Nov 13, 2021

"Adventure Beast": We Live on a Queer Planet

 


Big bear Bradley Trevor Greive, the "Tasmanian Grizzly," has sold over 25 million copies of his self-help and inspirational books like Dear Dad, Friends to the End, and The Simple Truth about Love.  He is also involved with print cartoons, tv, movies, stage shows, nature conservation, Russian cosmonaut training, and...well, he's written a book titled The Book for People Who Do Too Much.


He's married to a woman, and his books don't seem to be gay-inclusive: they're all about male-female romance and male-male friendship, no male-male romance.  A search on "Bradley Trevor Greive" and "gay" revealed only a comment from his book Looking for Mr. Right, advice for women on how to find a man:  "just because you're caring and sensitive doesn't make you gay."  But his new animated series, Adventure Beast, has an episode entitled "We Live on a Queer Planet," so I watched.



Scene 1
:  Bradley (voicing himself), an "international animal expert," in the green room of a late-night talk show.  His niece/assistant Bonnie wrangles the animals: bats, a cave louse, cassowary, black swans.  Nerd assistant Dietrich (Josh Zuckerman, left) is star-struck over another guest, Canadian reality show star Nolan Tremble, twice voted Canada's sexiest man (so Dietrich is gay?).  Bradley's tuxedo is too tight, so he changes into his field clothes in front of them (no skin).  They are disgusted.  I guess Dietrich isn't gay after all.


Scene 2:
The stage manager sees the black swans cuddling, and exclaims "Men and women!  It never works out."  Bradley explains that they're both male.  25% of male black swans are gay.  They mate for life, and raise a female's fertilized egg as their own.  Stage manager doesn't believe it, so he continues: almost every animal species exhibits queer behavior. 

Scene 3: We switch to see cuddling giraffes.  Bradley; "90% of male giraffe's behavior is 'homosexual.'"  (Yes, he uses the h-word).  Bonnie: "Just like me in high school."  Bradley is upset by the revelation, but goes on to show us male lions, water buffalos, mountain goats, and elephants screwing for fun and to achieve social harmony.  Female hyenas engage in oral sex (both male and female hyenas have penis-like organs).   Bonobo chimps are all bisexual, and use sex for conflict resolution.

Scene 4: Back in the green room, Stage manage decides to make his whole segment about queer animals, but "keep it G-Rated."  Uh-oh, the cassowary has broken through the wall and escaped! 

Sorry, I tried to download a picture of a cassowary, but the first five photos I tried were .jfifs, not .jpgs, so forget it.

Scene 5: We switch to the wild for more factoids.  Male cassowaries are usually docile, stay-at-home dads who sit on the eggs while the females hunt.   


Scene 6:
Back to the cassowary destroying everything.  They find the swans cuddling in a closet.  Bonnie remembers her closet make-out session in middle school, with a boy and a girl.

The cassowary has retreated to the ladies' room.  Bradley and Dietrich are afraid to follow, since men must never go in there. Dietrich says that he accidentally went into a ladies' room once, and was shocked to discover that there weren't any urinals.  "I have so many questions!" he exclaims.  Bradley rolls his eyes.  So Dietrich doesn't know that some people have nothing to aim with at urinals?   Even I know that!

Bradley notes that gender norms are not so strictly defined in nature: if there aren[t any males around to have sex with, female reed frogs will change to male.  Banana slugs have male and female genitals.  Whiptail lizards are all female.  ("I like the sound of that," Dietrich says sleazily.).  

Scene 7: They chase the cassowary out of the studio and onto the lot.  The stage manager fetches them: it's time to go on.  Bradley is introduced, and displays the gay swans, "just in time for Pride Month"  Then the bats fly in.  They commonly fellate each other when the females are in estrus.   Bradley starts discussing animal penises, while the host gets uncomfortable.  Of course, most animals don't have penises or vaginas.  

Scene 8: Nolan's dressing room is in shambles, and he's lying in a pool of blood, with little Xs over his eyes.  "The cassowary killed Nolan!" Dietrich exclaims.  They have to subdue the bird before it kills again!

Scene 9:  The cassowary is on the main stage, squaking at the host and the studio audience.  It latches onto Dietrich, and sits on his head as if it was an egg.  They put a bag on its head to subdue it.

Scene 10: The stage manager wants Bradley to be a regular guest, but he refuses.  The end.

A strange juxtaposition of acknowledging queer animals but feeling discomfort with human queerness.  The plot was minimal, primarily a vehicle for administering factoids.  Lots of blood and gore.  Lots of sex jokes.  My grade: C+

Nov 12, 2021

The 39 Dumbest Things You See on TV

I've watched a lot of tv, mostly sci-fi and sitcoms.  The set was on all the time when I was a kid.  In adulthood, it's like comfort food, warm, predictable, mildly amusing.  But is it really necessary to have so many plot conventions that strain credulity?  Plus are sexist, heterosexist, or downright homophobic?  Almost makes you want to pick up a book instead.

1. No one ever says a complete sentence; everyone takes turns.  "This looks like the work of..." "Two killers."  "So we should..."  ",,,get backup."

2. Whenever someone says "It's possible that...", as in "It's possible that the signals are coming from Mars" or "It's possible that the killer worked for the FBI," they mean "It's an absolute certainty."

3. Whenever someone says, "The chances against this working are a million to one," they mean, "It will absolutely work."

4. You cannot discuss the plan on the way to the site, even if it takes two hours to get there.  You must always wait until you have arrived.

5. All discussions of plans must begin with the phrase: "And that's the plan.  First we...."

6. Whenever someone asks "What's for dinner?", the answer must always be "Your favorite."

7. The only people who can eat dinner at home are heterosexual nuclear families: The Man in a lumberjack shirt, a son and a daughter under age 10, and The Woman, usually blond.  The Man always says "Great meal, honey."

8. The only people who can eat in restaurants are four young adults, divided into male-female couples.  One is always shown shoving a forkful of food into someone else's mouth.  Sometimes this happens in groups, too.


9. Whenever anyone turns on the tv, they must  hear a news story pertaining to their situation.

10.  If they are shown watching tv alone, it should be an old black and white movie, usually a Western.

11. Except for kids and serial killers, who must always watch public domain cartoons from the 1930s.

12. The only people who can watch tv in groups are heterosexual nuclear families, and they are always cuddling while holding a gigantic bowl of popcorn.  No one in the real world eats popcorn while watching tv.

13. If someone wants to talk to you, they can't call, they must drive across town to get there.

14. And the drive is extremely short.

15. And the door is unlocked, so they just walk in.

16. Whenever you enter a scary place, someone must say "This place gives me the creeps."  But no one in real life ever says this.

17.  People always complain that they don't have enough money to pay bills, but have thousands to spend on expensive props.

18. Poor people live in huge, well-appointed houses.  Middle-class people live in mansions. There is no such thing as an apartment, except in New York.

19. Men may not be shown engaging in any housecleaning activity.  Ever.  They can be asked to cook, to "help their wives out," but they must flub the job and take the kids to McDonald's.

20. The main characters must be white, but the captain, chief, or judge who appears in just one episode should be black, to demonstrate that racism no longer exists.

21. Everyone belongs to a huge number of clubs and organizations, but only for one episode apiece.  Then the club is never mentioned again.

22. Funerals always occur in the rain.

23. All college classes, even advanced seminars, must be taught in giant lecture halls, with never an empty seat.

24. College professors must all be elderly, wear bow ties, and have gigantic offices and personal secretaries.

25. All high school teachers must be bitter and depressed, or sadistic jerks who, in real life, would be fired in 30 seconds.

26. You can struggle with failing grades throughout high school and still get into a top college.  Even the Ivy League.

27. Action-adventure series must always begin with a flashback in which the central character's heterosexual romantic partner is killed.

28. Movie trailers must always contain a heterosexual kiss, even if there aren't any in the actual movie.

29. When a male character dresses in drag, he always does a horrible job, with chest hair and moustache, and he must have a startlingly deep voice.

30. Preteens must always be portrayed as heterosexual and boy- or girl-crazy, no matter what their age.

31. All teenage boys must be portrayed as crazy about sports, rock music, and girls.

32. Single adult heterosexuals must make jokes about how horny they are every five seconds.

33. Married heterosexual men hate their wives, especially having sex with them, and will do anything to avoid it.

34. A transwoman should always like women before transitioning and men after, to ensure viewers that everyone on Earth is heterosexual, regardless of gender identity.

35. Gay men must always be portrayed as swishy queens obsessed with fashion, skin-care products, and show tunes.



36. They rarely have gay friends, but they are crazy about hanging out with heterosexual women.

37. There are no lesbians, just "girls gone wild" who can easily "switch back" to heterosexual again.

38. Men with feminine traits are always evil.

39.  Space explorers always get their shirts ripped off.

See also: 10 Gay Movies I Hated; and 12 Songs I Hated.


"I See You": Come for the Gay Subtext, Stay for the Plot

 I never expect much from Amazon Prime movies.  I started watching  I See You (2019) because it starred the cute Judah Lewis (below), who I thought was gay.  It turned out to be an interesting thriller with several plot twists, no gore, no heterosexual fade-out kiss, a pleasant gay subtext, and an abundance of cute guys.  


1. Idyllic small-town detective Greg Harper (John Tenney) is having problems: at work, he's in charge of a case involving a missing boy:








2. Justin (Riley Caya), who vanished, leaving his bike and a green pocket knife.   It's similar to a case several years ago where six boys were killed and buried with green pocket knives.  But the offender was caught when two of his victims escaped. He's in prison.

At home, Detective Greg hates his wife, pill-popping counselor Jackie (Helen Hunt), because she had an affair, so he's been sleeping on the couch.  Their kid:




3. Surly Teen Connor (Judah Lewis), hates them both.  There are hints of abuse, but nothiing is specified.

Suddenly crazy, paranormal-style things start plaguing the family, like Jackie's favorite mug ending up on the roof, all of the silverware going missing, and tv sets going on and off by themselves.  Detective Greg gets trapped in the closet.   I'd assume that Surly Teen Connor was responding to the abuse by causing a ruckus, except he gets mysterious, threatening messages.  Plus:


4. A repairman (Adam Kern) comes to the house to fix the window that Detective Greg broke.  He says that a girl let him in, but no girl lives there.  Could their house be haunted?

Meanwhile, Detective Greg and his partner try to interview the boys who escaped, to see if they know anything that could lead them to Justin.  But the first kid:









5. Tommy (Jeremy Gladen) becomes hysterical, and won't talk to them, and they can't find the second.

Then Tommy goes missing, too!

One day:




6. Jackie's ex-boyfriend Todd (Sam Trammell) comes by to try to win her back, and ends up murdered in the basement.  Detective Greg and Jackie naturally assume that Surly Teen Connor did it, so they bury the body in the woods.  

When  they return, they find Surly Teen Connor drugged and tied up in the bathtub (no skin), with a green pocket knife next to him!  The kidnapper was in the house!   While Greg is searching, he's attacked, too.

We eventually see who's causing the ruckus:  Homeless teens Mindy and:




7. Alec (Owen Teague), who are making a documentary about phrogging (living in someone's house without them knowing it).  Mindy wants to be incognito, but Alec, who chose this house on purpose, is gaslighting Detective Greg and Jackie. Although he's trying to help Surly Teen Connor by warning him about...something.

 I think Alec is gay: he doesn't display any romantic interest in Mindy -- they're cooped up in the walls or in the guest room for hours at a time, yet never mention having sex.  Plus he seems interested in Surly Teen Connor.  

Uh-oh, Mindy sees who really killed Ex-Boyfriend Sam!

SPOILER ALERT:

Detective Greg!  She wants to call the cops, but Alec doesn't want his plans ruined (we'll find out what his plans are later).  He's the one who drugged and tied up Surly Teen Connor (after tenderly caressing his body). 

Ulp...Mindy is accidentally trapped in the car with Detective Greg!  She finds his "magic house," and the kidnapped boys, Justin and Tommy (the survivor of the previous kidnapping).  But Detective Greg kills her before she can rescue them.  

Back at the house, Detective Greg encounters Alec.  They fight.  Alec is stabbed, but he manages to shoot Detective Greg before collapsing.

Best exchange in the movie:
Detective Greg:  Wait!  I can explain.  When I was a kid...
Alec: I don't give a fuck.

Just then, a bit too late:



8. Detective Spitzky (Gregory Alan Williams) rushes to the rescue.  He recognizes Alec from the earlier case!

We flash back to Alec as a kid, walking along the railroad tracks with his friend:








9.  Tommy (Wyatt McClure).  Yes, the same Tommy who was kidnapped years later.  They encounter Detective Greg, who offers them a green pocket knife.

We're left to piece together what happened.  I came up with: Detective Greg kidnapped Young Alec and Tommy with the green pocket knife as bait.  They escaped before he could kill them, and since he was a cop, they were afraid to tell anyone. He framed someone else. Then, years later, he started the kidnapping again, targeting the teenage Tommy.  This compelled teenage Alec to start his "I know what you did last summer" gaslighting campaign.  

So everything cleverly falls into place.  The kidnapped boys are rescued, and Alec survives.  Only two things bother me:

#1: What was the point of drugging and tying up Connor?  It wouldn't implicate Detective Greg, since no one outside the house would know about it.  

And #2:  



10. Jostein Sagnes is credited as Justin's friend, but he doesn't appear in the movie.  What happened to him?

Nov 11, 2021

"Father Christmas is Back". And he brought the heterosexism with him.



An arguing extended family stuck together for Christmas is almost as cliched as the "big city girl finds love in a small town" romcom, but they keep churning them out.  The Return of Father Christmas is #4 on Netflix this week. No doubt one of the family members will be gay, or at least there will be some hunks drinking eggnog.

Scene 1: The cast is introduced, grinning in front of a Christmas tree: Kelsley Grammar, John Lithgow, Steve Buscemi, not guys on my list of mega-hunks or even minor hunks.  Then a foot in a high-heel shoe climbs a ladder to put on the ornaments.  She stumbles and falls bringing the tree down with her.  Peter (Steve Buscemi)  comes in.  Instead of asking "Are you hurt?", like a normal human being, he makes a joke about her shagging the tree. 

Sorry; turns out that Peter is not played by Steve Buscemi, but by his identical twin (I assume), Kris Marshall.  I couldn't find a picture of the two together, but the resemblance is spot-on. (The photo below says it's Kris Marshall naked, but it doesn't look anything like the guy in the movie).

They discuss the Perfect Christmas they're going to have this year.  It involves picking up the kids but rejecting their ornament ideas, and buying a new loo brush.  So this must be England, which explains the "Father Christmas."  But nowadays they say Santa Claus there.

Scene 2: Small town, night.   Another woman leaves the store with a wreath and sweets, which she gives to her two kids (teenage daughter, preteen son).  Daughter complains about having to play Mary in the Christmas pageant. 

They go to an ornate mansion, where many people, , mostly elderly, are mulling about.  She apologize to flamboyantly femme Alan for being late.  The oldsters make the usual absent-minded and "in my day" statements.

Although Alan knows her well, the script requires him to say her full name: Caroline Christmas-Hope.  No kidding?

Scene 3: Caroline and kids arrive at their house, an even bigger mansion.  Wait -- what happened to the Christmas pageant?  What were they late for?  Scene 2 was one big tease!  

Inside, Hubbie from Scene 1 is re-decorating the tree.  Ok, so they're the same woman. But the self-centered, indulgent lady from Scene 1 is nothing like the caring, old people visiting lady from Scene 2.   Seeing the tree, she turns back to bitchy, and shrieks her disgust at the kids' non-elegant ornaments.  

Scene 4:  The tree finished, Hubbie leads Caroline into the kitchen, where the kids are making Christmas cookies.  Treacly family moment ensues.  


Scene 5:
Caroline phones her Mum to assure her that everything will be perfect.  Guests begin to arrive: Mum; her even bitchier sister, Joanna (who criticizes the gigantic mansion as "lower class"}; Joannna's new husband Felix (Ray Fearon); leather pants wearing wild child Vickie; and repressed, severe Paulina, who looks like the lady who used to say "You're the weakest link, goodbye."   I'm guessing that Wild Child Vickie is the gay one.

 Plot Exposition: Dad abandoned them on Christmas Day, and ever since Caroline has been obsessed with making Christmas Perfect.  She hasn't succeeded yet -- there's always a tiny detail off.  But one day....what?  the perfection will lure Dad back?

Scene 6:  While Joanna is busily criticizing everyone and scfreaming at the kids, Wild Child Vickie kisses Felix right on the mouth.  Ok, she's not a lesbian. That leaves Repressed Paulina.  John Lithgow, dressed in a British hunting costume, complete with gun, trudges toward the mansion.  But it's ok: they all know and hate him (except for Mum, who wants in his pants).

Meanwhile, the teenage girl is helping the preteen boy put on make up.  Maybe he's transgender?

Scene 7: The adults are drinking wine and glowering at each other. Caroline tells them about the Perfect Christmas itinerary: tonight just appetizers (if you want food, go to the village -- surprisingly bad hosting!), tomorrow the Christmas Fair down in the village.  Then on Christmas Day, the pageant at the old people's mansion, then a banquet.  Then on Boxing Day.... No pantomime? 

Joanna hates everything about the itinerary, and insists on staying at the inn in the village instead of at the mansion, which she hates (too lower-class) with her family, whom she also hates.

Ok, this is awful.  No hunks, people screaming at each other, Caroline's neurotic obsession with using "The Perfect Christmas" to win her estranged Dad back, constant sex jokes.  I'm fast forwarding to see if there's any payoff from the makeup scene, or if any hunks show up at the Fair.

Minute 33: A distraught Joanna approaches Ben (Jamie Roche, top photo), the bartender at the pub,  and orders "an old-fashioned.  Straight up."  He jokes "So you've read y Tindr profile."  I guess that's a sex joke. They flirt.

Minute 40:  Felix the Husband is bonding with Repressed Paulina.  So she's not a lesbian, either.

Minute 1.17: Peter and Caroline in bed.  He's shirtless, Yawn.  Meanwhile, the boy is absurdly delighted over the chocolate Santa Claus in his Advent Calendar.

Minute 1.23: The Christmas Pageant.  I'm hoping the boy comes out as transgender or gay, or is playing Mary, or something.  Anytning?  No, we just get 30 seconds of the pageant.  He's playing Joseph.  Tha make-up scene gets no payoff.


Minute 1.35.
  Flamboyantly feminine Alan (Lucas Livesley) returns to be absurdly over-enthusiastic about the Christmas banquet and its delicious...DELICIOUS!!!!!!! food. Has this guy had any acting lessons, or did the director instruct him to be ten times more enthusiastic than any real person has ever been?

  All of the original couples have reconciled.  Everybody kisses.  Caroline kisses Kelsey Grammar on the mouth.  i thought he was playing her estranged father?  

I had to go back and forth through the father-daughter smooch several times to get to the split-second final scene, where the two kids are sitting outside, watching it snow (why aren't they eating with the others).  It looked like the boy was in drag, but he's just in his Joseph costume. 

Well, I tried.  

Nov 10, 2021

The DC Comics Jungle

When I was a kid in the 1960s and 1970s, DC Comics were not known for their beefcake -- Batman, Superman, and their superhero coworkers were fully clothed all the time.  You had to go to Gold Key to get your quota of loincloth-clad jungle hunks.  But suddenly in the 1970s DC got on the bandwagon, and a dozen jungle, prehistoric, far-future, and sword-and-sorcery musclemen appeared all at once.














A precursor, Congo Bill, who wore a Jungle Jim style pith helmet, appeared in various DC Comics in the 1940s and 1950s, until he was transformed into a giant gorilla in 1959.  He got his own 7-issue series in 1954-55.  His sidekick was the loincloth clad Janu the Jungle Boy, a pint-sized Bomba who spoke in "Him no friend" patois. Here he worries about the competition.






B'wana Beast appeared in two issues of DC Showcase in 1967.  He drank a special magic elixer in a cave on Mount Kilimanjaro that allowed him to talk to animals, including his gorilla sidekick. A special magic helmet allowed him to control them.















DC took over the Tarzan title from Gold Key in 1972, and printed adaptions of the original Edgar Rice Burroughs stories: Tarzan of the Apes, The Return of Tarzan, Jungle Tales of Tarzan, Tarzan the Untamed, Tarzan and the Lion Man and Tarzan and the Castaways.  It lasted until 1977.

Korak, Son of Tarzan also migrated from Gold Key from 1972 to 1976.










The anthology series Weird Worlds  adapted some other Edgar Rice Burroughs books, including the John Carter of Mars series (shown here with the Conan-style woman supine at his feet),  plus the far-future sword-and-sorcery hero Ironwolf.   It lasted for 10 issues (1972-1974).

Kamandi, the Last Boy on Earth, inhabited a post-Planet of the Apes world of sentient animals from 1972 to 1978.













Tor, a warrior from "The World of a Million Years Ago!", with his monkey companion Chee-Chee, bounced around several comics companies after his debut in 1953.  DC had him for 6 issues beginning in 1975.  Those are sentient apes fighting him.

















Claw the Unconquered, a Conan the Barbarian clone all the way down to the woman lying supine at his feet, also began in 1975, and lasted for 12 issues from 1975 to 1978.  His deformed hand, a "claw," wasn't caused by an accident or birth defect: his father was punished for consorting with demons.












Another sword-and-sorcery hero, The Warlord (seen here in cosplay), debuted in an anthology series called 1st Issue Special in 1975 before going on to a successful run in his own title (1976-1988).  He was an American pilot who accidentally flew into a hole at the North Pole and ended up in Pellucidar...um, I mean Skartaris, where he rescued the scantily clad Princess Deja Thoris...um, I mean Princess Tara.

Kong the Untamed, a blond prettyboy caveman (top photo), ran for 5 issues in 1975.













Two backup sword and sorcery hero in The Warlord eventually spun off into their own titles: Arak Son of Thunder, left (who changed from Conan clone to Mohawk Indian) from 1981 to 1985, and Arion, Lord of Atlantis,  from 1982 to 1985.

Pop quiz: how many of the 14 Lords of the Jungle have a "k" sound in their names?

Answer: 7.  I guess something about "k" spells "jungle."

See also: The Comic Book Jungle; Kamandi


Nov 9, 2021

"Attack of the Demons": Gay Horror Fans Save the World in Cut-Out Animation



 

Attack of the Demons
(2019): An amateur homage to horror fandom, with cut-out animation reminiscent of South Park.  And set in Colorado, like South Park.  It doesn't sound promising, but as the barrage of Christmas glitz and depression sets in, I'm all for a visit to Halloweens Past.  And maybe there will be a Big Gay Al.

Scene 1:  A man fishing in the woods at night interrupts a black-robed, yellow-eyed person, who spurts pink blood on him and then "heads down to South Park, to meet some friends of mine."  Actually it's Barrington, Colorado ("big things can happen in the smallest places!"), just in time for the big Halloween Festival.


Scene 2:
  Mega-horror fan Kevin  (Thomas Peterson) is at home, watching a horror movie marathon and reading a horror fandom magazine. A very pretty, androgynous look; could he be gay?   His Grandma asks him to run some errands.

Meanwhile, a carload of fans drives into town for the festival: Two horror punk fans (one played by Eric Power) and their girlfriend Nat, who is more into regular rock.  We're getting lots of disparate fandoms for a small-town festival.

Scene 2: Mega-horror fan Kevin at the grocery store/video arcade.  He sees Jeff  (writer Andreas Peterson) playing a video game. Boy-of-his-Dreams music plays. Holy cow, Kevin is gay!

They go out for sodas, and Jeff dumps some plot exposition: he grew up here, but escaped to (West Hollywood?).  His parents have forced him to return to visit his crazy paranormal-investigator uncle, but he lives in a creepy cabin in the woods, so Jeff got a hotel room.  Hint, hint.  

Kevin asks Jeff to a horror movie; he refuses -- not into movies (but if you go anyway, you'll get to see Kevin naked).  He counters with an invitation to dinner.

Meanwhile, Crazy Paranormal-Investigator Uncle grabs a pickaxe and heads into an abandoned mine. 

Scene 3:  The three music fans at Betty's Diner. The guys complain about the food, insult the waitress, and leave to hear the Banshee Riders.  Nat isn't into them, so she stays behind.  Kevin and Jeff come in for their date, and recognize Nat from high school.  They politely ask her to join them.  They argue over which of their fandoms is superior, movies (Kevin), music (Nat), or video games (Jeff). Kevin and Jeff are nudging each other and sitting on the same side of the table; this is a canonical date.

Scene 4: Music fans Chet and Brandon at the horror punk concert.  Kevin goes to the movie; the theater is empty.  No one wants to see a horror movie at a Halloween festival?  Jeff plays video games by himself, and Nat goes to a deserted  bar where  a non-horror band, Teek, is playing.  Aww -- they can't share fandoms.

Scene 5:  Jeff and Kevin being depressed because they're not together (hey, it's your own fault).  The last act at the horror punk concert is the demonic being from Scene 1, who starts chanting.  Rocks start breaking up and blocking the roads into town.  Intellectual Guy (blue eyes, glasses), walking around outside, says  "no no no, it must be here!" 

Scene 6: Jeff and Kevin reunite at the carnival.  They lie about how much fun they had at their respective activities, and continue their date.  

Nat is still listening to her band, when a green-eyed zombie comes in and kills or pukes green goo on everyone.  Nat hides behind the bar.

At the punk rock concert, the demon explodes, splattering everyone with green goo that makes them dissolve into monsters.  He then heads to the carnival.  Various shots of carnival-goers getting killed or dissolved.  Running away, Jeff and Kevin reunite with Nat.  They need to get out of town, but first Kevin has to check on his grandmother.


Scene 7: 
 Kevin forces the others to stay outside while he goes into grandma's house: Grandma has zombified.  Outside, Jeff and Nat have a heart to heart: she hates her boyfriend, but is sad now that he's probably dead.

Now what?  The only way out of town takes them through the zombified carnival.  Jeff suggests hiding out at his crazy uncle's cabin in the mountains.

I'll stop the scene by scene there.

Beefcake: None.


Gay characters:
   I figured that Nat was setting up hating her boyfriend so she could dump him for  Jeff or Kevin, but nothing comes of it.  The guy never treat her as anything but a friend; there is no fade out kiss.  They are definitely gay.

SPOILER ALERT: Unfortunately, Jeff dies while heroically trying to save the others, so there is no gay fade-out kiss either.  Maybe that would have been too obvious to preserve deniability: "What?  No, they're just friends."

Andreas Petersen (top photo) is an Austin, Texas-based fanboy, author, and podcaster; this is his first film credit.  I can't find any information on Thomas Petersen, but he's probably Andreas' brother.  Eric Power (left) has two other writing/directing credits, the cut-out animated Path of Blood (2013), about a samurai, and Swordplay (2006), a documentary about Medieval-themed LARPS (live action role playing games).  They don't sound like  a trio who would be intentionally producing a movie with gay leads, but it's definitely a text, not a subtext.

My Grade: B.  

The Nutcracker: Men in Tights

When I was a kid, our church forbade movies, theater, carnivals, circuses -- basically anything that had a plot.  And my working-class parents disapproved of anything "long hair."  So ballet and opera were completely alien.

Except at Christmastime, when we would go to see "The Nutcracker" at Centennial Hall on the Augustana College campus, or at Rock Island High School, or both.  One year the Youth Symphony participated, so I got to be in the orchestra pit for eight full performances.

The plot is heterosexist -- Elsa receives a nutcracker shaped like a toy soldier for Christmas.  He comes to life, fights an army of mice, and reveals that he is actually a prince.  They return to his kingdom, the Land of Sweets, where he makes Elsa his queen.

But who pays attention to the plot?  No matter what people tell you, they go to ballets for one reason, and one reason only: to celebrate male or female beauty.  Dances in form-fitting tights, swaying and twisting, making every curve and muscle visible.

No other art, not even bodybuilding, displays the male physique so openly and extensively.  You don't just get a glimpse or a hint -- everything is out there, through the entire performance.

No wonder every gay kid in town, even those who were otherwise obsessed with sports, couldn't wait for Christmas.


 The only ballet dancer I knew by name was Rudolf Nureyev (1938-1993), who danced in a tv version of The Nutcracker in 1968.  I also saw him on The Muppet Show in 1977, and in Romeo and Juliet in 1982 (which also has a heterosexist plot, but who cares?)

I didn't know at the time that he was gay in real life, and dated a number of celebrities, including Raymundo de Larrain and Tab Hunter (left), plus his long-time lover Erik Bruhn.  I responded to his passion, his obvious joy at being an object of desire, and his superlative physique.

He was even able to invest The Nutcracker with gay symbolism, transforming the Prince into an outcast, a wooden soldier who longs to be a "real boy."



I discovered Mikhail Baryshnikov (1948-) in a 1977 tv version of The Nutcracker, and later in Carmen (1980) and Don Quixote (1984).  He was more muscular than Nureyev, and an accomplished actor, but his aggressively heterosexual stance bothered me, as if he wanted to "redeem" ballet from its gay reputation.

Good luck.  Vaslav Nijinsky (1890-1950), the first ballet superstar, was gay, and caused a scandal with his erotic movements (the audience rioted at the premiere of The Rites of Spring).

So was Tchaikovsky, who scored The Nutcracker and Swan Lake.

See also: Erik Bruhn, Closeted Ballet Great.; Ten Nutcracker Beefcake Boys

Nov 7, 2021

"The Claus Family" A Pretty Princess Doll for Tommy, and a Shirtless GI Joe for Jules


 The Claus Family (2020): A boy who hates Christmas, discovers that he is the grandson of Santa Claus, and will have to take over when Grandpa dies.  Whoops, there goes his singing career!

Sounds a bit treacly, but it's in Flemish (IMDB says Dutch, but Flemish is a separate language).  It's Belgium, my third favorite country in Europe.   And teenage actor Mo Bakker posts shirtless instagram photos and has TikToks labeled with LGBT, so....

Scene 1: Santa Claus finishes up another run.  He lives in an ordinary apartment, not a North Pole workshop surrounded by elves.  Meanwhile, the depressed Jules and his family (Mom, Grandma, and little sister Norah, all blonde) drive through the snowy streets of the beautiful old Medieval town of Bruges, Belgium.  Jules covers his ears as they pass carolers singing a depressing Christmas song (I do the same thing!).

They arrive at the apartment, and start unloading the car.  Grandma continues to complain about this crazy plan of moving to Belgium.  Mom basically says: "My husband died, and we need a fresh start, so f*k off!"


Scene 2:
They start unpacking.  Sister Norah wants to know where the Christmas decorations are.  Mom stares in shock, and Jules yells: "No!  We're not celebrating!  I'm done with Christmas."  Nothng wrong with that.  Not everyone has happy childhood memories of That Holiday.

When the neighbors, Ella and Steph (Wim Wilaert, left) drop by with Christmas cookies, Jules runs to his room and has a tantrum.  I get haitng Christmas, but aren't you overreacting a bit?  

I guess not: his Dad died last Christmas Eve.  He flashes back to Christmas Past:   Dad explains that the lights on the tree represent the sun, which is hidden during the winter but always comes back to us. Darkness never wins; there is always a new dawn.  The pagan roots of the holiday!  Genius!

Scene 3:  Breakfast.  Grandpa is going to babysit while Mom goes to work (at a cookie factory).  Jules resists -- that old geezer?  But he doesn't get a vote, so it's off to Grandpa's toy store (the boy doesn't want to spend the day in a toy store? Maybe he thinks he's too old?).  

A couple of customers come in.  The teddy bear is broken.  The puzzle has missing pieces.  What is this, the Island of Misfit Toys?  And the snow globe -- "Hands off!  Not for sale!  Get away!"  So why do you have it out with the merchandise?

When Grandpa isn't looking, Jules examines the forbidden snow globe.  Zap -- he's in Brussels!  Zap -- China, where he's almost hit by a car! Zap -- the ocean!  He loses the globe in the deep water and has to dive for it.  This is more exciting than I anticipated.  Zap -- to Santa Claus's apartment.  Wait -- those are pictures of him and his family.  Grandpa is Santa Claus!  And back to the toy store.

Jules confronts Grandpa, who denies it at first, but finally comes clean.  Then he goes to the other room and collapses (off camera).


Scene 4: 
 Mom (Suzanne) at work.  The supervisor snits the rules: no jewelry, no personal phone calls, no bathroom breaks without permission, no talking, no happy thoughts, no developing new cookies.  Your job is to pack boring, flavorless cookies into boxes so people can buy them to give as last-minute gifts when they can't think of anything better.  She goes on to yell at Farid (Issam Dakka) for being out of uniform.  

Suddenly Suzanne gets a phone call: Grandpa Claus is in the hospital!  Farid offers to drive her.

Scene 5:  At the hospital.  Jules stares at Farid suspiciously: "Mom is replacing Dad already!  Can this Christmas get any worse?" 

Grandpa hurt his shoulder.  He's going to be fine, but the doctor says he has to slow down and avoid stress.  But when Jules visits, he starts complaining: He's Santa Claus!  He has a billion toys to deliver!  It's unclear whether Suzanne knows his secret identity or not.

Scene 6:  Mom has to go back to work, so she gets the neighbor, Ella, to babysit.  Ella is only 15.  Isn't that the same age as Jules? Is he going to get a heterosexual crush?   Nope, she just brings him a sandwich.

Scene 7:  Jules returns to the hospital, and catches Grandpa trying to sneak out. A hospital is not a prison.  You're free to leave at any time, even if the doctors advise against it. Jules offers to help deliver the toys (just this once), so Grandpa can rest.  He hates Christmas, but family comes first.  


Scene 8:
Discharged, Grandpa returns to the toy store.  Jules offers to stay with him; he doesn't want to stay home, because it's just girls (girls, yuck!).  The training begins: Santa's workshop is inside the snow globe, staffed by miniature people who are famous in Belgium (this may be the actor playing Holgar).

Grandpa and the staff argue about whether to tell Jules the truth.  "He hates Christmas!  He'll never accept it!"  "He'll come around.  It's his destiny!"  It's tough being the Chosen One.

The toys appear in rows of glass cases, like an old-fashioned automat.  They search for each child's request and pop it into a bag.  Wow, Tommy wants a princess doll wearing a pretty dress.  How gender-neutral!  It seems like a time-consuming process, but they have several days, not just one night (that should be enough to do Europe).  They also deliver candy; feel free to sample all you want, not like that soulless cookie factory.  

Scene 9: Suzanne at work at the soulless cookie factory.  She calls the toy store; no answer.  Where could Grandpa and Jules be?  Farid drops by with bad news: cookie sales are way down, so the company might fold, and they'll all lose their jobs.  Gee, I wonder where this is going.

I'll stop the scene-by-scene there.

Beefcake: None.

Other Sights: Mostly the same street.

Heterosexual Romance: Suzanne and Farid, probably, but it's very understated; a couple of hugs, one holding-hands scene.  He could just as easily be a friend.  Jules bonds with Ella, but treats her as a friend, not a "girl of his dreams" crush.

Gay Characters:  When one of the little people comes to Jules' room to talk to him, she's surrounded by his GI Joe dolls (or a European version).  Two have their shirts off, one very prominent, the other in the background. The implication, obviously intentional, is that Jules removed the shirts of his GI Joe dolls to see their muscular physiques.  

Hating Christmas.  I understand that a Christmas-themed movie must result in everyone loving Christmas, but still, I thought that there should be some accommodation for those of us who don't like the holiday, or who don't celebrate it, like Farid.  

My Grade: A

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