Jan 30, 2021

David Seville and the Chipmunks



When Wiliam Saroyan's play The Time of Your Life (1939) was first performed, Willie the Pinball Player was played by his 20-year old nephew, Ross Bagsadarian.

But while the elder Saroyan specialized in wistful melancholy, Ross was famous for whimsy.  For the songs that I heard when I was a kid, with secret messages about something big and important that I wouldn't understand until I was grown up:

When I was six or seven years old, two teenage boys on a church bus singing "Come On-a My House" (1951):
Come on-a my house, my house
I'm gonna give a you peach and a pear and I love your hair
Come on-a my house, my house
I'm gonna give a you everything


What did they mean?  What was one boy offering the other?



And a warm summer night when I was four or five.  I was already in bed, though it was still light out, and I gazed out the window at a teenager in a red tie-die shirt walking down the street by himself.  He was singing "Bird on My Head" (1958):
I'm just sitting in a vacant lot with a bird sitting on my head
Wicked, wicked, cruel, cruel world, what have you done to me?
I deserve to be in someone's arms.


Someone's arms, not a girl's arms!


When my friend Bill's older brother Mike  babysat us, he sometimes played his guitar and sang. One night in the late 1960s he taught us the words to "Witch Doctor" (1958).  He sang:
I told the witch doctor I was in love with you.

And Bill and I, facing each other, giggling, sang the chorus:
Ooo eee, ooo ah ah, ting tang walla walla bing bang

It was one of the best nights of my life.


In 1958 Ross recorded "The Chipmunk Song", which spun off into an animated sitcom, The Alvin Show (1961-62, and syndicated through the 1960s).  Ross's alter ego, David Seville, became the beset-upon manager of the singing group The Chipmunks.
1. Alvin, the troublemaker, Dennis the Menace in a red baseball cap.
2. Simon,  the intellectual
3. Theodore, the glutton

I didn't see the series often; it was on too early, or too late, or against something I liked better.  But David Seville was cute and nice, a perfect fantasy boyfriend, and a de facto single dad to an unconventional family, with no girls around.

I was angry in 1983, when Ross's son revived the Chipmunks, with girlfriends, part of the ongoing 1980s heterosexualization of children's tv.

Jan 29, 2021

Time Travel Movies: Winning the Girl of Your Dreams with Science


I love time travel stories.   Remember "Vintage Season": time traveling tourists visit some of history's greatest disasters.  So why are they visiting this bucolic small town?

Or "The Men Who Murdered Mohammed"?  A man tries to change the past, but can't, even after he kills more and more famous people.

Or "A Sound of Thunder": stepping on a butterfly in the Jurassic Era causes tragic changes to modern society. 

But contemporary time travel movies, not so much.  Most seem to be not only heterosexist, but really lacking in creative thought: you go back in time solely to win the Girl of Your Dreams.


Making Time: 
Nick (Mason Heidger, left) travels back in time and must re-propose to his ex-wife.  Lots of movies start with the couple divorced so they can get back together.

Time Freak: A college student (Asa Butterfield) builds a time machine to stop The Girl of His Dreams from breaking up with him. Or he could just date someone else?








When We First Met:
After the Girl of His Dreams decides that she wants to be just friends, the boyfriend (Adam Devine, top photo) travels back in time to convince her to date him. Or he could just go up to another girl and flex his muscles).

Project Almanac: David(Jonny Weston) and his friends use his father's time machine to go back in time and win The Girl of His Dreams, but things go horribly wrong. A tragedy, for a change.











Fireworks:
An anime about a boy named Norimichi, whose best friend runs away with the Girl of His Dreams.  Fortunately, he has a magic ball that will allow him to go back in time and change her  mind.  Nice to have those magic balls popping up all over the place.

About Time: Tim (Dombhall Gleason) discovers that he can travel in time.  He can't change history, but he can get a girlfriend.







The Time Traveler's Wife:
Henry (Eric Bana)  drifts back and forth through his life, encountering the Girl of His Dreams at various points in their relationship.  

Palm Springs: Nyles (Andy Samberg) is stuck in a time loop, which allows him to woo the Girl of His Dreams (also the plot of Groundhog Day, of course).











Hot Tub Time Machine: Three guys travel to the past in a hot tub (well, what did you expect?) to help their younger selves.  Two win Girls of their Dreams.  I'm sure the male nudity on the cover is just a tease; inside it will doutbless be all boobs all the time.

See You Yesterday: A girl (Eden Duncan-Smith) travels back in time to save her brother, who has been killed by a police officer.  

Hey, an exception!  Now if only the brother were gay....



Jan 28, 2021

Mixing Deathbeds and Magic Swords

 


I cannot understand movies about terminal illness.  Who could possibly write such a thing, or agree to perform in it?   Who on Earth could want to watch it?   Maybe people who are suicidal.  The purpose of entertaiment is to make you feel good, not bad.  Optimistic, not "life is constant pain, and then you die."  

I especially can't understand movies which try to convince you that "life is constant pain, and then you die" through heroic fantasy.  Goblins, Elves, dragons, magic swords, and heroic quests are positive, life-affirming.  Exciting.  Fun.  

Yet they keep mixing up deathbeds and magic swords.

A Monster Calls: A boy deals with the trauma of his dying mother by imagining a helpful tree monster.  Sorry, not even the hunky Toby Kebbell as the boy's dad could convince me to get within 50 miles of ths monstrosity. 


The Dangerous Book for Boys. 
Some boyovercome the trauma of their father's death by imagining a fantasy world.  In addition to the sadness, it sounds sexist, all about stereotypic boys' interests in building things, racing things, playing sports, being loud and aggressive.  Lots of boys aren't loud and aggressive, whether or not their dad is dead.








Pan's Labyrinth.
A girl escapes the trauma of her sick mother and stepfather(Sergi Lopez) into a fantasy world.







The Place of No Words.
  A father (Mark Webber) helps his son deal with his own terminal illness by imagining a fantasy wold.

The Fault in Our Stars. Two teenagers cope with dying by imagining a fantasy world. Sorry, that's too depressing to even look up the cast list on IMDB to see if there are any hot actors.  









At least these movies are upfront about the dying part, even though being upfront is bound to reduce the audience from 2,000,000 to about 20.  Sometimes they lie to trick you into the theater.

The Bridge to Terabinthia was the worst offender, with trailers that promote a rousing fantasy adventure similar to The Chronicles of Narnia.  It takes about 20 minutes before you discover that you have been conned: you're watching a boy (Josh Hutcherson) and his girlfriend spinning fantasies in order to deal with the trauma of her terminal illness.  I still remember the shock as I bolted from the theater.







Even thinking about these soul-destroying nightmares has me depressed.  I'm rushing to Amazon Prime and watching the first comedy movie they recommend.

Like a Boss: Best friends Mia and Mel are running a cosmetics company.  They must fight a villainous beauty mogul who wants to steal it.  

How do you steal a company?  Are there any cute guys?  Any guys at all? Any gay characters?

Who cares?  There are no dying loved ones or magic swords.

Gulliver's Travels

When I was a kid in the 1960s, books were strictly divided into "boy" and "girl."  Boys got tales of swashbuckling adventure: Treasure Island, The Three Musketeers, Ivanhoe. Girls got families and horses: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, Little Women, Misty of Chincoteague.


Both boys and girls got Swiss Family Robinson and Gulliver's Travels, maybe because they had both families and swashbuckling.

The main illustration was invariably Gulliver on the beach, tied by innumerable tiny ropes. It was strangely erotic, with Lilliputians walking all over Gulliver's body (one standing directly on his bulge, as if it was a little hill).  It was hard to resist imagining a comparison between a Lilliputian and Gulliver's  endowment.



Our adaptions of the original 1726 novel contained none of Jonathan Swift's misanthropy or biting social satire, just a man shipwrecked in Lilliput; and maybe, if we were lucky, Brobdingnag, the flying island of Laputa, and the land of the Houyhnhnms.


Like the original novel, our books contained no heterosexual romance.  Indeed, after Gulliver's stay among the sentient-horse Houyhnhnms, he can barely stand to be in the same room with his wife. But film versions always had to add some.


The 1939 Fleischer animated version popped up on tv occasionally. It stayed in Lilliput, and had Gulliver facilitating a Romeo-and-Juliet style romance.

The Three Worlds of Gulliver (1960) saddled the hapless merchant (played by gay actor Kerwin Mathews, left) with a fiancee who shares in the adventure.








In 1996, the tv movie Gulliver's Travels starred Ted Danson of Cheers (left, reacting to someone standing on his bulge).  He was back home, telling his loving wife about his travels.


The only exception was The Adventures of Gulliver (1968-70), a Saturday morning cartoon that had a very buffed teenage Gary Gulliver (voiced by Jerry Dexter) shipwrecked in Lilliput, looking for his father and a buried treasure, and evading an evil pirate.  His dog is there, too. Quite a lot of plot for 17 episodes.  But no heterosexual intrigues, although the king had the foresight to name his daughter Flirtacia.


Tiny Toon Adventures


Everyone misunderstands Tiny Toon Adventures.  

They weren't kid versions of classic Warner Brothers characters -- Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, and so on.  

They weren't the offspring of the classic Warner Brothers characters.  

And they weren't tiny -- they were adolescents, aged 13-15.  They lived with their parents while attending  Acme Looniversity, where the classic characters taught them the art of being toons.

After years of decline -- no new cartoons, old ones chopped to bits to eliminate the violence  -- Warner Brothers was trying to modernize for a new generation of fans.  So the Tiny Toons began appearing in after-school time slots, first in syndication (1990-1992), and then on the Fox network (1992-1995).


  They drew on the personalities of the classic characters, but their adventures were strictly modern, involving video games, cell phones, and lots of sly references to 1990s pop culture, from Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous to Roseanne Barr.

There were no domestic partnerships, as in the Hanna Barbara cartoons of a generation before. Instead, the characters displayed the heterosexism of the major teen sitcoms of the era (Sabrina the Teenage Witch, Boy Meets World, California Dreams), with lots of dating and romance. But there were plenty of subtexts.

Plucky, an egotistical duck, and Hamton, a shy, sensible pig, are partnered for a number of adventures, including parodies of Batman and Star Trekand sometimes are shown living together.  They break up, seek out other "best friends," realize how much they care for each other, and reconcile.

The human character Elmyra usually lacks heterosexual interest -- she is busy hugging and squeezing "cute little animals" to death.  But in one episode, she falls in love with a new girl named Rhonda Queen, and goes to absurd lengths to try to win her affection.

The character of Gogo Dodo also lacks heterosexual interest, and brings a vacuum cleaner to the school dance.

The gay kids in the audience had a lot to identify with.  A lot more than with the horrid Animaniacs, which regrettably replaced Tiny Toon Adventures in 1993.

See also: Animaniacs

Jan 27, 2021

Jose Orozco:The Beefcake Murals of Mexico and New Hampshire

After the Mexican Revolution (1910-1920), a number of artists tried to restore the Mexican national identity through muralismo, distilling their anxieties over modernism, industrialization, human suffering, and war into huge murals.

Jose Orozco (1883-1949) was the most prolific of the muralistas, painting murals primarily in schools all over Mexico and the United States. He was also the adept at beefcake,  using muscular men to signify what is important and valuable in the human spirit.


Many of his works criticize the Mexican Revolution, and are regularly censored or dismissed by the Mexican government.

Others use more universal themes, such as "Prometheus," the Greek god who brought wisdom to humanity (in the Frary Dining Hall at Dartmouth College).











He often used arcane, mystical symbolism, tying him into the Western hermetic tradition where homoerotic activity was a conduit to godhood. For instance, "Omnisciencia," ("Omniscience," 1925), in the the Casa de los Azulejos  in Mexico City, shows an ecstatic male figure, rays of power shooting from his torso, flanked by nude male and female figures who are being manipulated by half-hidden gods.










"Civilization The Coming of Quetzalcoatl" (at the Hood Museum) is a homoerotic masterpiece, combining Western esoteric and traditional Mesoamerican motifs.  It shows five ancient Mesoamerican priests holding down a naked, muscular sacrificial victim, the knife posed like a phallus, with the Aztec god approaching as if he intends a sexual assault.

No indication if Orozco was gay.  He was married, with three children, but during his era, many gay people married.

The best place to see his murals is in the Orozco Room at the Hood Museum, on the campus of Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire (about 2 hours north of Boston).

David and Goliath: From King James Bible to Gay Men's Bedrooms

The Philistine warrior Goliath was BIG: nine feet nine inches (enough about the nine feet, let's hear about the six inches).  His suit of armor weighted 125 pounds.  He challenged King Saul and the Israelites, but they were too scared to approach him.

The shepherd David agreed to fight him, but the sword and armor was too bulky, so he took his clothes off and fought with just a slingshot.  He immobilized the giant, then rushed up with a sword and decapitated him.

Don't read too far, though, since in 2 Samuel we discover that David didn't do the job at all; it was Elhanan the Bethlehemite.

The story of David and Goliath in 1 Samuel was a mainstay of Sunday school classes, probably because it showed a little guy triumphing over a big guy.  And because it's rather fun to imagine a nude, muscular shepherd boy striding across the battlefield, his penis swinging, the warriors all gazing in awe at his beauty.



The Biblical writers probably intended for David to be well into adulthood, in his late twenties, but artistic depictions generally make him 14-15.  And leave his pants on, as in this painting by French artist Gabriel Ferrier (1847-1914)















Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) made him the right age, but upped the clothing, giving him a tunic and pants.

















This Italian engraving by Marcantoni Raimondi (1480-1534) gives David a massive body and a penis, with a cloak flapping behind him.


















Daniele de Volterra (1509-1566) emphasizes Goliath's buffed body.














Alessandro Turchi (1578-1649) shows us a beautiful angelic David holding the gross bloody head.  Quite a contrast.



















Antonio Zanchi (1631-1722) clothes both David and Goliath.















Most of the artistic depictions of David and Goliath come from the late Renaissance and Baroque eras.  Going by the hair and face, you would expect this nude David in Zurich to be Baroque, too, but it's actually by Ivar Johnsson, erected in 1921.














Michelangelo's David (1501-1504) is the most famous statue in the world.  No Goliath around, just the nude, amazingly beautiful David, his cloak in his hand, his bag of stones at his feet, frozen at a pivotal moment of his life.

There are replicas in many cities, including Antwerp, Buffalo, Mexico City, Philadelphia, and Montevideo.

And in the living rooms of about a million gay men of a certain age, who used it to communicate gay identity in the years before Stonewall.


Jan 26, 2021

"The Mess You Leave Behind": Nude Gay Teenagers and a Galician Mystery


The Mess You Leave Behind,
on Netflix.  I'm a sucker for Spanish language dramas, and this one is set in Galicia.  Maybe we'll hear the Galician language spoken (quite different from Spanish, a lot of Portuguese influence):.

Come back to my room and take off your pants
Spanish: Vuelve a mi habitacion y quitate los pantalones
Galician: Volve á miña habitación e quitate o pantalon

Scene 1:  Viruca, a middle-aged woman, nervously copying computer files onto a disk. Mauro, a middle-aged man with a gray beard, knocks on the door, worried because she has ghosted him. "Why the fuck are you here?" she yells. He bangs, bangs, bangs while she yells "Go away!"  

Scene 2: Coruña, Spain, on the northern tip of Galicia.  A young woman comes into her house. German, apparently the boyfriend or husband, tells her that her Mom just died.  She goes into Mom's room to check -- yep, deceased.  (Tamar Nova, top photo, was actually born in Galicia).

Cut to German and the woman packed and ready to move "two hours away" for a teaching job.  She's nervous because she hasn't taught a class in ages.

Montage of their car trip.  Nice scenery.  



Scene 3
: Novariz High School. Viruca from Scene 1 waits as her students come into the classroom.  Bad Boy Iago (Aron Piper, right) ) stares at her.  She orders him to write on the chalkboard: "Dying is an art like everything else.  I do it exceptionally well."  (a quote from Sylvia Plath.  I guess this is an English class).

She assigns them to write about their feelings about suicide.  The students whisper.  Roi (Roque Ruiz, left) discovers that Iago's Girlfriend has just dumped him.  Iago asks Viruca, "Why are you so cruel?"  Just because he left her a note?  

Scene 4: German and the young woman arrive at the home of German's parents.  

Meanwhile Viruca leaves a tavern to see "Puta!" ("Bitch") sprayed on her car, and the tires slashed.  She asks the bartender and a shy boy, Mijail, if they saw anything.  But Mijail doesn't look toward the parking lot -- it brings back bad memories.  

Viruca drinks gin and complains about her students.  "One day I'll leave for good."  The bartender suggests that she confide in a friend, but Viruca doesn't have any.

Scene 5: Meanwhile, the young woman is having dinner and basking in the love and warmth of German's parents.  No, wait, his father died recently.  His mother and Demetrio (Federico Perez Rey), who offers some pills to help him get an errection. So, uncle?  Older brother? Meanwhile Mom asks how long it took for her to get over her mother's death.

When the woman -- we finally learn her name, Raquel or Quela -- leaves, the family interrogates German: "How is she doing?  Is it as bad?"  Gosh, everyone in Galicia is full of secrets.

In the kitchen, Raquel asks German why he went to the bathroom four times during dinner.  Is he using cocaine?  He swears that he hasn't used in two years.  The bathroom breaks were so he could cool down and not yell at Mom.

Scene 6: Veruca drinking and grading papers in the dark.  Iago wrote: "Hypocrites should just die. Don't you agree, Teach?"  She tears the paper up.

Meanwhile, Raquel is unpacking boxes.  Her mother sitting on the couch, criticizes her for moving away.  Raquel counters: "You're dead!"  Mom doesn't believe it, so she checks for a heart beat.  Yep, she's dead.  

Ok, it was a dream.  Raquel awakens to the sound of German's Mom crying.  They must have awfully thin walls.  


Sccene 7:
Veruca passed out amid her papers and wine glasses.  She gets a text from Mauro (from Scene 1), but ignores it. There seem to be blood splatters on the floor, or maybe it's just wine.

Meanwhile: Nice exterior shot of Raquel on the way to the tavern, where she orders an espresso and a piece of cake. The bartender can tell that she's the new teacher.  For one thing, she doesn't understand Galician.  For another, she's obviously eager to start.

Scene 8: Veruca passes back the papers.  Roi got an A.  Nerea (the ex-girlfriend of Bad Boy Iago) alludes to "the rumors" (no doubt that Veruca and Iago are having an affair).  Veruca kicks her out of the class. Iago, too.

Meanwhile, Raquel arrives at the school (these are obviously time jumps, but I''m not sure who taught at the school first)  A huge Gothic space, all heavy stone and glass.  

Raquel comes in just as Veruca is going out.  Symbolism?  

Veruca goes into an auditorium where the speaker is criticizing "the heteropatriarchy," but she seems to mean just "the patriarchy": "They call us the weaker sex, but we are strong."  She gets a standing ovation.

Scene 9: Raquel is being shown around. "If you need anything, ask for help.  No heroes, no martyrs.  We've had enough of that." Uh-oh.

A middle aged male teacher (Mauro from Scene 1?) gets upset by her doe-eyed naiveté . "I can't believe that Xunta would send someone like you! You won't last two days!"  He storms off.

"He doesn't mean it," another teacher says.  "It's just hard for him after what happened to his wife."  Is that wife Veruca?

Scene 10: Bad boy Iago is showing Roi something in his knapsack; "I did it for you!  Let's go to the Hot Springs!"  They almost fight, but Veruca stops them.

Viruca leaves the school,  Middle-aged Teacher from Scene 9 (Mauro, no doubt) is sympathetic about her slashed tires.  She brushes him off.  Then a text: "I need to see you!  I'm losing my mind!  Do something with what I gave you, or I'll talk!"

Ok, that's obscurity for the sake of obfuscation.

Scene 11: At home, Raquel finds a coke tab and yells at German for lying to her.  "Coming here was a mistake.  Thinking that it would magically fix our relationship!"

Scene 12: Bad Boy Iago and Roi drink beer, do cocaine or Ecstasy (I can't tell which).  They get naked and jump in the hot springs, Roi photographing Iago waving a gun around. Very chummy, obviously boyfriends.  But before they can do anything, Raquel shows up.  

Iago says that his gun is just a prop for the photo shoot.  Then he drops his shorts to show Raquel his penis.  She isn't impresssed.

Are you kidding?  That's one of the biggest bulges I've ever seen!

Scene 13:  Back home, German wants to make up.  They kiss.  Raquel says "I'm ready to teach."

Sex scene: Raquel on top, completely nude, some of German's chest and butt.  He does oral sex because he can't get it up.  They stop, frustrated.

Meanwhile Veruca gets up, hungover, and looks in the mirror.

Raquel looks in the mirror, practicing her "first day of class" ice breakers: "Poetry doesn't want adepts, it wants lovers." 
 
Veruca goes to the library, where teachers are whispering: "She's gone too far."  "She's just going through a rough period." "Nerea (the ex-girlfriend of Bad Boy Iago) is starting to gossip"  She tells them to "Fuck off" and heads to the bathroom to send a text.

Iago rushes in and grabs her by the neck: "I should kill you!  You're killing me, you bitch!"  He kisses her, starts crying, and yells "Don't touch me!"  Wow, teenagers are emotional!

Meanwhile Roi, walking past outside, hears them yelling and rushes in to intervene.  He hugs Iago: "Are you ok?" snd yells at Veruca, "What the fuck did you do to him? I wish you'd never come into our lives!" 


Scene 14: 
 Raquel goes to the library/faculty office to talk about four students who are doing failing work, and should be expelled.

Shift to Mauro (the ex-husband) and Roi at the river, photographing Bad Boy Iago and Girlriend Nerea in wedding outfits. Suddenly they see something floating in the water.  Veruca, dead!

A teacher tells Raquel: "It can't be easy replacing a teacher who killed herself."  She is shocked; no one told her about Veruca.  

After that bombshell, Raquel heads off to teach her class.  She asks the students what Veruca had been assigning.  Lots of poets who killed themselves.  What a coincidence!

The students hate her.

Scene 15:  Raquel starts grading papers.  Whoops, a "Missing Persons" poster about Veruca somehow ended up in the folder, and a scribbled "How long before you die, too?"

Raquel takes a bath (no nudity) and drinks wine.  Suddenly the dead Viruca is in the tub with her.  "Leave this place!"  El FIn.

Beefcake: Naked, bulging Iago and Roi.  Some of German.

Other Sights: Nice shots of Galicia.

Gay Characters: Iago and Roi, no doubt.

Mysteries: Lots.

Galician:  Only incidentally. 

My Grade: A-.  The - because of the female nudity.

Jan 24, 2021

"Mark's Place": A Script from the 1970s

  


Mark's Place on Amazon Prime is regrettably not about St. Mark's Place, the gay hangout in New York. It's a retro sitcom, complete with laugh track, about aging Mafia stereotypes in Florida.  The reviews are awful.  

Episode #4 has the plot synopsis: "Mandy Bixby drops the soap."  "Dropping the soap" refers to the common fear among heterosexual men that if they go to prison and "drop the soap" in the communal shower, their bare butts will entice gay men into sexually assaulting them. 

A prison rape by a gay predator.  That's super-retro!  I'm going to watch to see how awful it gets.

Intro: An elderly Chicago cop is forced to move to Florida in the Witness Protection Program.  He kisses a lady's hand, he sits at a table with five ladies, tells a lady a joke, yells at someone.  There are accordion players.  A woman in a bikini climbs slowly out of a pool.  

I already need a dose of muscle to counteract the disgust.  Let me just gaze at the top photo for a minute.

Ok, I'm ready to continue.  How homophobic does Mark's Place get?

Scene 1:  Elderly Cop and his buddies playing poker.  They are drawn to a tv ad: "Bixby for Mayor!"  They agree that Bixby is corrupt,  "a hand job," pocketing the tax money.  The guys should be pocketing tax money!

Sorry, I was wrong.  This show is set in Palm Springs, California.  Having a homophobic show set in the gay oldster paradise takes chutzpah!

One of the guys tells a story about how he was playing in a club, when a "beautiful woman" walks in. 

  I pull out my cell phone and check my email.


Scene 2: 
A resort hotel.  Mayor Bixby is playing golf in his room.  His wife asks if he got the Vince Fontaine tickets.  She takes a shower.  Close ups of her naked butt and boobs as she soaps up in slow motion.

What's on my Twitter feed?

She sings in the shower, pretending that a bar of soap is a microphone -- and drops the soap!

Somehow Bixby can hear this, and rushes toward the bathroom in a panic.  What did he think happened?  By the time he gets there, Wife is finished, wearing a towel, and drinking booze.

Scene 3: Bobby gets off an elevator and walks down a hallway.  He knocks on a door.  Bixby's Wife answers, still in a towel, and flirts with him. .  

Mayor Bixby is ready for their meeting.  Bobby bribes him to accept a shady real estate deal.  

Scene 4: Murph's Gaslight, a retro bar.  Elderly Cop and his Buddy from the poker game plan to run against Bixby, so when they are mayor and vice-mayor, they can profit from all the corruption.  Plus they will open 12 massage parlors with "happy endings."  They discuss Frank the Mailman and toilet paper.  The bartender eavesdrops.

Yawn.  Maybe I'll check Facebook


Scene 5:  
At Mayor Bixby's apartment.  The meeting is over.  Wife, still in a towel, brings him a drink.  Does she, like, own clothes?  

He gives her a pair of diamond earrings.  She is not impressed -- she's got, like 30 pairs already. He explains that these belonged to 1950s movie legend Brigitte Bardot, but Wife has never heard of her.  Well, Wife is about 60, so before her time.

Scene 6:  El Paseo, the downtown shopping district of Palm Springs.  Cop's Wife is on the phone. 

 A limeo pulls up, the Mayor's Wife gets out (finally wearing clothes).  Cop's Wife spies on her, wondering how she can afford high-end shops.  Besides, she's looking at the dress that Cop's Wife wants!  She rushes in and accosts Mayor's Wife in the dressing room. They brag about how much money each other's husband makes.

Oy, back to the semi-nudity.  Did she put in her contract "My boobs must be on display in at least 90% of my scenes"?

Scene 7: Golf course.  Elderly Cop and Buddy don't know how to play golf. Mayor Bixby happens to be golfing nearby, so they approach and ask how he can afford a $5,000 golf club. Then they drive away, discussing how easy it will be to take the mayor down. The end.

Beefcake: None.  These photos have nothing to do with the show.

Lady Parts: Lots.

Sexism: Women exist solely as sexual playthings in the shadow of their husbands.  When they are with men, they are wearing towels and bringing drinks; when they are by themselves, they are buying clothes and bragging about how much money their husband makes.



Homophobia:
 Gay people don't exist.  The "dropping the soap" line was a tease.

Gay Subtexts:  With the women stuck in the bedroom or out shopping, this is a male-only world.  If it weren't for the constant discussions of beautiful women, I would assume that the men were all gay. Especially Elderly Cop and Bobby, who are never shown apart.

Retro: Everyone looks and acts like it's 1973.  Seriously, has this script been on ice for 50 years?

Awfulness:  Really, really awful.

Kim's Convenience: Gay People are the Problem of the Week

Kim's Convenience (2016-) on Netflix,is a popular Canadian sitcom adaption of a play that has run since 2011.  It's about a Korean-Canadian family running a convenience store in a diverse neighborhood of Toronto.

It seems a bit retro: in each episode, the curmudgeonly, old-fashioned Mr. Kim (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) rams head-first into something about modern society that he doesn't understand.  In the first episode, it's gay people.

He refuses to allow a gay pride poster to be placed in his shop window, because why do gay people have to advertise themselves with a parade?  Koreans don't march down the street yelling "I'm Korean!"  If they're gay, why can't they be quiet, respectful gays?

I started to cringe, having heard this complaint a dozen times, even from gay people.  It is a standard homophobic misconception that gay pride is about proclaiming that you have gay sex rather than celebrating survival in a hostile world.

 Accused of being homophobic, Mr. Kim backtracks by offering a 15% discount to gay people during Pride Week. Through the rest of the episode, he decides who warrants the discount and who doesn't.

He tells Boy Toy (Alexander Nunez) "You're not gay, you're just pretending."  Boy Toy returns with a flamboyant friend as proof, but Mr. Kim merely asks him what his favorite movie was in college.  Caddyshack.  Straight.

But when a guy (Andy Yu) drops in to apply for a job, Mr. Kim offers him the discount.  He protests that he is straight, but Mr. Kim wink-winks "Sometimes it takes awhile for the gay to come out."

He does give the discount to a drag queen after a conversation about "Why you dress like a woman?"  She actually seems pleased by the question, and replies: "It feels comfortable.  It feels like home."

The episode was not exactly offensive, at least not offensive enough to turn off, but it made me uncomfortable.  It was like watching people talk about me behind my back.

No gay people appear, or are referenced, in any of the other episodes I sampled.  Evidently the gays were the problem of the week, and the show moved on:

A friend asks Mr. Kim to become a "wingman" on a double date.

A kid runs wild in the convenience store, and the mother refuses to discipline him.

Mr. Kim gets a crush on the new female pastor, and insists on not charging her for anything.

After the first few episodes, the convenience store was relegated to the B plot, while the primary plot involved the problems and relationships of the two Kim children:

Janet (Andrea Bang), a photography student at OCAD University, struggles to achieve independence by moving out, getting a job, and refusing to "marry a nice Korean Christian boy."  .

Jung (Simu Liu), who hasn't talked to his father in years, works at a car rental company, where he has a crush on his female boss.  He doesn't appear to own a shirt.

The writers play up Jung's hunkiness deliberately, as a remedy to the countless sexless Asian characters in media.

Simu Liu has also appeared in the play Banana Boys, about the stereotypes Asian Canadian men face,  such as "they are bananas (yellow on the outside, white on the inside)."

Other male characters include:

Kimchee (Andrew Phung, center ), a clownish slob, Jung's roommate, coworker, and bromantic life partner.

Gerald (Ben Beauchemin), their nerdish, self-depricating coworker, and eventually Janet's platonic roommate.

Terence (Michael Musi), another coworker at the car rental place, who Kimchee doesn't like.

Alex (Michael Xavier), Jung's childhood friend who briefly dates Janet.

Enrique (Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll), a regular customer at the convenience store.

Alejandro (Mark Grazzini), who dates Jung's boss.

Roger (Kevin Vidal), who briefly dates Janet's friend.









Raj Mehta (Ishan Dave), who dates Janet.

Peter (Zach Smadu, left).  I don't know who he plays.  I just had trouble finding beefcake photos of the other actors.

I like the fact that the Canadian locale isn't closeted: this is definitely Toronto.  The scene where a guy tries to rob the convenience store with a knife instead of a gun made me want to move there.

But I don't like the exclusion of gay people from the universe, after the first "gay problem" episode.
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