Dec 30, 2021

Seven Brothers: Homoerotic Rowdiness in a Finnish Sauna

I'm not a fan of the Kalevala, the Greatest Work of Finnish Literature: it's completely heterosexist, all about gods searching for wives (except maybe for a gay subtext in the teenage Kullervo).

But the Second Greatest Work is about seven guys alone in the woods. What's not to like?

Seven Brothers (Seitsemän veljestä, 1870), by Aleksis Kivi, is about guys who are perfectly happy living alone on their farm near Toukola.  They are rowdy, crude, and given to practical jokes.  They like to hunt and fish and get drunk and hang around nude in the sauna.  But then they discover that they must be civilized: they must learn to read, which will result in being confirmed into the Lutheran Church, which will result in wives!

I heard that often enough while growing up: "Your childhood will end, and your real life will begin, when you find a wife."

Faced with a vision of their fun ending, definitively, at the wedding altar, they rebel.  They light out for the territory and build themselves a house in the wilderness of Impivaara, where they can continue to be rowdy and crude and play practical jokes, and hang out nude in the sauna.

There are perils: they fight a giant bear and wild boars. There are hardships: farming is tough; their house burns down, and they must rebuild.  But in the end, they prosper.

Actually, after ten years in the woods, they return to Toukala, join the church, and get married (except for Simeoni, who stays single).  You can't hold out forever.

But no one remembers the civilizing.  The images that stick with you are the seven guys in the woods, being crude and rowdy, needing no one else.

There have been many film versions, two operas (by Tauno Martinnen and Launas Armis), and a ballet (by Marjo Kuusela).  Some versions, such as the 1989 tv miniseries by Joukku Turka, make Simeoni gay, but really a gay identity isn't necessary.  The whole work revels in the homoeroticism behind male bonding.

Dec 28, 2021

The Top 10 Dead Hunks of "The Witcher"


Bob liked the first episode of The Witcher, so we've...ugh...continued to watch.  It gets better -- the color palette expands, so we see mountains and forests; there's some comedic relief; there's less bragging about strangling people and puppies.  I still don't like it: jumping back and forth in time between the interlocking stories of three sets of characters, so you're constantly confused ("does this take place years before or just after the previous scene"); naked girls everywhere; not a single gay hint -- even a giant orgy consists entirely of male-female couples; and the annoying habit of introducing cute guys, only to have them garrotted in the next scene.  

Here are the top 10 dead hunks (I could only list the ones named in the episode or on the Witcher wiki; many other nameless hunks bit the dust):

The first plot arc features the Witcher traveling from kingdom to kingdom, where he kills monsters that are "impossible to kill" and has sex wtih ladies.  He eventually encounters the people in the second and third plotlines, at various time periods in their history.  Meanwhile, his comic relief sidekick, the Bard, tries to pick up every lady he sees, and has to constantly flee from the irate husbands and boyfriends of the men he's cuckolded.

Their corpses include:

1. Mikal (Bogdan Iancu, top photo), from the kingdom of Timeria, is killed by a werewolf-type monster.

2. The Witcher Remus
 (Gudmundur Thorvaldsson, the one with his tongue out) offers to do the killing, but fails.

3. Lord Urcheon (
Bart Edwards)a knight cursed with a hedgehog face, dies off-camera immediately after being introduced.

In the second plot, a girl named Yennifer trains to become a mage (a magician who advises kings).  Although she is the most powerful mage in the history of the universe, she is underemployed as a babysitter to kings' neglected wives and boorish sons.  Eventually, after 30 years of this (shown in various scenes that aren't in chronological sequence), she goes rogue, conjures up a lot of orgies, has sex with lots of men, and tries to find her destiny.  And maybe hook up with her first boyfriend, or was that a scene from earlier in her history?  Who knows?

Her corpses include:

4. Prince Eyk (Jordan Renzo) whom she is babysitting and flirting with, gets his throat cut on a dragon-hunting expedition.

5. Atlan Kirk, a fellow mage, is killed during one of the climactic battles.

The third plot features Ciri, the Chosen One, destined to become the most powerful being in the universe, but so far just a princess who goes into hiding when her kingdom is conquered and the entire royal family commits suicide.  Some scenes take place before the kingdom-genocide, some immediately after, and some long after.  She gets a boyfriend at one point, but he dumps her because of all the "death and destruction" that follows her around.  

Her corpses include:

6. Sir Lazlo (Maciej Musial), 
her bodyguard, dies during the first-episode genocide (see previous article).

7. King Eist (Bjorn Haraldsson), her father, likewise.

8. Adon (Kriztian Czakvari) 
invites Ciri to stay with his family in a refugee camp, and is promptly skewered to death.

9. Anton (Rob Malone),
a friend of her childhood, now blaming her for causing the kingdom to fall, gets blasted by a magical scream.

10. Nadbor (Jack Wolfe)
 the son of a farm family that has taken Ciri in, gets blasted by a fireball five minutes after meeting her. 

See also: The Witcher: Everyone Dies.

Dec 26, 2021

"Duncanville": Is the Fox Sitcom More "Family Guy" Homophobic or "Bob's Burgers" Gay-Positive?


The families in Fox animated sitcoms come in two varieties: the Family Guy (FG) type hate each other and rarely interact except to exchange barbs, and the Bob's Burgers (BB) type like each other and often share plot.  Coincidentally, the FG type tend to be blisteringly homophobic, and the BB gay-friendly.  To see which the series Duncanville is, I watched the Season 1 Finale.

Intro: The teenage Duncan (Amy Poehler) walks past the other characters: aging rocker Dad, blond Mom, two sisters (tween with purple hair, Japanese toddler), three friends (nerd, stoner, girl), hip teacher, and The Girl of His Dreams.  Cue the hearts and flowers and goofy expression. Ugh!

Scene 1:
  Breakfast.  The kids all discuss their agendas; hard to tell which will get a plot arc.  It wil lprobably go to the purple-haired sister, Kimberly, who has to sell $800 of cookies so she can win a trip to the Fun Park and spend the day with the Mean Girls.  They're mean but popular, so if Kimberly hangs out with them, she will become popular, too.

Scene 2: Duncan and his friends hanging out at school.   The Girl of His Dreams drops by to tell them that she is the only candidate for class president.  She asks Duncan to run against her, so she'll have someone to beat.  Goofy look.  "Huh?  Did you ask me to do something?  Sorry, I wasn't paying attention.  I was busy imagining us kissing."

Scene 3:  The cookie-selling B Plot.

Scene 4: At school, before the big presidential debate.  Duncan is nervous.  He asks why the Girl  (named Mia) wants to be president so badly.  Isn't being the most beautiful girl in the universe enough?  She says she wants to improve the quality of life for the students.  "Couldn't you just smile at them?"

The debate begins.  Mia is asked her ideas about a prom theme, but she believes that proms are outdated.  Why not a service day instead?  Meanwhile, Duncan promises to provide sheet cake for lunch, abolish gym, and start class at 11:00 am. He's elected by a landslide. Dude, your chances of getting that kiss have just tanked.

Scene 5: The family congratulates Duncan on his victory.  Meanwhile, Kimberly tries to guilt her parents into selling the cookies for her: "the only reason I wanted to become popular was so you would be proud of me, and now I've failed you...."

It works; the parents decide to sell the cookies.

Scene 6:  At school. Duncan orders the installation of a taco bar, replaces the drinking fountains with snack machines, turns the Model U.N. into a ball pit, and cuts down the climbing rope in the gym. Mia points out that becoming class president is an essential step on the road to becoming U.S. president in 30 years, and asks him to resign.  He refuses.

"But I'm the Girl of Your Dreams.  Why don't you get a goofy expression and do whatever I ask?"  Duncan shrugs.  "I have a crush on you, but the school has a crush on me."  Apparently having power is more fun than imagining kissing.

Scene 7: The parents selling the cookies.

Scene 8:
  Mia conducts some research, and discovers that the school charter actually gives Duncan supreme power.  He cancels all classes forever, and won't allow anyone to check books out of the library without winnng a "John Wick style book fight."  

Meanwhile, the parents overhear Mia bragging about how she manipulated them.  They vow to get revenge.

Scene 9:  The friends congratulate Duncan on his success as president.  But the students start making absurd demands, like a pool on the roof, or "Make Caitlin go to the prom with me," or just "give me money."    He asks Mia's advice.  Again, she wants him to resign, but he counters by promising the students the biggest thing ever: a personal appearance by the youtube stars, the Flossing Bears.

Scene 10: The revenge scheme: Pretend to be an FBI agent. Call and tell Kimberly that the cookies are poisoned, so she has to get them back or she'll be arrested and have her cell phone taken away.  So she rushes and takes back the cookies, and returns the money (and the meth head's copper wire).

Scene 11: The big Flossing Bears concert.  Mia interrupts to tell the audience that they have to stop Duncan now, or they'll lose the things that make high school "a nightmarish four years that we'll look back on fondly," like football, marching band, the antiquated prom, and "whatever Key Club is."  Besides, Duncan doesn't have the money to pay the bears, so they attack.

Scene 12: The parents tell Kimberly about their deception.  They are on their way to school to return the cookies, when they run into Duncan and Mia fleeing from the rampaging bears.  Mia figures out a way to save the day.  Duncan resigns as president.  Everything is back to normal.  The end.

Beefcake: No.

Heterosexism: Obviously.  But I liked how Duncan was able to relate to Mia on more than a "Your smile fills my universe" level.  They could actually argue and compete.

Gay Characters: None.

FG or BB?  BB-style, with a bit of an edge.

My Grade: C.

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