Dec 18, 2021

Fangbone!: 3rd Grade Barbarian and Boyfriend Fight Monsters

 


Fangbone
(2014-2017) features a 9-year old warrior from the land of Skullbania who talks like Conan the Barbarian (and is voiced by Taylor Abrahamse).  He was entrusted with a magical talisman (if you must know, the severed toe of the Venemous Drool) and zapped into our world, where he befriended "weird kid" Bill (Colin Doyle).   Drool sends monsters and tries various psychological tricks to get his toe back, but Fangbone and Bill are always victorious.

You get the premise in the opening credits; the show itself is nonstop buddy-bonding, with almost all of the characteristics of a classic gay subtext: physicality, domesticity, exclusivity, lack of heterosexual interest, and permanence.  

In "The Necktie of Change," Bill is annoyed by Fangbone's barbarian excesses; he forces Bill to wake up three hours early, stabs the toaster, and won't let him enter "the maw of the metal beast" to get to school.  Then a magical photograph transforms him into a preppy who wears a suit and eats with a knife and fork. At first Bill is excited by this new toned-down Fangbone, but then he realizes that it was Fangbone's eccentricity that made him attractive.  Besides, he can't fight monsters as a preppy. Constant grabbing of hands, arms around shoulders, hugging.  Physicality.

In "The Mom of No Return," Bill's Mom discovers that he has been fighting monsters with Fangbone, and forces them to separate.  They are miserable without each other.  Besides, Fangbone can't fight monsters adequately by himself.  Mom finally relents, and Bill rushes in to save the day. Permanence.

Not many episodes involve friends outside the core duo.  I watched "The Pitch of Black," in which Fangbone takes the gang camping (aka "Skullbanian sky-snoring"), to check on their interactions.  He insists on roughing it -- no wifi, no tv, no "phones of smart."  Then shadow-monsters attack!  The friends consist of Dibby, who talks like a robot; Patty, a sarcastic girl; and a chubby eyeglassed person.  They act as a group, leaving the Fangbone-Bill pairing intact.  Exclusivity.

Only one episode mentions a girl or a woman: Fangbone is stressed out being responsible for the fate of two universes, so Bill finds a previous Guardian of the Toe to give him a pep talk: Wargrunt of the Bare-Claw Bear Clan, a giant adult Valkyrie-person.  But she turns out to be evil, hoping to use the power of the One Ring -- um, I mean Toe -- for her own ends.  No heterosexual interest.


All that's missing is domesticity: Fangbone lives by himself. 

Fangbone! is based on a series of books by Michael Rex, who has published many other children's books about monsters and warriors. No indication that the subtext is intentional. 







But no indication that it's not intentional.  Here another of his characters displays heterosexual interest, so why did he ensure that Fangbone and Bill don't?  A suggestion of authorial intent.

My Grade: A

Dec 17, 2021

Dicktown: Come for the Gay Subtext, But Beware of the Homophobia

 


A show called Dicktown (2020) will obviously draw my interest, although here "dick" probably means "jerk" or "private detective," not "penis." 

 It's a buddy comedy featuring Detective Purfoy and his hired muscle, Hunch, solving "teenage crimes."  So there might be some gay characters or subtexts.  I started watching Episode 2, "The Mystery of the Maybe Boyfriend," because the icon featured a half-naked guy.

Scene 1:   Purfoy and Hunch browsing in a video store called Needle and Head. Which is the hired muscle?  They're equally un-muscular and un-attractive.

They're looking for Gymkata, "the most badass movie ever made."  Also Quest for Fire, because of Rae Dawn Chong's breasts. Why does Purfoy have to demonstrate that he's heterosexual in the third friggin line of the friggin series?  Why are the writers so insistent that we don't "misread" the guys as gay?  

Their friend Meg complains that she's been screwing a guy, but they made eye contact during sex, so now they may be dating!  She wants to hire them to find out whether he thinks they are dating, so she can decide whether or not to reveal that she thinks they're dating.  Got that?  It's a teenage problem, all right.

Scene 2: Fowler's, a retro soda shop. To make sure he understands what Meg means, Purfoy looks up "dating" on Urban Dictionary, and of course gets a weird sex act.  They then interrogate Kurt (not the hunk on the icon), who says that he and Meg are indeed dating.  Case closed!  That was fast.

Nope, turns out that he's not actually Kurt and he's not actually dating Meg, he just says he is for some reason.  When Meg arrives, she leads them through the stock room to a secret door to a retro-1970s disco, where the real Kurt works as a "topless dancer."

Purfoy: "I'd deconstruct that text.  No homo."

I'm out.  I just want to research who created this  "Aren't gay people awful?" monstrosity.

There are two Homophobes in Charge.  David Rees is apparently some sort of comedian, with appearances on several talk shows.  This is his first writing/ producing/ acting credit.  

John Hodgman's biography on IMDB emphasizes that he's heterosexual -- don't even think about suggesting that he might be...you know.  He has a number of acting credits: Married (of course),  The Venture Brothers, The Tick, Adventure Time, Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts, Ducktales.  

But some of those shows have gay characters.  How did he stand it?  I guess as long as there weren't any gay people actually in the room during the taping, he didn't mind.

Dec 16, 2021

Beefcake Dads of 1950s Sitcoms

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, there was a fad of nuclear family sitcoms, set in small town Mayfields, with a pipe-smoking Dad, a Mom who did housework in high heels, groovy teenagers, and wise-cracking preteens.  They actually weren't very popular at the time; adults preferred Westerns, swinging detectives, and musical-variety shows.  But the first generation of Boomers remembers getting their first glimpses of what family life was like -- or what they thought it should be like -- from the nuclear family sitcoms.

They generally identified with and/or mooned over the teenage boys: the muscular physiques of Bud (Billy Gray) of Father Knows Best and Wally (Tony Dow) of Leave it to Beaver, the blatant bulges of Ricky and David Nelson (Ozzie and Harriet), the teen idol cuteness of Jeff (Paul Petersen) of Donna Reed.  But there's a lot to be said for the dads, too.

Unfortunately, they weren't always as gay-friendly as their tv sons.

1. Born in 1906, bandleader Ozzie Nelson and his wife, former dancer Harriet, started The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet on the radio in 1944. They transitioned to television in 1952, and lasted until 1966, making Ozzie and Harriet the longest-running fictional program on radio/tv.  Still not satisfied, he tried a spin-off, Ozzie's Girls, in 1976 (in which Ozzie takes in three college girls as boarders).

Ozzie and Harriet had many gay friends in real life, although no openly gay characters appeared on their show (that would have been impossible in the 1950s).





2. Robert Young (here apparently informing us of his size) was not only less than adequate physically, he was homophobic.

After his tenure on Father Knows Best ended, he starred in Marcus Welby, M.D., one of the most homophobic tv series of the 1970s.  In one episode, Dr. Welby diagnoses a man with "homosexual tendencies," but assures him that with the proper counseling, he can overcome his affliction.  In another, he treats a gay pedophile, with the implication that all gay men are pedophiles.  Gay activists protested, but the network -- and Dr. Welby -- wouldn't budge.

3. Born in 1909, Hugh Beaumont started out as a minister, but moved into acting during World War II.  Although a devout Methodist, he played his share of scoundrels, in Apology for Murder (1945) and The Blue Dahlia (1946), plus hard-boiled detective Mike Shayne.  Leave It to Beaver was meant to be a change of pace, but he was so typecast as Ward Cleaver that he took only a few roles afterwards, and ended up retiring to grow Christmas trees.

No data on whether he was a gay ally or not, but apparently his tv wife, Barbara Billingsley, was nonchalant about gay people.






4. The youngest of the 1950s sitcom Dads, ex-football star Carl Betz was only 36 when he was cast as Dr. Alex Stone, husband of the practically-perfect Donna Reed.  He had been making the rounds of tv adventure series, with guest parts on The Big Story, Waterfront, Sheriff of Colchise, Panic!, and Perry Mason, and he continued to be a sought-after performer throughout his life.

While he was playing the titular lawyer in Judd for the Defense (1967-69), one of his clients was a father who thinks that his son's friend is "recruiting" him into the "homosexual lifestyle."  Judd assures him that there's no cause for believing such a scandalous rumor.

Dec 15, 2021

"Bonus Family": Swedish Family Drama with Some Hunks and Maybe Gay Representation

 


Netflix says that I have a 93% match for A Bonus Family (Bonusfamiljan), a Swedish family drama that lasted for four seasons (2017-2021).  I don't go in much for family dramas -- why watch the marital problems of heterosexual couples, when I could be watching intergalactic battles or zombie apocalypses?  But I'll check out the premise to see if there are any hunks or proto-hunks.

1, Secondary school teacher Patrik (Erik Johannon, old photo or someone else) is married to Lisa, a stay at home Mom. They both have amicable relationships with their exes.



2. Lisa's ex-husband Martin (Fredrick Hallgren) works in a mattress shop, and dates a variety of women.










3. Patrick's ex-wife Katya works as an architect and dates a variety of men, notably Henrik (Niklas Engdahl) and Branco (Dragomir Mrsic, left).









4. The extended family has three kids: sons Eddie (Frank Dorsin, left) and William (Jacob Lundqvist), both 16-17 in the last season, and daughter Bianca, a young adult.

Frank Dorsin seems quite feminine; I might sample a Season 4 episode to see if his character is gay or trans.

Sample Results: Eddie has very few scenes; most involving being too lazy to do his chores.  William gets an entire plot arc about his decision to change high schools, from science-focused to music-focused, supported by his grandmother but opposed by his parents and the exes.  Neither have friendships outside the family.



5. Daugther Bianca is dating Mateo (Dakota Trancher Williams) 










6. Martin the Mattress Shop guy has a lesbian mother with a girlfriend, and a bohemian coworker, Sebbe (Leo Razzak, right).









7. Drag artist Christer Lindarw appears in 13 episodes as Danny, Mom's health care worker, so there must be some additional gay representation in Season 4.

Sample Results: Danny is flamboyant, but never does drag.  He has no friends outside the family.









8. Teo Dellback appears in a plot arc about Patrick manhandling a student in class after he asks if Patrick "blows the principal." He's a little young to be a hunk, but noteworthy because Google says he does not exist. 




 


10 Gay Things You Didn't Know about "White Christmas"

1. White Christmas is not about Christmas.  It's a backstage musical that just happens to end at Christmastime.  Backstage movies were well-known for gay subtexts.

2. The songs are by Irving Berlin, who looked good in a swimsuit.
















3. It's about two showbiz partners, Bob and Phil (Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye), who find their relationship threatened by women.

4. The women, Judy and Betty (Vera-Ellen, Rosemary Clooney), are sisters.  At least, they perform as sisters, although their numbers would work well in a drag act.

God help the mister, who comes between me and my sister
And God help the sister who comes between me and my man!


5. Bob and Phil perform as "sisters," too.

6. Rosemary Clooney was a gay icon and reputedly bisexual.

7. Early in his career, Bing Crosby was the roommate of gay jazz musician Bix Beiderbecke.

8. Danny Kaye was bisexual.  He had a long term romance with Sir Laurence Olivier.

9. He played gay fairy-tale writer Hans Christian Anderson, whose psychiatrist coined the word "homosexual."


10. John Brascia was in the cast as a "special dancer."  You can see his physique, and his bulge, in several numbers.  As far as I can determine, he didn't have any gay rumors.







Dec 14, 2021

"Ronal the Barbarian": Lots of Bulges and Butts in this "Lord of the Rings" Parody


The Danish sword-and-sorcery parody Ronal the Barbarian (2011) bombed at the box office and got bad reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, no doubt because the bulges and butts made heterosexuals uncomfortable.  But I was recommended the movie specifically because of the bulges and butts, and it's streaming for free on Youtube, so here goes:

Prologue: We're in the world of Conan the Barbarian. The mighty warrior dies in battle.  Everyone drinks his blood and develops massive muscles and bulges, except for Ronal (Anders Juul): there's not enough left for him to build anything but a bulge (which is a problem because....).

Scene 1: Ronal works out, but doesn't get bigger.  His uncle says he's going to go on a quest anyway: it takes balls, not brawn, and he's got...um...balls.

A singer and his hetero-horny apprentice (Hadi Ka-Koush) arrive in the village.  Apprentice wants to go on a quest with the barbarians so he can attract girls, but the Master says he must continue studying.


Scene 2: The barbarians feasting, chugging, and flirting with girls.  Ronal is sick of being bullied or ignored, so he asks to be assigned guard duty.  No one ever attacks anyway.  But at that moment, the Dark Lord (Lars Mikkelsen) and his army of Orcs attack!  Everyone is captured except for Ronal and the Singer's Apprentice. It's up to them to rescue the barbarians!

We would expect a gay subtext, except the Apprentice CONSTANTLY talks about girls of various sizes and shapes, and when he compliments Ronal on his butt, Ronal says "Don't touch me."

Scene 3: They arrive at the ruined palace of the Oracle, a crazy witch doctor type who tells them that the Dark Lord can only be defeated by the fabled Magic Sword which has been lost for thousands of years.  Meanwhile, the barbarian captives arrive at Mount Doom. The Dark Lord is not pleased, however, since one is missing -- they don't have a full set?  Go find Ronal!


Scene 4: On the road, the Apprentice singing about girls.  One of his songs happens to mention that the Elves' Book of Wisdom tells where the Magic Sword is hidden, so it's off to Rivendell.   Oh, and they meet a Lady Warrior, who agrees to join their quest.  Warning- hetero romance ahead.

Scene 5: An inn where people, monsters, and fairies are carousing.  Elric, the Frutalicious Gay Elf (Brian Lytte), offers to guide them to the Elf kingdom.  Ronal is embarrassed by his touchy-feely crotch-kissing physicality.  The Dark Lord's minons arrive in search of Ronal, and they have to flee.


Scene 6: The entrance to the Elf Kingdom, a high wall in the desert.  Only those with "the right stature" can enter, and Ronal is afraid, so they try to find another entrance.  He almost gets them killed. (When Apprentice needs rescuing, Lady Warrior, not Ronal, does the job.  No gay subtext here!).

Scene 7: Ronal turns invisible (except for his balls) and sneaks into the castle.  He finds the Sacred Book, tears out the page with directions to the Magic Sword, and rushes out, chased by fairy guards shooting arrows at his balls.  

Scene 8: Ronal and Lady Warrior have a heart to heart.  She likes him, but she can only date men who defeat her in combat.  And she's a great warrior, which is why she's always single.

Scene 9: Nazguls attack!  They capture Lady Warrior and Elric.  Ronal and Apprentice run away, only to be captured by Amazons, who need Ronal to make babies (Apprentice will get his turn tomorrow night).

Later, they argue; Ronal storms out.  Then a hot Amazon tries to have sex with Apprentice, but he rejects her because "My friend needs me."

Meanwhile, the Dark Lord drools and paws over captured Lady Warrior, but she breaks free. They fight; he defeats her, so now she is in his power.  So she not only dates the man who defeats her, she is his slave.  That's sexist!

Scene 10: Ronal finds the Magic Sword, but drops it, and Lady Warrior, under the Dark Lord's power, picks it up. Finally they have all of the barbarians, and they can use their blood to summon Chernabog, the monster from Fantasia

Elric and Apprentice disguise themselves as Orcs and sneak into the Dark Lord's palace just as the ceremony is about to begin.  They release Ronal, who releases all the barbarians.  Everyone fights.  Ronal defeats the Fantasia Monster with some help from his friends.  Even Lady Warrior: Ronal has "conquered her heart," so she is no longer under the Dark Lord's power. Kiss.

Scene 11: Everyone celebrating.  Apprentice is impressing girls with his lute. Elric is massaging a barbarian ("I sense a tightness in your groin.").  Lady Warrior and Ronal are lovey-dovey.  The end.

Beefcake: Lots of bulges and butts.

Heterosexism:  Ronal and Lady Warrior, Apprentice and his horniness.

Gay Characters: Elric is a swishy stereotype.

Rushed Plot: Finding a guide to go to the Elf Kingdom to find a Sacred Book to find a Magic Sword.  Fantasy stories are usually quite convoluted, but in 90 minutes, the various searches seem rushed. 

Pastiche: A Lord of the Rings parody, 70 years after the books were published, and 10 years after the movies.

My Grade: C for the story, B for the bulges.

Dec 13, 2021

The Gay Plot Arc of Robbie Hobbie

 


In my search for the acting credits of Charles Vandervaart, I stumbled across Hollie Hobbie (2018-2021), a Hulu series about a young girl with Big Dreams in a small town in Canada.  Who would make a tv series about the 1970s doll uho wore 19th century outfits?  And more importantly, was Charles' character, older brother Robbie Hollie, gay-coded, like older brothers in many other teencoms?  So I went through the entire first season, fast-forwarding to Robbie's scenes.

Season 1 Episode 1: No connection to the doll, except someone dresses like her during the opening credits.  We meet Hollie's parents (Dad Evan Buliung, left), boyfriend (Hunter Dillon, below), best friends, little sister Heather (the bratty, manipulate younger sibling cliche), and Robbie (the dimwitted jock cliche).

Ep. 2: Robbie's first B plot, sneaking into a bull pen with some friends to take photographs.  He doesn't get one, so he returns later with a girl,  and accidentally lets the bull out.  It then eats the an important cucumber.


Ep 3:
Robbie teaches little sister how to arm wrestle, so she can beat her frenemy and future boyfriend Levi, thus proving that girls are better than boys.  It's hard to distinguish him on fast-forward, since he looks a lot like Hollie's boyfriend.

Ep 4: Robbie tries to blame the destruction of the cucumber on Hollie's boyfriend.  It's a big mess.  Finally he comes clean.  No heterosexual interest yet, unless you count his bull pen companion.

Ep 5: As punishment for the cucumber deal, Robbie and Hollie have to build a chicken coop.  But Robbie blows it off to play football.  Hollie yells "I hope you break your leg," and he does!

Ep 6: Robbie on crutches.  He can't play football anymore, so he has lost his identity.  Dad assigns him the job of fixing a broken tractor, to teach him responsibility or something. No heterosexual interest yet, but some macho football stuff.  There are gay football players in real life, of course, but it's not a standard tv trope.

Ep 7: No centric.

Ep 8: Hollie and her boyfriend run away together.  I thought this was Canada, but it turns out to be small-town Wisconsin.  In the B plot, Robbie and Little Sister accidentally break the urn containing the ashes of their beloved pet, and somehow Dad mistakes it for brownies.


Ep 9: 
Ulp -- Robbie is all lovey-dovey with Lyla, who appeared in the bull pen episode, but hasn't had any scenes with him since.   He's got a new life plan -- skip college and become  Lyla's househusband.  He proposes, and she says yes, to the consternation of the parents.  But it turns out that they were just playing a joke, to get even with the parents for pushing college so aggressively.  So, was he actually dating Lyla, or was the relationship part of the joke?

To find out, I watched the last episode she appears in, Season 3, Episode 9:  Robbie's artisanal jam has become a hit.  A company in Madison wants to hire him to start a jam line.  Little Sister Heather calls them and says he doesn't want the job,  so he won't leave town.  He is angry, of course, but she explains that she doesn't want to lose her best friend (Isn't Madison like an hour away?).  Robbie  opens up his business right there in town, so problem solved. 

Robbie and Lyla don't have any scenes together.  She has become one of Hollie's friends.  

Season 3, Episode 10.  The series finale.  Hollie is moving to Paris for a singing job.  Grandpa is getting married.  At the wedding reception, Robbie is dancing...with a guy!  It's a "blink and you miss it" shot in the final montage of the last episode. But it's there.

So...couldn't Robbie open his artisanal jam shop in West Hollywood?

Dec 12, 2021

A Morning of Depressing Movie Recommendations on Netflix


My recommendations on Netflix this morning are truly horrifying:

Riding Faith:  After the death of her father, a young woman struggles to keep her ranch open and maintain the "special bond" with her horse.  

Ugh!  Everybody knows that I only watch comedies, cartoons, and sci-fi.  No deathbed scenes, no terminal illnesses, no tear-jerking.  Who cares that it stars 1980s hunk John Schneider and contemporary hunk Jimmy Deshler (who, according to Man Crush Monday, rates 46,592 among Man Crushes).


Walk, Ride, Rodeo. 
"In the wake of an accident that leaves her paralyzed..."  

Why would anyone on Earth be interested in watching something like that?  Or in acting in it?  Or in directing?  Or getting within 100 yards of the studio where it was being filmed?  

But someone named Dan Goforth wrote the story, Conor Allyn agreed to direct, and a bunch of grinning blond women agreed to act.  Several hunks also agreed to cry and hug and get depressed, such as Mitchell Hoog.



Kiss and Cry. 
"Faced with a rare form of throat cancer...."

They have got to be kidding.  How did I trigger a "likes depressing movies" algorithm?  Sure, I always get depressed during the...ugh...Holidays, but that doesn't mean that I like to be depressed.  

Lots of dour, stern looking people agreed to star in this monstrosity.  Luke Bilyk gets second billing.  He must have been really desperate for work.






Rock My Heart: 
 "After an adventurous teen with a heart defect bonds with an unruly stallion."  

A German tearjerker.  I guess Americans don't have a monopoly on depressing movies.

Emilio Sakraya gets second billing.  You can see him in Tribes of Europe, Warrior Nun, and a variety of German romcoms. 


Notes for My Son: "Battling terminal cancer."  

An Argentine tearjerker, with no hunks in the cast, just a lot of dour-looking old people.  

On to Hulu, where my recommendation du jour is Crossed Swords, apparently an Adult Swim series about Lego Medieval knights.  Episode 6: "As the only uncut squire, Patrick is horrified to learn that he must be circumcized to keep his job."

I'm in.

Yes, we see Lego penis.


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