May 13, 2020

I Hate" "I Hate Kids": Transphobia, Camp,and an Endless Parade of Ladies

I grew up with the "wife and kids" mantra being pushed at me over and over every day.  When I moved to West Hollywood in 1985, it ended; gay men simply didn't have kids, period. Out of the question.  Now it's back.  Most of the twinks I hook up with expect "marriage and children" in their future. I run away.

So I Hate Kids, on Amazon Prime, had an appealing title.  And the star was the Tituss Burgess, the flamboyantly out Titus from The Umbreakable Kimmie Schmidt, so there was obviously a gay presence.

Scene 1: Establishing shot of L.A., and the morning radio program. A bad psychic named the Amazing Fabular (Tituss) is conning people.  Suddenly he has a real vision and says the name "Mason."

Scene 2: Six months later, the wealthy, elite Nick (Tom Everett Scott) drops his car off and enters an elite club.  A fan wants him to sign a copy of his best-selling book, I Hate Kids   Suggesting that some people might not want to have kids!  Controversial!  Genius!  But the fan has kids....

He goes to a fancy dinner and smooches Syd, the woman he loves.   It's a wedding reception or pre-wedding dinner or something. A heterosexual who doesn't want kids?   I figured he was gay.

Scene 3:  A nerdy teen or young adult arrives.  Mason, no doubt.  He crashes the party and announces that Nick is his dad.  I saw that one coming from the blurb.

Nick doesn't believe it, but the Amazing Fabular shows up to explain his psychic vision, backed up by a DNA test.

Scene 4: The rehearsal dinner is over.  Syd and Kelly (whoever that is) are angry with Nick over his "prank.".   Syd and Nick spend more time kissing than talking.  Every sentence begins and ends with a kiss.  It's nauseating.

Later, Nick meets with Mason and the Amazing Fabular, who explain how they got a sample for the DNA test, in boring detail.

 Nick is upset; having a kid will ruin his brand.  Plus Syd doesn't want kids.  So?  Mason is an adult; she won't be actually raising him.

Mason's goal: his elderly foster mother is being moved into a nursing home, so he needs to find his biological mother to avoid being put into foster care.

Wait -- isn't there another relative who can take care of him?'s an idea...move in with Nick.

Whoa, Mason is 13! I was guessing mid-20s.  Actor Julin Feder doesn't have a birth date listed on IMDB, but he's obviously a grown-up.

Scene 5: Nick tells Syd and Kelly that he got asked to lecture at a college at the last minute.  Then he meets with the guys with the list of every woman he slept with 14 years ago. Lots!  They'll of course have to take a road trip to interview each of them.  Or -- make some phone calls?

Scene 6: First up, Carla, who is eager for the opportunity to punch Nick (saw that one coming).

Later, Fabular asks Nick why he's such a mess, a steaming cloud of bitterness.  Nick wonders what Fabular's angle is.  (I've been wondering that myself)

Scene 7: Next up: Janice, who has a houseful of mannikins she thinks are real.  Gulp. Isn't this the same plotline as Season 3 of Bojack Horseman?

Scene 8: A montage of several ladies slamming doors in their faces.  Meanwhile, Syd is getting fitted for a wedding gown.  Kelly has been snooping around, and finds out that Nick lied about the last-minute lecture.

Scene 9:  Next up:  Winny, who has come out as transgender, and is now named Freddy.  They're all shocked.  Transphobic?  He states that the day after he slept with Nick, he went out and had the surgery.  That's not at all the way it works, idiots.  Sex confirmation surgery comes at the end of a long process.  You have to be living as a member of your transition sex for years. 

Scene 10:  They're getting tired and frustrated (so am I, actually)

They are pulled over for speeding,  Mason talks his way out of a ticket.

Meanwhile, Kelly and Syd snoop,and find out about the ex-girlfriends.

Scene 11: Next up -- yawn -- Christine.  How are they visiting all these people on the same day in L.A. traffic?  How are they all home?  How...

Christine is a fast-talking, hard-driven career woman who built an empire because she can't have kids.  You heard it here, ladies -- kids or career. Pick one.

Meanwhile, Kelly is going into labor.

Scene 12:  Next up -- he narrowed the list down to one month, right?  I don't have sex with that many people in a month, and I go to sex parties. Schyler, a martial arts instructor.

Turns out that Schyler knows Fabular, and his past "bilking old ladies out of their checking accounts."  Please tell me that Fabular wasn't sleeping with those ladies!  His gayness is the only thing keeping me slogging through.

Fabular confesses to Nick that he is, in fact, a con artist (what a surprise!)., but Mason was a real, authentic psychic experience.  Helping Mason will give him a chance at redemption.  Nick, too.

Nick kicks him outof the group.

Scene 13:  Mason's real Mom is horrible. Crass, a smoker, a drunk, with a dirty house and a  bunch of rowdy kids.  No way will Nick leave Mason with her!

He leaves Mason with her!

Scene 14:  Back home, Syd wants to call off the wedding because she decided she wants kids after all.  No problem -- Nick knows where they can get one!  Except Mason ran away from his horrible biological mother.

Scene 15: Fabular is giving a speech.  Nick and Syd ask him to use his psychic powers to find Mason. What do you think happens next?

"He's right behind you."

Beefcake:  No.  An endless parade of middle-aged women, but no middle aged men.  No partners around for any of the ex-girlfriends.  Kelly is pregnant with no partner around.

Here's Johnny Visotcky from the very bottom of the cast list.

Gay characters:  Fabular is flamboyant and campy, but doesn't say or do anything indicating gay identity.  Mason doesn't express any heterosexual interests.

Transphobia:  Yes.

Moral:  Everybody should have kids.

My Grade:  I'm too bored to bother.

May 12, 2020

Hollywood: Henry Willson, Scotty Bowers, Rock Hudson: The Gang's All Here

During the glory days of studio-driven Hollywood, Jack (David Corenswet), a World War II vet with a wife and a baby on the way, wants to become an actor (no, a movie star). He hasn't been discovered yet (go figure), so he takes a job at  Ernie West's garage where the rich-and-famous fork over $200 ($2000 in today's money) to have sex with the attendants (have you read Scotty Bowers' book?).

Jack's main client turns out to be Avis Amberg (Patti LuPone), whose husband owns Ace Studios, and can get Jack work ("You take care of Mama, and Mama takes care of you.").

He won't do male clients, so he enlists Archie (Jeremy Pope), who aspires to be the first black gay screenwriter working in mainstream cinema. Archie's first client is the young, nervous Roy Fitzgerald (Jake Picking), who is destined to become movie great Rock Hudson. They start dating.

Meanwhile, Raymond (Darrin Kriss), a half-Filipino aspiring director, has had no luck getting his movie with an Asian star greenlighted, so studio exec Dick Samuels (Joe Mantello), who is gay, suggests that he work on Archie's movie.  Raymond hires his girlfriend Camille, who is black, for the female lead.

Jack tries out for the male lead. But Roy (now named Rock Hudson) has an edge: sleazy agent Henry Willson, who has the dirt on everyone and can blackmail them into casting his stable of gay-for-pay beefcake actors.

Plus Rock (left) slept with Dick Samuels.  But Jack is sleeping with Avis....

This all sounds very sleazy, an examination of the sexual exploitation of attractive men through the lens of the me-too era. But it's not.  The sex-for-screen tests exchanges are portrayed as perfectly legitimate and beneficial -- millions of people have acting talent, but how many are both hot and willing to put out?

The main problem of this system is prejudice. Jack, Archie, Raymond and their allies, all amazingly non-racist and gay-friendly for 1948 (and for 2020), are up against a system embedded with racism and homophobia.  But they're going to change all of that!  They're getting on the bus, throwing the first rock at Stonewall, and making movies about interracial and gay romance.

Ok, that didn't happen.

The sets are gorgeous, the background music spot-on, and you see fictionalized versions of Rock Hudson, Scotty Bowers, Henry Willson, Anna May Wong, Vivian Leight, Tallulah Bankhead, George Cukor, Noel Coward, Cole Porter, and Eleanor Roosevelt.   But...

Ok, that didn't happen.

Beefcake: Lots.

Gay Characters: Lots

My grade: B.

May 11, 2020

The Many Faces of Sam McCarthy

Sam McCarthy stole the show on Dead to Me, flawlessly portraying Jen's teenage son as by turns vulnerable and angry, bitchy and endearing.  So naturally I wanted to research this up-and-coming teen idol.

He was born in 2002, son of former Brat Packer Andrew McCarthy.  He has been performing on screen since 2016, with guest roles in 4 tv series (The Family, The Jim Gaffigan Show, The Blacklist, Teen Wolf) and recurring roles in 2 (as main characters' teenage sons in Dead to Me and Condor).

Also a movie role: in All These Small Moments (2018), he plays the brother of a teenage boy who is infatuated with an older woman.

And the upcoming 18 to Party (2019), about some 8th-graders in 1984 trying to get into a nightclub.

Doesn't look like a lot of gay interest, but give him time.

An image search was not fruitful. There are dozens of "Sam McCarthy" different instagram, twitter, and facebook accounts.  It's a horrendously common name, and half the people who have it are girls.

This is definitely the right Sam, and I think the top photo is, too.

This is not the right one, but ripped anyway.

Maybe what Sam looked like a few years ago.

Maybe what he will look like in about 10 years.

Nice abs on this Sam McCarthy.  Or is Sam the girl he's with?

A Sam McCarthy from Blenheim, which is a parish in Oxfordshire, England, home to the famous Blenheim Palace.

This Sam McCarthy lives in Hornchurch, Barking and Dagenham, East London, about 18 miles from Trafalgar Square.  How'd you like to write all that on a trick card?

And one of these guys is a Sam McCarthy from Padua College in Australia.

There are about 8 Padua Colleges in Australia.  I don't know which one it is, except maybe the one in Victoria that represents the student body with photos like this.

I assume that one or more of these guys is named Sam McCarthy.

See also: Dead to Me.

May 10, 2020

"The Good Kids": Reeking, Contemptible Gay-Tease Heterosexist Piece of Soul-Destroying Brain Rot

The Good Kids, on Amazon Prime: four "good kids" try to re-invent themselves. I'm no fool -- they're going to re-invent themselves right into hetero-romance.  To check, I skip to the last scene, where they are all saying goodbye.

A guy says that he's not going to college; he will stay with Mike and "see where it goes."  Then he gets into a car with another guy (probably Mike), and they drive away!

Mike!  A boyfriend!  He's gay!

So I watch.

Scene 1:  At age 10, the Good Kids are practicing filling out college applications.  The gang stops by to invite them to "look for dead bodies," but they refuse (I'd refuse, too -- Stand by Me is another movie).

Scene 2:  The 18-year old Good Kids are:
Uber-nerd Andy (Nicholas Braun, top photo).
Spice (Israel Broussard), the one who will be staying with Mike "to see where it goes"
The Lion (Mateo Arias), the one he drives off with (ok, so not Mike).
And Nora (Zoey Deutch).
They bewail the fact that they were not invited to any high school graduation parties.  They traded cool for college.

Scene 3: A montage of the Good Kids at their summer jobs. Andy is working at an elite tennis club.   Nora has some sort of job looking through microscopes at an aquarium, and getting flustered around her hot coworker.  The Lion teaches a kids' karate class; one of the kid's teenage cousins (a girl) invites him to a party at the Point (a ritzy spot).  He can bring a date, or "whoever he wants."

Scene 4: Spice (left), a cook, serves them lunch.  They decide to go to the party and do the things they've always been afraid to do: The Lion, drugs (really?  he's a classic stoner!).  Nora, get a boyfriend.  Andy doesn't specify. Spice, have sex with a girl.

Wait -- what about Mike? "See where it goes"? Maybe you'll realize that you're gay later on. 

Scene 5:  Andy is teaching a lady's tennis class.  The older ladies flirt with him, and invite him over "for a private lesson."

Scene 6:  They arrive at the party, take their first drink (maybe start with beer, not whiskey?), smoke some marijuana.  Then they proceed to do what they were afraid to do before:
Nora flirts with her hot coworker.
The Lion gets high and teaches a class in Tai Chi (no girl?  Maybe he's Mike after all!)
 Spice flirts with a girl by betting her that he can make a souffle (whatever works for you, dude).
Andy becomes popular by demonstrating how he can catch things in his mouth ( comment).  A girl invites him to have sex.

Scene 7: The souffle is done.  A girl invites Spice to have sex. like Mike, remember?

Scene  8: Andy is getting ready to have sex.  He states that he's a virgin, so the Girl takes charge.  Andy's chest, Girl boobs, brief kissing.

Meanwhile, Nora is kissing Hot Coworker on the beach.  Long shot, no beefcake but his back.

Meanwhile, Spice is kissing his Girl. Whoa,he definitely has an erection!  I wonder if it's part of the story or accidental?  Suddenly she changes her mind -- he's not acting right. Maybe because he's not into girls?

When is he going to meet Mike? Or is the Lion Mike?

Scene 9:  The Good Kids all sneak home, and are yelled at by their parents, or not.

Scene 10: They have lunch, and discuss how they all met someone for hetero-romance last night, except Lion, who met some drug dealers (even better!  The Lion is definitely Mike!).

Scene 11: Andy goes to the Middle-Aged Lady's house to give a private tennis lesson. They have sex off-camera.  Andy's chest, Lady's boobs.

Scene 12: Andy is jealous of Nora and her new boyfriend.  He likes her -- as if we didn't see that coming from Scene 1!

Scene 13: The ladies at the tennis club sign up for Andy's "private lessons." Is this a 1980s sex-with-babysitter comedy?

Meanwhile, Nora has the reputation for being sexually available.

Where's Mike, the guy Spice is going to stay with? I'm tired of wading through this retro-1980s "sex with babysitter" plotline waiting for Godot.  Time to fast-forward.

The Lion hooks up with a girl.  He's not gay!  He's not Mike!

There's a homoerotic wrestling match, but with Andy and a hot guy, not Spice.  And nothing comes of it.

Spice hooks up with a girl, and gets a hand job. He never realizes that he's gay.  He never meets Mike, or any guy other than his friends.  This has all been one big tease!

Reeking, contemptible, cock-teasing, gay-teasing, gay-erasing, heterosexist, heteronormative piece of slimy, stnking, soul-destroying brain-rot.  My grade: F-.

But what about the last scene?  I watch it again:

What a great summer!  Now we're off to our various colleges.

Andy: "Spice, you're going off to Stanford."

Spice: "Actually, I think I'll stay with Mike.  See where it goes."


"Love, American Style": I Will Defend Your Right to Shine

Love, American Style (1969-74)  aired when I was in grade  school and junior high, late on Friday nights, when my parents were already in bed and I was watching tv with my sleepover friends or my brother, loggy and yawning, eating enormous dishes of ice cream, feeling very grown-up and somewhat mischievous. 

It was an anthology, with three humorous stories every week, all somehow related to "finding love" (all heterosexual love, of course, but who knew that anything else existed?). 

Some of the episodes were actually dramas rather than comedies ("Love and the Ledge").  Some were paranormal or science fiction  ("Love and the Vampire".  Some were only tangentially related to romance.

Sex was hinted at ("Love and the Coed Dorm"),but no one actually did the deed.  This was at heart a conservative show, aimed at an audience that was home on Friday nights -- old people and kids, both confused and disturbed by this new world of sexual freedom, longing for the old days of "true love's first kiss."

No beefcake -- at least, none that I remember.  An occasional cute guy, like teen idol Kurt Russell or Ronnie Howard of The Andy Griffith Show, but mostly oldsters. like Charles Nelson Reilly (from Lidsville) and Paul Lynde (from Bewitched).

Wait -- both of those actors were gay.

Stuart Margolin (top photo) starred in risque interstitial gag pieces,  chasing secretaries around desks or trying to glimpse a bit of cleavage.

But there was some buddy-bonding, guys working together to acquire something of value or evade an enemy, with the "finding love" tacked on at the end so the story would fit the premise. One stands out in my mind:

The guy is afraid of girls, so he asks his buddy to hide in the closet and offer advice during the date. To explain why he is going into the closet so often, he brings out items that he wants to show the girl: a bowling ball, a tennis racket, skiis -- until the apartment is full of junk.  The girl expected sex, not an episode of Hoarders, so she gets up to leave.  Then the guy kisses her,and they get engaged.

Get it: he keeps going into the closet to meet a man.  And he keeps coming out of the closet with masculine-coded sporting equipment, to show the girl that he's really interested in...well, that's about as far as they could go on prime time television in the cold winter of 1972.

I'm only thinking of the gay symbolism now, of course.  When I was in grade school and junior high, what mattered was feeling warm and safe but also dangerous, glimpsing a world built for someone else, an outsider who somehow belonged.

On a star spangled night, my love,
You can rest you head on my shoulder.
And by the dawn's early light, my love,
I will defend your right to shine.

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