harry Potter movies, Rupert Grint was well aware of the homoerotic undertones in the original novel between his character, Ron Weasley, and teen wizard Harry Potter.  So in the movie series, he imbued his character with a tenderness, a vulnerability, and an eye-bulging desire that was not mitigated by the scripted romance with Hermione.

 And after Harry Potter, he has chosen a number of buddy-bonding projects (as well as projects that allow him to display his respectably buffed physique and Burt Ward-sized package).  Cherrybomb (2009), for instance, involves a sex-and-crime triangulation between Rupert's Malachy and Robert Sheehan's Luke.   

In Wild Target (2009), a middle-aged hitman (Bill Nighy) takes on a young apprentice (Rupert) and a hostage (Emily Blunt), and proceeds to fall in love with both.

In Into the White (2012), Rupert plays a British pilot shot down over Norway during World War II.  In order to survive, he must share an isolated mountain cabin with a German pilot.  I haven't seen it, but it sounds like it's tailor-made for homoerotic buddy-bonding.

Rupert has not addressed the usual gay rumors, but there is no doubt that, like his Harry Potter costar Daniel Radcliffe, he is a gay ally.

Jan 13, 2020

The Top 10 Hunks of "Lost in Space," Season 2

I can't tell you how much I hate Season 2 of Lost in Space, the reboot of the classic 1960s series about a family of space explorers that gets lost en route to Alpha Centauri.  It's one ridiculous life-threatening situation after another, each solved by the family sticking together, because, you know, Family is Everything.

We left off with the Robinsons being zapped through a space warp and facing a solar system full of threatening robot spaceships.  How will they ever get out of this one?

Episode #1: They evaded the threatening spaceships off-camera (way to ruin a cliffhanger!).

For the last seven months (thus explaining why Will Robinson is noticeably older), they've been stuck on a planet with a methane atmosphere but an ocean of H2O.  Is that even possible?  They turn the Jupiter 2 into a boat and sail to an electrical storm.

Episode #2: They're stuck on a crevice on a giant waterfall that leads to an alien artifact. Huh?  There's writing on it, which the Robinsons can't decipher. 

Well, of course not.  You can't translate script unless you are familiar with the language it's written in.  That's why we couldn't decipher Egyptian hieroglypics until we found the Rosetta Stone.  Did anyone consult a linguist?

Episode #3: They finally reach the Resolute, the mother ship which got zapped into the space warp , too.  It was abandoned quickly -- food left on the table, "Space Cowboy" playing -- except for a little girl and a horse.

They didn't have enough time to turn "Space Cowboy" off, but they had enough time to evacuate all the animals except for one horse, which has been living on air for seven months.

Turns out the colonists left because a rogue robot was chasing them.  One that they couldn't just shoot.  But the Robinsons quickly subdue it. Families that Stick Together can do anything!

Episode #4: The colonists have spent the last seven months on a desert planet.  Suddenly they encounter a virus that dissolves metal.  Coincidence that it shows up the moment the Robinsons appear?  And  John Robinson is stuck down a well.

Episode #5: Judy is chased by dinosaurs.  What do the dinosaurs usually eat, when there are no humans around?  We see no other plants or animals anywher on the planet.  Do they live on air?

Meanwhile, on the Resolute, Penny and Vijay are trapped in a giant trash compactor full of plastic bags of garbage, including banana peels.

Can you believe that a spaceship is so bad at recycling?  Can you believe that they have bananas?

Episode #6: The  metal-dissolving virus infects the ship, so they're going to chop off the part with the classroom, where Penny, Vijay, Dr. Smith, and a teacher are trapped.  Meanwhile, on the planet, Maureen and Will discuss how much they care about each other, because Family is Everything.  Then they are attacked by hyenas. 

Really? What, exactly, do the scavengers scavenge?  Is there any other plant or animal life around, except for dinosaurs? Did anyone consult with a biologist?

That's as far as we've gotten.  Lord help me, there are four more episodes.

Any gay characters:  Are you kidding?  This is Lost in Space.  Family is Everything. Or, as a reviewer on IMDB says: its "made for mentally normal people,without any SJW agenda or without any scenes or characters meant to fulfill the dreams of any kind of pervert viewer."  Made by straights for straights.

Beefcake: For the first three episodes, it was just the Robinsons:

1. Toby Stephens (top photo) as John Robinson, a former Navy SEAL who got divorced from Maureen just so they could get together again.

2. Ignacio Serricchio (second photo) as Don, smuggler and all-around nogoodnik who got trapped with the Robinsons and joined the family.

Plus Penny, Judy, Maureen. Dr. Smith,and Will,who is 14 but still looks prepubescent.

Once they get to the mother ship/desert planet, there are a variety of dour-looking business and drudge-worker  types running around.

3. J.J. Feild (third photo) as Adler.  He was in charge of piloting the Resolute back and forth between Earth and Alpha Centauri, so he didn't see his wife and kids for two months at a time, and now he's probably lost them forever.  Family is Everything.

Wait -- I thought this was an exploratory mission, that the Robinsons were pioneers, boldly going where no man had gone before.  Turns out there are regular Earth-Alpha Centauri shuttles.  They were just passengers on a bus.

4. Raza Jaffrey as Victor Dhar (left), who seems to exist primarily to disagree with the Robinsons and have a son for Penny to date.

5. Ajay Parikh-Friese as Vijay, one of the three or four teenagers on the Resolute, who gets talked into a caper by Penny, only to get almost trash-compacted to death and then blasted into space in a storage bin.

6. Douglas Hodge (seen here in Salome's Last Dance, 1988, which looks like a far more interesting movie).  On Lost in Space, he plays Hastings, who wants to "get the Resolute to Alpha Centauri at any cost," even if he has to leave the colonists behind on the desert metal-eating world.

7. Bradley Stryker (seen here from The Final Stab, a homoerotic horror movie from 2001) as BK.  I don't know who that is; maybe a miscellaneous colonist.

8. Adam Bogen  (left) as Andre.  Ditto.

9. Sergio Lavaggi, a Vancouver-based fitness model who doesn't have any shirtless shots on instagram, as somebody or other.

10.  Johnny Ghorbani as "Concerned Parent"in the last episode.

The bad news: None of these hunkoids ever take their clothes off, not even when they're being decontaminated.

The good news: most of them have been in far more interesting projects, where chests are on display and gay people exist.

Jan 12, 2020

"Scissor Seven" As Gay as Chinese Anime Can Get

The Chinese anime Scissor Seven, originally entitled Killer Seven. premiered at the Anecy International Animated Film Festival in Anecy, France in 2018, and is now streaming on Netflix.  They changed the name to avoid confusion with a video game.

Working-class schlub Wu Liuqui, aka Seven (voiced by He Xiaofeng), is tired of his job selling beef offal in a sidewalk kiosk, so his cigar-chomping Angy Bird sidekick DaiBo suggests that he become a professional assassin  -- good hours, great benefits, and great pay. They might even make  enough money to go to Stan, a technology-heavy country with a cure for Seven's amnesia. 

Seven points out that his only magical weapon is a pair of scissors, so DaiBo invents two other weapons to help:

1. A GaiBa egg, which, when broken, will give you the appearance of any person or animal (but not their attributes).  Seven uses it to turn into a female Angry Bird -- in order to seduce him? -- but Sidekick isn't into it: "So vulgar."

So Seven has an unrequited crush on DaiBo?

2. Xiao Fei, an "escape bird" who flies him to safety by carrying him by his testicles!

Since Seven's main weapon is a pair of scissors, he opens a hair salon as a cover.

A guy with a feminine-coded job, testicles, and a crush on his male friend.  I'm in!

Suddenly Seven is attacked by a cute robot assassin, who thinks he is a member of the Killer Guild and therefore a  threat to Stan.  "But I just started my training!" Seven argues.  No way could he belong to that super-elite, top-secret society.  Wait...he has amnesia, remember?

A mysterious long-haired girl-warrior rushes to the rescue, dispatches the robot, and vanishes.

Ruh-roh.  Is Seven gay (or accidentally gay), or has he just encountered The Girl?

I cautiously watch a few episodes to find out.

His first job: the leader of the cat army hires him to "stab the eyes" of her ex-boyfriend, the leader of the dog army, who dumped her.  The dog says that he's still in love with her, but dog-cat relationships can't produce children. Seven argues that love is love, and arranges a reconciliation.

Um...that's about as blatant as you can get in the People's Republic of China, which bans the depiction of "abnormal sexual relationships" on tv and in movies.

Sorry, I was wrong.  It gets more blatant.

Next, the Island Purity Society hires Seven to kill a man who collects and wears  ladies' lingerie.  But he's buying it, not stealing it, so what's the problem?  Lots of people have kinky fetishes; the old biddies should mind their own business.  He rescues the guy instead of killing him, and in the end,  decides to try some on some ladies' lingerie, too.

Promoting tolerance of sexual diversity, with some cross-dressing interests of his own?  Seven is definitely gay.

Next: while gathering intel,Seven is trying to look at girls' "coconuts" when a muscular square-headed guy gets in the way. Metaphor for same-sex interests taking precedence over heteronormativity?

He's "part-time bodyguard" DaChun, who disapproves of assassins because they kill people rather than protecting them.  (To be fair, Seven hasn't killed anyone yet.  He's more of a negotiator).

They have a homoerotic battle, which culminates in the "Solid as Gold Lock," "as strong as true love":  DaChun stays attached to Seven's backside through showering after their workut, dinner, watching the sunset together, and sleeping. They're shown spooning in bed; you can't tell me this wasn't a thinly-disguised date, complete with sex.   In the end DaChun sacrifices himself to save Seven from a guided missile.  Strong as true love, indeed.

What else is there to do? Seven is obviously gay, just closeted enough to fly under the noses of the censors.

But I'm still worried about The Girl, especially when this photo popped up in an image search.  Is it fan art, or does Seven finally succumb to the lure of the Eternal Feminine?

So I skip to the end. Actually, Episode #11.

After a climactic battle, Seven is chosen to go to the mysterious paradise of Stan.  All of the people he's helped come to the hair salon to say goodbye.  The Girl is not present.  He flies off into the sunset, while the narrator assures us that "Seven's story is just beginning."

Episodes #12-14 are flashbacks to DaiBo's past.

Interviewed by China Daily, artist/director He Weifeng stated  "I borrow Seven's points of view to express inclusiveness and love. Better understanding and love makes for harmony."

Translation: Seven is gay.
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