Nov 6, 2021

"Lovehard": A Christmas Romcom with a Gay Porn Title

 Halloween is barely over, but the Christmas barrage has begun.  The Disney Channel is offering a dozen movies with Santa Claus suit icons, Hulu has a lot of male-female couples standing in front of Christmas trees, and Netflix seems to be specializing in holiday romcoms and modernized Santa Clauses: Santa's Saint Bernard, An Elf Story, The Claus Family, Father Christmas is Back, Lovehard (sounds like porn)...

Every streaming service makes you click on different parts of the icon for accessing the plot synopsis.  If you choose wrong, the movie starts.  I just started Lovehard.   There better be some hard men in it.

Scene 1: Establishing shots of L.A., while a song tells us that it's Christmas.  Cut to a woman putting on makeup and high heels, checking her Tindr, and hitting the bar to meet her hunk.  Ugh!  He looks nothing like his profile pic!

She tries again and again, then goes to work dressed as a stereotypic mousy librarian.  She tells us that her disaster-dates are fodder for her popular online column. So she can't find true love, or her writing career will end.  Nevertheless, she's longing for true love.  Everyone else in the world is paired off; why isn't she?

Wisecracking best friend has the solution: you've only looking within a 5 mile radius. "You've got to look outside of West Hollywood."   My home town, Gay Paradise! Or is this going to be a gay-free Weho?  

The slezoid boss (Matty Finocchio) drops by.  She wants to do something else for her next column, but he nixes the idea: you're famous for bad dates, so go on one!  "But it's making me miserable."  "We're all miserable, dear."  You're living in Gay Paradise!  I had maybe five miserable days in ten years!  

Scene 2:  She (no names yet) drags a real Christmas tree into her house, which from the establishing shot is nowhere near West Hollywood.  She starts a chat with Josh on Tindr, who lives in New York, about the best Christmas movie: Love Actually or Die Hard

Scene 3:  Natalie (I had to check wikipedia to find her name) jogging with BFF at Elysian Park (again, nowhere near West Hollywood).  Josh is rich, well-educated, and hot. At least his pictures are hot -- he could be old and stuff.  No -- he sends a photo with "Hi, Natalie," so he's real.  Land him!   If there aren't some Weho gay characters soon, I'm out of here.

Scene 4:  While she is in the bathtub, Josh sends her a dick pick (of Richard Nixon, har har).  They spend the night together by telephone (romantic stuff, no sex).

Scene 5: Work.  Sleazy Boss wants to know when her next Disaster Date column will be ready.  "It's just that...I'm in, could I write a column about that?"  "HECK, NO!  People love it when you are miserable."  He's right.  Praise is boring, complaints are fun.  

Throwaway coming out line: Boss says "Leave the serious stuff to Steve."  Natalie: "Screw Steve!"  Boss: "I did.  Hashtag don't tell."  A downlow gay guy?

Natalie impulsively decides to fly to New York to surprise Josh and "get my happy ending."  Boss: "Someone you've only known for one day, and have never met in person?  Sure, write about that.  It will be an interesting disaster."

Scene 6: Packing.  BFF fully supports the idea: "This might be the sanest thing you've ever done."  Really?

Later, she arrives at the airport in Lake Placid, a ritzy resort town upstate.  Cold, snow, howling wind, and her luggage is lost. Cute slacker Eric tells her to fill out a form and drop it in the "after hours" slot.  The airport is closing.

Eric (Fletcher Donovan, left) is also her uber driver.  Turns out that he knows Josh Lin -- they went to high school together, and smoked a lot of weed in his basement.  They argue over whether "Baby, It's Cold Outside" is about sexual assault.

Josh's house is dolled up with tacky lights and ornaments.  He's definitely not rich!  His Mom answers the door: "Josh isn't home right now, but you're welcome to wait."  He lives with his parents?  Uh-oh.

Natalie is introduced to Josh's father and grandmother.  They're all surprised that Josh has a friend of any sort-- and a girlfriend!  "That's off the charts!"  Uh-oh, Josh is socially inept.

Josh  (Jimmy O. Yang) arrives.  Not the guy in the photos.  She's been catfished!  The real Josh is Asian, which makes Natalie's disgust seem rather racist.  She flees. Josh follows.  "What kind of psycho sets up a fake profile?"  "What kind of psycho flies across the country without telling you?" 

Natalie rushes off, and stops into the nearest bar, where Christmas karaoke is going on.  Two guys are getting very chummy -- maybe they're a gay couple?  Suddenly Tag (Darren Barnet, top photo), the guy in Josh's profile pics, arrives and join them.  So he's gay?  Natalie decides to win his heart -- or his penis -- by singing a sexy "I Would Do Anything for Love."  All three of them gaze in slack-jawed horniness. Nope, no gay people here. 

There are no gay people here and they aren't even in West Hollywood anymore, so I'm going to stop there and look up Sean Depner, who plays minor character Chip.  

You know what's going to happen anyway, right?  True love will win out over trivialities like physical appearance. I still think Jimmy O. Yang is cute.

Is Nickelodeon Still Stuck in Gay-Subtext Territory?


Nickelodeon was once the premiere place for gay-subtext children's programs, like Drake and Josh and The Fairly Oddparents. Within the last few years, subtexts have been replaced by gay-and out best friends or coming-out brothers on many Disney Channel and Netflix shows. To see if Nickelodeon was keeping up, I researched Bella and the Bulldogs, about a girl who joins her middle-school football team.  I chose the second season episode "Girls and Chicks."

I watched the Season 2 Episode "Dudes and Chicks."  If any episode is heteronormative, that one will be.

Scene 1: The patented Nickelodeon teen hang-out, a smoothie bar.  Bella has bought new team jerseys.  Newt (Buddy Handleson): "I love the embroidery."  Sawyer: "It's a little small."  Pepper (a girl): "That's because I ordered it in my size.  Team jerseys are for girlfriends."  Troy (Coy Stewart): "I ordered mine to say The Troy."  But it actually says "Then Troy."  Har-har.

Sawyer announces that he's working at his parents' stand at the farmer's market tomorrow.  Pepper, his girlfriend, hates working there, and talks Bella into joining her.

Scene 2:
At the produce stand. Sawyer (Jackie Radinsky, left) criticizes the girls for watching girly tv shows like Bring Me a Bachelor, but he secretly watches, too. Uh-oh, his crazy cousin Charlie is coming.  The last time she saw him was at Sawyer's ninth birthday party, where he splashed a smoothie on her new dress, so she hates him. Surprise: he's grown into a super-hunk (Froy Gutierrez, top photo)

Scene 3: Troy, Newt, and a girl named Sophie eating.  The others joke about Troy wanting to marry his fried beef on a stick. I hate jokes that equate loving food with loving a person.  Suddenly they encounter a baby chick that escaped from the petting zoo. Ergo the title.

Scene 4: Bella absurdly over-acting her horniness for Hot Charlie.  She assumes that he's still a jerk.  He turns out to be nice, so she plans a strategy to draw his interest. 

Scene 5: Sophie discovers that the farm that runs the petting zoo also supplies the food truck: when the baby chick grows too big for petting, it will be turned into McNuggets!  Sophie rushes to tell the others.  Newt is wearing tangerine shorts and carrying a handbag.  I think he may be gay.  

Scene 6: Bella rushes home, gets all dolled up, and returns to put the moves on Hot Charlie.  

" you have any big plans for later?"  I hate the "big plans" question.  No one has "big plans" regularly, or they wouldn't be "big." 

" you like ice cream?"  Yawn. Who doesn't like ice cream?

" you want to get ice cream later?"  Nope!  He refuses.  "I think you know why."

Scene 7: That night, in the absurdly elegant houses that pass for middle-class on Nickelodeon.  Bella is catatonic with sadness over the rejection.  Pepper asks, "What did he mean by "You know why"?  Bella has no idea.  No doubt the birthday party scene didn't play out the way she remembers it.

Maybe his cousin Sawyer knows?  They ask: at his ninth birthday party, Charlie dumped a smoothie on her as a gag, but she overreacted like a little princess and stomped out, bringing all of the other guests with her.  The party was ruined!  Sawyer eventually forgave her, but Charlie still thinks that she's a "fun-killer."  Wait -- it was Sawyer's party.  Why does his cousin care so much?

Scene 8: The others sneak into the petting zoo to retrieve the baby chick.  Lame petting zoo, just some chickens.  They end up stashing several chicks in Newt's handbag and Troy's pockets.

Scene 9:  Bella tries to demonstrate that she's not a "fun-killer" by being all "whazzup!" and bringing donuts.  Hot Charlie is not impressed.  No wonder -- it's a farmer's market.  There's food everywhere.)  How about juggling peaches?  No.

Scene 10: The others are about to make their getaway, when Sawyer and his girlfriend Pepper come to the petting zoo and notice the deceit.  "Why are you stealing those chicks?"  Turns out that the chicks don't get eaten after all -- the farmer supplies vegetables to the food truck, not chickens.  But it does get dead chicken meat from somewhere, right?  

Scene 11: Bella keeps trying.  She never heard of "no means no"?  But it works: Sawyer reveals his version of the party: he had a crush on Belle, so he bought her a smoothie.  Then he tripped and accidentally spilled it on her...and everyone made fun of him.  He was bullied for years because of that incident.  Really?  So now they can date.

Scene 12:  At the hangout, Sophie complains that all nine of her brothers are grounded, so the air at her house is 100% farts (Nickelodeon shows are required to have at least one fart reference per episode.)  The end.

Beefcake:  Charlie is sort of cute.

Heterosexism: The A plot is about heterosexual romance.

Gay Characters:
 Actor Buddy Handleson (left) is gay, but he didn't make any public announcements until the show ended.  I don't see any evidence that his character is gay, just rich/feminine.  According to the show Wiki, Newt has an ongoing unrequited crush on Sophie in the first season.  In the second season, he moves on to other girls, and then Sophie gets a crush on him!  

My Grade: F


Nov 3, 2021

The Top 10 Gay, Bi, and Non-Labeled Boys of "Degrassi: The New Class"

 I'm not a big fan of soap operas, unless they involve aliens or zombies, so I never saw the various incarnations of of teen angst in the closeted-Toronto Degrassi High. In case you are interested, they were: The Kids of Degrassi Street (1979-86): Degrassi Junior High (1987-89), Degrassi High (1989-91), and Degrassi: The Next Generation (2001-2015).  The most recent rendition, Degrassi: The New Class (2016-2017), has popped up on Netflix.  I don't want to sit through every episode looking for the LGBTQ+ characters, but fortunately I found an article with a rundown of all the gay, bi, and "I don't believe in labels" boys, plus some heterosexual boys involved with lesbian, bisexual, and "I don't believe in labels" girls.

1. Jonah Haak (Ehrem Kassam, top left) is dating Grace, who is also dating Zoe, but is "not into labels."

2. Zig (Ricardo Hoyos) is in a polyamorous relationship with two girls, Esme and Frankie.

3.  Miles Hollingsworth III (Eric Osborne) is the school's Rich Kid (you couldn't tell from his name?). He starts out being "not into labels," but eventually comes out as bisexual, dating Tristan (#4), Lola, and Zoe, who is also dating Grace and "not into labels."

Zoe, by the way, also ends up dating Rasha, a Syrian refugee who is lesbian and Muslim. 

4. Tristan (Lyle Lettau) is fortunately "into labels": he starts out the series gay and fabulous.  His soap plots involve body-weight issues and worry over still being a virgin.  Eventually he loses his virginity to Miles (#3).  Then he dates Vijay (#7).

5. Hunter Hollingsworth (Spencer Macpherson), Miles' younger brother (#3), is a brooding introvert who started out dating Yael, who was "struggling with gender."  The writers did some research, and decided to make Yael nonbinary.  

6. Since coming out as nonbinary, Yael has dated a girl and a boy, Baaz Nahir (Amir Nageria). who is also interested in Grace (who, as you recall, is interested in Jonah and Zoe).

7. Vijay (Dante Scott) is gay, best friends with Yael, and dating Tristan (#4).  

8. Saad Al-Maliki (Parham Rownaghi), an aloof, introverted student from the Middle East, is dating Lola, who has had relationships with Miles (#3) and several other boys.  

A heterosexual boy who is dating a heterosexual girl who dated a bisexual boy.  The gay connection is a little tangential, but at least he's an ally, probably.

9. Winston Chu is best friends with Miles (#3), and has dated Zoe, Frankie, and Lola (face it, every girl at Degrassi has dated every boy).  He has also expressed an interest in Rasha before realizing that she is a lesbian.

10. Tiny Bell (Richard Walters) is best friends with Zig and Grace, and has dated Shay and Lola.  Best friends with a girl who is not into labels.  Close enough.

"Locke and Key":: Redrum Boy, Hot Brother, and Incessant Stupidity

I was drawn to the Netflix series Locke and Key, based upon the comic book series by Joe Hill (son of horrormeister Stephen King, but he'd rather you not know that), because I heard that there were Lovecraftian elements: three kids in a mysterious old house become involved with Cthulu and the Old Ones:

Scene 1: A man receives a phone call: "Rendell Locke is dead."  In response, he plunges an old-fashioned key into his heart and explodes.  Rather an intriguing intro.

Scene 2: Mom or Older Sister Nina Locke (she looks around twelve, but the actress is nearly 40) is driving cross-country from Seattle to small-town New England to "start over".  Her three kids make contemporary references to Fortnight but have an old-fashioned camera.  What year is this?

They are:

1. Outgoing, popular Tyler (Connor Jessup), who we're expected to find mega-dreamy.
2. Sullen, introverted class brain Kinsey (Emilia Jones)
3. Adorable tyke Bode (Jackson Robert Scott), who is certainly one of the many abused boys with "the shining" who populate Stephen King's novels.

Whoa, deja vu.  I feel like I'm watching The October Faction.  Or The Umbrella Academy.  Or even the Unfortunate Events series.  Or The Chronicles of Narnia

Scene 3:  They arrive in Matheson, Massachusetts (named after horrormeister Richard Matheson, no doubt), where it is always winter but never Christmas, and they are famous.  Apparently everyone knows about their tragedy, even though it took place on the other side of the country and it was just one murder out of the 7,000 that occur in the U.S. every year.

 They stop for ice cream and get fawned over by high schooler Scott (Petrice Jones).

Scene 4: Then it's off to the absurdly huge ancestral mansion, which must have about 1000 rooms and hasn't been cleaned or renovated for about a century.  Uncle Duncan (Aaron Ashmore, top photo) is supposed to be the caretaker, but he hates it there and never sets foot inside.

Duncan is gay in the comic books, but here there's nothing except a "blink and you miss it" reference to his boyfriend back in Boston.

Scene 5: Mom stupidly leaves her adorable tyke home alone in a house full of hidden passageways and sharp things.  Exploring, Bode finds a well boarded up inside a gazebo.  A woman's voice tells him that he has the, I mean special powers that allow him to use the keys hidden all over the house.  Each has a different magical property..

Scene 6:  Flashback to how Dad died.  They were in the midst of renovating an old house, when high schooler Sam (Thomas Mitchell Barnet) burst in with a gun and demanded to know about the keys. Dad stupidly insults him, and is shot.  Mom, too.  Sam chases Kinsey and Bode through the house, but Mom subdues him.

Scene 7:  The first key will take you through any door to anywhere else with a door (the ice cream shop, but not the Eifel Tower). 

Um...Bode, you stiffed poor Scott the Ice Cream Guy $3.00 for that tiny vanilla cone.

Scene 8:  Time for school.  Kinsey gets flirted with by Scott the Ice Cream Guy, who won't take "no" for an answer.  It's called sexual harassment, guy.  She finally agrees to hang out with his posse tonight.

Scene 9:  Meanwhile, Tyler hooks up with a couple of golden boys, Javi (Kevin Alves) and Brinker (Colton Stewart), who discuss how surviving a horrific tragedy will help him get girls.  (ugh!  Heterosexism!).  They invite Tyler to a Golden Boy party tonight.

Scene 10: Hanging with the posse involves watching horror movies.  Come on, Scott, Kinsey is suffering from post-traumatic shock after a killer chased her through the house, and you want her to watch Day of the Dead?  Idiot!

I read ahead: his next idea for a big date is to have Kinsey act in his horror movie, as the girl who gets splattered with blood when a crab monster eats her boyfriend.  Ever hear of a Disney movie and milkshakes?  Double idiot!

Scene 11:  Meanwhile Tyler is at the Golden Boy party, which consists of boys trying to get with girls.  He uses his "tragedy survivor" cred to score with an It-Girl (personally, I would have gone with "I'm extremely wealthy").  But in the bedroom he sees Sam the Killer, who tells him that Dad's death was all his fault.  So he can't perform.

Scene 12:  Adorable Tyke Bode wants to see his dead Dad, so Well Woman tells him about a key that will allow him to talk to any dead person. It actually unlocks a sinister mirror that traps Mom.

Scene 13:  Adorable Tyke returns to the Well Woman and points out her deception.  She says that she can save his mother if he gives her the Go-Anywhere Key.  So Stupid Tyke hands it over, and Well Woman vanishes.

Scene 14:  Tyler goes in to mirror-world, attached to a cord, with his eyes closed, to rescue Mom.  Their hug has to be seen to be believed.  Very Oedipal.  After all, they're about the same age (Mom actually looks a little younger.)

Upon her rescue, Mom forgets all about the mirror world. Bummer.

Scene 15: Well Woman's first stop with her Go-Anywhere Key is the mental hospital, where she visits Sam the Killer.  "I told you I'd see you again," she says.

Whoa, plot twist.

Beefcake:  Tyler takes his shirt off.  He's presented throughout the episode as the epitome of masculine beauty, so I guess that's something.

Gay characters:  Uncle Duncan.  There's a character named Lucas Caravaggio later on (played by Felix Mallard, left).  The painter Caravaggio was gay, so maybe...

Heterosexism:  Holy cow, it's a 1980s teencom at that high school.  Girls, girls, girls, girls, girls!

Stupid Puns:  The Lockes can use the keys. Come on!

My grade:  C-

Update: In Season 2, all of the Locke kids get involved in heterosexual romances, even the 5th grader.  It's 95% hetero-romance, 5% supernatural mystery.  My grade goes down to an F.

Doogie Kamealoha, MD: "Is Kai Gay?" Update


When I reviewed the first episode of the Disney Channel's Doogie Kamealoha, MD, about a teenage doctor in Hawaii, I noticed that Lahela's older brother Kai (Matt Sato, right) was not interested in girls.  He planned to go to the big school dance with his male friends "It's more fun that way."  Lahela's friend Steph kept throwing herself at him, but he rejected her.  So..was he being identifies as gay, or would he ignore Steph for two seasons, then fall in love with her, like Joannie and Chachi?

I'm six episodes in, just watching the Kai plotlines.  Steph has all but stopped throwing herself at Kai; they share a scene only in one episode.  And Kai still fails to express any heterosexual interest.  He does agree to go on a "group hang" to miniature golf with Steph, Lahela, and Lahela's boyfriend Walter, but interacts more with Walter than Steph.  

Walter is rushed to the hospital for an emergency appendectomy, which Lahela performs.  Afterwards Walter ghosts her.  Concerned, Lahela asks Kai, "Have you talked to Walter?"  Kai: "Sure, we texted a couple of times today."  

Kai never mentions anyone else, boy or girl.  His only interactions are with his family.  And not because, as a secondary character, he doesn't get much plot time: little brother Brian is constantly talking about girls and falling in love with girls.  The writers are making deliberate decisions to keep Kai from expressing heterosexual interest.

Nor does his family ever mention the possibility of dating girls.  In Episode 6, Kai gets a job working on an organic farm, and announces that he loves it: he wants to skip college and become a farmer after graduation.  The standard sitcom response in this situation is: "What's her name?"  Teenage boys on sitcoms traditionally make every decision, from joining a club to deciding on a career, in order to meet girls or impress a girl.  But Kai's parents never ask that, and in fact the only other worker shown on the farm is an elderly man.  Subverting sitcom tradition so effectively requires a concerted effort.  

The show's bible evidently contains the rule: "Kai is not interested in girls."  Of course, there's always the possibility of an Episode 8  meet-cute with "the girl of his dreams," but I'm becoming more and more confident that Kai will soon be added to the Disney Channel coterie of protagonists' gay brothers.

Update: In Episode 8, Kai falls in love with Steph.  Another gay subtext bites the dust.

Nov 2, 2021

"Child's Play": The Latest in a Long Line of LGBTQ-Inclusive Slasher Movies

On the Plains, there is no Halloween parade, and very few adult Halloween parties (at least, none that we've been invited to). So we turn on the porch light, stream a horror movie, and pass out candy to trick-or-treaters.  This year our movie was Child's Play (2018).  I've never seen the original, but I wanted to see this one because I heard that the kid is gay.

(I couldn't find any beefcake photos of any major cast member, except for some photos that I already posted of Bryan Tyrell Henry.  This is the result of a search for minor character Serge Jaswal, but the text says "Steven Spence Tumblr Posts," so it might be Steven Spence (whoever that is).

In the original Child's Play movie, a six-year old boy receives a boy-sized doll named Chuckie, which is  possessed by the spirit of a serial killer.  Here it's  14-year old Andy ( his age never stated, but he's played by 15-year old Gabe Bateman), and Chuckie the Doll is a  Buddi, an advanced artificial intelligence companion with the ability to learn, reason, and experience emotions -- with all of the safety protocols disabled by a disgruntled employee in the factory in Vietnam. Gradually the doll starts hurting people (and cats) who have hurt Andy.  Then he starts taking out competitors for Andy's affection, which basically means everyone.  

Chuckie's powers become more and more magical.  For instance, Andy's Mom, who looks like she's about 15 (actually 33 year old Aubrey Plaza), has a boorish, abusive boyfriend (David Plaza).  So Chuckie tags along to his house, pushes him into a wood chipper, cuts off his face, and then somehow walks all the way across town carrying a human face to give Andy as a gift.  No one noticed?

Another nitpick -- what time of the year is this?  After Mom's boyfriend is shown taking down the Christmas decorations from his house, the Big Corporation CEO (Tim Matheson) unrolls his new 2.0 version of the AI dolls to screaming, eager crowds.  Wouldn't that happen before Christmas?

During the big unveiling (which coincidentally occurs in the store where Mom works), Chuckie uploads his corrupted program to the cloud, resulting in an army of Chuckies (and drones) trying to kill everyone, including Andy.

Andy doesn't express any romantic or erotic interest in anyone.  He doesn't even have a cheesecake poster on his bedroom wall, which is good enough for a gay subtext.  (Being prepubescent or barely pubescent doesn't matter; lots of 10- and 12-year old boys in mass media get girlfriends.)

His friend Pugg (17-year old Ty Consiglio) doesn't express any romantic or erotic interest in anyone, either, not even in Andy -- their interactions are always mediated by Pugg's sister Falyn, and later, by the group of friends Andy hangs out with.  But again, a lack of expressed heterosexual interest is enough for a gay subtext.

Police detective Mike Norris (Bryan Tyree Henry) hangs around a lot because his mother lives in the building.  He doesn't express any heterosexual interest either --- one expects him to start dating Andy's Mom, but that never happens.  In one scene, he tells Andy to ignore the "rumors about him."  Gay rumors?

And Chuckie himself behaves like a controlling, possessive boyfriend: "We'll be together forever, Andy."

My grade: B.

Turns out that this is not the second Chuckie movie, it's the eighth!  Several of the previous movies have gay, lesbian, and gender-bending characters.  Chuckie has a gender-bending child named Glen/Glenda, and he takes over a woman's body to start a romance with his human girlfriend.  And in the new Chucky tv series, the central character himself (Zackary Arthur) is gay.  

So apparently this movie has the least LGBT representation in the franchise.  I'm still giving it a B.

Nov 1, 2021

60 Movies I Will Never See (Or Saw and Regretted)

There are 6 basic emotions, 1 positive (happiness), 3 negative (sadness, anger, and disgust), and 2 which could be either (surprise, fear)  The function of a movie, book, song, or other work of art is to elicit positive emotions, to make the audience feel better after viewing than they did before.

So I don't understand movies that deliberately elicit sadness, anger, or disgust.  Why would anyone want to watch something that makes you feel bad?  Don't you get enough bad feelings in real life?

Here are 60 movies that I will never see, or that I saw and regretted.

No dying of long, slow, debilitating diseases.  With scenes of yelling at doctors, reconciling with estranged relatives, sobbing, sobbing, sobbing, and holding hands on death beds.

1. Terms of Endearment (1983). Shirley Maclain's daugher dies of cancer.

2. Beaches (1988).  No one surfing or swimming, just Bette Midler singing and crying.

3. Steel Magnolias (1989).  Women face tragedy in the South.

4. My Girl (1991).  Boy falls in love with a dying girl.

5. Lorenzo's Oil (1992).  Family tries to cure their dying son.

6. Stepmom (1998). Hugging and dying.

7. Here on Earth (2000).  Boy's girlfriend dies.

8. Bridge to Terabithia (2007). With Josh Hutcherson (top, recent photo). They fool you into thinking it's a fantasy movie, like Harry Potter.  It's actually about a boy befriending a dying girl.

9. Moulin Rouge (2008).  Fortunately, I walked out because it was so awful long before the deathbed scene.

10. The Fault in Our Stars (2014).  A support group for people dying of cancer.

Especially no dying-of-AIDS.  Yelling at doctors, reconciling with estranged relatives, sobbing, sobbing, and so on, but with homophobia.  Lovely way to spend an evening.

11. An Early Frost (1985).  Guy dies of AIDS.

12. Parting Glances (1986).  Guy dies of AIDS.

13. Longtime Companion (1989). Guy dies of AIDS.

14. Philadelphia (1993).  I was forced to watch this, but kept my nose in a book the whole time.  Guy faces discrimination because he's dying of AIDS.

15. And the Band Played On (1993). The government refuses to acknowledge that people are dying of AIDS.

16. The Cure (1995).  Guy dies of AIDS.

17. It's My Party (1996, left).  AIDS and suicide!  Fun!

No Holocaust as entertainment.  Um... 6,000,000 people died. How can that be turned into two hours of fun?

18.  Sophie's Choice (1982).  She has to choose which of her kids to kill, and later gets a couple of boyfriends.

19. Schindler's List (1993). He helps some people escape from the Holocaust.

20. Life is Beautiful (1997).  Set in a concentration camp. Are they kidding?

21. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas (2009).  More concentration camp hijinks.

No main characters dying, period. Who had th bright idea of killing off the protagonists in car accidents, gunshots to the head, or zombie bites?  Why would I want to get invested in a character, only to have them die?

22. Easy Rider (1969).  I saw this, not realizing that everybody dies, and the movie is ruined.

23. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969),  What's the point of a homoerotic buddy "comedy" if they're just going to die at the end?

24. Thelma and Louis (1991).  I watched this, too.  No one told me that they go over a cliff.

25. Titanic (1997). I was conned into seeing the musical.  Hint: they all drown.

26. The Perfect Storm (2000).  They all drown.

27. Children of Men (2006). Everybody is dying.

28. Pan's Labyrinth (2006).  Girl is dying.

29. Into the Wild (2007).  He starves to death!

30. 28 Weeks Later (2007).  Zombie movies are supposed to have survivors!

31. Burn After Reading This (2008).  I went into this thinking it was a comedy, and walked out when Brad Pitt's comic relief character suddenly was shot to death.

32. Apollo 18 (2011).  Dying astronauts.

No inmates on death row.  You know they're going to die from the beginning.  Why bother to watch?
 33. The Executioner's Song (1982).
34. Dead Man Walking (1995)
35. The Green Mile (1999)

No war.  War is one of the biggest tragedies of life, not a source of entertainment!  If the movie is about humorous hijinks far from the combat zone, ok.  But angst-ridden, somber music, people dying of bullet holes -- no way!  I don't care if the whole platoon struts around naked.
36. Platoon (1986)
37. Full Metal Jacket (1987)
38. Saving Private Ryan (1998)
39. We Were Soldiers (2002)

No ends of the world.  Nuclear holocaust, giant meteor, whatever.  Even worse than the main characters dying, the end of everybody and everything, the most depressing thing imaginable.

40. Dr. Strangelove (1965). Why would you yell "yahoo" while plummeting to your death on the back of a nuclear bomb? I actually saw this, under the impression that it was a "comedy."  It's not.

41. Miracle Mile (1988).  I actually saw this without realizing that the world ends -- until it was too late, and I was trapped there with a date.

42. 2012 (2009).  A flood kills everybody on Earth, except for two hetero couples.

43. Cabin in the Woods (2012). I thought it would be a standard horror movie, with survivors at the end, not "the old gods awaken and start the Apocalypse," and everybody dies.

44. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012).  A "comedy" about a man and a woman (of course) falling in love just before an asteroid kills everybody on Earth.

45. This is the End (2013).  I actually watched this.  Everybody dies,but some of them go to heaven.

No LGBT people dealing with homophobia.  Getting yelled at, rejected, beat up, experiencing angst, and dying.

46. Get Real (1998).  I saw this, thinking it would be ok because no one dies.  Horrible!

47. Boys Don't Cry (1999). Transman is killed.

48. The Laramie Project (2002).  A movie about a real-life horrific hate crime!  Just the thing to brighten your day.

49. Brokeback Mountain (2005). Bisexual cowboys facing homophobia and dying.  No way!

No horrifying handicaps.  I don't care if they overcome adversity and find love, having a handicap is by definition bad, so no movie about it can be good.

50.  The Miracle Worker (1962). I got grossed out by the passage in the book where the child Helen Keller doesn't eat at the table, she just goes from plate to plate and grabs whatever she wants.

51. Johnny Got His Gun (1971).  A blind, deaf, and dumb quadriplegic?

52. Tommy (1975).  A blind, deaf, and dumb boy, plus homophobia.  I turned off the DVD and zapped it back to Netflix.

53. The Elephant Man (1980).

54. Mask (1985).  I don't know what it's about, but it sounds gross.

55. My Left Foot (1989). This one sounded even more gross.

56. The Sessions (2012).  A man living in an iron lung decides to have sex.  Gross.

No movies where the plot summary itself makes me nauseous.

57. Harold and Maude (1971).  I saw this one.  Sickening romance between a teenage boy and an 80-year old lady.  No, I don't think it's at all hypocritical that I'm 60 years old and dating twinks. Plus she commits suicide because she loves life so much.  Huh?

58. Pink Flamingos (1972).  Seen it.  According to John Waters, they offered Divine a substitute, but no, she wanted to really eat the dog poop.

Birdy (1984).  A traumatized Vietnam vet thinks he can fly.  My stomach is queasy just thining about it, gay subtext or not.

60. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).  He ages backwards!  Can you think of anything more disgusting?  I couldn't even sit through the trailers.

See also: 10 Gay Movies  I Hated.

Champaign, ILL: Lack of Heterosexual Interest is Enough Inclusivity


Champaign, ILL: When a famous rapper (Jay Pharaoh) dies, his two best friends must deal with their grief as well as the sudden loss of fame and fortune.  With no jobs and no prospects, they are forced to move back to their isolated, small home town of Champaign, Illinois (huh?  Population 80,000, and the the site of the University of Illinois, enrollment 40,000). 


I watched Episode 3, in which the guys try to return to the life trajectories they planned in 2003, before they followed their buddy to fame:  Alf (Sam Richardson, top), to reunite with his old girlfriend, and Ronnie (Adam Pally, bottom), to go to Yale.  Both plans fail: you can't go home again.  

Wait -- no girlfriend for Ronnie?  He's not being presented as gay, since he's disgusted by Alf's dick pics on his dating profile, but no heterosexual interest is good enough for a subtext.  

Ok, Episode 1: Rapper Lou dies in a tragic accident.  He left no will, so all of his money goes to his mother, leaving Alf and Ronnie penniless.  A music video shows Lou surrounded by girls, rapping about how rich and famous he is.  Alf is cuddling with two girls on the charter jet.  But Ronnie still expresses no heterosexual interest. Score!

Next, I watced the last episode, to see if the lack of heterosexual interest remained stable, or if Ronnie gets a fade-out-kiss girlfriend.

Scene 1:
2003.  A boy working in a movie theater asks to get off early, because his friends have a big announcement.  His boss refuses (I'd refuse, too.  They can tell you after work.)  The boy -- Zack (Jack Alcott)-- screams in anger.  After finishing work, he rushes to the meeting place, only to see them driving off.

Finally Zack finds high-school aged Ronnie, Alf, and future rapper Lou (Jasun Jabbar, Devion Harris, Ryan Boz, left) at a restaurant and asks what the big annoucement is.  It's moving to L.A. to become a professional rapper and his posse, but he's being a dick, so they lie. Now he's so angry that when the manager tells him to clean up the mess he made, he attacks.  

Scene 2:  2018. Zack, now grown up and bitter, has kidnapped Alf and Ronnie.  But he doesn't want to kill them: he wants to party, like one of the nights he missed when they refused to take him to L.A.   He's never even tried cocaine, but he got a stash, and he wants the guys to demonstrate how to use it.

Zack forces them to drink, smoke marijuana, snort cocaine, break dance, and slow dance at gunpoint.   No girls are mentioned.  Maybe because he'd have to kidnap them, too, or maybe he's not interested.

The ending credits do not reveal who plays the adult Zack, but according to IMDB, it's Rich Sommer (left)

Scene 3:  Zack reveals that in his teens and 20s, he spent a lot of time working on his anger issues.  Two therapists molested him, which didn't help.  If you're over 18, it's not molestation, it's coercive sexual assault.  He tried hypnosis, antipsychotic medication, and being "born again" (not religion, living in a simulated womb for nine months and then being born).  Finally he realized that Alf and Ronnie are the source of his problems.

Whoops, I thought Zack was gay, but he complains about "working in a boring office, starting a boring family, moving to the boring suburbs."  Suburbs of the small town of Champaign? 

The guys argue that fame and fortune is overrated.  "what about the free sex?"  "We'd rather pay for it." They don't mention sex with girls, which is refreshingly inclusive).   

Now they're damaged: Alf goes on the dark web to find "fucking illegal" stuff to masturbate to (that would be child porn and nonconsensual acts, but fortunately he leaves it vague).  Ronnie is a cocaine addict.  They want a normal life, like Zack has. 

Zack doesn't buy it, and shoots. Ronnie jumps in front of Alf to save him, and is shot and killed.  

Scene 4:  Alf cooking breakfast for his girlfriend.  She wants to break up because they don't have anything in common: he ran out of the house, was gone three days, and came back covered with blood.  "I'm sorry about Ronnie, but..."

Scene 5: Kicked out, Alf hopes to move in with his father, but he is packing to move to Santa Fe.  He's going to sub-let a two bedroom above a turquoise shop run by two lesbians.  "I'm sorry about Ronnie, but...."  Dad thanks Alf for saving him (in a previous episode).  They hug.

Scene 6: 
Ronnie's not dead!  He wakes up in the hospital, surrounded by his family, including Matt Borlenghi as his father or brother (shown: Matt tells us that he's been vaccinated, and flexes his bicep).  

Ronnie starts to sing the Sh'ma (Hebrew prayer thanking God). But his sister tells him to hold off on the Sh'ma: He  lost his testicles.  No big deal -- get a prosthesis and testosterone injections.

They managed to get a sperm sample, in case he wants kids later on (his stepmother jerked him off while he was unconscious).  Still not indicative of heterosexual identity -- he didn't now what was happening, an d gay men sometimes have babies with female surrogates.

Ronnie thanks his family for being there for him.  They all hug.

Scene 7: Craig, who is apparently a regular character, comes to the hospital room. Ronnie apologizes for all the "heinous shit" he did to him and said about him.  Craig wants to take the dead rapper Lou's hologram on tour, with Ronnie and Alf coming along to "guard his legacy." 

Scene 8: They're in!  Back to fame and fortune!  But first they stop to pay their respects to Lou his ashes. End of the episode, end of the series.

Wow, a paeon to friendship, a couple of gross-out scenes, and no indication that Ronnie has any heterosexual romantic or erotic interests.  Maybe he does in other episodes, but this episode is nearly perfect in its inclusivity.  ("Perfect" would be Ronnie actually being gay, of course.  And Champaign, Illinois not being a small town.)

Oct 31, 2021

Lou Ferrigno and Bill Bixby: Bodybuilder and Buddy

Speaking of bodybuilder buddies, when Bill Bixby finished his gay subtext series My Favorite Martian and The Courtship of Eddie's Father,  he cashed in on the 1970s superhero craze in The Incredible Hulk (1977-82).

He played the antiheroic Marvel comic book character Bruce Banner, heterosexualized by being renamed David (Bruce "sounded too gay") and a getting a dead wife. When he gets angry, David transforms, Jekyll-Hyde style, into the green-skinned, muscular Hulk, who has super-strength, subhuman intelligence, and a nasty temper.  Fortunately the Hulk knows enough to avoid harming good guys or bystanders, and he usually disarms or scares the bad guys rather than killing them.

Like The Fugitive, David is wandering the countryside, trying to find a cure for his "problem," fleeing an tabloid reporter (Jack Colver) obsessed with him, and getting involved with people's personal lives along the way.

The Hulk was played by 26-year old bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno (left and top), a multiple Mr. Universe and Mr. America contender whom I met when I was working for Muscle and Fitness; he appeared on the cover at least once a year.

Other than the documentary Pumping Iron, this was his first screen appearance, but soon his physique and his inspiring story -- he had been nearly deaf since childhood, and had a slurred voice -- propelled him into fame.  After The Incredible Hulk, he had starring roles in Hercules (1983), Sinbad of the Seven Seas (1989), The Cage (1989, with James Shigeta as the villain), and The Incredible Hulk TV Series (1996-97), where the Hulk could speak.   A special favorite of kids, he appeared as himself on Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?

I don't know if there were any gay subtexts in the series -- it was on Friday nights, so I never saw it -- but there was an off-screen bromance.  Bill became Lou's mentor and confidant, and like Paul Newman and Rocky Graziano twenty years before, they were often seen socializing together off the set.

I remember them coming into the Muscle and Fitness editorial office together, looking for all the world like a gay couple, especially Bill in his tan suit and sunglasses.

In his memoirs, Lou stated that he doesn't like to watch The Incredible Hulk now because it is too sad.  Bill "was like a brother to me.  We grew together.  I miss him."

Bill Bixby was a gay ally, of course, and Lou Ferrigno always seemed perfectly fine with the adulation of gay fans.  When he appeared on the reality series The Apprentice, he was fine with the elderly gay icon George Takei commenting on his  hotness of his semi-nude body, but got upset over a joke that criticized his fashion sense.

Lou is now appearing on the webseries The Incredible Ferrignos, in which his entire family, all certified personal trainers, offer make-overs to families with unhealthy diet and exercise habits.

Lou Ferrigno, Jr., (born 1984) starred in two of David DeCoteau's nearly-gay movies: 1313: Hercules Unbound! (2012) and 1313: Night of the Widows (2012).

I get more of a gay-friendly vibe from Brent (born 1990).  He's not an actor, but you can see lots of shirtless pix on his facebook page.

See also: Guess Which Celebrities I've Dated.
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