Nov 7, 2020

"Saturday School"" Too Homophobic to Deserve Illustrations

 I've never seen The Breakfast Club (1985), the Brat Pack classic about five mismatched high schoolers who bond during a Saturday detention.  We didn't watch any Brat Pack movies in the 1980s -- too homophobic.  I rented it sometime in the 2000s, but the opening scene shows a close-up of Judd Nelson's locker, with the phrase "Keep out, fag!"  So I kept out.  

Saturday School (2020) on Amazon Prime sounded like a scene-by-scene remake, but in 2020 there would probably be less homophobia, so I decided to watch, to see what all the fuss was about 

Prologue:  Friday 1:30 pm, a ritzy ultra-modern high school in Australia.  Goofball and Hunk discuss the nice ass on passing Dumb Girl.  Hunk rushes over and bullies a passing Nerd.  Activist approaches and berates them for bullying.  Hunk flirts with her, but she finds him "arrogant" (movie code for "sexy, but I don't want to admit it")

Week 1: Goofball, Hunk, Nerd, Dumb Girl, and Activist standing outside the school.  A little girl ridicules them for being stupid enough to require "Saturday School."  

Whooops, she just looks 12.  She's actually the teacher in charge of their punishmnet.  Activist calls her out for her abuse -- not appropriate for a teacher talking to students! -- so she redoubles her scorn of the "shitheads."  If she had her way, they'd be slowly tortured to death instead of just getting work assignments.  

Geez, did they blow up the World Trade Center?  No, they were in the vicinity of a purse that got stolen.

Literally trembling with rage, Psycho Teacher passes out the ice breaker game: you have to decide which of three statements about her is true: "I'm sober right now, I married my cousin, I love my job."  Must be marrying the cousin.

Break time: Activist flirts with Hunk, Dumb Girl flirts with Goofball, Psycho Teacher, now too drunk to be enraged, flirts with Nerd.  He says he doesn't like girls.  She doesn't understand; she's never heard of gay people before.   "What are you going to do when it's time to have kids?"  "I don't think they'd fit out of my arsehole, Psycho Teacher."

The others return.  Psycho Teacher tries to humiliate Nerd by outing him, but they aren't homophobic (the bullying before wasn't about that).  Then she sends them home.

Wait -- they had five minutes of ridicule, then a break.  What happened to the work assignments?

Week 2: They're writing essays explaining why they should be found not guilty of the heinous crime. Psycho Teacher has passed out drunk (Thank God!), so they sneak off to play "Truth or Dare": "Take off an article of clothing": "Kiss Hunk."  Three kids, including Nerd, get that one, but they all refuse to kiss him.

Week 3: Psycho Teacher has a new game: a mock trial, with everyone in drag to humiliate them. But the boys aren't humiliated by dresses and wigs.  They play up the sexual double standards: girls get called "sluts" for doing it, and boys get called "lames" for not doing it.

Hunk gets upset and runs off.  He confesses to to Activist that he lives with his aunt, who is obviously guilty of child neglect, if not abuse.  Sometimes he has to scrounge in dumpsters for food.

Later, they are taking a test.  Goofball wants to know why Nerd is still in drag.  Psycho Teacher explains: "The boy likes rainbows."  Homophobe!  

Next Psycho Teacher makes them run laps.  Nerd rebels because "Black people don't run."  Huh?.  Then he calls out Hunk for his bullying: "You beat me up to make yourself look good!"

Yerba Buena High School?  Is there really a Yerba Buena in Australia?

Next: a water-balloon fight and argument over which boy should hook up with which girl.  Turns out to be Goofball-Dumb Girl and Hunk-Activist.  Nerd is running laps by himself (We're not homophobic, but you're the only gay guy in Australia, so....)

Week 4:  An improv game. (At least Psycho Teacher is more mellow when she's drunk). Nerd plays a guy who discovers that his wife is pregnant, but he don't want no kids.  Especially boys.  He starts crying -- abusive Dad issues coming out.  Hunk leads him off for a heart-to-heart.

Week 5: Writing poetry.  Psycho Teacher reads Nerd's aloud to the group: "Dear Love, I see you, but you don't see me.  I bang on an invisible wall. but I am silent to you."   Goofball and Hunk get upset and storm off.   I don't know why.  

Psycho Teacher flirts with him: "If you asked her, you might find that she likes you, too."  He protests that he doesn't like girls, but she dismisses him.  There is no such thing as being gay; every boy likes girls.  How else are they going to have kids?  Nerd just has to be "true to himself."  Wow, breaking out of the prison of...um...homonormativity to come out as straight!  That's a switch!  An intensely homophobic one.  But Psycho Teacher is a homophobic idiot.

Meanwhile, Hunk and Activist are also arguing about "being true to yourself.," and Goofball steals a page from Activist's diary.

Next, another "Revealing Secrets" game.  Geez, they keep promising to reveal secrets, but never do.  

Week 6: They have an "Australian Idol" singing contest.

Week 7: Wait, I thought there were just six weeks.  Psycho Teacher gets back to the "who stole the purse" bit.   Goofball accuses Hunk.  They fight.  Then, big reveal: Nerd filmed Activist taking it.  Then why go through all of this nonsense?  Activist starts to cry.

Week 8: This is lasting longer than it should, with unclear motives, secrets that don't get revealed, and advice to "be true to yourself" without any pay-off.  Still 18 minutes to go.  

No one is speaking to each other.  Hunk runs off.  Nerd follows. To advise him to be true to himself?

Hunk goes into the school (nice mural, but why the American Civil Rights leaders in Australia?).

Nerd has a date with Dumb Girl, and suggests that they double.  Hunk could invite Activist.

So he has broken out of the prison of homonormativity, the belief that gay people are gay, to embrace his true heterosexual nature.


I feel sick to my stomach.

I'm out.  I don't even want to stick around to look for beefcake photos for illustrations. Here are some cute kittens.

This is the most homophobic movie I've ever seen.

Nov 6, 2020

"A New York Christmas Wedding": A Gay Christmas Surprise


 Every year beginning on November 1st and ending abruptly on Decmeber 24th, the major networks and streaming services broadcast about 20,000 movies, all with the same plot:  A woman with a highly successful career in a horrible, heartless Big City is forced to spend Christmas in a Small Town.  At first she rebels, but gradually she is drawn in by the warmth, caring, and overall wondefulness of the Small Town.  Plus she falls in love with a local boy.  So she gives up her job and stays.

Moral #1: Small towns are heaven.

Moral #2: Women shouldn't work outside the home.  

But it was Christmas movies or more Halloween horror, so I picked A New York Christmas Wedding, wondering how they were going to get the girl to the small town. 

 Azrael, the Angel of Death  in Islam and Judaism, narrates.  He's going to show us his favorite "love story."  Does it end with death?

Scene 1: A middle-class home in Queens.  Jennifer, a Hispanic woman -- racial diversity in a Christmas movie?  -- is making Christmas cookies and eggnog while her father or husband reads the newspaper.    

Meanwhile, in an artsy apartment, Gabby a white woman, is getting a foot massage from her boyfrined, Vinny (not listed in the cast list, but there's an Anthony, played by Joe Perrino, bottom photo).  Closeup of them kissing.  Jennifer calls and yells at her: "You promised you'd be here to help decorate the tree!  You can't keep blowing me off!"

"I don't belong to you!  We're not dating!"

"Our friendship is over!  You're dead to me."

Wow, all that drama over not decorating a Christmas tree!

Scene 2: 20 years later.  What?  They were talking on cell phones.  The middle-aged Jennifer is the assistant to a veterinarian. They just euthanized a dog, and Jeniffer is triggered because her Dad and best friend died at Christmastime. This isn't a comedy, is it?

On the way home, Jennifer sees a lesbian couple on the subway and reacts with disgust.  We're here, we're queer, get used to it, homophobe!

Scene 3: Jennifer arrives at her apartment.  Her boyfriend David (Otoja Abit) -- African-American!  More racial diversity! -- grabs and smooches, even though she explained that she was upset over the dog.  Inconsiderate! The horndog is about to mount her right in the walk-in closet, but his parents are visiting. 

Elegant, refined Mom is being passive-aggressive critical  and helicoptering the upcoming wedding:, "Since you seem to be incapable of making decisions, I've arranged for a wedding dress from Vera Wang!  And we've booked the church on Christmas Eve!"

Um...aren't churches usually busy on Christmas Eve? Besides, Jennifer's father and best friend died on Christmas, so....

Jennifer rejects the idea, Mama's Boy supports it, they argue, Jennifer storms out.


Out on the street, a bicyclist -- the angel Azrael! (Cooper Koch)  --gets hit by a car..   Jennfier rushes to the rescue and pesters him: "Are you sure you're ok?  You might have a concussion!  Let me call 911!!  Are you sure?"  Then she pours our her problems to this complete stranger in the middle of the night in New York.  Not about the wedding -- about her fight with Gabby 20 years ago.  Which was your fault!

Azrael gives her platitudinal advice: "Never underestimate the power of love at Christmastime!  Life is full of love and hope!  In the morning, all your questions will be answered."  Very upbeat, for the Angel of Death.

Back home, Jennifer climbes in bed with David.  No sex.

Scene 5: Jennifer is awakened by a dog licking her.  But she doesn't own a dog!  David isn't there.  A woman she has never seen before is getting dressed, telling her to hurry or they will be late for their meeting with the priest.  Gabby!  Has there been a time reboot?

She goes out to walk the dog, runs into Azrael again, and asks "WTF?  What's going on?"  

Azrael zaps them to David's house.  He's doessn't know here.  He's married to someone else and has a daughter.  

Back.  Azrael explaisn that he's doing an "it's a wonderful life " thing, zapping her into a universe where Gabby didn't die and they fell in love and got engaged 20 years later.  You know, there are other women out there.  You could still be a lesbian without Gabby.

He continues:  compare life with Gabby and David.  You have until the end of Christmas to decide.

So she has until the end of Christmas to decide whether to be gay or straight?  I didn't know you had a choice.  Couldn't she just be bisexual?

I'd pick Gabby's world.  More people are alive.

I'll fast forward.

About halfway through, we get Gabby and Jennifer's wedding --at a Catholic church.  You know that Catholics don't perform same-sex weddings, right?  Maybe they do in this parallel world.

Then, back in David's world,  David and Jennifer  investigate what happened to Gabby 20 yers ago.  She got pregnant, and her family disowned her (in 2000?  really?), so she sought refuge in the Church.  They arranged for her to have the baby in a home out West, to avoid the disgrace (in 2000? really?).    But the baby was stillborn.  She named him Azrael.  

You know that angels aren't actually the ghosts of dead people, right?

So after all that, how did Gabby die?  Pregnancy complications?  Suicide?  No, car accident.

Then why go through all that back story?  Just say "Car accident." Geez!

Jennifer still can't decide on David's or Gabby's world, so Azrael offers to send her back in time all the way, 20 years, and have her start over.  Of course, then he will cease to exist.

If guardian angels can do all that, I have a few requests for mine.

She decides to go back.  Azrael tells her to click her ruby slippers together three times and say "There's no place like home."  Just kidding.  He tells her to say "Love deeply, trust your heart, and be brave."

Don't try saying it at home, or you might get zapped back to high school.


And Jennifer is back making Christmas cookies and eggnog and waiting for Gabby to come decorate the tree.  But this time, when Gabby blows her off, she doesn't get all dramatic and yell "You're dead to me!"  She says "It can wait."  And Gabby feels guilty, so instead of sex with Vinny, she rushes over anyway.  They kiss.  The end.

Whoa, that was not at all what I was expecting.  And the title was completely misleading.  I guess there was a wedding and it was set in New York, and Christmas happened, but...whoa.

Question: Was this all a fantasy in Jennifer's mind?

My grade: B for the movie, A for the suprise.

David Macklin: The Boy with Something Extra


I don't remember much from 1965, when we were living in Racine, Wisconsin, but I remember my dismal, depressing 5th birthday on November 19th.  My mother and I were both sick.

I got a Tell-the-Time Clock with a smiley face and gloves on its hands, but I was too sick to play with it.  There wasn't any cake.  I sat on the couch, sipping 7-Up and watching tv.  First The Flintstones, and then Tammy, with a sugary mawdlin song that's still etched into my brain.

I hear the cottonwoods whisperin' above.
Tammy--Tammy-Tammy's in love.

It was a hayseed sitcom (1965-66) about a bayou gal who becomes the secretary for a powerful industrialist and sets her sights on his fey son.

An earlier movie series (1957, 1961, 1963) had the bayou gal (Debbie Reynolds, Sandra Dee) bringing joie de vivre to effete city folk, and meanwhile falling in love with a different rich boy in each installment (Leslie Nielsen, John Gavin, Peter Fonda).  The theme song peaked at #1 on the pop charts in 1957.

My parents liked it so much that they named my sister "Tammy."

I hated the song (maybe because my father sang it at random moments for the next twenty years), but I liked the tv show, because Tammy was courting a boy (David Macklin) who didn't really like girls.  He was just playing along.

And he obviously had something extra beneath the belt.


David Macklin popped up again and again during my childhood.  A teen surfer on Gidget (1966).  A fratboy on The Munsters (1966).  A hippie on Ironside (1968). An abused rich kid on Cannon (1973). A boy who hosts his visiting aunt without realizing that she's dead on The Twilight Zone (1960, but I saw it around 1974).

His characters never liked girls, unless they were forced to, and he had a thin, haughty face and haunted eyes that made him look like he knew about the Tripods.

You never saw David nude, or even shirtless, but if you looked closely, you could tell that he belonged to the Burt Ward, Frank Gorshin, and Ken Clark club of beneath-the-belt hugeness.





He had only a few significant movie roles.  In The Young Animals (1968), new kid in town Tony (Tom Nardino, who would go on to star in the gay-themed Siege) tries to make peace between warring gangs, especially the white gang led by Bruce (David).  The Mexican was led by Paco (Zooey Hall, who would go on to star in the gay-themed Fortune and Men's Eyes with Sal Mineo).  I haven't seen it, but apparently there's some substantial gay subtexts.

Welcome to Arrow Beach (1974) is about a brother and sister who eat people.  David plays a hospital orderly who stumbles onto their nefarious plot.






David disappeared from the screen in the 1980s.  Today he lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where he makes ceramics, collects Sherlock Holmes memorability (especially involving Basil Rathbone), and teaches acting.  He also runs a yahoo group for movie fans, where he often publicizes issues of gay and lesbian interest.

Maybe he's gay.  His characters were gay enough for a 5 year old.


Tarzan Toys

Tarzan was a stable, reliable source of beefcake throughout my childhood: a dozen old movies on tv, 3 in theaters, a tv series (1966-68), cartoons (1976-82), a comic strip, comic books, a Big-Little book, and eventually the original novels.

But that's not all.  When I was still a toddler and we were living in Racine, Wisconsin, I had a Little Golden Book of the half-naked muscleman gazing fondly at baby animals. Were my parents trying to instill a lifelong appreciation of massive biceps and six-pack abs?






Around 1966, my parents bought me this adaptation of the first Burroughs novel, with a stern, well-coiffed Tarzan wearing gold and ivory bracelets, at a local department store.  I could read most of the words, but I had to ask Mom what the sentence "Tarzan was naked" meant.

It came with an Official Ape-English Dictionary, but I never learned to speak Ape.

 I read the text and looked at the pictures so often that in a few months, the binding broke, and I needed a new one.











I collected Tarzan bubblegum cards (if you put them in order, they told a complete story).  I took a Tarzan lunchbox to school (until he was supplainted by the Wild Wild West).









For coloring, how about a 1966 Whitman coloring book with Ron Ely (from the tv series) on the cover?

I also had a Tarzan Cartoon Kit and a Viewmaster that showed mostly African animals.
















And a Tarzan "Bop Bag."  The blond Adonis didn't look like any movie or tv Tarzan, but he was fun to hit.  You could also pretend he was your buddy and hug him.


The only thing missing was an action figure.  I got one, but it turned out to be a dud.  What idiot decided to give the Lord of the Apes long underwear? Did he need to keep warm as he swung through the rain forests?















And underneath, he had the same problem as my G.I. Joe:

See also: Cave Man Toys

Nov 5, 2020

"Corner Gas: The Animated Series": Still Not A Lot Going On


 Corner Gas (2004-2008) is one of my all-time favorite sitcoms, about a small town in Saskatchewan where "there's not a lot going on."  Except for the tailent show, the comedy night, the curling  team, the baeseball team, and son on...  The regulars are

1. Brent, the laconic owner of Corner Gas

2. Wanda, his wise-cracking assistant.

3. Hank, his dim-witted best friend.

4-5. Oscar and Emma, his parents.

6-7. Local cops Davis and Karen.

8. Lacey, a Toronto girl who came to town to run the local cafe, and is not Brent's love interest.

No gay people appear or are mentioned, except for an occasional homophobic comment from Hank, and an episode where a visiting doctor mistakenly believes that Brent and Hank are lovers.  But no heterosexual romance either.  Only a few episodes involved one of the regulars dating.  The minor characters were never shown with husbands or wives.  A pleasant change of pace from the constant sex jokes and "will they or won't they" sexual tension of American sitcoms.

In 2018, twelve years after the show ended, CTV and IMDB started airing an animated series.

I started watching several episodes, but soon became bored.



Positive:

1. The characters look younger and cuter. .

2. There is more racial diversity in town.  In the original series, Davis was First Nation (also maybe Paul, who ran the local bar), but now there are black and Asian residents.

3. There are references to contemporary concerns, like wi-fi passwords and locally sourced food.



Negative: 

1. There's still "not a lot going on."  The point of animation is to allow scenes that would be too expensive or unfeasible to film with live actors, but here it's basically Corner Gas all over again, with an occasional fantasy sequence.

2. A lot more dating, romance, and heterosexual fantasies.

3. And still no gay people. 


See also: Corner Gas


Nov 4, 2020

"JJ Villard's Fairy Tales": The Most Disgusting Scene in the History of Mass Media

 


Satiric takes on fairy tales have been popular at least since 1944,  when Bugs Bunny encountered an annoying bobby-soxer Red Riding Hood  ("I brought you a basket...to have.").  So naturally I was drawn to the animated series JJ Villard's Fairy Tales on Vudu.  Besides, I thought that J.J. Villard must be the brother or nephew of gay actor Tom Villard (1953-1994), and therefore likely to be gay, or at least gay- friendly.  

Turns out there's no relation.  JJ Villard is a writer, director, and animator whose previous credits include Son of Satan, Chestnuts Icelolly, and Stussy: Real Deal.  He won a Prime Time Emmy for the episode "Fat Frank's Fantasy Lounge" on the tv series King Star King.

I watched part of it.  Fat Frank is a large, round alien with two naked girls gyrating atop him. His lounge contains other gyrating naked girls.



But I'm getting ahead of myself.  Back when I was still thinking that Villard was gay or gay-friendly, I decided to watch the JJ Villard's Fairy Tales episode "Boypunzel," a male version of "Rapunzel" (about the girl trapped in the tower and a handsome prince who rescues her by climbing her long hair).  

The voice artist was  Finn Wolfhard, whom I remembered vaguely as a gay kid on Stranger Things.  Or was he gay in real life?  Whichever, he was bound to bring a gay sensibility to the story:   And a handsome prince climbing the boy's gender-bending long hair to rescue him?  Gay romance written all over it.

I've given you this long, detailed background to justify why I started watching.

Boypunzel is trapped in the tower by his mother, who climbs up his hair every night to make sure he's had no visitors and hasn't gone out.

Then comes the most sickening, disgusting, vomit-inducinsg scene of any movie or tv show in the history of mass media.  Literally.  I can't even begin to describe it.  I can't think about it without getting queasy.   


My advice: do not, under any circumstances, watch this episode.  You may think you're immune to disgusting scenes after watching people sewn together butt-to-mouth in The Human Centipede, the baby being eviscerated in Eraserhead, the eyeball exhumation in Un Chien Andalou, and Brian eating Stewie's poop on Family Guy.  You are wrong.  This is much, much worse.

You're probably getting curious, thinking "It can't be that bad.  I'll give it a quick look."

Don't.

And after haivng my brain seared by the most sickening sight imaginable, Boypunzel is rescued by...a girl.

Nov 3, 2020

The Life of Riley: Bullying Boys into Girl-Craziness

Before World War II, teenage boys were expected to be concerned with the gang, or with one special pal, and think of girls as "poison."  Those boys who expressed an interest in girls prior to graduating from high school were ridiculed by their peers as pansies and Percies, evaluated by school psychologists, and subjected to tense heart-to-heart talks with their parents.

But after the War, the image of the adolescent masculinity shifted from "woman-hating" to "girl-crazy," and some of the long-running radio teenagers who had previously been concerned solely with paper routes and bad report cards suddenly began casting longing glances at their female schoolmates.  You can find the exact date: Chester Riley’s son Junior (Scotty Beckett) on  Life of Riley in January 1948; The Great Gildersleeve’s wisecracking nephew Leroy (Walter Tetley) in March 1949; and Ozzie and Harriet’s eldest son David Nelson in November 1951

Left and below: in 1948, MGM arranged for  Scotty Beckett (later Corky of Gasoline Alleyand his friend Roddy McDowall to go on a "see, they're not gay!" double date with Elizabeth Taylor and Jane Powell, but they seem to have ended up cuddling with each other.


The teenage boy had to be bullied, cajoled, and if necessary forced into girl-craziness; it could not be taken for granted.

In the January 1948 episode of The Life of Riley, for instance, blustering working-class family man  Chester (William Bendix) is horrified to discover that his fifteen-year old son, Junior, plans to bring a boy to the big New Year’s Eve dance.

He tries to explain about “the birds and bees,” sexual difference, but Junior insists that he already knows about “all that jazz.”


So Chester puts his foot down: there are “boy people” and “girl people,” he argues, and “boy people” should only take “girl people” to dances.  “Don’t you like girls?” he asks in a timid, hesitant voice, afraid of the possible answer.

When Junior admits that he likes girls “sometimes,” Chester takes charge, forcing the boy to break his same-sex date and telephone the boss’s daughter.  She is noncommital, so Chester forces him to call the offspring of another VIP (resulting, of course, in two dates for the dance, both impossible to break).  He is as hysterical in his insistence that Junior should like girls as fathers of the pre-War generation were hysterical in their insistence that their teenage sons should not.

Chester continued trying to "encourage" his son into girl-craziness when the show moved onto television, and Scotty Beckett was replaced by Lanny Reese (above) and even the obviously-grown up Wesley Morgan (left).

Pogo: The Gay Possum of Okefenokee Swamp

There have been three major comic strips devoted to the naivete, colorful traditions, and homespun wisdom of the hillbilly:
Li'l Abner, about a backwoods Adonis allergic to hetero-romance.

Snuffy Smith, who doesn't seem particularly romantic toward his towering wife Loweezie.

And Pogo, about a possum who lives in Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia.

Created by Walt Kelly for a line of Dell comic books in 1941, Pogo premiered in The New York Star in 1948, and entered national syndication in a year later.

The titular Pogo, "a possum by trade," is laconic and soft-spoken, the foil, best friend, and sometime domestic partner of the loud, blustering Albert the Alligator.  (we see a similar "forbidden" predator-prey relationship in the animated Sitting Ducks)


 They are intimates, sharing a house and a bed.  Moreover, their physicality, the grabbing of arms and shoulders, the hugging, the casual pressing against each other, is quite surprising for the 1950s, and suggests a homoerotic subtext even more strongly.

Pogo's other friends include the turtle Churchy LaFemme ("Ah loves yo', Churchy"); the misanthropic Porky Pine, who doesn't like anybody -- except Pogo; Howland Owl; Beauregard the Hound Dog; and the young "sprat" Rackety Coon Chile, who is studying to become an elephant when he grows up.

But Pogo makes new friends easily, with a zeal that veers into the homoerotic.  In a 1951 continuity, a carrier pigeon arrives with a "secret message," and the next day the two are shown walking off together, a new male bond formed.  One wonders what the "secret message" was.

The swamp animals have little use for heterosexual romance.  The flirtatious French skunk Mam'zelle Hepzibah is sometimes an object of affection, but more often a "sivilizing" attempt to introduce culture into their backwoods idyll.  When she presses the matter, Pogo admits that "I'm just not the marrying kind," 1950s code for "gay."

On November 10th, 1950, the entire cast watches the sunset, dismal over the conservative turn in the midterm elections (the Democrats lost 28 seats in the House and 5 in the Senate).  And the political satire began.

Pogo ran for President regularly, with a campaign platform supporting various liberal causes.

Political figures were regularly satirized, beginning with witch-hunting senator Joseph McCarthy, and moving on to Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, and Spiro Agnew.

But the gay subtexts continued unabated until the strip ended with Walt Kelly's death in 1973.

Although probably not intended in this "Gay and Fey" association between Albert the Alligator and his creator.




Everyone sees Albert in Pogo's bed, and assumes that they're married.

A male flea asks Beauregard Dog to marry him.

A male cat begins chucking bricks at Beauregard, and the other characters conclude that he is in love with him.

On and on, giving us the impression that everyone in Okefenokee Swamp is either gay, or nonchalant about gay people.

See also: Krazy Kat, the First Gay Comic Strip Character; and The Surprising Gay Origin of "Deck us all"


Nov 2, 2020

"Room 104": Two Mormon Missionaries Come Out, Sort Of

 


I bought Season 1 of Room 104, an anthology series about the crises of people staying in an old fashioned, run-down hotel room, because it was only$5.00 and I thought there might be some Twilight Zone-style "It's a cookbook!" twists.  And some beefcake -- people undress in hotel rooms, right?

For gay representation, I watched Episode 7, "The Missionaries": "Two Mormon missionares test the boundaries of their faith."

All Mormon men must spend two years in a mission field., often in the United States, usually in pairs, going door to door to spread the Good News.  Since the LDS Church is conservative and homophobic, it's fun to fantasize about what happens in their hotel rooms after hours.

In this case, Elders Noah (Adam Foster) and Joseph (Nat Wolff)  are upset about their failure to get any converts.  They ask God to give them a sign, and He miraculously provides coffee -- forbidden to Mormons!  Then porn on the tv (it's a miracle!).  

They spend the night exploring the wild side by drinking coffee, watching porn, drinking beer, and...um...getting erections.     In the morning, Joseph wants more: "I want to go farther....I want to try everything."

He moves in  to kiss Noah, who backs away.. "I'm not..."

Boo!  They refuse to say "gay."

"We don't know what we are, unless we explore. "

Boo!  You know you're gay without doing anything sexual.  

Joseph chases him around the room, trying to kiss him.

Boo!  Gay people as sexual predators!  No means no!


Noah pushes Joseph away.  He falls and hits his head on the nightstand and dies.

Boo!  Gay panic defense!

Then he wakes up.  It looks like he just hit his head, but the naive missionaries think he rose from the dead.  It's a sign from God.  They should abandon their evil ways and return to the church!

Boo!  You can be gay and Mormon!

They watch each other changing clothes -- nice butt shot through the thin sacred underwear -- decide to try it after all, and leap over the beds to....the screen going black.

Boo!  After all that, you don't even show them kiss!

Well, that was  a bust, like an After School Special from 1998.  We can say "gay" now.

Strangely, a review calls this episode "The year's sweetest gay love story."  Writer/producer Mark Duplass said that, being straight and Catholic, he didn't feel qualified to write the story, but he conducted research by interviewing a Mormon friend and Xan Aranda, a filmmaker who grew up Mormon and had a gay dad.  

For the queasy "Don't say gay!  Don't kiss!  Being gay is way controversial!" closeting, we can blame director Megan Griffiths, who is from northern Idaho, where it's still 1954, and "had a gay friend growing up."  Apparently she hasn't met any gay people lately.

Next I watched Episode 2, "The Pizza Boy": "A pizza delivery boy gets caught up in a couple's twisted games."

Who hasn't fantasized about hooking up with the pizza boy?  And there will proably be a three way, so bisexual representation.



Jarond (Clark Duke) delivers a meat-lovers' pizza to the couple, but they don't have enough money, so Scott (James Van Der Beek) runs out to the nearest ATM.  Meanwhile, Jennifer (Davie-Blue) flirts with him.

Disappointment: the pizza boy is chubby, long-haired, not attractive at all. I guess if he was hot, the seduction would have a different dynamic.

Just as Jarod and Jennifer getting ready to kiss, Scott bursts in, yelling about her being unfaithful, showing her breasts to every pizza boy in town.  She rushes out.  

Scott asks Jarod how many times he "delivered a meat-lover's" to Jennifer, although he was only gone a few minutes, not nearly enough time for multiple orgasms.  Jarod denies doing anything.  Scott hog-ties him and pulls down his pants, implying that he intends to rape him (no bare-butt shot). 

Then Jennifer returns.  She and Scott argue, hit each other, then fall down on the other bed and start having sex.

"You didn't want me, you wanted Scott!" Jennifer calls over.  "Well, now you can have him!"  Fade to black.

In the next scene: 

Spoler alert!

Jarod gives them notes:"Scott, your character was all over the place. Pick a theme and stick to it. Jennifer, you showed your breasts too quickly.  Your clients are major voyeurs, so make them wait for it."  Turns out he is their boss, training them for a job in sex work.

Wait -- the clients pretend to be pizza boys, and they tie them up and have sex with each other?  That's a very specialized fetish.

Jarod leaves just in time for their first real client to arrive.

Wait -- shouldn't they practice some more first?   Or at least have a chance to recover?  Guys Scott's age are not going to bounce back immediately...


How about Episode 4, "I Knew You Weren't Dead"
: "A visitor seeks advice for his marital troubles from a long-lost friend."

I need another beefcake photo, so I'll go through it on fast-forward.  There's a nude bathtub scene.  The two guys hug.  Then the visitor goes back to his wife.



Nov 1, 2020

10 Gay Facts about "The Exorcist"

 


Last night while we passed out candy to trick-or-treaers (through a window, wearing a mask), we watched the director's cut of The Exorcist., the iconic 1973 movie about a famous actress (Ellen Burstyn) gradually realizing that her beloved young daughter Regan (Linda Blair) is possessed by the Devil, and, although she's not religious, having to rely on a priest who has lost his faith for an exorcism.  

It was a lot more gay than I remember.

1. There's a long Orientalist-exotic scene at the beginning, with Father Merrin (Max Von Sydow) on an archaeological dig in Iraq, digging up an icon of the demon Pazuzu.  It has nothing to do with the rest of the movie: Reagan gets possessed by playing with a Ouija board she found in the basement. But it's full of hot Middle Eastern guys.

2. The character of Father Merrin is based on archaeologist Gerald Harding, who supervised the excavation of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1948.  And who was gay.



3. Mom is divorced.  She denies "liking" a male friend in that way.  Her friend Sharon is always around.  Is she a lesbian?  

4. When Regan begins exhibiting weird behavior, like cursing and telekinesis, they subject her to a bond of horrifying, impossible-to-watch medical tests.  Again and again.  "We want to eliminate physical causes before we even consider seeing a psychiatrist."  So psychiatry is the last resort, after drilling holes into Regan's brain?  Heck, I'd be seeing a psychiatrist first.  Much less invasive.

This reminded me of the various types of "cures" that gay/lesbian people were subjected to before Stonewall (and youth, to an extent, still are).

5. Father Karras (Jason Miller), the hot, muscular former boxer priest, is played by Jason Miller, a playwright with no previous acting experience.  He was obviously cast for his hunk appeal.

6. One doesn't expect him to display any heterosexual interest now, being a priest, but there are no girls mentioned in Father Karras' past, either.  Plus he goes to movies and hangs out in a bar with police lieutenant Kinderman (Lee J, Cobb).  Are the two boyfriends?

7. The possessed Regan spews forth lots of homophobic slurs at the priests.  Because the Devil is homophobic, or because he wants to reveal their "shameful secret"?

8.  Both Father Karras and Father Merrin die during the exorcism.  Father Dyer (Father William O'Malley, a priest in real life) arrives to close the case.  Regan doesn't remember anything about her trauma, consciously, but she kisses him on the cheek in gratitude.  Then the theatrical version ends.


But the director's cut has an additional scene in which Lt. Kinderman sidles up to Father Dyer and asks him to a movie and then to lunch.  He takes his arm, and they walk off in a "this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship" moment.

Apparently Lt. Kinderman has a prriest fetish, and he's already looking for a new boyfriend. 

9. Director William Friedkin has a complicated relationship with the LGBT community. He directed both Boys in the Band (1970) and Cruising (1980).

10. William Peter Blatty, author of the original novel,  didn't have a complicated relationship with the LGBT community at all.  He hated gay people -- child molesting, God-hating, mincing, swishing perverts! -- and in the book had some of his mouthpiece priests say so.  

"Face Your Fears": Two Gay Subtexts, Four Depressing Shorts


 


In the midst of an escalating pandemic, environmental catastrophe, 1950s-style homophobia, and Mussolini-style facism, what do we watch movies and tv for?  A momentary escape?  Or to get even more depressed?

During the 1930s, they watched Shirley Temple and the Marx Brothers.  Today we watch The Walking Dead., The Haunting of Bly Manor, and Face Your Fears: Thriller Shorts for Adults.

Face Your Fears is a misnomer; it doesn't involve common phobias, like fear of heights.  Two or three of the four don't even involve the paranormal.  They are four shorts with different directors and actors,, shown at various film festivals, cobbled together to display on Amazon Prime for Halloween. 


I'm going to go through to look for gay representation or subtexts.  

1. IMDB doesn't list the cast, so I'll have to look for the original shorts.

2. Spoiler alert: I'll give the entire plot summary.

Short 1: HighWay (2016). A strange, disoriented girl hitchiking in the Australian outback is picked up by a strange, leering family (Mom, Dad, two kids), who stare at her and insult her ("What kind of name is Hester?).   While I try to figure out which of them is dead, a radio dj announces severe storms and a flood warning.  Except it's a bright, clear day outside.  

Aha!  The announcer specifies that five people died when their car got stuck in the mud during yesterday's storm!

The girl catches on quick and yells for them to stop.   She gets out and walks down the road.

Now the radio announcer is telling us that a teenage girl was struck and killed by a speeding car. on the highway yesterday.

You can't win.

No gay content.

Short 2: Aftermath (2013).  Two guys, brothers or friends or lovers, are hiding out in an abandoned house in the wilderness, with a trip wire to signal when anyone approaches.  A girl wants into their enclave, but Cody (Will Rogers) shoots her.  Jim (Noah Robbins) complains -- why shoot innocent people?  

While I try to figure out if this is post-Apocalyptic or bank robbers on the lam, a group of people with torches arrive, so they run away.  

In the morning they're cuddling -- lovers!

They travel through the wilderness. Cody rejects another house as "not safe."  Jim complains: it looked perfectly fine.  They find a second house -- abandoned, easy to defend, with fresh water nearb.  Cody wants to keep going, but Jim insists -- "We're staying here."  

Suddenly Cody is shot dead.   As gunmen burst in, Jim hides in the attic. 

Later, Jim goes back downstairs.  Cody has been stripped (no nudity, but a bulge shot).  He cries and hugs him.

A friendly stranger approaches.  Jim shoots him.  He has learned his lesson.

The plot synopsis says they are brothers, not boyfriends, but they act like lovers.  Gay subtext!

Short 3: The Last Time I Saw Richard (2013). Teenage rebel Jonah (Cody Fern) is in a mental hospital for cutting himself.  He gets a new roommate: Richard (Toby Wallace), who draws and doesn't speak. They're obviously going to fall in love. 

Later Jonah is playing basketball when he notices Richard watching him.  Like what you see, Richard?


After a restless night -- neither likes to sleep due to their nightmares -- Jonah tries to bond with Richard, or at least get a rise out of him, by discussing "nocturnal emissions" and quoting Shakespeare.  Eventually they bond over basketball and a weird game with match sticks.

Later, Jonah tells his psychiatrist about his nightmares, trying to find someone to rescue him from "the people in the trees.'"  Whoops -- turns out that Richard's sketch book contains some of the same images!

That night, after Richard falls asleep, scary monsters sneak into the room and attack him, then vanish into the ceiling (nice bare chest shot; for someone who doesn't exercise, Richard has quite a physique).

The next night, two monsters attack.  Jonah defends Richard with one of his razor blades, and they fall asleep in each other's arms. In the morning, the matron bursts in, and assumes that they were...you know.   Jonah laughs. "They'll be zapping us both for that."  I hope you don't get electroshock therapy for being gay.

Later that morning, the psychiatrist announces that he's releasing Jonah.  Not because of...., just because he's made so much progress.  "What about Richard? He needs me.  I can help him."  The psychiatrist scoffs.  "His condition is quite severe.  You can't save him."  

Jonah goes back to high school, gets bullied, cries, and cuts himself.  Back at the mental hospital, Richard is surrounded by creepy monsters.  The end.

A review says that there is a "question about the boys' sexuality."  No question -- they're gay!


Short 4:  Angel Road (2014).  
Finch (Jason Hildebrandt),  an elderly, sick country guy (coughing, popping pills) drives his pick-up truck down the highway.   He's asking Heaven for a sign, an angel.  

Suddenly he encoua nters blond girl whose fancy convertible broke down on the side of the road.  She says her name is Angel.  "You've got to be kidding me!" he thinks.  

He fixes her car, ignoring her flirting, and drives away.  She stares, no doubt thinking "Hey, this isn't the way the story is supposed to go!  I'd better call Clarence at Angel Headquarters!"

Finch kisses a photo of his wife and kids.  I guess he has to prove that he didn't reject the girl because he's gay.

He arrives at an abandoned house in the middle of nowhere, and starts to drink.  Two Russian gangsters approach, Roman  (John Kyle Sutton, left) and Vlad (Robert Zachar), looking for their "sister."  Finch notes that he fixed her radiator, but won't give any more details.  They obviously have nefarious intent.

Later, Finch sees the converible parked outside a rural hotel.  He hears gunshots and goes to investigate (you'll be killed!  you probably are dead already!)

Angel, bloody and beaten, has just shot the Russian gangsters.  Finch wipes off the fingerprints, packs her in his truck, and drives off.

She trie to flirt with him, even though she's dying from an abdominal wound.  She happens to have a valise full of money, so they can go off together and "do good things."   Finch opens up about how he was a cop but "screwed that up," how he hasn't seen his daughter in ten years.  She would be about Angel's age now.

Whoops, she's dead.   He carries her into the desert and leaves her for the coyotes.

Hey, what about his sign from Heaven?

No gay content.

But gay subtexts or texts in two out of four -- not bad.  

Now if only the shorts weren't so depressing. Way too depressing for Halloween.  Maybe they'd be ok at Christmastime.

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