Sep 25, 2021

Everybody's Talking about Jamie: A 16-Year Old Aspires to Drag Stardom

Bob always chooses the movie for Friday Movie Night, and it's almost always post-apocalyptic, garbled sci-fi, or Marvel Comics Universe.  But last night, he chose a musical: Everybody's Talking About Jamie on Amazon Prime.  

Newcomer Max Harwood plays Jamie New (great name!), a 16-year old gay boy in Sheffield, England who dreams of becoming a drag queen because performing in drag always means instant fame and fortune.  (  Most drag queens perform as a hobby; only a few make a living from it).  

He has the full support of most students, including his best friend Priti (the only Muslim girl in school), plus his Mom and her best friend, a woman named Ray.

His only detractors are a group of homophobic, Islamophobic bullies led by the boorish Dean Paxton (Sam Bottomley, top photo and right, who is 20 years old and a gay and Muslim ally in real life).

Plus the Career Education Teacher, Miss Hedge, who claims that she's opposed to drag because it won't lead to a successful career, but actually just disapproves of feminine boys.  

Also, in a subplot, Jamie's father (Ralph Ineson, but without the scraggly hair and muscular chest) wants nothing to do with him, but Jamie's Mom has been sending him cards and presents under Dad's name.  When the deceit comes out, Jamie has a meltdown and angrily breaks up with his Mom (yes, they have a quasi-romantic relationship, most evident when Mom sings about a "lost love" who broke her heart when he left, and she means Jamie: "my man!").

Turns out that Jamie was traumatized early in childhood, when Dad caught him trying on makeup and called him "disgusting," "a freak," and so on.  Ever after, he's considered himself "nothing," and he thinks that becoming a drag queen will make him "somebody."

Seeking out a dress, Jamie goes to a drag shop in Sheffield (Sheffield, England has drag shops?), where he meets Hugo, aka legendary drag queen Loco Chanelle (Richard E. Grant, who is not a drag queen in real life, but he has starred in Twelfth Night, My Fair Lady, Doctor Who, and some Marvel Comic Universe movies).  Hugo demonstrates that drag is not about being famous, it's about fighting homophobic oppression.  With his mentoring, Jamie performs as Mimi Me at the local drag club (yep, Sheffield has drag clubs, too), and gets a standing ovation.

Now all that remains is to go to the prom in a dress.  Miss Hedge, who apparently has full power to dictate proper prom attire, absolutely forbids it, but gives in when the students rebel en masse.  Even the bully Dean Paxton promises to be nice "just for one night," and he and Jamie go into the prom hand-in-hand.  

Beefcake: None.  

Gay Characters:  Jamie and the drag queens, presumably, although here "gay" really means feminine.  Jamie never expresses any same-sex interest.

Heterosexism:  None.  No one but Ray expresses any heterosexual interest, unless you count Jamie's Mom being in love with "my man."

Implausibility:  A drag store and a drag club in Sheffield, but no other gay kids at Jamie's school.  Are 16-year olds admitted to bars in England?

Soundtrack:  Some of the songs are annoyingly repetitious.  

My Grade: B.

Sep 24, 2021

"Crazy Lovely Cool": Beefcake and Bonding at a Prestigious Nigerian University


Nigeria is one of the least gay-friendly countries in the world, but I still wanted to check out the Nollywood teen drama Crazy, Lovely, Cool (in spite of the silly title). It's a "coming of age story" set at a prestigious university, so there's bound to be some West African beefcake, like Ennyina Nwigwe, named "Sexiest Man Alive" by the gay-coded Man Magazine in 2020. Plus looking at another culture is always interesting.

Scene 1: On campus.  A female rapper, Boma,  is performing for a group of students while a girl named Funmi tries to get their attention with fliers about a blood drive: "It's your social responsibility."  She is not successful: students refuse fliers, or take them and throw them away immediately.

Scene 2:
In a recording studio, the rapper Luciano (Emmanuel Emelu) is trying to record his latest song, but he can't "feel it."   His manager tells him to be professional and perform anyway.  They argue.

Meanwhile, the rapper Boma is finished.  Funmi talks more about the blood drive. Students jeer, call her a vampire, and walk away.

Across campus, guys are gambling with dice.  Wheezy  has no money, so he bets his backpack.

Scene 3: In a dorm room, Izu (Ennyina Nwigwe, top photo) is blogging about the Blitz, a dance party held for entering freshmen during Matriculation Week.  He strarts wheezing, but can't find his inhaler, so he calls Wheezy: it's in the backpack he gambled away!  (Question: why isn't the guy with breathing problems called Wheezy?)

Wheezy continues gambling and loses, but he grabs the backpack anyway and runs,  with all the other guys chasing him.  They chase him through the entire campus, and finally catch him and beat him up.  But he manages to retrieve the inhaler.

Back at the dorm room, Izu accidentally dropped his cigarette on some papers.  The room fills with smoke.  Izu drops to the ground, dying.

Scene 4: Luciano happens to be walking by.  He smells the smoke, bursts into the room, and saves Izu.  Finally Wheezy arrives with the inhaler.  

Away from campus, Funmi and her friends discuss how blood donation is much too progressive for conservative Nigeria.  This isn't America!  A car stops, and guys help the semi-unconscious Izu out.

Scene 5: Rapper Boma and her group in the chapel, waiting for a Gospel choir to finish rehearsing so they can have the space.  They discuss Boma's brother Luciano, who is gradually adjusting to college life.  He's supposed to be here.  What happened to him?

Cut to the hospital, where Luciano, Wheezy, and the girls are waiting for word on Izu.  Boma calls and accuses Luciano of "chatting up girls" instead of coming to rehearsal.  He explains that he was saving someone's life, then runs across campus to the chapel.  They perform.

Scene 6:
At the chapel, Boma says "Babe, I got to go, I have rehearsal."  To Nkemi, a woman?  WTF?  Nigerian TV allows lesbians?  No, just her roommate  Nkemi is engaged to abusive, super-religious Matthew (Ademola Alao), who catches her talking to Boma and is furious.  "Don't force me to beat you again!"  Worried that she's friends with a lesbian?

Scene 7: Back at the dorm, the next day: Izu has an epiphany.  He almost died, and he's writing a blog about campus gossip?  And a new kind of bra?  Who the heck cares? (Wheezy wants to see it).  He should be writing about serious issues, like Funmi's Blood Drive.

Boma finishes jogging and returns to the dorm room.  She tells her other roommate, Nana,  "Babe, you should have gone jogging with me."  She babes everyone?   Nana has an unrequited crush on Izu.  

Scene 8:  Luciano approaches Izu to get thanked for saving his life, and to ask for a write-up in his blog.  

Another guy returns to his dorm room with his girlfriend, and starts having sex in front of his roommate.  She complains about his low grades and missed tests.

Scene 9:  Nkemi is in her room, trying to read while her roommates try on bras.  They find a photo of a girl hidden in her Bible, and laugh at her for her aspirations to be a model (I would conclude that she was a closeted lesbian).  

Scene 10:  It's time for the Blitz!  Everyone dances while rappers perform.  Unfortunately, Luciano has scheduled his rap concert for the same night, and no one shows up.  He and his manager have a heart-to-heart, and hug.  Maybe a gay subtext going on?

Scene 11:  Later, some older students take freshmen boys, including Luciano, into the woods for a blindfolded beating.  Luciano falls to the ground, foaming at the mouth, dying.   The end.

Beefcake: None.  Only Nwigwe has beefcake photos online.  It was nearly impossible to find photos of any sort of most of the cast, including Gideon Ike, Swanky JKA, Ifeanyi Bosah, or Igwe David.  And why are these collegiate hunks all in their 30s?  Nwigwe is 39!

Other Sights:
  A lot of the campus of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, but we don't see any of the more impressive buildings.   Run-down, graffiti-covered buildings, laundry hanging from dorm room balconies.

Languages: Students occasionally lapse into  Nigerian Pidgin.  No Fulani, Ibo, or Hausa.

Heterosexism:  The girls discuss boys a lot, but the boys don't discuss girls.  We see heterosexual interest only in Wheezy looking at bras and the unidentified guy having sex in front of his roommate.

Gay Characters:  Izu might have a gay subtext coming on.  Maybe Luciano, too, if he survives the first episode.   I'm interested in seeing more of Boma (Chinonye Chidolue), who is exceptionally butch and calls other girls "babe." 

My Grade: C+.

Sep 22, 2021

Grading the Beefcake of "American Horror Stories"

 American Horror Stories is a horror-story anthology produced by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk, whose American Horror Story series often has significant gay representation.  Here, after the first story, LGBT characters are mostly erased, so instead I'm going to evaluate the beefcake, on a scale of 1 (all girls) to 10 (sausage fest).

Episodes 1-2, "Rubber Woman":  Scarlett, a 16-year old girl, becomes involved with BDSM, which on tv always means that you like to kill people.  So she and her ghost-girlfriend start killing.  

Beefcake: Matt Bomer and Gavin Creel play the parents.  Bomer is ok, but Creel has ridiculous long shaggy hair.  We see them shirtless briefly.  Otherwise it's all girls. Grade: 2

Episode 3, "Drive In":
High schooler Chad (Rhenzy Feliz) takes his girlfriend to a drive-in showing of a movie rumored to be cursed: anyone who sees it turns into a vicious zombie-monster.  Since this is American Horror Stories, the curse is real.  

A transwoman has a significant role as the girlfriend's best friend, who is dating one of the high school hunks.  She is the last identifiable LGBTQ character in the series.

Beefcake: Rhenzy displays a little of his chest while having sex.  His best friend (Leonardo Cecchi) doesn't have any shirtless scenes.  Grade: 3

Episode 4, "The Naughty List" 
 Four social media influencers try to get more subscribers by filming someone committing suicide.  When that backfires, they try pretending to be attracted to each other while saying "No homo" (they're jerks, so the homophobia is expected).  That backfires, so they go to the mall at Christmastime and make fun of Santa Claus and his elves.  He puts them on the "naughty list."

Beefcake:  Nonstop!  Three of the influencers (Charles Melton, Nico Greetham, above, and Dyllon Burnside, left) are half-naked all the time, and the fourth (Kevin McHale) is shown briefly in the hot tub.  Plus there are some hunks at the boys' Christmas party.  Grade: 10.

Episode 5, "Ba'al": 
 A rich lady trying to get pregnant puts an ancient Babylonian fertility fetish under her bed (isn't Ba'al Canaanite? ).  She has a baby, but things go horribly wrong.  Meanwhile her husband (Ronen Rubenstein) has an agenda of his own.

Beefcake:  Rubenstein never unbuttons a button, not even during sex.  He has some cute male friends, but they are likewise beefcake deficient. Grade: 2.

Episode 6, "Feral": 
 While seeking their long-lost son, a heterosexual couple run afoul of feral humanoid creatures.  One of which turns out to be....

Beefcake: Dad (Aaron Tveit, left) is cute, but always fully clothed, even during sex.  The other male actors are not particularly swoonworthy.  Grade: 2.

Episode 7, "Game Over." 
A woman creates a video game based on the Murder House from Season 1 of American Horror Story and Episodes 1-2 of this series.  She and her son go to the real Murder House, and get involved in the tying up of loose ends.

Beefcake: Adam Hagenbuch, one of the characters in the video game, displays his physique. Dylan McDermott from Season 1 appears briefly.  Grade: 5.

Strange that the worst episode of the series, "The Naughty List," has the most beefcake, and the best of the series, "Ba'al," has the least.

"Doogie Kamealoha": A Fierce Doctor, a Gay Brother, and Lots of Hawaiian Hunks

 A show called Doogie Kamealoha, M.D. just dropped on the Disney Channel, an homage to the 1990s drama Doogie Howser, M.D.   Doctors were complaining about the ridiculous premise the first time.  No way a 16 year old will be admitted to medical school, let alone commence a career in medicine. I don't care how smart you are, you don't have the emotional maturity for the job.  Or the bedside manner. 

But it's set in Hawaii, so maybe there will be some shirtless hunks.  I watched the first episode.

Scene 1: I was right.  On her sixteenth birthday, Doogie (real name Lahela) and her hot dad go surfing. Dad is iconic 1990s hunk Jason Scott Lee, still reeling in the years!  And we see a lot more of his body than hers.  

Then, in a reversal of the standard boy staring in jaw-dropping lust at a girl walking in slow motion, Doogie stares in jaw-dropping lust at a boy walking in slow motion: Walter (Alex Aiono).  They have their first date Friday, to the big school dance. 

Scene 2: Doogie taking her driver's test, but driving so slowly that a speed walker passes them.   Helicopter parent Dad is in the back seat.  

Suddenly they come to the scene of an accident.  Doogie rushes out, shows her credentials to the cops, and rotates the victim's broken leg so he doesn't lose it due to blocked circulation.  "Who is this kid?" the driving instructor asks.  "My daughter."  Apparently she graduated from med school at age 14, and has completed her residency.  Now for a 70-year long career in medicine.

Scene 3: At the hospital, Doogie and her fiercely feminine associate, Charles (Jeffrey Bowers-Chapman), negotiate a patient who disapproves of being diagnosed by a kid.  He threatens to sue, but she points out that there's no federal or state law requiring doctors to be of a certain age. 

Scene 4
: The boss, who is also Doogie's Mom (nepotism alert!) calls her out, posting a risque dance on TikTok. Is she being a boss or a mom?  The hot Dr. Lee (Ronny Chieng) drops by to show his "Magic Mike moves"   (Lotsa Asian beefcake on this show).

Scene 5: Dad working at his Shave Ice and Lei Truck.  He explains that he gave up a high-pressure job in finance to "do what he loves," which is selling shave ice and flowers. I guess.  Mom drops by to talk to their other two kids: the "straight C' dreamy teen idol Kai and the "eats only pizza rolls" chubby kid Brian.   

Scene 6: Doogie visits an elderly hippie patient -- ahh, Brad from The Rocky Horror Picture Show!  Didn't I see him in his underwear, being cruised by Dr. Frank-n-Furter, just yesterday?  Suddenly he is  76 years old.  O tempora, O mores, O hell.   

He discusses the first time he danced with a woman and "tried a few other things."  Inapprop, dude!  But Doogie decides that she needs "a night of firsts," too., like her first date, her first kiss, and her, whatever.

Scene 7:  Doogie, hot Dr. Lee, and Boss Mom argue over the best course of action for treating the Hippie.  

Scene 8:
While dad cooks an octopus, Doogie talks to her podcast followers.  Her wacky best friend Stef leaps in through the window, and invites herself to dinner.  

Doogie asks Mom for a later curfew for tomorrow night's dance, since they're all going to Zippy's (the iconic Hawaiian chain restaurant).  Mom refuses.  They argue, and Doogie storms off.

Meanwhile, Stef throws herself at dreamy Kai, who ignores her.

Stef: "Who are you taking to the school dance?" Flutter, flutter, hint, hint.

Kai: "I'm going with some male friends.  It's more fun that way."  I hear you, brother.  Who needs a girl messing things up?

Scene 9: At the Shave Ice and Lei Truck, feminine Charles, hot Dr. Lee, and some other doctors joke around.  Mom discusses the problems of being a boss and a mother at the same time (then maybe don't hire your daughter?). .  

Scene 10: Walter from Scene 1 arrives to pick up Doogie for the dance.  Dad glares at him with distaste, but is mollified by a gift of Spam (you have to be from Hawaii to understand).  Walter's entire extended family arrives to meet his date and her family!

Steph talks her way into riding to the dance with Kai. She squeals "I got to apologize ahead of time for frontal grinding your brother."  Whew, this isn't your mother's Disney Channel!

Scene 11.  The dance.  Looks like all boy-girl couples.  Sreph keeps throwing herself at Kai, while he tries to ignore her and looks embarrassed.

Meanwhile, Doogie and Walter confess that this is their first date.  Really?  At age 16?   They start their first kiss, but then Doogie gets a text: she has to go to the hospital right away.

Scene 12:  Doogie rushes into the hospital, but it's too late.  Dr. Lee explains that the Hippie went into V-Fib Arrest. "We worked on him for an hour, but couldn't save him."  Did they call Doogie at the end of the hour, or did it take her an hour to get to the hospital?

Mom comes in and gives her a heart to heart about the first time she lost a patient: a family man who had been cooking dinner with his wife an hour before.  Dead husband instead of the cliche dead wife?

Montage of Doogie being depressed at breakfast and at the hospital, then getting comforted by her dad and Walter, while a sad song plays.  It keeps going on forever.

Beefcake: Lots.

Gay Characters:  Charles is "openly gay," according actor Jeffrey Bowyer-Chapman, a former judge on Canada's Drag Race.  But being a minor character, I doubt that he will do any dating.

I'm not sure about Kai.  The utter lack of interest in girls (going to the dance with boys is "more fun") sounds indicative of gay identity, but more likely we have the standard sitcom trope of an unrequired love that turns requited in Season 3 (examples that come to mind: Joannie and Chachi on Happy Days, Niles and Daphne on Frasier,  Urkel and Laura on Family Matters, Thelma and the Reverend on Amen).

Kamealoha:  Interesting fusion of the two Hawaiian words that almost everyone knows: Kamehameha and "aloha"

Medicine:  I hate medical dramas.  I don't want to hear about blocked arteries and V-Fib Arrests for entertainment.

Will I Keep Watching: Not unless Kai turns out to be canonically gay.

See also:  Doogie Kamealoha MD: Is Kai Gay? Update.

Sep 21, 2021

Letterkenny: On a Scale of One to America, How Homophobic is Small-Town Canada?


I heard that the Canadian sitcom Letterkenny was "quietly queer," with a variety of pansexual characters whose shenanigans were "no big deal."  It's apparently about a small town where "there's not a lot going on," sort of like Corner Gas, except the dialogue goes extremely fast, and the accent is incomprehensible without subtitles.

Scene 1: Two hunks (Dylan Playfair, Andrew Herr, below)) drop off their girlfriend at a farm, where a fruit stand is staffed by the tall, stone-faced Wayne (Jared Keeso, left) and his friend.

Wayne's friend jokes that the hunks are actually women.  Ugh!  Why is being like a woman an insult?  What's wrong with women?   They counter by "accusing" Wayne of being gay.  Ugh!  This is "quietly queer"? Only 30 seconds in, and I'm sick to my stomach.  

They continue to insult Wayne, claiming that his girlfriend dumped him because he was too wimpy to fight.  They take off their shirts to challenge him (sigh...I'd challenge them to something...).  

But instead of fighting, he criticizes their threat-technique and treasure trails (line of hair leading from the belly to the crotch): "You look like a 12-year old Dutch girl."  Why does having a treasure trail make you feminine?  I don't get it.

Girlfriend returns and tells them to put their shirts back on. They leave. She's dating them both?

Wayne breaks the fourth wall and tells us: "It's a hard life, pickin' stones and pullin' teats, but it sure beats fightin' fellas with treasure trails."  I had to read that several times to figure out: he's given up professional fighting to become a farmer.

Scene 2: Wayne, his friend (Darryl), and the girl (Katy) at breakfast.  They criticize Wayne's girlfriend, who dumped him: "she made you soft.  You're not even fighting anymore."  Then they suggest that he should rebound with "sex.  With a girl."  

He storms out.  Katy follows to suggest meeting someone on Tindr. If you like someone, you just say "On a scale of one to America, how free are you right now?"  Huh?

The hunks arrive.  Katy wants to know why Wayne hates them so much: "Because they would grab a monkey by the teat if they could." Huh?

Scene 3:  Wayne, Daryl, Katy, and a hefty bearded guy (Squirly Dan?)  at the produce stand. Squirly Dan tells a story about how they fought some dudes with a Confederate flag on their truck, and Dan got a taser on his nipple ring.

Scene 4:
 Wayne and his friend Daryl go the bar and drink.  While Wayne is in the bathroom, he runs into McMurray (Dan Petronjevic, left)  Sigh!  I'd challenge him to something...

McMurry criticizes the new boyfriend of Wayne's ex for being feminine.  I'm getting really tired of these retro "being like a woman is despicable" slurs. 

He makes a face to demonstrate how girly the guy is, but Wayne won't look over while they're at the urinal.  He might see a man's penis and be traumatized for life!

Alexander comes in and stands at the urinal.  He drops his pants to pee (nice butt!)  McMurry criticizes his penis: "like a mushroom in a corn field."

Scene 5: Back in the bar, Daryl invites them to the Burning Bush Christian Youth Group, where he met his girlfriend, "a good Christian girl."  They call him a pervert.  For dating a Christian girl?  Is he, like, too old for her?

Scene 6:  Ontside the church where the youth group is meeting. Some Goth/vampires are dancing.  Inside, Christian youth are mingling.  Daryl's girlfriend tries basic soul-winning on Wayne, then sucks on his finger. (WTF?).

She criticizes his proposed use of Tindr: "It was originally called Grindr!  It was for gay men to sodomize each other!  They snort drugs off each other's penises -- that have just been in their bums!"  This is quietly queer?  On a scale of 1 to America, I'd call it America-homophobic!  

The preacher start the meeting: "Isn't God the best?  There's almost no one I like more!"  He insults his girlfriend.  Then the Salty Treats perform.  The Christian youth dance.

Wayne is depressed.  He didn't realize that Tindr/Grindr is for gays.  

Scene 7:
Wayne goes outside to "have a dart" (cigarette) and investigate, to see if Tindr/Grindr really exists.  The Goth/vampires, led by Stewart (Tyler Johnstone) notice and conclude that "you've been so agonized by women that you now prefer the company of men. Good for you for doubling down!  Although I didn't peg you for a pipe fitter."  At least they're only mildly homophobic.  

"Who knew that he liked the chutney ferret? Knob jockey!  Backdoor bandit!" Peals of laughter. Whoops, I was wrong.  Way homophobic.  "Rear admiral!  Oklahomo!"  

One of the Goth vampires states that he is gay, and doesn't like the barrage of homophobic slurs.  Stewart says "We know, and we support you," but they continue the homophobic slurs until Wayne goes back inside.

Scene 8: Inside, the preacher is playing an Australin didjeridoo.  Wayne notices that most of the boys are looking at muscular torsos on their phones.  What the writers think that Grindr is like?  So they're all gay, and coming to the youth group so they won't be pressured into sex with girls?  Or is it just Wayne's fear that Tindr is for meeting men?  

Scene 9:  After the youth meeting. Wayne, Daryl, and his girlfriend at the bar.  The Goth/vampires wonder what he's doing with "a fertile" (an anti-woman slur?)  when he is "gay."  Um..she's my friend's girlfriend.  

The two hunks overhear the gay reference, and start with the homophobic slurs; "Looking for love over the rainbow, Dorothy?" And so on ad nauseam.

Wayne storms out.  This whole episode appears to be about calling Wayne gay so he'll get angry and start fighting again.

The new boyfriend of Wayne's ex -- Troy -- comes in, so they turn their attention to calling him a girl: "What a skirt!"  

Scene 10: Outside, Wayne runs into his sister Katy, who tells him about the texts she's been getting all night. "Ur bro is GAY!!! Har-har!"   Only four minutes to go!  I can't take much more of this rabid homophobia!

She reminds him of occasions where she or Darryl was insulted, and he clobbered the offenders.  Now he's suffering the worst insult a man can hear -- GAY!!! -- and he won't fight back?  "I miss the old Wayne." 

A drunk guy comes out to pee, and drops his pants (nice butt).   Troy the Ex Girlfriend's Boyfriend. follows him to take a picture, then kick his butt.  I guess to post the picture and humiliate him?

Wayne approaches.  Troy insults him: "I stole your girl because you couldn't satisfy her."  Dude, you can't steal a girl.  She's not an object.  She gets to decide who to spend time with.  "I've fucked her a lot.  I'll do it in front of you, if you like.  Maybe your sister would like to join us."  

That did it.  Wayne grabs him by the dick and punches him in the face a lot, while Katy praises him for fighting again.  The whole bar comes out to watch. Um...Troy is not fighting back.  that's actually an assault. 

Why no gay "accusations" to finally make Wayne snap?  Because Spencer Maybee (Troy) is a gay ally, and refused to say them?

Scene 11: The hunks drop off Katy after another date, but this time they treat Wayne with respect. The end.

Beefcake: Lots.

Subculture of Violence: Violence is an appropriate way to solve personal conflicts.

Sexism:  Women are objects.  The preacher actually refers to his girlfriend as "it."  Being called a woman is the worst possible insult.

Homophobia.  Wait -- no, being called gay is the worst possible insult.

My Grade:  I need a shower.  Next I'll watch something a little more gay-friendly, like a Jerry Falwell sermon.

Sep 20, 2021

"Reservation Dogs": Queer, Nonbinary, Quirky Delinquents on the Rez


Someone recommended Reservation Dogs, on Hulu.  I doiubt that there will be any gay characters, but I wouldn't mind seeing some Native American beefcake.

Scene 1: In Indian Country, Oklahoma, some Native  teenagers steal a truck hauling Flaming Flamers Potato Chip (flaming flamers? Gay reference?).  They drive it to a salvage yard overrun by "meth head zombies."  Kenny is waiting for them.  The leader  and a girl discuss what to do if things go bad: "I'll kick him in the nuts, and you grab anything nearby and throw it at him."

While Bear (D'Pharaoh Woon A Tai, left), Willie Jack, and Elora negotiate the payment for the truck heist (and ask to keep the chips), the remaining boy, Cheese (Lane Factor), introduces himself to a meth head, and gives his pronouns.

Scene 2: Carrying big boxes of chips.  Later, in class, Bear shows a video he made introducing the gang and their delinquent activity.  The teacher nervously cuts him off.

Scene 3: They're selling the bags of potato chips at 50 cents each.  Various colorful characters drop by.  A gang of three is watching them from across the street.  They decide to alert Whtie Dave.

Scene 4: Bear sneaks some of the money they made into his mother's purse (aww, the delinquent is helping out).  Mom is going out to night to find him a new Dad, someone better than that "low-down out-of-work Indian rapper." (Foreshadowing?)

Scene 5:
Back at the chip stand.  The tribal cop Big (Zahn McClarnon, left) drives up to interrogate them: "A chip truck was stolen earlier today, and last week we had two cars stolen, and someone pulled the copper out of 20 street lamps and stole the steaks from Patterson's Grocery."  

Flashback to Bear's gang doing all that, plus stealing marijuana edibles and spray-painting pictures of penises and boobs.  Very busy gang!  

There's also been a sighting of Deer Lady, a spirit of some sort.

Scene 6:  On their way to eat some catfish. Uh-oh, the gang from Scene 3 drives up and shoots then all!

While "dead," Bear has a vision: An old-style Indian warrior rides up.  "You've had a taste of the white man's lead."  "It's just paintball." 

 Turns out that he's no one famous, just an "unknown warrior" who fought at the Battle of Little Big Horn.  Well, actually, he didn't fight, he got squashed by his horse.   Anyway, he has a message: "You and your thug-ass friends aren't helping our community.  Find something to fight for."

Scene 7:
  They recover from the paintball attack.  Two rappers, Mose and Mekko (Lil Mike, Funny Bone), approach to tell them that it's a new gang run by a girl named Jackie.  They heard that Bear's gang ruled the rez, so they plan to take them out.

Scene 8: Rob n Cleo's Market to get the catfish.  Uh-oh, Miles, whom they stole the truck from, comes in.  They overhear him complaining about being fired.  Then his wife left hm, and took all the money, so he's bankrupt, so he had to eat sugar, and now he has diabetes.  That's a lot to happen since this morning.

Scene 9: Back at the hideout, Bear feels guilty, and wants to give the money back.  "Fuck that shit.  We got that money fair and square."  They argue.  They talk about Daniel, who died last year.  "This place killed him!  I'm not letting it kill me!" Elora storms out.

Scene 10:
Elora looking at a picture of Daniel (Dalton Cramer, left).  Meanwhile, Bear is on the way home, when he sees Daniel watching him.  

Scene 11: Morning.  Elora stops by with meat pies.  She's ok with buying the truck back from the meth heads and returning it to Miles.  

Scene 12: At the chop shop.  The truck has been stripped, but the meth heads give them what's left of it.  Not much.

Scene 13:  Daniel's memorial service.  The gang in suits, rubbing smoke on their faces.  They hug and say "Love you, bitch."

Jackie's gang drives by and threatens them again.  The end.

Beefcake:  Bear climbs out of bed in his underwear.  Daniel is rather attractive, but as a ghost he won't appear much.

Heterosexism: No one expresses any heterosexual interest, at least not in the first episode.

Gay Characters:  Apparently Willie Jack is nonbinary, and Devery Jacob, the actress playing Elora, is queer. 

D'Pharaoh doesn't reveal much about his personal life.  We know only that he's from Toronto, he's proud of his indigenous roots, and he's a fashion maven.  Maybe he's gay, too.

Charles Addams/The Addams Family

The 1950s was obsessed with marriage and reproduction. Movies, tv programs, presidential speeches, school textbooks, and Sunday morning sermons all pushed the heterosexual nuclear family with salary-man dad and cake-baking mom as the pinnacle of societal perfection, not only the way everyone should live but the way everyone did live (In the U.S., anyway).  But there were critiques, carefully-worded inquiries about whether everyone in every nuclear family was by definition deliriously happy, and every single person by definition miserable.

Cartoonist Charles Addams offered one of the most popular critiques.  He began publishing macabre cartoons in The New Yorker in the 1930s.  By the late 1940s, most were gently skewing the nuclear family experience.

On Christmas morning, two kids play gleefully with a guillotine.  Or they start a fire in the fireplace in anticipation of Santa Claus's visit.

A boy brings models his scout uniform, while his disgusted parents look on.  "He certainly doesn't take after my family," the mother exclaims.

A woman dressed in a black shroud dissects the mania for civic holidays: "I couldn't make it Friday -- I've so many things to do.  It's the thirteenth, you know."

Addams never intended for his unnamed characters to be taken as a single macabre family, but they appeared together so often, and in so many different contexts, that readers assumed that they were related.  Eventually he gave in and called them the Addams Family.

During the monster mania of the early 1960s, they spun off into a tv series, The Addams Family (1964-66).  Now they had names: Gomez (John Astin), Morticia (Caroline Jones), their children Wednesday and Pugsley, Uncle Fester, Grandmama, their butler Lurch, and "It," a sentient hand. They were not quite as homicidal as their counterparts in the New Yorker cartoons; indeed, many episodes involved them helping neighbors, friends, or strangers with their personal problems. They were as close-knit and supportive, and as aggressive in promoting heterosexual romance, as any sitcom family of the 1960s.  But still, they constantly blurred the boundaries between "normal" and "abnormal," making them a favorite of gay kids who felt "different."

By the way, if you remember the series, you might be interested in seeing Ted Cassidy, who played the Frankenstein-like butler Lurch, in a swimsuit (top photo).  Apparently he was quite a hunk.

There's a story about one of the cast members on Gay Celebrity Dating Stories

Sep 19, 2021

"Mortal Engines": Ridiculous Premise, Star Wars Rip-Off Plot, Heterosexism to the Max, and Beefcake

 We postponed movie night from Friday to Saturday due to a party -- social life is gradually returning.  It wasn't worth the wait.  Mortal Engines (2018) has the most ridiculous premise I have ever heard, plus a story that's combines the worst cliches from Star Wars and The Road Warrior,  The only thing that made it remotely watchable was a profusion of cute guys, but every one of them had a girlfriend. Heterosexism rules!

The premise: A thousand years after an apocalyptic event that moved the Earth's crust around, so China is now next to Germany, resources are scarce, so most people live in cities on wheels, roaming around to look for supplies. 

Ridiculous.   No way would you have the power to move an entire city on wheels, and besides, why would you ever?  Our ancestors discovered thousands of years ago that sedentary life is much more efficient than being hunter-gatherers.  And if you still must scavage for supplies after a thousand years, send small expeditions out. 

London has become a super-city on wheels, with St. Paul's Cathedral, Parliament House, and the British Museum, plus parks, residential neighborhoods, cars, and a subway!  It travels around, eating smaller cities to absorb their energy, and assimilate their residents.  

Uber-ridiculous.  If resources are scarce, why would you want to assimilate hundreds of new people?  

The plot: 
Robert Sheehan, who plays a gay character in The Umbrella Academy, but without the sleazy long hair and goatee, so he looks rather hot (top photo), plays Tom. a "you're late for work again" scalawag who sorts through ancient artifacts at the British Museum.  He chums up with the Beautiful Daughter of head scientist Thaddeus Valentine (Hugo Weaver, who played a drag queen in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, only now with a beard that makes him look rather hot, like Captain Nemo.

Things go wrong when a lady assassin sneaks in and stabs Valentine.  Tom chases her through some fiery factory sets, where she explains "He killed my mother" before jumping into a whirlpool thing.  Tom doesn't believe her for a second, but Valentine pushes him into the whirlpool thing anyway, just to be on the safe side.  

I  guess he took a short cut?  And being stabbed does not affect your ability to run?

Turns out that Valentine did kill Assassin's Mom, because she had uncovered an ancient part that he (and his girlfriend) want to use to recreate the Death, I mean the ancient weapon that caused the Apocalypse (so, thousand-year old buried, decayed, fused parts will still work?).  

Beautiful Daughter and her boyfriend Bevis (Ronan Raftery, who has never starred in Beavis and Butt-Head) sleuth out Valentine's diabolical plot.

Meanwhile, Tom and Assassin survive, and must make their way through the wilderness.  She takes off her mask, which apparently she wasn't using to hide her identity; she was self-conscious about a scar.

They fight slavers disguised as a ridiculous "have a cuppa" English village couple, and eventually reach a cloud city big enough to have fancy and ordinary restaurants, all suspended by giant balloons (presumably they're filled with helium, but the way they explode later, it could be hydrogen).

Lando Calrissian isn't around, but there's a nice substitute, Captain Khora (Rege-Jean Page of Bridgerton, who "wants to break down gay/ straight labels.").  His girlfriend is Yasmina Rashid, an anti-mobile city activist or something.  They want to meet Tom because he has insider knowledge of the layout of mobile London or something.

By this point I was barely paying attention.  I know that there's a  Luke Skywalker flying a spaceship moment, a "Luke, I am your father" moment, an exploding cloud city, and some more explosions.  The Londoners move to China.  And it's boy-girl couples all the way to the fade-out-kiss.  Let's just see the remaining beefcake.

Colin Salmon (of The Arrow) as the Deputy Historian of London, who helps Beautiful Daughter and her boyfriend research the evil scheme.

Kahn West of the teen-sleuth series Terry Teo as Toa Heke.  I actually don't remember him from the film, but isn't he cute?

Andrew Lees, seen here nude in the short-lived Your Family or Mine, as Tom's supervisor/bully at the British Museum.

How about if he moves the box of granola away, and we just look at him naked for two hours instead of watching this heterosexist behemoth?

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