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 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

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.


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.


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 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."


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, 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.  

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