Jul 30, 2021

"Monsters at Work": 20 Years after "Monsters, Inc.", Has LGBTQ Representation Increased?

 Monsters, Inc. (2001) suggested that monsters have an economic motive for crawling out from under your bed: the psychic energy of children's screams is the main source of power for their society.   But scream-harvesters Mike and Sully (John Goodman, Billy Crystal) discover that children's laughter is more powerful, so the monsters change their tactics.  The two monsters are presented as a classic straight man-buffoon comedy team, like Abbott and Costello, and one of them has a girlfriend, but they still have a strong gay subtext.

20 years later, the Disney Channel is streaming Monsters at Work, an animated comedy set in the same universe: Tylor graduates from Monster University with a degree in scaring, only to find his skill set obsolete.  So he takes a job as a mechanic while studying comedy.  

Tylor is voiced by Ben Feldman, the Scott Baio lookalike best known for Superstore, who did a PSA in favor of marriage equality in 2012.  Could there be more open LGBTQ representation?

I watched Episode 2, "Meet MIFT," in which Tylor goes to work for the Monsters Inc. Facilities Team.

Scene 1:  Tylor's first day on the job (last episode) was a disaster, so today Mom insists on driving him to work.  He doesn't care: the MIFT job is just a "temporary nightmare" while he is awaiting his move to the Laugh Floor (I knew lots of people like that in West Hollywood). 

Dimwitted tapir-monster Fritz (Henry Winkler) arrives and flirts with Mom. Then the orange blob-monster Val (Mindy Kailing), "Tylor's classmate at college and now his bff."  She tries to hug him, but he shrugs her off.  I could do without the "Your Mom is hot!" stuff, but rejecting a girl is a nice way to start the day.

Scene 2: Tylor arrives at the Maintenance Department in the basement, where the team is waiting for an initiation ceremony: "When a part breaks down, we fix it.  If a machine needs maintenance, we maintain it.  We're the monsters behind the monsters!"   He protests that this job is just temporary.  That's what they all thought.  

His first ceremonial task: "Wrench that nut!"  It sounds dirty, especially when he protests: "I don't want to wrench any nuts  I want nothing to do with nuts."

Next he has to pass through the Doorway of No Return to the land of Infinite Commitment.  "But...this is just temporary?" 

Scene 3: Mike from the original movie returns from an 18-hour shift of refilling laugh canisters. His boyfriend Sully, now the CEO, tells him to take a break, but there's no time: somebody has to keep the kids laughing.  Plus he has a comedy class to teach at lunch.  Sully: "You can't keep going like this." 

Scene 4:
The MIFT team pretends that a break room table is Tylor's new office.  

Troublemaker Duncan (Lucas Neff) gives him an assignment: a cannister that needs refurbishment, or it will explode in 20 seconds.  It explodes.  Duncan laughs evilly.

Lunch time: Tylor goes off to his comedy class.  The others are upset: what does he need comedy for?  It's almost as if he doesn't plan to stay here forever.

Scene 5: The comedy class.  While Mike goes through a powerpoint presentation, "10 Rules of Comedy,"  Tylor complains about the MIFT team.  Surprise!  They followed him.

Scene 6:  Mike leaves the rest of the lecture to the stern HR director, Ms. Flint,  and runs to a door portal.  His girlfriend warns him that it's not safe, but he goes through anyway, and is trapped!  His girlfriend? Mike is more obvertly heterosexual than he was 20 years ago.  That's not progress!

The MIFT team rushes into action.  They restore power to the portal and get Mike back, but now he's trapped on a conveyor belt.  The "reverse" lever is rusted shut; no one has the strength to turn it -- except -- Tylor!  The newbie saves the day!

Scene 7:  While they are celebrating, Ms. Flint arrives to pick up  coworker Banana Bread's things.  She was so impressed by his "nuanced insight into comic theory" during the comedy class that she is promoting him to the Laugh Floor.  

Ouch!  But at least now there's a vacant desk, so Tylor gets one of his own. And a wrench with his name on it. The end.

There's also a segment called Mike's Comedy Class, where Mike sings about the dangers of comedy: the kid could "bust a gut," shatter into little pieces, fall out of bed and hit their head, or have their butts fall off.

Mike and Sully: 
The increased time given to the girlfriend reduce the gay subtext, although there is a glimmer  when Sully affectionately feeds Mike a cup of coffee.

Tylor and ?:  Tylor doesn't display any heterosexual interest, but I didn't see anyone for him to have a gay subtext with.  Maybe Fritz, who is very, very interested in welcoming him to the team?  But Tylor finds his attention annoying

LGBTQ Representation:  Still nothing open.

Jul 29, 2021

"A Remarkable Tale": Remarkable Gay Inclusivity

A Remarkable Tale is a terrible title; the movie could be about anything. The original Spanish title, Lo Nunca Visto ("I have never seen it"), is no better. But it begins with a striking image: four people (including buffed model Ricardo Nkosi)  in traditional West African costumes running through the snow.

Nobody in West Africa dresses like that, except for ceremonies and tourist shows.  And it doesn't snow.  How did they get to the north?  A time warp from the 19th century?

You have no choice but to watch.

Cut to Upper Fuentejuela, a small, isolated mountain village in Spain, which has lost almost all of its residents to the lure of the big city, so town bigwig Teresa (Carmen Machi) and Jaime (Pepon Nieto), who I think is her ex-husband, are  trying to attract newcomers with "Open Day":  egg custard tarts, necklaces, and a song.  But nobody shows up.

Meanwhile Evil Corporate Shill is threatening annexation.

Teresa and Jaime drop in to yell at long-haired layabout Guiri (model Jon Kortajarena, below) for not showing up to Open Day.   Their son Carlos (Miguel Canaveras, right) decides to stay and hang out with Guiri.

A gay relationship?

When the West Africans show up, Teresa and Jaime assume that they are dangerous cannibals.  The Africans, in turn, believe that all white people are dangerous cannibals.

After the misunderstandings are cleared up, we learn the truth: the Africans are victims of human trafficking,  lured to Spain for a "dance competition" and forced to work in a brothel.

So three men and a woman are working in a brothel with male customers?  Interesting gay inclusivity.

They escaped, but are stuck in a country full of "dangerous cannibals."  And the police are looking for them.

They hide out with Teresa and Jaime, and gradually become involved in the life of the village.  And fall in love.

Teresa begins dating Azquil (Malcolm Sitté).

Guiri (left) begins dating Latisha (Montse Pia).

Calulu (Jimmy Castro), who turns out to be into drag, begins dating Jaime.

 Shukra (Ricardo Nkosi, top photo) doesn't date anyone, but he bonds with Jaime's mother.

They also save the day, of course.  And everybody hugs and proposes marriage while the Evil Corporate Shill fumes.

It's rather cliched: how many times have you seen outsiders burst into a small town and save the day with their joie de vivre?

But the West African-Spanish clash adds interest, and the gay plotline is unique.

Gay characters:  Everybody in town is sort of queer.

Beefcake: None, except the opening costumes. Pity; why cast buffed models if you're not going to show their physiques?

My grade: B+

Randy Cunningham, 9th Grade Heterosexual


Continuing my review of Disney Channel programs, I came to the animated series Randy Cunningham, 9th Grade Ninja (2016-2018), about...well, a 9th grade ninja (voiced by Ben Schwartz).  There are a surprising number of famous names among the voice cast, including Tim Curry, Ben Cross, Simon Pegg, and Robert England.  Some of them are gay-positive, so maybe the show is, too.

Or not. The episode "Sorcerer in Love" has the plot synopsis: "All the boys at Norrisville High are smitten by the new girl."  

All the boys?  Heteronormative erasure of LGBT people from the universe!  This won't be good.  But I made a commitment.  

Intro: "For 900 years, Norrisville High has been protected by a ninja."  That's impossible.  There were no high schools 900 years ago, or any places named Norrisville in North America.  "Every four years a new hero is chosen."  This time around, it's Randy Cunningham, naturally.

A montage of Randy and his red-haired, chunky sidekick Howard fighting random students who turn into monsters.

Scene 1:   On the school tv, a girl announces that tonight is the "Magical Night under the Stars Dance.  So this is your last chance to get a date."

Randy complains to Sidekick Howard, "We have to get dates!"  They they laugh: "Dates are for dudes who don't have bros to play video games with." So they assume that "date" always means boy-girl.  No LGBT people exist.  

Suddenly a new girl walks through the door in slow motion, her hair blowng in the wind.  Every boy does indeed stare in hetero-horny rapture; one even drools.  She introduces herself as  Amanda Levay (no doubt named after Church of Satan founder Anton Levay). 

Scene 2: Howard and Randy discuss how beautiful she is, and rush to get in the line of awe-stricken boys trying to ask her to the dance.  It's a very long line; no boys are shown who aren't lining up.    Howard, Randy, and several other regulars  -- the bully Bash, the Goth Julian, and the band leader Bucky each present their case, but she rejects them.  She'll only date the boy who shows her something in the school that is "truly beautiful."

The boys turn into mind-dead zombies, repeating "something that is truly beautiful."  They try to rush out of the classroom to find something, but are stopped by the teacher: "No one gets out of this room without a hall pass, and I hate writing hall passes.  Fortunately, the Missus got me an automatic hall pass writer."  He had to throw the Missus into it, didn't he?  Writers can't miss any opportunity to point out that everybody in the world is heterosexual. 

All of the boys get passes except for Randy and Howard.

Scene 3: We switch to The Sorcerer, a cadaverous guy in chains.  He smells Amanda's scent and exclaims "It's her!"  Flashback to Norrisville, 1200 AD., which looks like a town in Medieval Japan. But this isn't Japan.  All of the students depicted in this episode are white, except for a single black kid in the background.   

The Sorcerer and Amanda, then an adult sorceress, teamed up to pester the townsfolk: "Together we were nearly invincible."  But the 9th Grade Ninja defeated them.

The Sorcerer helpfully informs us that the Sorceress has one weakness: she cannot see true beauty, she can only smell it.

Scene 4: The boys present their entries for Amanda's "true beauty" contest: a band trophy, a canned ham, a bat "sculpted from ear wax."  Don't they have classes to go to?  

Randy and Howard concoct a fake nose bleed to get permission to leave the classroom, and then separate to look for beautiful things.  Randy looks in the backpack of a boy who isn't in the competition.  Otherwise they encounter only girls, since all of the other boys in the school have already found their entries.).

Suddenly Randy's Nomicom calls.  He has to go talk to a Japanese goddess.  Howard laughs at him: "Now I'll find the beautiful thing and win the girl, and you won't!"

Scene 5: The Japanese goddess tells Randy: "The eyes may be deceived, but the nose always knows."  Very helpful!  Then she spits him back into the school.  

Randy finds a truly beautiful thing: the eye of the carp mosaic in the floor of the central hallway.  Howard points out that it contains an ancient bird demon who possessed him in an earlier episode, but it will be worth it to win the Girl.  They rush into the classroom and drag her out to see it.

Yep, that's what Amanda was looking for -- or rather, sniffing for.  She kisses each of the boys to get them out of the way -- they have explosive 9th-grade orgasms, then turn into mind-dead zombies.  Randy walks off with a comatose Howard in his arms.

Amanda turns into the ancient Sorceress and starts throwing her energy at the carp eye, to release the Sorcerer from his prison under the school.  Every evil sorceress has an evil sorcerer beau - it's heterosexuals all the way down.

Scene 6: Randy and Howard notice that they are in an intimate position and jump away, screaming in homophobic panic.  They realize that Amanda never said which of them she chose, and rush back.  Uh-oh, she's the ancient Sorceress!  Randy puts on his ninja costume to fight her.

But she turns back into Amanda, and Randy stops, frozen by hetero-horniness.  As soon as he can think again, he reasons that since his eyes are deceiving him, he should go in blind, and find her by the smell of rotting flesh.  

This works, but Amanda calls for the other boys, who attack Randy.

Ok, time to fight fire with fire.  Randy kisses Amanda!  The other boys jump them in a jealous rage, distracting her enough for Randy to defeat her.

The boys were under a spell, of course, but I can think of several other attraction-spells in animated media that attract both boys and girls.  This one was entirely heteronormative.  But just in case, let's see what happens at the Big Dance.

Scene 7: 
 The Big Dance.  All boy-girl couples except for a trio.  Julian the Goth and fellow Monster Club member Dave look at each other, embarrassed.  Could Julian be gay, and embarrassed because the spell made him do heterosexual things?

Randy and Howard vow to never let a girl get between them again.   Then a girl asks them to dance, and they fight over who she actually asked.  I get it -- same-sex friendships are temporary and trivial, placeholders, guys to hang out with while waiting for The Girl.  When she appears, you will drop your male friend, instantly and without hesitation.  I heard that a lot growing up in the 1970s, but this was written in 2016.

On the off chance that Julian is gay, I fast-forwarded through a few more episodes.  He doesn't display any heterosexual interest elsewhere, but no same-sex interest, either.  He appears to be extremely unpopular: only Randy and Howard come to his birthday party.  I'm going to guess " heterosexual by default."

My Grade: F

Jul 27, 2021

"The War Next Door": LGBTQIAI is the same in English and Spanish


The War Next Door (Guerra de Vecinos) is a Mexican sitcom about a nouveau riche "hillbilly" family who moves next door to a family of stuffy socialites.  Culture clashes, humorous squabbles, and caring and sharing result.  I watched the episode "Game On."

Scene 1: The hillbilly family is having breakfast and complaining about the stinkiness of their underwear, due to Hillbilly Mom's inability to use a washing machine.  Cata, the maid of the Snob family, appears.  She says that she quit in protest, and needs a job.  Hillbilly Mom doesn't need any help, but Cata can stay with them while looking for a new job.

Scene 2: Snob Mom is screwing up breakfast; she's never actually had to cook before.  Teenage son Diego (Marco Leon) is ordering sushi instead.  They discuss the upcoming football (soccer) game between Dad's company and his rival.  This time Dad plans to use Diego as his secret weapon.

Scene 3: Hillbillies watching tv, while Cata does a great job with the laundry, vacuuming, and preparation of sandwiches.

Scene 4: Snob Dad discovers that Diego actually can't play football, but daughter Crista can.  So she's "hired" and will play at the big game.

Scene 5: Hillbilly Uncle Tomas (Christian Vasquez, top photo) giving young teen Pablito (Armando Said) advice on how to get with Crista, the Snob's daughter, whom he taught to drive in the last episode.  But Pablito is more interested in talking about his social media presence.  He already has a lot of followers, including one who is "big and strong" and sent him a shirtless pic.  Uncle Tomas: "I'm starting to wonder if you are playing for the opposite team."  

Scene 6: Cata demonstrates to Hillbilly Mom how to take out the garbage.  Snob Mom comes out of her house.  They have a "you're looking well" ex-lover conversation.

Scene 7:  Uncle Tomas is demonstrating how Pablito can attract guys by dancing with his butt swaying.  Sister bursts in.  

Uncle Tomas: "Pablito plays for the other team."  

Sister: "Just because Pablito likes his mother and gets scared watching horror movies, doesn't mean he's gay. Pablito, Uncle Tomas is being completely heteronormative (no, he's not, but I'm surprised the writers know that word). There are lots of ways to label yourself.  Let's find the one you're most comfortable with."

Uncle Tomas: "Nonsense!  There are only two labels: top and bottom."

Scene 8: Snob Mom tells Dad her scheme to win Cata back from the hillbilly neighbors.  Dad mentions that he invited Hillbilly Dad to play on his team: "Hillbillies are always good at football.  It's in their blood."

Scene 9: Sister has set up a chalkboard to explain the various terms in the acronym LGBTQAIA.  Uncle Tomas wants to help with a quiz that he found in a magazine: 1. "Who do you prefer, Ricky Martin or Bandas Machos?"; 2. "Do you use facial cream?; 2. "Have you ever been in a gay bar?"  But the quiz identifies Uncle Tomas as gay and Pablito as straight.  

Sister and Uncle Tomas argue.  Finally, fed up, Pablito says "My sexual identity is NOYB: None of Your Business."  

Scene 10: More about the maid.

Scene 11: Hillbilly Dad can't perform in bed: he's too worried about the upcoming football match.  

Scene 12: The Big Game.  

Scene 13: Uncle Tomas apologizes to Pablito: "The quiz we did wasn't cool.  Your problem isn't that you play for the other team...but she does."  He points to Crista, the Girl Next Door.  "Picking up a lesbian is impossible."

Sister rushes up: "Just because a girl is good at soccer doesn't mean she's a lesbian." She turns to Pablito: "You can be whatever you want, except an asshole."

Scene 13: More stuff about the maid.

I went through the other episodes on fast-forward to see if Pablito actually is gay.  Nope -- he has a crush on Girl Next Door Crista, although she thinks of him as "my best friend."   When she kisses him on the cheek, he collapses into a slurry of hetero-horniness.  But at least his family is gay-positive.

Yes, Your God Bruce Springsteen Really Did Say "Fag"

I wrote an innocent little post about Bruce Springsteen in 2016

I didn't know much about Mr. Springsteen.  I'm only familiar with a few of his songs, such as "Blinded by the Light," "Born to Run," and "Dancing in the Dark." But his biography, Born to Run, had just come out, so I thought  that a post would be timely, and conducting the research would be fun.  

I happened to mention a 1975 song called "Backstreets," in which Bruce in the persona of a working-class teenager talks about a boy named Terry, whom he was obviously in love with,  "on the backstreets."  They engage in various delinquent and destructive activities, one of which is "ripping off the fags": presumably picking the pockets of gay men who were out cruising.

BAM!  The screaming started!  "You despicable monster!  You Judas!  Our Lord and Savior Bruce Springsteen never wrote that!  He couldn't possibly write that.  How could Our God say something hateful?  He can do no wrong!  You just made that up in an insane attempt to denigrate his holiness!"

And that's just the ones I didn't delete immediately.

I'm used to getting screamed at when I mention a gay subtext in someone's work, especially a teen idol: "How dare you accuse Him of something so horrible!  He's totally straight!  I know because he's my boyfriend, and we hug and kiss every night, and as soon as I get old enough, we're going to get married!"

But true believer ire over one homophobic slur in one line in one song among the 3,000 or so written by their God -- that's a new one.

So I'm going restore my honor as a journalist by proving that I wan't lying, and I didn't make it up for some nefarious purpose.  Here are five citations where the line appears.

1.  BruceSpringsteenlyricscom: Unofficial studio version #2, recorded between May and July 1975 at the Record Plant in New York: "Watching the heroes in the funhouse, ripping off the fags."

2. Bruce Springsteen Lyrics Database: The line appears in both the "Carnival Lights" and the "Basement of St. Johns" versions, but it doesn't have a comma: "watching the heroes in the funhouse ripping off the  fags."  Could Terry and Bruce be watching someone else do the deed?

No, that doesn't make sense.  Carnival funhouses were buildings with dark corridors where scary things popped out at you; they weren't used for cruising.  For that matter, funhouses didn't have heroes.

3. In the book Runaway Dream: Born to Run and Bruce Springsteen's American Vision (2010), the line is interpreted as suggesting that Bruce had a romantic relationship with Terry (a boy), but they couldn't be open because of societal disapproval of "fags."

4. The Springsteen Discussion Board (https://www.spl-messages.net/) has a discussion of the song.  Most posters agree that it's about a gay romance, but one person disagrees, suggesting that a guy in a gay relationship wouldn't use the phrase  "ripping off the fags"

5. The article "Queer Bruce Springsteen" in Popular Music  reads the line as indicating that Bruce and Terry were MSM: working class men who have sex with men, but don't identify as gay, and in fact look down on "fags."

But I don't intend to denigrate your religion.  Bruce Springsteen can still be your Lord and Savior.

1. He is writing from the point of view of a working-class teenager in the 1950s, who would have used that term.

2. During the 1970s and 1980s, movies threw around the word "fag" with no qualms at all.  Try to find a 1980s comedy where it doesn't appear.  Bruce may have though that the word would be ok.

3.  But the line appears in only two early versions of the song.  Bruce changed it for the album and live performances, so no one has ever heard it. 

Bruce Springsteen: Gay Ally with a Sordid Past

Bruce Springsteen, "The Boss," went completely under my radar in the 1970s and 1980s.  I knew "Blinded by the Light" (1973), but only through the 1977 cover by Manfred Mann's Earth Band, something about a teenage boy who "pumps his way into a hat" and is  "wrapped up like a douche."

The actual word is "deuce," but I have no idea what a deuce is.  Something to do with card playing?

I knew "Born in the U.S.A." (1984), but I thought it was a jingoistic patriotic anthem, not an indictment of our treatment of Vietnam War veterans.  How could you get that from:

Born in the USA, I was born in the USA, I'm a cool rockin' Daddy in the USA.

And I had a vague image of dead-end towns, pick-up trucks, hard-drinking men who worked in factories and the women who gave their lives meaning, gross heterosexist country-western stuff, nothing I would want to listen to.

There are lots of homophobic slurs in his songs.

In "Lost in the Flood" (1973), a returning Vietnam veteran moans that the countryside's burning with wolfman fairies dressed in drag for homicide.  

Not a very positive depiction of the Gay Rights Movement.

In "Tokyo" (1973), as the sun rises, a macho garbage man gets ready for work:  He hurriedly sipped his beer, and poked fun of the queer, and threatened to kick his ass.

"Backstreets" (1975) two friends grow up on the mean streets.  One of their pastime is "ripping off the fags."

More recently, "Balboa Park" (1995) talks about hustling: Where the men in their Mercedes come nightly to employ the services of the border boys

No positive references to gay people, but "Streets of Philadelphia" (1993) which was used in the movie starring Tom Hanks as gay man dying of AIDS, can be about any gay person's struggle with a brutal, heartless, homophobic world .

Ain't no angel gonna greet me,  it's just you and I my friend
And my clothes don't fit me no more.  A thousand miles just to slip this skin

Nevertheless, Springsteen claims that he had gay friends from the very beginning, and at least since the 1990s, he has been a vocal ally of the gay community.  He cancelled a concert in North Carolina in protest of the homophobic and transphobic House Bill 2:

"Some things are more important than a rock show, and this fight against prejudice and bigotry is one of them."

Of the Making of Many Movies There Is No End

 Ecclesiastes 12:12: Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh.

Or, updated, "Of making many movies and tv shows there is no end, and much viewing is a weariness of the soul."

Prime Movies We Think You'll Like

Fanboys, House Harker, The Lady in the Van

The Green Lantern, Michael Gelbart, Our Friend

Beast, Honesty Weekend, Kill Me Three Times, 

Vampire Happening, Forbidden Empire, Vegas in Space

Netflix Personalized Picks:

The Last Letter from Your Lover, Kingdom, Troll-Hunters

Blood Red Sky, Atypical, Her Private Life

Masters of the Universe, The Cook of Castamar, Racket Boys

Chicago Red, Roswell, Good Witch

Sky Rojo, Newly Rich Newly Poor, Jane the Virgin

Touch Your Heart, Criminal Minds, Geisha

How about if we look at some pictures of random cute guys instead?

Jul 26, 2021

"Dolly Parton's Heartstrings": The Gay Couple Two Doors Down


I knew that Dolly Parton was gay-positive, but I had no intention of  watching her Netflix series, Dolly Parton's Heartstrings: "Eight stories celebrating family, faith, love, and forgiveness," each inspired by a Dolly Parton song.  Sounds like Sunday morning services at the First Baptist Church, all set to country-western music.  I was shocked to discover that the episode "Two Doors Down"  won a GLAAD Award in 2020.  So let's take a look.  It might not be horrendous.

Intro: Dolly explains that when she wrote "Two Doors Down" in 1977, she was on the road a lot, away from her family, but she found a new family with her crew, which was composed of "all kinds of people: different colors, gay, lesbian, transgender, different faiths, but we all loved each other.  Love is love."  It goes on like that.

Scene 1: Singing "Two Doors Down," naturally, Ty (Broadway actor Andy Mientus) drives down country roads "to the place I belong" (sorry, wrong song). Switch to Mom Amelia busily micro-managing his sister Lee's upcoming wedding, and wondering why she looks so miserable. Could it be...Mom butting in?

Scene 2:
They all arrive at the elegant hotel.  I thought they would be hillbillies, but Mom is loaded!  Mom tells Ty that he's sure to get a lot of attention from the ladies at the wedding, because she's given "her gay" his clothing sizes: "that's the one thing gays are good for, right?  Fashion!"  

Estranged Dad Roy (Ray McKinnon) arrives.  Now that's a hillbilly!  He looks like he just finished huntin' possums with Jed Clampett (there actually is a dead deer in the back of his truck).

Scene 3:
Ty discusses his secret with his boyfriend, the uber-swishy Cole (Michael J. Willett): "As you know, Dear, I'm not out to my family, due to Mom's homophobia.  When marriage equality arrived, she said it was the end of the world.  But I'm going to tell them all this weekend." Cole notes that Sister, his bff, already found out by accident, but she wants Ty to tell her in person.  

Also, they are having a long-distance relationship problem. Cole lives in Atlanta, and Ty lives in Athens, 72 miles away.  

Ulp, Cole hides in the closet as Mom comes in.  She discusses the life-threatening Steel Magnolias disease that she had last year, which left her "a sentimental puddle," so she really wants Ty to find a girl and "settle down."

Scene 4:
  In the absurdly elegant parlor, Sister and her fiance Digby are discussing their secret: "As you know, Sweetheart, after the wedding we are leaving small-town Atlanta for Los Angeles so I can pursue my acting career.  Don't tell Mom!  She thinks acting is one step up from street-walking!"  Digby?

Scene 5: Mom and Dad discuss their secret: "As you know, Dumbbell, we hate each other.  I think you're a country bumpkin, and you think I'm a rich snob.  We're going to get a divorce.  But don' t tell the kids: they'll be devastated!" 

Scene 6: Ty comes out to Sister in the stupidest way possible: "Seeing you and Digby so happy has made me realize that I'm happy, too.  So happy that you might say I'm...gay."  Sister is proud of him for having the courage to come out. Digby?  How did the poor guy survive middle school?  "You can tell Dad, but don't tell Mom.  She'll stick her head in the oven." 

Sister tells Ty her secret about moving.  Whoops, for a wedding present, Mom and Dad bought them a house in Atlanta!  Complications! 

Scene 7: 
 Sister trying on wedding dresses with Cole and her gal pal, Mim Tinkelpaugh (and I thought Digby got bullied a lot!).  Mim is trying to get with Ty.  Sister explains that he's...um...seeing someone.  

Mom comes in to complain about Lee's cousin Renee doing something weird "with her bridesmaid's dress."  Sister explains that they have come out as nonbinary, and prefer the name Ren (Aiden Langford, cisgender gay).  Mom huffs: "More LGBT XYZ nonsense!  You give me one week with her, and I'll straighten her out!"

Scene 8:  The rehearsal dinner.  Ty is upset because women keep hitting on him.  Mom tells her friends that Ren is now her nibbling, a gender-neutral term for the child of a sibling.  They smile politely.   Wait -- why are the guests all there?  Rehearsals are only for people in the wedding party, who have to know what to do).  While rehearsing the vows, Sister becomes so stressed about the various secrets she's hiding that she blurts one out: "Did y'all know that Ty is gay!"  Horrified, she runs out.

Mom takes charge, clears the room, and apologizes to Ty: "She was just stressed.  She didn't mean any of those horrible accusations."  Ty says that he actually is gay, but Mom won't have it: "You are not that way!  Don't talk such nonsense!" 

Scene 9:  Minutes after discovering that his son is gay, Scary Redneck Dad grabs a gun and asks if he wants to take a drive into the woods to relax.  Um.... no, thanks, Dad, I'd rather live.  But it's ok, they've been going hunting together since Ty was a kid, and Dad is fine with him being gay.  He actually wants to talk about his marital problems. 

Scene 10:  Mom visits Cole the Boyfriend: "You're a real gay, as swishy as the night is long.  But Ty is  normal.  Could you talk some sense into him, show him what real gays are like?"  Cole: "You don't have to be swishy to be gay."  Mom: "But I just can't imagine Ty choosing your lifestyle."  Cole: "You don't choose to be gay."  I had conversations like this with heterosexuals a lot, back in the 1990s.  Not in 2020.  But I guess the intended audience -- who tuned in for a story of "faith and forgiveness" -- hasn't had them yet.

Scene 11: Uh-oh, Dad accidentally shot Ty during their late night hunting expedition!  He's ok, just grazed, but everyone rushes to the hospital, and and Mom sees Cole kiss Ty!  Plus they all see Sister playing a vampire on tv! (Remember, she was keeping her acting career a secret.)  Mom doesn't know which secret to be more horrified by.  

Scene 12:  After calming down a bit, Mom asks Ty if Cole had been flattering him to confuse him, make him think that he might be gay.  Ty says "No, I made th first move. He didn't want to get involved someone who was in the closet, but I won him over."  Mom: "I could set you up with a therapist who works with confused kids."  

Scene 13: Ty and Ren (his nonbinary cousin) have a heart-to-heart: "Welcome to the rainbow."  Telling the world that you are nonbinary is relatively recent; telling the world that  you are gay has been a standard practice for over 50 years.  Why is it so much more difficult for Ty than for Ren?

 Ahh, there's a live possum in the parlor!  Shoot it!  But they're not concerned: "Maybe it's your spirit animal."  Now I know these people are from the South.

Scene 14:  The wedding.  But before it starts, Sister and Digby (Digby?) clear the room and say that they already got married, downtown.  They just didn't want any more drama. (Maybe do this before you rent the hall, buy the outfits, and invite 500 people?).  

Mom  takes the top of the wedding cake to her room to eat while being depressed.  Meanwhile, the other problems are resolved: Ty and Cole's long distance relationship (they move in together), Digby and Sister's move (they'll stay in Atlanta, where there is lots of film and tv work).

The reception goes on as planned.  Surprise!  Dolly Parton performs!  "Two Doors Down," naturally.  Ty goes to Mom's room and convinces her to come down to the party.  Everyone hugs.  Then Dolly sings "Aud Lang Syne."  Did you know that this wedding was scheduled for New Year's Eve?  Yeah, me neither.

Beefcake:  No.

LGBTQ Characters: 3

Anachronisms:  A weird juxtaposition of time periods.  One moment they're in 2020, and the next they're having a conversation right out of the 1990s: "How do you know you are that way?"

Problems for the Sake of Drama: 4

My Grade:  C

Jul 25, 2021

The Blink-and-you-miss-them Non-Speaking Gay Couple of "Dawn of the Croods"


The Croods
(2013) is an animated comedy about a family of crude, not-quite-evolved homo sapiens who experience a generation gap caused by teenage daughter Eep's boyfriend, a more-evolved teen idol-type named Guy (voiced by Ryan Reynolds).

I didn't watch the movie, worrying that it would show a ridiculous ignorance of prehistory, like humans co-existing with dinosaurs (over 50% of the U.S. population believes that they did).  But apparently there are no gay subtexts.

A prequel tv series, Dawn of the Croods, streamed on Netflix from 2017 to 2020, with younger, cuter Croods immersed in an entire community: rich, poor, intelligent, stupid, bureaucrats, workers, sentient animals.  Yes, there are dinosaurs.  Guy isn't around, but not to worry, there's a Guy-like "dreamy boy" whom Eep gets a crush on (they don't date).  

In the last episode of the series, "This is an End," a meteor is headed toward the valley so everyone will die unless they come up with a plan.  We see flashbacks, strategic sessions, psychedelic drugs, a pteradactyl-powered space ship. Finally they accept their fate:  "Death is a part of life.  But it doesn't matter.  What matters is spending your life with family."

Then they get the idea of rolling a boulder into the volcano and shooting it at the meteor.  It works!  

Everyone celebrates by kissing and hugging.  Mostly boy-girl, but also two girls (hugging only), two men, a man kissing a pile of meat, a boy kissing his own image, and a man trying to kiss a dog monster, which eats him.

Wait -- two men?

Fans go wild.  A gay couple!  Gay representation on The Croods!

The producers confirm that they are indeed a gay couple, not one of the ridiculous kissing objects.

So who are these guys? Did they pop up out of nowhere, just to add gay representation at the last minute?

They are definitely not regular characters.  They appear in three episodes, and get only one line between them.

In "Voice Fail," Wal, the bald guy, appears alone in a crowd scene.    Later he is paired with fellow muscleman Mow for a hunt.

Wal and Loo appear together in "Weighting is the Hardest Part," but only Loo, the little guy, speaks.  He wants to know if he has made the hunting team, and gets marked down as "predator chow."  

In "Flowers for Munk," two guys are slacking off, and the boss, Amber, tells them to get back to work.  "No make Amber separate you two, like Wal and Loo."  (She's the only cave person who talks that way)

The two are standing on opposite sides of a line drawn in the dirt.  Loo "texts" an unhappy emoji on a slate, which Amber threatens to share with the whole hunting party.  

So there's was blink-and-you-miss-them non-speaking gay couple on Dawn of the Croods.  Is that enough representation for an entire tv series?

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