Jan 23, 2021

What's Gay about "Married with Children"

One day in 1988, I was at the gym in West Hollywood, and I saw someone wearing a t-shirt reading "Married...with Children Fan Club."

I knew about Married...with Children.  On Sunday nights, my roommate Derek and I always watched the beefcake-heavy: 21 Jump Street and Werewolf  on the fledgling Fox network, but we turned the tv off when the "Love and Marriage" theme song began.

Who wanted to watch a tv show that praised the heterosexual nuclear family?

Big mistake.  Married skewered the institution.

Al (Ed O'Neill) and Peggy (Katey Sagal) are a middle-aged married couple who hate each other.  Sexually voracious Peggy keeps trying to trick, cajole, or berate Al into having sex with her, but he isn't interested (although he likes women in general).

In the first season plot arc, Al and Peggy have fun trying to destroy a naive newly married couple, Marcy (Amanda Bearse) and Steve (David Garrison).  They're like George and Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, except their tactic is criticizing wives and husbands, respectively, and it works!  The couple soon divorces, and Marcy hooks up with metrosexual boytoy Ted McGinley

 Other episodes involve problems with the kids, the promiscuous teenage Kelly (Christina Applegate) and the rowdy preteen Bud (David Faustino) -- soon a nerdy teenager.











No significant buddy-bonding, although Peggy and Marcy and Al and Boomererson come close.

Lots of beefcake -- Kelly had lots of shirtless, muscular boyfriends, such as Dan Gauthier, and in later seasons, Bud began to muscle-up big time.

Gay people appear only once.

Yet Married -- at least in its early years, before the downward spiral of Seasons 7-10 -- artfully revealed the flimsy foundation of the "fade out kiss," the myth of universal heterosexual destiny.  In the heart of the Reagan-Bush Era of conservative retrenchment, that was worth any number of "old friend visits and turns out to be gay" episodes.

Amanda Bearse came out in real life in 1993, and the rest of the cast are strong gay allies.




Katey Sagal and Christina Applegate have made public statements supporting gay marriage.

Ed O'Neill now stars in Modern Family, as the patriarch of a family that includes a gay son and son-in-law.

David Faustino played gay characters in Get Your Stuff (2000) and in Killer Bud (2001), and in Ten Attitudes (2001), he played "himself," not gay but on the gay dating circuit (for a sleazy reason). He also played "himself" in the webseries Star-Ving (along with buddy Corin Nemec).  See his post here.

He's currently in talks with producers about a Married spin-off, with Bud as an adult, married...with children.


"The New Mutants": Gay Characters, Beefcake, and Still a Grade of "D"

 


The X-Men, in the Marvel comic and film series, are mutants with superpowers.  Some powers mimic those of standard superheroes: the ability to fly, teleport, move super-fast.  Others are just bizarre: the ability to control metal, or to look at someone (or their photo) and turn into an exact replica, all the way down to the fingerprints.  The 13 movies to date are set in a vast stage, from the distant past  to the far future, from northern Canada to Vietnam to outer space, with enormous props, like throwing an entire baseball stadium at the White House.  But not the latest in the franchise, The New Mutants, which is painfully claustrophobic in its setting and cast.

 In the first scene, Native American teenager Dani Moonstar (Blu Hunt) is awakened by her father and forced to flee into the woods to escape a gigantic snarling, red-eyed "tornado."  She loses consciousness, and awakens in the Facility, a sort of mental hospital where mutants learn to recognize and control their powers.

The Facility is huge; there are dozens of buildings, including a church and a gym with an Olympic-sized swimming pool.  But there are only five residents:



1. Dani, who doesn't know what her power is.

2. Rich Brazilian Berto (Henry Zaga, left), who bursts into flame like the Human Torch whenever he gets excited.

3. Scottish girl Rahne, pronounced "Rain" (Maisie Williams), who can turn into a wolf.  

4. Kentucky coal miner's son Sam (Charlie Heaton), who can propel himself as a fiery human cannonball.

5. Obnoxious Russian Illyana (Anya Taylor-Joy), whose arm develops armour and sprouts a flaming sword (these powers seem rather redundant).  She can also go to limbo, where her puppet becomes a fire-breathing dragon, and see mysterious monsters called the Smiling Men, but those might not be superpowers.

And only one staff member, Dr. Reyes (Alice Braga), who runs the group therapy sessions, conducts weird experiments, and keeps them under 24-hour surveillance.

So many questions.  Why a huge facility for just five patients?   Who does the cooking? Who cleans the swimming pool?  What do the patients do all day, after their single group therapy session.  If they've been there awhile, why to they keep asking each other "What's your story?" sorts of questions, a if they have just met?  When does Dr. Reyes eat and sleep?  


Dani starts a romantic relationship with Rahne.  Sam and Berto buddy bond.  Berto flirts with Illyana (Sam doesn't seem to be interested in girls.)  They have group therapy, play foosball, and watch Buffy the Vampire Slayer on tv. And, as on Nightmare on Elm Street, dreams come to life.

Sam relives the blast that killed his Dad and some other coal miners.

Berto has sex with Illyana, but she morphs into a flaming monster. 

Father Craig, who branded Rahne with a "w" because he thought she was a witch, returns and brands her again.

Illyana's Smiling Men appear and start chasing them.

Spoiler alert:  

It turns out that Dr. Reyes is working for an evil corporation that wants mutants trained as fighting machinese.  Those who learn to control their powers "graduate" to become assassins.  Those who don't get "terminated." 

And Dani's power, of course, is bringing your "worst fears" to life."  Including, finally, the Demon Bear that destroyed her village (which she may have created herself with another power; it's not clear).

So many movies begin with people escaping from Facilities that I expected Dani and the other patients to escape after about ten minutes and jaunt off on a caper.  Maybe ending up in Guatemala or Egypt.  With Dr. Xavier or Wolverine making cameo appearances.  Nope, they vanquish Dr. Reyes (who turns out to be a mutant herself) and escape.  Seeing "the end" was extremely unsatisfying.  Wait -- the movie is just starting...nothing has happened yet...


Plus I found the redundant powers trite, conventional, boring.  Mutant powers can literally be anything. Magneto can kill you by pulling all the iron from your cells.  So why make them all about playing with fire?

The Smiling Men were interesting, but never explained.

Gay Characters: Raine and Dani.  Maybe Sam.

Beefcake: Berto doesn't seem to own a shirt.

My Grade: D.



Jan 22, 2021

Cut Throat City: Maybe a Gay Muslim Character, But Definitely No Zombies

 


 We are busy watching Corner Gas, Cougar Town, Atlantis, The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Riverdale, and Disenchanted, so not much time for new shows.  But any movie with a muscular guy in a sleeveless shirt as an icon has got my attention, so I plugged in Cut Throat City.  I'll watch until the homophobia or heterosexism kicks in.

Opening Credits: Cut-out animation of four African-American men and one woman fighting off an army of zombies.

Scene 1: The scene morphs into a graphic novel that four guys in a van are passing around and criticizing: "It's not real enough."  According to the IMDB, they are probably: 

1. Miracle (Demetrius Shipp Jr., top photo)

2. Blink (Shemeik Moore, below)

3. Andre (Denzel Whitaker, no beefcake photos available)

4. Junior (Keean Johnson, third photo), who looks white, but they specifically state that he is black.

They continue a "real" conversation about movies, weed, vocabulary, and guns, dropping the n-word so much that I'm struggling not to be shocked.  Oh, it's also Andre's wedding day.  


Scene 2:
 A small church in the countryside.  Andre helps his bride's son get dressed.  Meanwhile, Bride is about ready to bolt -- she absolutely does not want to marry Andre.  But Mom reassures her: "Marriage isn't about happiness  It's about meaning." 

Meanwhile, the guys are discussing how the woman who just passed gave them errections, and the Best Man is completely against this wedding.  His Mom reassures him: "James is your best friend.  You have to go through with it."  

Why does Best Man's Mom call the Groom James?  Is it James or Andre?

According to the IMDB, it's Blink.

Montage of the wedding: close-up of rings going on, several smooches.  Reception: they dance and smooch some more.  Over the threshold into the house, sex (no nudity), smooching and that thing where you suck on your partner's lower lip (well, I never heard of that, but it's what they do).  Sleeping and smooching.

So, the Bride acting like she was ready to run out the door to escape from marrying Andre/James/Blink? The Best Man implying that he thought the marriage was terribly, terribly wrong?  Those were all red herrings?  Everything is fine?

Where are the zombies?


Scene 3: 
Hurricane!  I think I read something in the plot synopsis about Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans and other coastal cities in 2005.  So this is a historical drama.  That's why there are no cell phones.  Much of New Orleans is underwater.  Most of the residents have been evacuated.  

I didn't sign on for a disaster movie.  What happened to the paranormal peril?  

Scene 4: Andre/James/Blink works on his comic art while Bride feeds her kid breakfast.  They proceed to swallow each other's tongues right in front of their kid!

Ok, I can't take any more of this heterosexist "men and women gazing into each other's eyes forever" garbage, especially after the intriguing hints that something was terribly wrong turned out to be misdirection. I'm fast-forwarding.

Talking, talking, talking, pulling a gun, women gyrating on poles, a fight, a gun, a white cop, talking, kissing, more women gyrating on poles (with close ups of their butts), talking, kissing, getting shot and killed.

One of the reviews mentions that a main character is gay, and a devout Muslim.  It doesn't say which one.  I certainly didn't notice anyone engaging in any same-sex romantic interactions, or for that matter anyone praying, reading the Qur'an, going to a mosque, or doing anyting Muslim-specific.  

And no zombies!

Woody Guthrie and his Clan: 4 Generations of Pro-Gay Folksingers

If you visit the facebook page of guitarist, drummer, and all-around cool guy Krishna Guthrie, you'll seem some nice beefcake photos.  And this sign:









Krishna is the latest in a dynasty of gay allies.  His great-grandfather was folksinger Woody Guthrie (right), who was introduced to radical politics by the gay couple Will Geer (later Grandpa on The Waltons, center) and Harry Hay, founder of the Mattachine Society, the first modern gay rights organization.

Woody remained close to Will through his life.  No doubt he would have been outraged to hear his anthem, "This Land is Your Land," used by the anti-gay marriage NOM at their rallies.


Woody's son Arlo Guthrie (left, with Will Geer) became the poster boy for hippie androgyny, gleefully transgressing gender norms in dress, hair, and behavior.

He starred in the counterculture classic Alice's Restaurant, which contains as many gay subtexts as the censors would allow.

He often sneaked pro-gay messages into his songs, like lambasting the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in "Alices Restaurant."






Woody's granddaughter (Krishna's aunt), Sarah Lee Guthrie, and her husband, Johnny Irion, often perform at gay venues.

And that's not all.  Arlo and his wife Jackie had four children and ten grandchildren.  There's an entire Guthrie clan out there, all raised to believe that it's ok to be gay.



Why Everyone in West Hollywood Watched "Dynasty"

After spending so many years looking for "a good place," when I moved to West Hollywood in 1985, I didn't want any contamination from the straight world. I read Frontiers and The Advocate instead of the L.A. Times.  I didn't go to a movie unless it had gay characters.  And tv was the enemy, alien propaganda like the pamphlets dropped over enemy villages in wartime.

So in the fall of 1984 I watched 7 hours of tv regularly: Alice, Charles in Charge, The Cosby Show, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Facts of Life, Family Ties, It's Your Move, Kate and Allie, The Jeffersons, Miami Vice, Newhart, and Who's the Boss.  To be fair, that was my dreary year in Hell-fer-Sartain, Texas.

And in the fall of 1986, I watched 3: The Golden Girls, Head of the Class, Mama's Family, Married with Children, and Dynasty.

I couldn't help Dynasty (1981-89).  On Wednesday nights, every tv in West Hollywood tuned in.  Bars had Dynasty Night.  On Halloween, guys dressed up as Joan Collins.

I didn't see the attraction. It was a Dallas clone, except set in Denver, and unscrupulous oil tycoon Blake Carrington (John Forsythe) was an East Coast elitist rather than good ol' boy J.R. Ewing, so there were more sexual intrigues than shady business deals, but it was still a soap opera.

I could see the attraction for drag queens.  Blake's trophy wife Krystle (Linda Evans) and his ex-wife Alexis (Joan Collins) had big hair, fabulous outfits, and lots of temper tantrums. But what did gay men who weren't looking for fashion tips see in the succession of bikini-clad ladies lounging by poolside: Pamela Sue Martin, Emma Sams, Heather Locklear, Diahann Caroll.



There were a few hunky men, who sometimes stripped down for bed, but rarely lounged around the pool.  Sometimes they appeared in speedos on Battle of the Network Stars.

John James (above) played Jeff Colby, who courts Blake and Alexis' daughter Fallon (Pamela Sue Martin).  The two eventually spun off into their own soap, The Colbys.

Maxwell Caulfield (left) played Miles Colby, Jeff's cousin, who also courts Fallon.  A little triangulation between them, but not enough for a subtext.






There was a gay character, sort of: Blake and Alexis' son Steven (Al Corley, Jack Coleman), one of those tortured, self-hating 1970s gays who claim that they like men, sort of, while sleeping with every woman in sight and trying desperately to change "back" into heterosexual. Every time he kissed a girl, I groaned.

But then, seeing any gay person on tv in the 1980s, even a conflicted one who likes girls, felt like a victory.

Jan 20, 2021

Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers

September 1974: My friends and I are in ninth grade at Washington Junior High, 13 or 14 years old, aspiring to be cool, hip, and intellectual.  So we watch all of the hip sitcoms that would later be lauded as part of the Golden Age of Television.

Like Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers.

Never heard of it?

It was famous in the fall of 1974.

MTM Enterprises was changing the face of television, making it hip, modern, and "real," set in real places like Cincinnati and Minneapolis, starring people with real home and work lives (they even had sex).  It already had two hits, Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart, and Paul Sand looked like a third.

Especially when CBS put it into the fall schedule between its #1 show,  All in the Family and the Mary Tyler Moore/Bob Newhart block

I wanted to like it:

1. Cute, dour-faced comedian Paul Sand starred.
2. He was a bass player with the Boston Philharmonic (I was in the orchestra!).
3. Friends and Lovers sounded dirty.
4. There was a hot athletic older brother (Michael Pataki, left).  Maybe there'd be some beefcake.
5. And a workplace friend (Steve Landesberg, later of Barney Miller). Maybe there'd be some buddy-bonding.



I was only home to see a few episodes, and they weren't very good.

1. Paul Sand was not at all likeable -- his self-deprecating humor was...well, deprecating
2. The brother never took his shirt off, although Max Gail (later of Barney Miller) flexed in one episode.
3. And everyone was obsessed with heterosexual sex.  It was like Three's Company, a few years later.

It actually became the #25 most watched show of the season, doing better than its competition, Emergency! and The New Land, but by January it was cancelled, replaced by the mega-hit The Jeffersons.

Which also suffered from a lack of beefcake.

Forgotten Gay Actor Antony Hamilton

When I was living in West Hollywood, half the guys I met were aspiring actors, and the other half had dated or hooked up with actors.  If you were gay and in show biz, I knew you, or had met you, or had at least heard about you in a conversation.

But I never met, or even heard of, Antony Hamilton.

Born in 1952, he danced for the Australian Ballet and modeled in Europe, both for fashion magazines and for physique photographers like Bruce Weber, before hitting Hollywood.







His first role was the vampire-disco comedy Nocturna (1979), starring John Carradine as Dracula and Yvonne DeCarlo as someone named Juglia Vein.

But his big break was as the legendary muscleman in the tv movie Samson and Delilah (1984).

On April 1, 1984, I was watching The Jeffersons and Alice.

Then he was offered a role as model-secret agent Jack Stryker, a replacement for the deceased Jon-Erik Hexum in the last seven episodes of Cover-Up (1984-85).

I never watched.

In Mirrors (1985), sort of like Chorus Line with ballet dancers, he plays the dancing great Gino Rey.

I didn't watch.

He was considered for the new James Bond in The Living Daylights (1987), but he was gay in the homophobic Hollywood of the 1980s.  What if he was outed?  They went with a heterosexual.

I saw that.



Then came a few square-jawed tv guest spots: Twilight Zone, The Charmings, L.A. Law.

I watched The Charmings, but don't remember his episode.

And a couple of horror movies..

He played Max Harte in Mission: Impossible, a remake of the classic 1960s tv series that lasted for two seasons (1988-1990).  Peter Graves reprised his role as Jim Phelps, leading a team of experts engaging in top-secret government operations, but now they were more likely to capture criminals than interfere with the political structures of foreign countries.

On Sunday nights in 1988-89, I was watching Family Ties and Married...with Children. 

He has two more tv guest spots listed on imdb, plus a minor role in Fatal Instinct (1992).

He died of AIDS in 1995.



So an exceptionally hot gay actor was wandering around West Hollywood the same time as me, but our paths never crossed.

What other treasures did I miss out on?


Jan 19, 2021

"The Glades": Life without Gay People is Really Boring

 


The Glades, a small-town detective investigating the murder of the week, appeared on my Amazon recommendations, so I checked to see if there were any gay characters.

A comment in an article about the show's cancellation: "The Glades will be missed by all viewers, straight and gay."

Why would gay viewers miss it?

More research: Another commentator praised the show for "Not ridiculing Christians, not having gay characters, reflecting family values."

"Family values" is code for "homophobia."

Wait -- why would gay viewers miss a homophobic show?

Truns out that the original comment was: "I have no problem with alternative lifestyles, but they make some people uncomfortable.  Not every show has to have gay characters.  Why can't you just relax and watch good, wholesome tv?"

It might be fun to go undercover, watch a show by and for heterosexuals, written and conceived with the idea that no gay people exist. Sort of like being a secret agent.

I choose an episode apparently about tearoom trade: Season 1, Episode 5: "Some incidental foot contact in a men's restroom enrages one of the men, who gives the other a piece of his mind.  But what he finds in the next stall is a man beaten to death."  


Scene 1:
Scary redneck trucker rushes into a truck stop restroom and sits down to do his business. A foot suddenly slides over and touches him.  He yells "Hey!," but the foot continues to touch him.  "You finish up in there, I'm going to kick your pervert ass!"  He opens the door to find a man beaten to death.

Ok, he thinks that gay people are "perverts.'  I'm sure the writers of the show agree.  But was it a dead gay guy in the next stall?  Someone who got a little too frisky?

Scene 2: Scary redneck being interviewed by the cops. Jim (Matt Passmore, top photo) and Carlos (Carlos Gomez) discuss one's daughters' quinceanera (family man, see?).  Dead guy had a fake Florida driver's license.  He came in on a bus. Robbery wasn't the motive.

Picture #2 is of the wrong Carlos Gomez.

I find no mentions of Matt Passmore or Carlos Gomez being homophobic.

Sophie the "beautiful" forensic pathologist shows up and flirts with Carlos.  Jim is jealous.

Opening Credits: Florida beaches full of women's legs and breasts.  This is a "family friendly" show?  I guess if you're a heterosexual sleazedog.  Then an alligator, Jim flirting with a woman, Carlos dissecting a corpse, and The Glades, created by Clifton Campbell.

Scene 3: The kid Jeff (Uriah Shelton) comes home from visiting Dad.  Mom asks why he's acting so weird: "Didn't you have a good time?"  Turns out he blames Mom for not seeing Dad very often, but it's the fault of Witness Protection.

Meanwhile, Jim and Carlos track down the dead guy, whle discussing whether the "beautiful" forensic pathologist is hot: he was David Zale, a realtor who was convicted of embezzlement and got out of prison four months ago.  Daniel (Jordan Wahl) has dug up more intel: Dead guy called the same number twice every day, and he was on a bus to Maggie, North Carolina. 

Daniel does some swishy hand stuff.  I wonder if he's gay.  

Nothing specific, but I found a 2019 review of the homophobic Hialeah, starring Jordan Wall.

Scene 4: Carlos and Sophie the Forensic Pathologist flirt and dissect the corpse. Jim comes in and suggests that Carlos ask her out.  By the way, no drugs or alcohol in Zale's system, and the call was to his Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor. 


Scene 5:
They interview the sponsor, Dr. Sloan.  He runs a high-class addiction recovery center, where Zale worked as a peer counselor.  The detectives are extremely rude, accusing Dr. Sloan of profiting from other people's misery.  

Cut to the kid Jeff playing video games.  Mom comes in, wearing a towel or an extremely inappropriate dress cut to the waist.  She wants to talk, but Jeff storms out. (I'd leave, too, if my Mom wanted to talk while wearing a vagina-showing mini-mini-mini skirt).  She follows.  The problem:  he wants to live with Dad, because Mom works two jobs and is always broke (he says as he stands in the rec room of their palatial McMansion).

Scene 6: Back to the forensics lab.  Turns out that Zale wasn't beaten to death; he was killed by a sharp object like an ice pick.  Amd Daniel has new intel: Zale had lost a class-action suit by the clients he defrauded, so why would any of them want him dead?  Then he couldn't pay.

But if he was broke, how did Zale afford the high-end rehab center?

Back to the rehab center.  Dr. Sloan says that Zale lived at the center.  They check his room; it's been cleared out, and there's blood on the curtains.

Suddenly a guy comes in, thinks that Matt is Zale, and attacks, yelling "You're dead, Zale!" 

Commercial break: a phone charger, IMDB TV, a sentient cookie about to be eaten by his human "friends."


Scene 7:
The attacker is Connor Burrows (Sam Ball), millionaire tennis coach (just go with it).  Jim, who knows more about drugs than the professionals, tells Dr. Sloan that he is still using.  Zale was probably the supplier.  Then he cut Burrows off, they had an argument, and Burrows killed him. (Then why did Burrows think that Zale was still alive the next day?)

But he takes a blood sample from an argumentative Dr. Sloan, too.  

Matt and Carlos discuss how hot Sophie the Forensic Pathologist is.

Scene 8: Interview with Connor. Jim confronts him with his past: pushing his 12-year old player too hard, so she collapsed and died; 3 months later he attempted suicide.  Three DUIs, but no criminal convictions because he hired a crooked attorney, Andrew Waller. How is being a judgmental jerk going to help your case?

Connor doesn't explain his beef with Zale, but he does reveal that Zale was never an addict.  He was just pretending so he could work there.  

They research the Crooked Attorney, who got lots of people the rehab clinic instead of prison.

Meanwhile Carlos is measured for a suit for the quinceaƱera (writing it without the tilde was driving me crazy).  

Wait -- a middle aged woman is helping him, and then they kiss.  A wife! Why is he considerig a date with the Forensic Pathologist?

Daniel goes through Zale's luggage.  In a secret compartment, Crooked Attorney's business card, with a meeting written down! (Gee, most people keep those things on their phones).

Scene 9:  They check: Crooked Attorney represented Zale in an extortion case. They had a meeting scheduled the very night Zale was murdered!  And Crooked Attorney is missing!

The Kid is having pizza with Jim, but Jim is not his dad.  Then what is their connection?  I'm confused.

Scene 10: Jim meets with the Kid's Mom, still in her insanely inappropriate outfit.  They discuss the upcoming divorce, while Jim digs up the body of the Crooked Attorney.  How did he know where it was?

Jim pries the Forensic Pathologist away from Carlos and asks if she is taking anyone to the...um...party (finding the tilde is too hard).  But the scene changes before he can ask her out.

Scene 11: They found a hair follicle on the body, and they want to see if Dr. Sloan is a DNA match, but he refuses to give them a sample. (You already have his blood.  Do you know what DNA is?)

Back at the lab, after they gaze at the Forensic Pathologist's butt as she walks away, Daniel tells Jim that he found a cigar wrapper in Zale's room.  A cigar sold only in two stores in Miami.  He called the stores: Zale bought three per week, at $750 each.  Where did he get the money?

Scene 12: Night. Carlos is in bed with his wife, who is wearing a normal outfit, for a change.  He goes downstairs and looks at a picture of his three girls and smiles.  I don't understand the purpose of this scene. To prove that Carlos is heterosexual?

Scene 13: Crooked Attorney had a puncture wound just like Zale had, and there's a follicle of the killer's hair inside!  How did Forensic Pathologist miss it during the autopsy?  She explains that she's doing sloppy work because she doesn't have a boyfriend.  WTF?  Single people can't do competent work?

Uh-oh, the boyfriend she wanted was Carlos!  They were having an extramarital affair!  Adultery -- so much for family values.

I'm getting bored.  There's an excruciatingly detailed plot summary on the fan wiki.

Spoiler alert:

The Forensic Pathologist did it.  She was helping the Crooked Lawyer falsify medical records because she was in love with him.

None of these people were the least bit interesting, especially the judgmental asshole Jim.  The sexism was overwhelming.  The plot was all about money laundering, yawn.  And there were no gay people (the redneck trucker in Scene 1 knew that "perverts" exist).

My verdict: TV shows without gay people are really boring. 

Jan 18, 2021

Annie Get Your Gun: Beefcake and a Gay Couple

I have mixed feelings about Annie Get Your Gun, the 1946 musical that was made into a half dozen movies, revived a dozen times, and remains a favorite of high school and college drama clubs.  Maybe because I got confused, thinking it was about a guy with his arms and legs blown off (that's Johnny Got His Gun).  

It's actually about real-life sharpshooter Annie Oakley (1860-1926), who joins Buffalo Bill's traveling Wild West Show in the 1880s and competes with the star, Frank Butler.

There's something to be said for a big, tough, rastlin' backwoods gal who can shoot guns, but why make her so all-fired eager to give it all up for a man?

I'm quick on the trigger with targets not much bigger than a pin point, I'm number one.
But my score with a feller is lower than a cellar- Oh you can't get a man with a gun.

Wait -- I know the answer.  Heteronormativity.

But she goes even farther, proclaiming it as universal human experience, "doin' what comes naturally":

My tiny baby brother, who's never read a book, knows one sex from the other --
All he had to do was look!

And the object of her affection is rather a cad, leaving a chain of seductions wherever he goes:

There's a girl in Tennessee who's sorry she met up with me
I can't go back to Tennessee -- I'm a bad, bad man!

The kicker: Annie is a better shot than Frank, but in the big match, she deliberately loses, so he will like her.  What kind of message is that for young heterosexual girls?  Squash your talents in order to get a man!


But some the songs are catchy, especially the show-stopping "There's No Business Like Show Business," which became the unofficial anthem of Hollywood.

There is a small gay subtext in the relationship between Buffalo Bill and his manager, Charlie Davenport.










And some beefcake: Annie is mentored by Indian performer Sitting Bull, who adopts her into his tribe.  Costumer designers often decide that the Indians should display their physiques.









Besides, Annie has been played by some of the biggest gay icons of the stage, including Betty Hutton, Ethel Merman, Judy Garland (actually fired from the 1950 film), Bernadette Peters, and Doris Day.

Notable Franks have included Bruce Yarnell, John Raitt, Harve Presnell, Tom Wopat, and Patrick Cassidy,

See also: The Sound of Music; The Pajama Game.

Call It Thunder: 40 Years of Fleetwood Mac

Fleetwood Mac was big when I was in high school, especially during my junior year, 1976-77, when I discovered what "gay" meant and started dating Verne, the preacher's son.

 I wasn't a fan.  Their songs were all about girls:

"Rhiannon":
Rhiannon rings like a bell through the night
And wouldn't you love to love her?
Takes to the sky like a bird in flight
And who will be her lover?

"Dreams":
Thunder only happens when it's raining
Players only love you when they're playing
Say women they will come and they will go
When the rain washes you clean, you'll know, you'll know



Plus they were heterosexual.  Mick Fleetwood and Lindsey Buckingham were both dating Stevie Nicks.

I only liked guys who liked guys, like Shaun Cassidy.

 Then, in January 1977, "Go Your Own Way" started playing on KSTT Radio.

You can go your own way, go your own way.
You can call it thunder, all the way.

It seemed like they were talking to me personally, telling me that it was ok to break away, follow your own path, and "call it thunder."

I "called it thunder" when I decided to go to college instead of taking a job in the factory, like my parents expected.

When I figured "it" out the summer after my high school graduation: we stop the fight right now, we got to be who we are.

When I rejected the "wife and kids" destiny everyone had plotted out for me, and found the freedom to love.

When I abandoned the Midwest for California.

When I decided to go back to graduate school and get a Ph.D.

You can go your own way, go your own way.
You can call it thunder, all the way.

 Whenever I hear the song today, it sends me back to my junior year at Rocky High, when everything was fresh and new and full of promise, when you could "go your own way" and "call it thunder."

Last night I heard the song at the gym, on the Classic Rock station they play in the free weight room.  I decided to do a blog post on the song that meant so much to me long ago.  So I looked up the lyrics online:

You can go your own way, go your own way.
You can call it another lonely day.

Another lonely day?  WTF?

It's not an anthem to self-awareness at all!  It's about breaking up with a lover, who is now packing up and going away, so it's "another lonely day."






For 40 years, I've been hearing the lyrics wrong.

Well, back to Shaun Cassidy.

Jan 17, 2021

Searching for Non-Heterosexist Movies on Amazon Prime

 


You know the game: I go through the first ten movies on the Amazon Prime "we think you'll like" list, excluding those that I've seen, Christmas romcoms  (it's halfway through January),  fundamentalist "God is not dead" stuff, and local amateur productions.  

For the remaining movies: if I can get through the blurb with no "after the death of his wife," "to win the girl of his dreams," or other heterosexist set pieces, one point.  The trailer, two points.  A review or plot description, three points. 


1. Dr. Cabbie:
 "They wouldn't let him heal, so he took the wheel." 

 An Indian doctor finds that he can't get a job in America, so he becomes a taxi driver.  Then he gets the idea of turning his cab into a mobile clinic.  The preview shows him and a buddy hugging,, so I watch the trailer.  Ulp...at the 1.30 minute mark, the Girl of His Dreams walks in slow motion while he gapes in slack-jawed wonder.  

One point

2. American Hero.  "Despite having super powers, Melvin only lives for women, drugs, and crime." 

Zero points.



3. Microbe and Gasolin
e
.  Sounds like a biology class at a community college. "Two young outcasts form an unusual friendship."  One of the outcasts is definitely a boy, but I can't tell from the icon if the other is a boy or a girl.  I can't tell their genders from the actor names (it's a French film).

On to the trailer: A boy enters a classroom.  He looks perfectly ordinary, but the other students stare as if he has two heads. The only free seat is next to the outcast boy.  As he movees to sit down, the entire class starts laughing and jeering.  Forced to sit next to the outcast.  What a loser!  What an idiot!  They're both beneath contempt -- let's bully them forever!

There may be a gay romance, but I can't take any more.  One point

4. Bad Kids of Crestview Academy Another Breakfast Club rip-off, except instead of singing "Don't You Forget About Me," the group is being murdered, one by one.  In the trailer, the girls wear too much makeup, and the boys stare too often.  But at least there's no Girl of His Dreams Walking in Slow Motion, and one of the guys is cute (Matthew Frias, top photo).

On to the review: the Breakfast Clubbers are "enthusiastically gay, lesbian, and straight."  Specifically Matthew Frias' character is a "gay drug dealer."  Three points.


5. Crudmoria
Sorry, it's actually Creedmoria. Dumb name, the icon shows a boy and a girl kissing, and the blurb mixes metaphors: "you have to peek between the cracks to find the warm rays of hope."  The plot description on IMDB is even more hackneyed:  "a girl finds the courage to walk away from everything she's ever known with the hope of discovering a better tomorrow."

 But there's no blatant heterosexism.  

The trailer: fast headache inducing split-shots of people in 1970s costumes gong to school, eating, being arrested, driving too fast, kissing, and yelling at each other.  

Plot description:  The girl has a gay, closeted younger brother (Ryan Weldon, left).  I can't imagine that he gets much of a subplot with all the other shenanigans going on, but still, three points.

6. Ramen Girl The icon is a girl with her hair blowing in the wind. 

Zero points.

7. My Blind Brother.  A slacker and his blind athlete brother compete for the love of the same woman...  Next, of course!  

Zero points.



8. College
.  Generic name. "Three high school seniors visit a local college as prospective students.."  

The trailer shows them gawking at girls as they jog past, trying to pick up girls, going to a frat party where girls are dancing on tables,and going to anothe party with girls in bikinis before the central charater sees The Girl walking in slow motion.  Are there even any boys at this school?

Yep, the obnoxious jock rival for The Girl.

One point

9. Time Loop"A Father and Son invent a Time Machine."  Obviously the writer failed fifth grade English: capitalize proper nouns, not common nouns.

Trailer: Father and adult Son working on a Stargate, arguing, driving through the Italian countryside, arguing, hugging, and meeting each other in the past.  Only one shot of a woman, driving adult Son somewhere, but she's a bit older than him, so probably not The Girl. 

Plot synopsis: Father and son only go back in time an hour, and have to avoid meeting versions of themselves to avoid a time parodox.  Turns out to be a low budget amateur movie, which I was supposed to skip. Still, three points.


10. Valley Girl. 
"A musical adaption of the hit 1983 move that changed teenage life forever."  It did?  I was barely out of my teens in 1983, and I don't remember teenage life changing forever.

Trailer: lots of Valley Girls going to the mall, gossipping, drinking milkshakes, driving down nameless Southern California boulevards. Then The Valley Girl and the Boy gazing at each other in slow motion.  Next!   One point

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