Jan 15, 2022

"Everyone is Doing Great": Gay Couple or Gay Tease? You Have Just Eight Episodes to Find Out


Everyone Is Doing Great: Seth and Jeremy were the stars of a vampire drama.  Five years after the show ended, "they lean on each other as they awkwardly navigate the perils of life and love in a late coming-of-age."

"Leaning on each other" is what boyfriends do.  So are they a gay couple, or is the blurb just a tease?

Evidence for the tease:

1. Three of the five stars listed are women.  

2. Seth and Jeremy are played by creators . James Lafferty (left) and Stephen Colletti (below), who starred on the teen soap One Tree Hill (2003-2012).   I never actually watched, but apparently it was a big deal, back in the day.  There was one minor LGBTQ character, Anna, who comes to One Tree Hill to escape rumors that she's gay, dates a boy, kisses a girl, gets called a "dyke," comes out, and leaves town.  Sounds retro, like those "very special episodes" of the 1980s.

3. No doubt Doing Great is autobiographical., based on the experience of being ultra-famous and then not.  But neither of the two creators/stars have any contemporary photos without their arms around a lady, so either they're both heterosexual, or trying hard to demonstrate that they are.  Maybe Seth and Jeremy are "leaning on each other" as placeholders to pass the time until the Girls of Their Dreams show up.

4. I did a key word search on the title and "gay," and found an article on "The Ten Worst Episodes" of the series, with the phrase "Always unfunny British and gay people LOL."  However, the article itself contained no text, just a title.

5. Decider spilled the beans: One of the guys is married to a woman; the other has lots of sex with female hotties.  They both get drunk, snort coke, throw up, and bemoan their current lack of work.  

Verdict: A tease

Wait -- only eight episodes were produced?  What kind of tv series is that?  You need at least 30 if there's an ongoing plot arc, or at least 60 if it's a problem-of-the-week.  How else are you going to get to know the characters and make them a part of your life?  Eight episodes is not even worth bothering with.

I spent almost as much time trying to find out if the show was about gay partners than it would have taken to watch it.

Jan 14, 2022

Bamm-Bamm's Muscles: Gay Promise on "The Flintstones"

Quick, name a cartoon character who came from outer space, was adopted by a human family, and has superpowers?

Right, Bamm-Bamm Rubble.

In an October 3rd, 1963 episode of The Flintstones, about "a modern prehistoric family," Betty and Barney Rubble are upset because they can't have children -- apparently Barney's sperm count is a little low.  They wish on a falling star, and the next morning a baby appears on their doorstep, asleep in a turtle shell, holding a club.

He can only say "Bamm-Bamm," so that becomes his name. He turns out to have superhuman strength, easily carrying furniture and tossing his adopted father around.

As a kid in the 1960s, I was intrigued by Bamm-Bamm's mysterious origin.  Could he be an alien -- a falling star could mean a UFO!  His white hair certainly looked alien.  And the superhuman strength surely meant super muscles!

I didn't see The Flintstones often, so I didn't notice that the writers failed to make much use of Bamm-Bamm's potential.  His supernatural origins were rarely mentioned, and his super-strength became little more than a comic nuisance.

No gay symbolism: in fact, he began expressing toddler heterosexual interest, mooning over toddler-next-door Pebbles, romancing her in baby-talk.  Eventually they were closing episodes by singing the treacly Sunday-school song "Open Up Your Heart (and Let the Sun Shine In)."

In 1971, a highly publicized spin-off appeared, The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show (1971-72, and rerun long after).  With the characters as teenagers!  I watched the first episode instead of the beefcake-heavy live-action Barrier Reef, to see if Bamm-Bamm had transformed into Superboy.

Nope.  No mysterous origin.  No superstrength.  Bamm-Bamm wasn't even built -- he had skinny arms and legs and a shapeless lump of a body.  He and Pebbles went to high school and belonged to a rock band, like everyone on Saturday morning in the 1970s.

I didn't bother with the three tv movies in the 1990s that aged Bamm-Bamm into adulthood.  Apparently he and Pebbles marry and move to Hollyrock, where he becomes a screen writer.  They have two children, Roxy and Chip.

A heterosexist conclusion to a story loaded with gay promise.

At least the Bamm-Bamm costume allows for some interesting cosplay.

See also: The Flintstones and Saturday Morning Muscle.

Jan 12, 2022

"The Colony": An Alien Invasion Begins...Slowly, and A Teenage Boy Morphs into Two


A friend from L.A. recommended The Colony (2021) on Netflix: "A mashup of Waterworld, Mad Max, and The 100."

Scene 1: A nuclear family at breakfast: Mom cooking, Ponytail Girl doing girl-coded stuff,  Baseball Cap Boy doing boy-coded stuff.  I already hate them.  The boy, by the way, looks about 9 years old, but he's played by 18-year old Jacob Buster.  I don't get it.

Mom and Dad discuss a work situation (he's a cop, naturally).  They, kiss, say "I love you,"  His black female partner picks him up.  They drive into town.  We pan out to see the L.A. skyline, and some alien spaceships approaching.

Scene 2:  Mom is driving Baseball Cap son to school.  Meanwhile, Alan (Peter Jacobson) goes to work as a purchasing manager for a high school, whatever that is.  He's divorced, with a teenage daughter.  Recruiters for another agency try to lure him away, first with praise, then with blackmail (he's been embezzling).  

Scene 3:
Dad (Josh Holloway in a horrible haircut) and Partner at an old-fashioned diner, having breakfast, discussing escrow or something equally boring.  She bought a new house in Santa Monica with money from the Armenian Mafia.  He disapproves.

When is the alien invasion going to start?  What about Mad Max and Waterworld?

Scene 4: At the office.  Seven VIPS have gone missing in L.A. overnight -- the deputy director of the CIA, the chief engineer at Lockheed, and so on, and the cops are given the job of finding them.  

Scene 5
: Yet another character, Eric (Tory Kittles), gets out of a cab.  It's been awhile -- his white picket fence is overgrown and in disarray.  A older woman, probably his mother, squeals, hugs, cries, and says "Let me look at you."    

Not his mother -- he asks her "How's Mom," and is led to Mom's deathbed.  He holds her hand and says Mom-on-Deathbed-type things. I fast forward through it.  When are the three alien spaceships from the first scene going to land?

Scene 6:  Dad and Partner arrive at the vast estate of the VIP they're supposed to find.  They see a bullet hole in the door, so they break in, guns drawn.  There's a dead woman in the foyer.  Dad says "hello" to a security camera.  It asks for their ids, which they provide.  The VIP emerges from the panic room.  Wait -- if the bad guys just came around last night, and the only other person in the house is dead, how does anyone know that he's missing?

Scene 7:  Closeup of a woman's breasts bouncing around as she does things behind a bar.  Eric comes in. Gasp, giggle, laugh, "I can't believe it!  I never thought I'd see you again!  Welcome home!  What brings you back to small-town Los Angeles?"   He wants to know why a woman with a husband and a couple of kids works at a bar.  Odd thing to say to a close friend whom you haven't seen for several years.

Eric tells her his back story, which as a close friend she already knows: he signed up in the military at age 19 to go "whomp ass" on some bad guys (aliens?)  Then, after his tour of duty ended, he went to work in the private sector, but didn't like it. 

Scene 7: The VIP explains: The bad guys shot the housekeeper, and he ducked into the panic room while they searched the house.  Then they left, but his phone wasn't working, so he couldn't call for help.  They are suspicious: why does an engineer need a panic room? Um...a super-rich VIP engineer who lives on a vast estate with millions of dollars lying around to tempt home intruders?  No, the reason is more arcane -- and secret.  He's one of 1,200 people chosen to survive the Apocalypse and rebuilt society.  

Scene 8:  Some old-fashioned black hearses head toward a gigantic structure in the desert with multiple guard towers.  VIPS emerge, including Alan from Scene 2 (the guy blackmailed into joining).  He's ushered into a cold room.  An alien appears in silhoette.  Finally!

Scene 9: Alan is dropped off at a house, still shaken by the experience.  A woman answers, not happy to see him, but he insists.  Must be the ex-wife.   He tells her to get out of L.A., now!  Something bad is going down!  But he's taking Teenage Daughter with him.  They both resist, but the suits come in and force compliance.  

Scene 10: Bartender and Eric try to get the tv to work, but the satellite's out.  Good!  Let's get some societal breakdown!  Eric gets a mysterious phone call and rushes out.  

Meanwhile, Dad and Partner are bringing VIP into the station.  They start the interrogation.  Um...he's a victim, not a suspect...

Suddenly Bartender gets a call.  Hey, she's the housewife from Scene 1, the one married to the cop!  He tells her to pick up the kids and meet him at the Agency, pronto!

Scene 11:  Bartender picking up her daughter.  She calls another woman -- Sis.  No one in the history of the world has ever called their sister "sis," but you have to establish relationships somehow.  "Grab Rob and Hudson and meet us at the Agency.  Something bad is going down."  

Scene 12: Back at the Agency, Partner tries to convince Dad that they have to leave.  Didn't they already arrange that?  But he refuses.  Suddenly the lights go out.  And all the traffic signals.  And the cell phones stop working.  And all of th cars. 

Bartender and her Daughter are trapped in traffic amid the stalled cars.  They head out to pick up Baseball Cap Son on foot.  

Scene 13:
They reach Son's school.  He grumbles -- it's just a power outage, why worry -- but agrees to go with them.  This morning he looked around 8 years old, but now he's an older teenager. Unless there's another kid.  

Yep, there were only two kids at the breakfast table, but now there are three.  This one is played by Alex Neustaedtler (left, but without the shaggy hair). They still need to pick up Baseball Cap.  Bartender comforts her hysterical daughter.

Meanwhile, Eric walks home from the bar.  He grabs some stuff, including several guns.  Don't you want to check on your dyiing mother and the other lady?

Scene 14:  It's getting dark.  Bartender and Son are at the bar, having lit several dozen candles, gathering supplies.  I thought they were going to the Agency? Well, he actually said the Yonk.  It must be the name of the bar.  

 Dad comes in, and wants to know where his Baseball Cap son is.  "We couldn't get him.  All the cars are stalled."  So he gets on a mountain bike to fetch the boy.

Scene 15:  At the gigantic facility.  Alan and surly Teenage Daughter get out of the hearse.  He meets Helena, the deputy director something or other, who tells him "It's a brave new world, and you're about to become the most important man in Hollywood."

Scene 16:  Eric arrives at the VFW.  Apparently he was called to duty.  He hugs somebody he knows, who explains: A foreign hostile detonated an EMP pulse in the atmosphere, which took out all the electronics.  Eric wonders if it's a good idea to have every soldier in town under one roof.  His friend says "Sure, we can take 'em."  He leaves -- just before the building is bombed!  I saw that one coming.

Scene 17:   At the bar, Bartender comforts her hysterical daughter, while macho son paces and snarls: "We should be doing something!"   Sis arrives with her hysterical pre-teen son.  Her husband was on a plane, so he's gone for good.

Meanwhile, Dad rides his mountain bike through the looting crowds.  He sees the spaceships landing. They build a barrier around the city.

Back at the bar, more hysterical daughter.  Please tell me that Bartender isn't going to sing!  She does.  I try to fast forward, but her horrible song is interspliced with scenes of the alien wall going up.

Scene 18:  Santa Monica Bloc, a long time later.  Dad approaches some guys sitting around a fire outside a fortress, and says he's looking for a 12-year old boy who may be working for Solomon.   They think he's a pedophile and prepare to attack, but he specifies that it's his son.  He just wants to talk to Solomon.  They beat him up anyway.

Meanwhile, Bartender paces in an interrogation room.  Her Older Son is escorted in by armed guards.  "You got two minutes."  He cries and apologizes.  She can't get him out, but "Stay strong."   I have no idea what's going on.

Scene 19: Cop finds his way to a house in Santa Monica, and his ex-Partner!  She is not happy to see him.  The end.

Beefcake: None.

Gay Characters:  None.  Well, maybe his Partner, who doesn't mention a husband.

Cliches: Lots.

I have two questions.

1. Netflix accidentally hooked me up with Season 2.  So, what happened during the entirety of Season 1?  Was it all interpersonal drama leading up to the alien invasion?  

2. My friend actually recommended another Colony, a movie about an astronaut who crash-lands on a savage Mad Max Earth.  Who decides to give two science fiction programs about alien invasions the same title?

"Ladhood": Competing with Boys, Gazing at Girls, in 2000s Leeds


Hulu has been heavily pushing The Lads (2019-) an autobiographical series (ugh!) about the adolescent experiences of comedian Liam Williams.  Ten to one Liam and the lads are homophobic.  But maybe there will be some beefcake, and at least it will get Hulu off my back.

Scene 1:  At a party.  Liam (Liam Williams), middle aged, bearded, gets angry at another guy for chaatting up his girlfriend.  She doesn't mind, and actually criticizes him for being possessive.   The guy backs off, but Liam isn't satisfied.   

He approaches to start a fight, while second-guessing himself ("What am I doing?  Am I a 12-year old, or a footballer?).  He explains that, as a man of a certain age, he is incapable of processing his emotions properly, so he often resorts to fighting.  Montage of other fights he's gotten into when a guy hits on a girlfriend.

Scene 2: 
 Back to Liam's adolescence, in the early 2000s, in a suburb of Leeds, in Yorkshire (for Americans, think Pittsburgh).   Liam and his lads (Addy, Ralph, and Tom) are roughhousing on the last day of the term.  Addy and Ralph have decided that they're going to spend the summer engaging in sexual intercourse with the Girls of their Dreams, Rachel and Cassie (of course, the girls don't know it yet). 

Shift to the Girls of their Dreams walking in slow motion down the hall. 

The Lads on IMDB is something else, so I had to go to the end credits to get the names: Tom (Andrew Alexander), Young Liam (Oscar Kennedy, left), Ralph (Sam Bottomley), Adnan (Aqib Khan),

Scene 3: The Girls enter the classroom.  Addy and Ralph freeze in awe, while the other lads giggle and nudge each other, enjoying their discomfort.  Ralph's Girl seems to like him  -- she offers to meet him at the afterschool hangout -- but Addy's Girl sneers and denigrates him.  He responds by giving her all of the lads' cigarettes.  

When the Girls leave, the other lads criticize their pickup techniques.  They point out "the villain of the piece," Matthew White/Whitey (Jack Corrie), who is good at talking to girls, and therefore despicable.  He's also athletic, and "he once nutted a train conductor for having the neck to ask for his ticket."  

Ralph sees Whitey talking to "his" girl (even though they've never actually dated), and goes off: "I'm going to batter him!  I'll pulverize him!"  The lads restrain him.

Scene 4:
Their after-school hangout, the local cemetery.   Addy has failed to replace the lads' cigarettes., and Ralph's Girl has not appeared.  They are about to leave, when Whitey's mates, the menacing bullies Rupert and Tinhead (Nick Preston, Jordan Pierson, left),  appear.  Growl, growl, insult, insult.  

"What's all this about Ralph threatening to beat up Whitey?"  They deny it, but the bullies don't believe them.  They arrange for a fight, Friday at 6:00 pm at the rec center (if there's a rec center, why do they hang out in a cemetery?).

Scene 5:  Ralph tries to find a way to avoid the fight.  Maybe he could stay inside all summer.  The Girls want to know why he threatened to beat up Whitey.  "Because he was flirting with you."  In what universe is that any of his business?  

Turns out that Ralph's Girl is in love with him, and doesn't want him to get battered.  She hugs him.  He freezes in a panic.  

Scene 6: Liam and Tom congratulate themselves because they're not involved in the argument, so they won't get battered.  Then the bullies approach, and order them to ensure that Ralph shows up for his fight, or they will get battered after all.  

Back to the present: the adult Liam is still approaching the guy who talked to his girlfriend, to beat him up.  

Scene 7:  One of the lads -- Addy? -- alone in his room, watching v.  A nature show.  Another -- Liam? -- looks in the mirror -- shirtless shot -- and yells at himself: "Are you a man, or what?"    The adult Liam explains that they can't tell an adult, because that would make you "a grass" (an informer), the worst possible person in teenage Leeds culture (except for a pedophile or a Manchester United fan). 

Scene 8: The boys having tea.  It's 6:00, time to go to the fight.  Ralph refuses to go.  Liam, trying to save hmself, delivers an impassioned speech about "doing what's right."  

Scene 9: They reach the rec center (actually a field). A  huge crowd cheers Ralph on as he approached Whitey.   Who pummels him.  He gets up, bloody, and asks where his Girl is.  "She didn't come."   Liam feels guilty, since he basically talked Ralph into it.

Back to the present:  Instead of fighting the guy, the adult Liam apologizes for "acting like a prick."   He then apologizes to his girl and leaves.  But she doesn't want to leave with him.  The apology has apparently turned her off; he's not much of a man, innut?

Scene 10:   Out on the street, Ralph summarizes that men don't need to posture and compete all the time.  It's ok to feel "wealk, humiliated, unmanly."  Two passing guys laugh and call him a "melt" (a loser).  So he attacks.

Beefcake: One shot of the young Liam shirtless; Whitey in a boxing costume.

Heterosexism:  The story is all about men competing over girls.

Gay Characters:  Tom doesn't display any heterosexual interest, but I don't think he says anything at all.

Homophobia:  No one says anything homophobic.

The Title: It's actually Ladhood.

My Grade: C.

Doc Savage: The First Gay Superhero

When I was a kid, I never cared much for Marvel comics, other than the gay-subtext heavy Werewolf by Night, but in the summer of 1972, my eyes were drawn to the gleaming hard-muscle physique on the cover of Doc Savage #1, "the first superhero of them all!"

How was that possible?  We already had Superman, Batman, Spiderman....

Turns out that Doc Savage got his start as a pulp hero, first created by Lester Dent in 1933 (5 years before Superman). His adventures have been reprinted in paperback form from the 1960s through the 1990s.  There have been comic books, two radio series, and a 1975 movie starring Ron Ely of Tarzan fame.

Like Batman, Doc has no superpowers; he relies on his superb physique, scientific gadgets, and medical training to fight evil (when he catches villains, he gives them brain operations to cure them of their criminal tendencies).

Unlike Batman and every other superhero, he doesn't wear a spandex costume; he appears shirtless and bronze and gleaming.

He lives and works on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building in New York City, accompanied by his team, "The Fabulous Five."
1.-2. Chemist Monk (who has the build of a gorilla) and attorney Ham, who feud with each other.
3. Renny, an engineer with a massive physique of his own.
4. Long Tom, a long, thin engineer.
5. The egghead archaeologist Johnny.

The only regular female character was Doc's cousin Pat, who tagged along on adventures in spite of being told to "wait here where it's safe."

Here are some of the plotlines:

Johnny finds a prehistoric egg that may have hatched into a dinosaur.
Monk runs afoul of the mind-controlling Lucky Napoleon.
Ham witnesses "the rustling death" that drops men out of airplanes.
A naked man is fished out of the Atlantic and hailed as a prophet.

Quite a lot of captures and nick-of-time rescues going on, and not a lot of hetero-romance.

Other members of the team occasionally get girlfriends, but as Monk explains, "There won't be any women in Doc's life."  He has a female companion in the 1975 movie, but doesn't kiss her.  Many rescued damsels-in-distress have tried to snare him, but he tactfully rebuffs their advances.  He has, you see, "no time for women."

Yeah, right, no time.

Philip Jose Farmer's A Feast Unknown (1969) gives Doc Savage and Tarzan an abusive sexual relationship.

Heterosexual fans have faced the "accusation" of Doc's gayness for many years, usually with shrieks of "No way is Doc gay!"  But a surprising number of gay kids found a role model in the Doc


The Best Week of TV Ever

December 5, 1966.  I am in first grade at Hansche Elementary School in Racine, Wisconsin.  Two weeks ago I had my sixth birthday, so I am old enough to stay up until 9:00 pm, but too young for sleepovers with my friends.  There's no radio or record player in the house.  My church forbids going to movies, theater, concerts, bowling alleys, or skating rinks.  

So, every night after dinner, I sit on the floor in the living room, with Mom doing the newspaper crossword puzzle in her favorite chair, Dad and my baby sister on the couch, my little brother beside me playing with his toys. I'm doing homework or reading a book.

While watching the Best Week of TV Ever.

Dec 5, Monday

Gilligan's Island: "And Then There Were None": Gilligan thinks that he's killing the other castaways, and dreams that he's Mr. Hyde.  Scary!

Run, Buddy, Run: "Buddy Overstreet, Please Come Home."  After running from gangsters who put a hit on him, the cute Buddy (Jack Sheldon) gets to go home.

The Lucy Show: "Lucy and the Monkey."  Lucy thinks that her boss, Mr. Mooney, has turned into a monkey.  Come on -- even I know that people don't turn into monkeys.

Dec 6, Tuesday

Daktari: "Cry for Help."  Paula is bitten by a deadly spider (gross!), and Dr. Tracey consults a tribal healer.  Cute black guys in loincloths!

Petticoat Junction: "The Runt Strikes Back": Betty Joe strikes back against her bullying older sisters by getting a job.  And there are THREE cute guys at the Shady Rest. One is Terry Phillips, who also worked as a dialogue coach on Petticoat Junction.  

Dec 7, Wednesday

Lost in Space: "A Visit to Hades."  The space castaways visit a planet that looks like "Hades", a new word for "Hell."  With a devil-guy named Morbus.  Will Robinson (Billy Mumy) is six years older than me, and super-cute.

The Beverly Hillbillies: "The Woodchucks." Dimwitted but hunky Jethro joins an all-girl birdwatching club.  So boys can participate in girls' activities?  I want an EZ-Bake Oven.

Dec 8, Thursday

F-Troop: "The Return of Wrongo Starr."  I've never heard of Ringo Starr, but Henry Gibson is cute.  In a few years I will see him on Laugh-In.

Bewitched: "My Friend Ben."  Aunt Clara conjures up Ben Franklin.  I've never heard of Ben Franklin, or the kite that discovered electricity, but there's a cute teenage boy (Tim Rooney).  He took off his shirt in Village of the Giants (1965).  Later I found out that he was Mickey Rooney's son.

That Girl: "Phantom of the Horse Opera."  Ann Marie and her boyfriend Don befriend an organist from the silent film era.  I've never heard of the silent film era, either!

Dec 9, Friday

Tarzan: "Pearls of Tanga"  Tarzan and Jai try to stop the despoiling of a native paradise full of loincloth-clad hotties.  Plus Tarzan is chained up in a cave.

Hogan's Heroes: "Don't Forget to Write."  Colonel Klink is transferred to the Russian front, and the hotties of Stalag 13 try to save him.

Dec 10, Saturday

Flipper: "Alligator Duel." Pet dolphin Flipper is kidnapped and forced to fight alligators, and shirtless teens Sandy and Bud rush to the rescue.

Get Smart: Perils in a Pet Shop.  KAOS is using trained parrots to smuggle secrets.  I learned another new word, "chaos."

Dec 11, Sunday

We usually go to church on Sunday nights, but for some reason tonight is different. Maybe Mom or Dad don't feel well.  But missing a 2 hour sermon and altar call is great

It's About Time: "The Sacrifice."  The cute astronaut castaways try to save their hosts' daughter from being sacrificed in a prehistoric cave ritual.  Well, at least there's a boy with his shirt off (Pat Nardi).

Hey, Landlord: "The Big Fumble."  Chuck claims that he is best friends with a famous football player, who doesn't remember him.  Football is boring, but the player is future comedy great Fred Willard.

Jan 11, 2022

R. Crumb: From Fritz the Cat to Gay Marriage (Sort of)

Growing up in 1950s Philadelphia, Robert Crumb was a sissy -- he hated sports; he was scrawny; he liked comic books, especially girls' comics like Little Lulu.  According to a 1998 sketch, he "almost turned into a fag."  The only thing that "saved him" was his heterosexual mania.  He liked big women -- tall, broad-shouldered, with muscular legs.  He wanted to ravish a giantess.

In an era when women were expected to be frail and petite, this interest in Big Women marked Robert as "queer," as a sexual outsider. His autobiographical comics read like a gay coming out story.

But he was heterosexual, just too shy and overcome by self-loathing to fit in.  Even when he moved to San Francisco and made a name for himself as an underground comic artist, he was an outsider, observing the sit-ins and love-ins and acid trips from a distance.

When I was in high school in the 1970s, the older kids passed around his underground comics, Zap!, Head!, Home Grown Funnies, and Snoid!  When I was in college, they were a fixture at Adam's Bookstore, but hidden under the counter, away from those who wouldn't understand.

Later I found copies of Fritz the Cat, which became an X-rated cartoon in 1972, and Mr. Natural, about a cynical guru.

R. Crumb's comics were a minefield, grotesquely drawn, full of profanity, sex, and drugs.

And extreme racism. A black female character who speaks with a racist drawl and is named Angelfood McSpade? Really?

And extreme homophobia, grotesque caricatures of Gay Liberation pioneers.

And extreme sexism -- Big Women desire nothing more than complete subjugation by scrawny men.  To be slapped, beaten up, ridden like horses.

There was a lot of male nudity -- mostly scrawny men, but with very long penises.  In the 1970s, just seeing a penis in a comic strip was a cause for celebration.

But any beefcake interest was completely overwhelmed by the female nudity -- Big Women, naked, gyrating, shoving their breasts and buttocks and other parts savagely into every spare inch of the frame.

Yet there was something fascinating about the comics, something almost endearing about R. Crumb's constant self-exploration: castration anxiety, sadomasochistic fantasies, paranoia, weird fetishes, cranky old-man rants about everyday hassles....

And gay subtexts. Pairs of men, or anthropomorphic animals, often set out together to find meaning in a bizarre, meaningless world.  They got laid, of course -- usually sharing the same Big Woman -- but in the end the heterosexual shenanigans could not assuage their elemental loneliness. They found glimmers of happiness only with each other.

Although he submitted a comic to AARGH (Artists Against Rampant Government Homophobia) in 1988, R. Crumb is still quite homophobic.  In 2009, The New Yorker commissioned him to draw a cover on gay marriage. Whose crazy idea was that?

He submitted this grotesque parody of a gay couple, and stated that he approves of gay marriage because "How are you supposed to tell what gender anyone is if they're bending it around?"

Um...Robert, did you know that most gay people have a conventional gender presentation?  

He was actually surprised when the cover was rejected!

See also: Gay Comix of the 1980s; Here at the New Yorker

"The Tender Bar": Gay Tease Hides a Homophobic Exterior


Speaking of gay teases, The Tender Bar, on Amazon Prime,claims to be about a man works on his professional and romantic life at his uncle's bar, while the 5-second long icon trailer displays two guys crusiing each other at said bar.  Obviously the man is gay, right?  

I was a little suspicious, so I did some background research.

Wikipedia doesn't give a plot synopsis, but it does list Ben Affleck as the star -- although his relationship with Matt Damon led to a lot of speculation that he was gay during the 1980s, he's actually homophobic.  Back in 1997, he said "A man kissing another man is the greatest challenge an actor can face."  I assume he meant heterosexual male actor.  So kissing a guy is much more challenging than acting in scenes where, say, you are raped or murdered.  

What if a hetero man has to kiss a woman he's not attracted to?  Wouldn't that be a challenge, too?  

Another star is Tye Sheridan, who I thought played Phil Dunphy on Modern Family, but that's Ty Burrell. Tye Sheridan played Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse.  Is Cyclops the one who developed a brief gay-subtext romance before his boyfriend was exploded?  No, that's Banshee.

Google Images claims that this is Tye Sheridan, but when you click on the link, it turns out to be Ben Hardy.  So I give up.

I watched the full trailer on IMDB:

1. Sometime in the 1940s or 1950s, a woman with an Andrews Sisters hairstyle and a 1940s-style car takes her son to live with a crotchety old man.  She tells her son: "You're going to law school," although he's only about ten.  He starts hanging out in the bar.  

2. Heterosexist moment: A bartender asks a patron, "Which sister?  The hot one or the crazy one?"  So it's not a gay bar.   Of course, it wouldn't be in the 1940s, at least not openly.

3. Another guy, maybe the Uncle, takes the boy in, shows him some books, and encourages him to become a writer. He starts banging away on an old Selectric.  (invented in 1961, so Mom must have dropped him off in the late 1950s; she just dressed 10 years out of date).  

 4. Uncle also gives the boy life advice, like: "Never hit a woman." So he's heterosexual, and he assumes the kid is, too, and the trailer wants us to be very certain of that.

5. The boy, all grown up, is entering Yale, class of 1986.  So he graduated high school in 1982.  But if he was 10 in 1959, he'd be going to college in 1967.  So Mom must have dropped him off around 1974.  Why the 1940s costume?  She must be the crazy one, not the hot one.    

6. He  meets a girl, and they have sex (by minute 1.33).  I don't need to watch anymore.

Out gay actor Ivan Leung has a handful of lines as Jimmy, the boy's classmate at Yale, but I doubt that his character is gay.  

All in all, a tease.  The two guys at the bar are apparently Uncle and Boy, just pretending that they are into each other.

And why is the bar tender?  I keep thinking Tender Trap, a 1955 movie about a man who accidentally proposes to two women at the same time.  I read an article specifically entitled "What is the meaning of The Tender Bar title?", but it just said that the boy liked it.

It's based upon a "memoir" by J. R. Moehringer, who, like every writer, debotes his first book to the story of a young man who wants to become a writer (it sounds claustrophobic, but they all do it).  

The word "gay" does not appear in the novel, but in one scene, Uncle Charlie tells a patron that if he finds Sigourney Weaver attractive, he must be "a homosexual."  Huh?  But she's a woman.  

So the memoir is homophobic.  

By the way, Moehringer was born in 1964, so Mom actually did drop him off at Grandpa's in 1974.  She just like to dress like the Andrews Sisters.

Jan 10, 2022

"The Year of Spectacular Men": Entitled College Graduate and a Varying Number of Relatives Meet Men


The Year of Spectacular Men, on Amazon Prime.  Sounds like 1996-1997, when I was newly single and living in Gay Heaven.  It's actually a vanity piece written by and starring Madeleine Deutsch, also involving her sister Zoey Deutsch (actor, producer), her father Howard Deutsch (producer), and her mother Lea Thompson (actor, director).  Getting claustrophobic yet?  The only one I recognize is Lea Thompson, and I can't recall what from.  Definitely not my usual type of movie, but I wouldn't mind making fun of Woody Allen-type pretentiousness.  Besides, it's set in my three favorite cities, New York, L.A., and San Francisco.

The Spectacular Men narrate:

1. Aaron (Jesse Bradford, top photo) introduces us to his girlfriend Izzy (Madeleine Deutsch),  a rich, pampered blonde heterosexual college student with a Greenwich Village apartment, two doting sisters (a famous actress and a famous model, respectively), and a famous mother who has a yoga-practicing, quinoa-eating girlfriend, They're all blond, even the girlfriend, exactly the same age, and impossible to tell apart.  After an argument about something or other, Aaron dumps the one he's dating.

2. Ross (Cameron Monaghan, left), 
a biochemistry major (drama minor) assigned to perform the Titania-Bottom scene from A Midsummer Night's Dream with Izzy so she will pass her class and graduate. She balks: "Shakespeare!  Ugh!"  "They kiss at the end," the professor says with a matchmaking wink.  One of the sisters advises against dating him so soon after the breakup, but they go to a party, get drunk, and he pulls her by her hair back to his apartment. Just kissing, no sex.

3. Sebastian (Avan Jongia ), a famous actor who lives with one of the sisters in L.A. (you can tell because the Hollywood Sign looms over their street).  Izzy moves in with them after graduation (May) to...um...find herself. Although she hated her drama class in college, they arrange for her to get an agent and go out on auditions (Zombeaver!),   Beefcake shot when Sebastian awakens unexpectedly. 

4. Overzealous Casting Director (Alec Mapa) asks her to dry-hump a chair while reading her lines.  They don't date.

5.  Logan (Brandon T. Jackson, right),
a drummer in a band, and the only black person in the movie.  When Sister invites Izzy to a party at David Duchovny's house, they have a meet-cute by the pool (swimsuit in the trailer, fully clothed in the movie).  They go to In-and-Out Burger (L.A. reference!) and hang out at night in MacArthur Park (I wouldn't recommend it).  They date through the summer; then he goes on tour for three months, gets back together with his ex, and dumps her (in November).

6. Izzy, Sister, and Sebastian spend Christmas in Lake Tahoe with Mom and her girlfriend, and go skiing.  Izzy doesn't know how, even though everyone else in her family is an expert, so paramedic Mikey (Zach Roerig) offers to teach her.  There are some slapstick scenes, and we learn that Izzy is terrified of gurneys. 

The whole family shows up for their date.  Everyone parties, gets drunk, and Sebastian ends up having sex with Mom's Girlfriend!  In the ensuing two breakups, Mikey sort of gets forgotten.

7. In January, Sister hires Izzy as her assistant, and they go to San Francisco to film a movie (obligatory Golden Gate Bridge shot).   She bonds with the director, Charlie (Nicholas Braun), over their shared love of The X-Files and eating just the M&Ms in trail mix. During sex he's a bit premature, finishing before they have their clothes off, which is apparently very humiliating for heterosexuals.  Turns out he's never had sex before (then how did he get to be a director?)  

One expects them to end up together, but they don't. Sister and Sebastian reconcile, but Izzy ends up single.  She explains: "Every single story has an ending, but this is just my beginning."

Beefcake: Only a bit.

Other Sights: Only the most cliched establishing shots of New York, Hollywood, San Francisco, and Lake Tahoe.

Gay Characters:  Mom and Girlfriend, both of whom have had heterosexual relationships.  This provides some tension.  Sister: "First you turn Mom into a dyke, and then you screw my boyfriend!"  

Sisters: In the first scene, Izzy squeals and hugs two blond women.  One is going on a modeling shoot, and the other is a famous actress. They discuss Mom.  Obviously she has two sisters.  But the modeling-shoot one is never mentioned again.

Spectacular Men:  Seven, but Izzy only dates five, and only has sex with three.  If I was in L.A., New York, or San Francisco, I could do twice that in a week.  Hey, that's not a bad idea.  Maybe 2022 will be my Year of Spectacular Men.

Jan 9, 2022

A 4:00 Foray into the Dark, Complex World of Heterosexual Storytelling


I clicked on Being the Ricardos on Amazon Prime, about the tensions between Lucy and Desi on the set of the old I Love Lucy show, and instead got Dylan O'Brien with five o'clock shadow getting visions of his dead wife or girlfriend.  Sounds just like the sort of heterosexist tripe I love to hate, so I exited the movie to find out its title.  But it wasn't among my recommedations or "continue watching" list, and clicking on Being the Ricardos again brought me to the Ricardos.  I had to go to IMDB and check the last few movies Dylan has been in: 

Love and Monsters; in a monster apocalypse, a young man searches for his lost girlfriend. Seen it.

Flashback, originally titled The Education of Frederick Fitzell (whew!  glad they changed it!): after a chance encounter with a man from his past, Fred (Dylan) literally and metaphorically travels back in time.  A mysterious man from his past?  Maybe an ex-boyfriend?  

Infinite: A man (Mark Wahlberg) discovers that his hallucinations are actually memories of past lives.  Sounds like the same basic plot.

Amazon Prime has Flashback.  Let's see if Fred is drawn into his past under the tutelage of a mysterious former boyfriend:

Scene 1: A woman unconscious or asleep in a hospital bed.  Fred and Karen (Hannah Gross), who must be his sister, stare at her through the glass door.  The doctor tells them that Mom has suffered brain damage, and they need to make decisions.  Dying people and heterosexism!  My two least favorite movie tropes.

Scene 2: A montage of events from Fred's past, cut with being depressed now.  The gist: he has a job involving the analysis of Matrix-type code, although his degree is in art.  He has a dead wife/girlfriend, with whom he smooches (and smiles for the only time in the movie).  He knocks on a door, and a woman says "she's not really gone -- she's right here."  Who?  Mom, or dead wife/girlfriend?  

Sigh. At least there's a beefcake shot

Scene 3: 
 Stuck in traffic, Fred decides to cut through a beautifully graffiti-laden back alley.  He stops to take a phone call, and a homeless woman (Connor Smith) starts yelling: "Obey! Prison! System!"   Several other people flash past, including a Pierced Man (Aaron Poole) and Cindy, whom Fred is surprised to see. 

Scene 4: Fred being depressed in bed, but this time there's a woman with him.  Maybe the dead wife/girlfriend?  But she looks different.  He gets up and looks through his very small high school yearbook to find Cindy Williams (the star of Laverne and Shirley?).  Her face is scribbled over.

 His own picture has the slogan: "You're a cock -- Sebastian."   For "jerk," we usually say "dick," not "cock."   Unless Sebastian means "cocksman," a guy who is good in bed.  And how would he know, unless...they were boyfriends?   Sebastian is a good gay name, like Sebastian Flyte in "Brideshead Revisited."  I'll bet he's gay here, too.

That line of deduction is squashed instantly, as Fred recalls that Sebastian (Emory Cohen) was a "f*king asshole."

Scene 5:
Back in high school.  A depressed Fred bangs into Sebastian on purpose, but I think we're supposed to think it was Sebastian's fault.  Fred stares at the drugged-out Cindy.  

Back in the present, Karen wants to know what he's doing.  Ok, what's his sister doing in his apartment at 2:00 am without knocking?  Or is she his girlfriend/wife, and he has an additional dead girlfriend/wife?

Scene 6: At work, Fred ignores the discussion of granular metrics to draw a girl, presumably the drugged-out Cindy.   

Flashback or now, I'm not sure: he returns to his old high school as an adult, where a teacher yells at him for checking out The Art Spirit, and never returning it.  He wants to know how she could possibly remember that after all these years. (All these years?  He looks around 25).  She remembers Cindy Williams (and Penny Marshall, too?) because of all her "troubles."  She never showed up at high school graduation, and hasn't been heard from since.

While they are talking, Fred looks at photos of women on a computer.  Lots and lots of women.

Only 10 minutes into this, and I'm having an estrogen overload.  It's like being stuck in a sorority house.  If I don't see something masculine in the next 20 seconds....

That's better.  Let's review:

How many women does Fred interact with in the first 10 minutes: Mom, Karen, the dead girlfriend/wife that Fred smooched with, the woman who said "she's not really gone," the woman in bed with him, the boss at work, the police officer, the teacher, the homeless woman,  the 87,000 faces he looks up on the computer.  Grand total:  87,009.

How many of them has he had sex with: the dead wife/girlfriend, the woman in bed now, maybe the woman who said "she's not really gone," Karen, probably Cindy.  Maybe they're all Karen or Cindy,  just looking different because they are at different points in the chronology, so they would look older or younger, and get their hair color and style changed.  

How many men does Fred interact with: the doctor, the Pierced Man, the "f*king asshole Sebastian."  Grand total: 3.

How many of them does he have a pleasant interaction with: none.

I'm out.  

There's a Dylan O'Brien hookup story on Tales of West Hollywood.

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