Mar 12, 2022

"The Strain": Vampire-Zombies Fight An Annoying Sexist Jerk

 Last night we watched the premiere of The Strain (2014-2017), presumably a post-Apocalyptic vampire-zombie horror series.

Scene 1:
A Berlin-New York plane is about to land.  The flight attendant spars with the standard airplane types: an imperious Very Important Person (in coach?), an Adorable Little Girl, a loud-mouthed Rock Star (Jack Kesy, left).  Then she's called to the galley, where the other flight attendant tells her that there's something moving in the cargo hold and banging on the latch.  They panic.  A giant thing jumps out and grabs them.  It happens too fast to see what it is.

Scene 2: An air traffic controler tells his boss, Bishop, that the Berlin-New York flight landed without getting clearance, then cut off communication.  They drive out to take a look -- nothing electronic is working inside, and the body of the plane is cold ("like a dead animal").  They somehow figure out that everyone inside is dead, and call the TSA, the CIA, the FBI, Homeland Security, the CDC.... If I had a dollar for every time someone said "Bishop, look at this!"

Scene 3
: We meet the focus character, Eff, short for Ephraim (Corey Stoll), one of those cockey, arrogant, smooth-talking types that should be a con artist, but instead works for the Center for Disease Control.  But right now he's having a mandatory Family Counseling Session (in the middle of the night?) with his young son and estranged wife.  She left him because "You were never home.  You were always off preventing millions of people from dying in pandemics."   Gee, how selfish!  

She has a new boyfriend, Matt, which makes Eff furious. It's been a year -- people move on.  Get over it.

By the way, Max Charles, who played Eff's young son Zack, is now 18 years old, and has a physique.

Scene 4: Eff arrives at the airport, where agents from 12 agencies are having a dick-size contest to see who gets to investigate the plane first.  His is bigger.

Scene 5: Two thugs try to rob a pawn shop, but the elderly owner. Mr. Setrakian, easily subdues them.  Then he returns to the 1930s cartoon he was watching, but it's been pre-empted by a news report abou the plane.  "He's back!"  he exclaims.  "I can't go through it all again!"   Then he goes to a secret room, candlelit with old-fashioned music playing (does he just keep it like that all the time?).  He calls a pulsating blob-like thing in a jar "my dear," and feeds it some of his blood.  So it's his dead wife?

Scene 6: Eff and fellow agent Nora strip down to put on hazmat suits (we see her boobs and some of his chest).  Plot dump: they were having sex back before Eff's wife left him.  And he's upset over her new boyfriend, a year after the breakup?  Talk about double standards!  This guy is a sexist jerk!  

They investigate the plane. Eff examines the little girl from Scene 1: no trauma, no defensive wounds, no evidence of poisoning.  What killed them all? Suddenly they see some goop smeared all over the plane, invisible except under ultraviolet light.  Plus...four passengers are alive after all: the pilot, the Rock Star, the Very Important Person, and a scaredy-cat guy.  And the Professor and Mary Anne....

Scene 7:
The diabolical-looking white-haired Herr Eichhorst, whose eyes have an inner lid, like a snake, takes the elevator to the top floor of a skyscraper.  He meets with the valet Fitzwilliam (Roger Cross, left) and the elderly, bedridden Eldritch Palmer I'm not kidding, some lady 100 years ago thought that Eldritch was a good baby name.  It's probably a reference to the science fiction novel "The Three Stigmata of Eldritch Palmer," but I can't see the connection.

 The cargo has arrived.  Eldritch isn't thrilled.

Scene 8: At the airport with Eff, Nora, some bigwigs, and Sean Astin (who must have found it easy to memorize his script: 90% of his lines consist of "Eff, take a look at this, right now!!") They tour a makeshift morgue, where over 200 bodies are waiting for autopsy, and discuss what to tell the families, who have already arrived.  In 2 hours?  Wouldn't most of the families be in Germany, or in various distant parts of the U.S.?  

Scene 9: They interview the four survivors in quarantine.  Rock Star is covered with tatoos of Satanic-looking symbols.  Eff asks if he's really a Satanist.  "No, I'm just in it for the pussy."  Boo!  Can't we go through one scene without hearing about sex with ladies? 

Next they check the cargo for anything toxic. 10,000 condoms.  10 plasma tvs.  And a mysterious 9-foot tall chest that isn't on the flight manifest.  "It looks like a coffin," Nora says, although it looks nothing like a coffin.  

When they open it, surprise! It's full of dirt.  By this point, you've figured out what's going on anyway, but in case you need to be hit over the head with it, vampires must sleep on soil from their native land.

One of the bigwigs gets ahold of the Berlin airport to ask about the mysterious box.  While he's yelling in German, he wanders to a different part of the storeroom, where a green pulsating blob is pulsating.  Suddenly it turns into a humanoid and extrudes tubes that drain all of his blood.  Wouldn't the vampire be full after drainng the blood of 200 people a couple of hours ago?

Scene 10: 
 Herr Eichman approaches the thug Gus (Miguel Gomez), and tells him that he has to do one final job to get his brother's probation and his mother's immigration status cleared up: pick up some cargo at the airport.  He gives him a card to use in case there's any trouble.

Scene 11:  The families of the flight victims screaming at Eff: "You just talk, but you never do anythng!"  It's been three hours!   The father of the little girl screams "Don't you have a heart?  Don't you have a family?"  Of course, every adult man in the universe has a wife and kids.  

In the midst of the ruckus, Sean Astin tells Eff "You've got to look at this." Yet again.  Pawn Shop Owner Mr. Sarkarian (the one with the blob-wife in a jar) is at the airport, blabbering nonsense like "You have to kill all the survivors and burn all the bodies!  This can't happen again!"  Plus he has a sword.  Whoa, if he was black, the police would shoot him.  As it is, they arrest him.

He's taken to jail, where he must stay until Monday. His cellmate notes that he is a Holocaust survivor.  Don't tell me -- the Nazis were all vampires?

Scene 12: Another "Eff, you've got to look at this."  The bodies all have a sharp incision with no bruising or trauma -- "no instrument can do that"  -- and instead of blood, they are full of green goop.  So the head vampire goopified over 200 people simultaneously, in a few seconds?  There are also some weird parasitic worms around.  Eff thinks they are "beautiful." A jerk and a wacko.

Another "Eff, you've got to look at this."  The chest/coffin has vanished!  Security cam footage (from an isolated storeroom?) reveals that it shot up toward the ceiling.  But it weighs a ton!  What could do that? 

Scene 13: Eff calls Sean Astin: "Stop every truck and van trying to leave the airport, and search it for that chest!"

Uh-oh, Thug Gus is trying to leave with the chest in his van.  He's stopped by security, but when he flashes his card, Sean intervenes and lets him go.  Oh no, Sean is in cahoots with the vampires!  He exclaims: "I came through for them this time, but now I'm done!"

Scene 14: Mortician begins performing autopsies on all 200 corpses.  He discovers that their internal organs are reassembling, changing inito new ones.  Suddenly the bodies all rise up from their cadaver tables and  body bags, even the ones who are partially dissected, and attack! No neat incisions here -- they tear him apart like zombies. (Some nice male butts interspersed with the ladies).

Wait -- why are they naked?  They're still in body bags -- who undressed them?

Scene 15: Thug Gus drives the van over the bridge.  He calls his Mom, who is making breakfast (at 5:00 am?), to say that he will be home soon.  A voiceover says some gibberish about love: "it's the beacon that guides us home when no one is there," and so on.

Scene 16: The Little Girl's dad goes home.  Suddenly she appears at the French doors.  She comes in, says "I'm cold," and they hug.  Her eyes now have an inner lid, like a snake. I expect her to bite Daddy.  Why doesn't she bite him?   The end.

Beefcake: A flash of chest, a little butt.

Gay Characters:  I understand that there's a bisexual woman later on, but for now it's husbands and wives all the way down.

Annoying Characters: "Take a look at this!" Eff.

Heterosexism: Lots.  

My Grade: In spite of the numerous plot holes, the premise is actually intriguing: vampire hoardes taking over the world.  And the special effects are excellent.  C+.

Mar 11, 2022

Taarak Mehta kkk Chhota Chashmah: A Spin-Off of a Spin-Off of a Spin-Off


"Duniya Ne Undha Chasma" ("The World in Dark Glasses") was a humorous weekly column by Taarak Mehta (1929-2017), whose trademark was glasses worn upside-down.  It appeared in the Gujarati magazine Chitralekha from 1971 to his death.  

Over 70 compilations of articles became best-sellers in India. There was a feature film and a daily sitcom, Taarak Mehta Ka Ooltah Chashmah ("Taarak Mehta, Basically about Glasses), which premiered in 2009 and now is running at over 3,000 episodes (hear that, Simpsons?).  

It stars Taarak Mehta (Shailesh Lohta) as a poet, philosopher, and Everyman, wryly commenting on the colorful residents at an apartment complex in a suburb of Mumbai. Chiefly his best friend, the dimwitted Jetha (Dilip Joshi), who runs an electronics store, and his wife, elderly father, and son Tapu (Bhavya Gandhi, below).  

The other residents form a microcosm of Indian society: various religions and languages, social classes, jobs.  Some are rich, some are poor (in the same apartment complex?), some are smart, some are dumb, some are fat, some are thin. One is muscular: fitness nut Sondhi (Gurucharan Singh, top photo).

But they have one thing in common: each of the male regulars has a wife and kids.  There's a man who is just engaged far down the cast list, and another who is single, but he is painfully aware of his "deficiency" and is trying desperately to get married.  

Of course, India is a very conservative country, and even gay men usually marry women to meet familial expectations, but you'd think that after 3,000 episodes, there'd be at least one featuring a gay character, or a hijra, a member of the the Indian third gender.  American sitcoms of the 1970s always had a "friend coming out" episode.

But searching on the sitcom title and "gay" revealed only an article from Bollywood News in which actress Aradhana Sharma reveals her support of the LGBTQ community: "having a different outlook on personal preferences does not make anyone odd."  Also two youtube clips where "Jetha acts gay," but I couldn't see anything but people arguing.

A search for the series and "hijras" reveals a plot summary of a 2015 episod.  Some hijras are dancing and asking for money.   It's bad luck to refuse, but the men are too overcome by homophobic hysteria to give them any, so one of the wives does.  Then they vanish, never to be mentioned again.

Also an article  from The India Times interviewing Bobby Darling, who states that she is not transgender; she has had sex confirmation surgery, so she is now a woman.  She will play a transgender or female character, but she will not play gay: "how long must I continue to humiliate myself"?   So playing gay is by definition humiliating?  She does not appear in the series.

An animtated spin-off,  Taarak Mehta KKK Chhota Cashmah ("Taarak Mehta and the Small Glasses") premiered on the Indian kids' network  Sony Yay in 2021 and Netflix in 2022.  The androgynous yount actor Aditha Pednekar voices the Hindi version of 12-year old Tapu, who has mostly slapstick-type adventures with the children of the nuclear families (a girl and three boys, egghead, chubby, and Sikh).  But now the gay subtexts are plentiful.

1.  In the three episodes I watched, Tapu does not express any heterosexual interest.  In moments of crisis, he always hugs the chubby friend.

2. The only adult woman present is Tapu's mother.  Otherwise the adult characters are all men, engaged more in buddy-bonding than in hetero-horny hijinks.

3. Two of the three episodes involved a bad-guy duo (kidnappers and robbers) who behave like a married couple. 

I still don't recommend the series.  It is loud, frenetic, and horribly cliched.  (For instance, when someone is hit in the head, their eyes spin around, and you hear bird-tweets).  But it is interesting that the gay subtexts only became possible in a children's show.

Mar 9, 2022

The "Better Nate Than Ever" Series: Gay Theater Kid from Pennsylvania


I have reconciled myself to the fact that the Better Nate Than Ever series by Tim Federle has nothing to do with the Big Nate series by Lincoln Peirce.  The characters just have the same name and age, the authors have both introduced coming-out story arcs, and googling on "Big Nate," "Lincoln Peirce," and "gay" brings you directly to a review of Better Nate than Ever.  

After you stop looking for connections, you find a very funny series of young adult novels about a gay theater kid.  Every book is written in the first person and present tense, which adds immediacy.  However, nothing can be included that Nate doesn't know at that moment, leading to some awkward attempts to position him in exactly the right spot to overhear vital information. 

In the first book of the trilogy, Better Nate Than Ever, 13-year old Nate sneaks from his small town of Janksville, Pennsylvania to audition for the part of Elliot, the boy who befriends a stranded alien visitor, in E.T.: The Musical.  Most of the story involves interesting real-life details of the extenuated audition process. 

Although Nate says that his sexual identity is "undecided," there are a few clues.  He sees two guys kiss through the open door of a bar, and no one beats them up; later he says that this was his favorite part of New York.  Plus he befriends Aunt Heidi's hot roommate, and watches him from the back as he walks down the street: "the pants fit very well," Nate comments. (The roommate will not appear in the 2022 movie version.)

In the second book, Five, Six, Seven, Nate, Nate is cast, but not as Elliot: as the back-up understudy for E.T,, which means he has to learn all the lines and dances, but will only go on if both the actor cast as E.T. and his understudy fail.  Most of the book involves the interesting details of prepping and rehearsal for a stage play.  Plus Nate starts dating Jordan, the practically perfect experienced child actor cast as Elliot (he doesn't appear in the 2022 movie version, either.)

In the third book, Nate Expectations, the musical has closed, and Nate, now 14, is back home, in high school.  He and his friends produce a musical version of Great Expectations for English class, but can't perform it because they can't get the rights to the songs.  

There are also asides about Nate's parents trying to signal that they're ok with his gay identity without actually saying anything.   Plus Jordan, now cast in a tv show, begins ghosting Nate, and a new boy, Ben, starts expressing interest, culminating with a gigantic song-and-dance number to ask him to the Homecoming Dance.  We don't actually see the dance: the book ends when the English teacher assigns Nate a thousand-word essay on how he became his "best self," and he decides to title it Better Nate than Ever.

Now, if only someone could figure out how this all is connected to Big Nate.

See also: Better Nate Than Ever.

The Gay Henchman of Marvel's MODOK.


Gay characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe are as rare as non-closeted gay men in Tuscaloosa.  Writers, editors, producers, and corporate suits think that the movies are for kids, and kids must not become aware that LGBT people exist; or they're worried about homophobic audiences rushing from the theaters in disgust.  Sometimes there are momentary "blink and you miss it" glimpses of LGBT potential: a lesbian couple will hug amid dozens of other characters in a closing shot, or Loki will state that he's been with men and women both, while falling in love with a woman.  

 I heard that the animated series Marvel's M.O.D.O.K., on Hulu, had a gay character, supervillain minion Gary (Sam Richardson, left).  I tuned in, to see how much, if any, gayness was revealed.

The premise: M.O.D.O.K. (voiced by Patton Oswalt), a Mental Mobile Mechanized Organism Designed Only for Killing, looks like a giant floating head with tiny arms and legs, although when his suit comes off, he looks like a regular human with a gigantic head.   He is trying to balance his schemes for world domination with the obligations of his nuclear family: estranged wife, fashion-and-boy-obsessed teenage daughter, and weird 12-year old son (Ben Schwartz, top photo).   The claymation is reminiscent of the old Davy and Goliath show.

There is a lot of claymation beefcake, and MODOK frequently expresses an admiration for the male physique.  However, this seems to be indicating the supervillain's stupidity rather than implying same-sex desire: "MODOK is so dumb that he doesn't know he's looking at a guy!"

Son Lou also has some gay subtexts.  He's "weird" -- into magic, not into sports. He states that only in Asgard can he truly be himself, similar to LGBT people abandoning their homophobic small towns for a gay neighborhood.  But he writes erotic poetry about the Green M&M (the lady), so he's canonically straight.

On to the gay representation of Gary -- or lack thereof. 

Episode 1:
 After several failed world-domination schemes, MODOK goes broke, and is forced to sell his supervillain company, AIM, to a tech corp.  The blond metrosexual Austin (left) becomes his boss.  

Gary, not yet named, appears as one of the anonymous minions, who always wear hazmat suits.  While he is getting coffee, a misdirected ray blasts his arm off.  "Sorry, I thought the coffee was for everyone."

Episode 2:  In order to win back his estranged wife, MODOK goes back in time to take her to an important concert.

Minion Gary is holding a highly radioactive crystal.  MODOK tells him that he's now sterile, his balls are "just for show," he'll never have a family.  Obviously he assumes that Gary is heterosexual.

Episode 3:  MODOK and the wife and kids go to a leadership workshop.  Gary does not appear.

Episode 4:  Instead of supervillains, MODOK is stuck hanging out with small-time street thugs.  Gary makes standard henchman comments.

Episode 5:  MODOK and Monica team up to regain control of his supervillain corporation.  Gary appears briefly, making more standard henchman comments. 

Episode 6:  MODOK and his wayward son go to Asgard, and end up in a war between the Asgardians and the Kobolds.  Meanwhile, Gary compares fire to "a sexy woman."  He's obviously straight.

Episode 7:  MODOK's ex-wife begins dating superhero Wonder Man.  Gary appears, doing more standard henchman things.

Episode 8:  Young MODOK comes from the past, kidnaps MODOK's family, and replaces them with robots.  Gary does not appear.

Episode 9
:  MODOK is forced to work as a mail carrier at his old company.  Gary believes that Austin has destroyed his spirit of super-villainy, and tries to kill him.  He is so obsessed with MODOK that he blows off his bison-hunting date with his never-before-mentioned husband, Big Mike.  They argue and break up.  

Later they reconcile, and Big Mike brings in bison-burgers, which everyone likes.  "You'd better be good enough for Gary!" MODOK warns.

Episode 10: MODOK's son's bar mitzvah.  No Gary.  

So Gary is identified as straight several times, the outed in one episode, then dropped. Almost as bad as Loki saying he likes men and women, but dating only women.

The show is actually very funny, if you don't mind Adult Swim-style gore.  I'll give it an A for beefcake, B for the humor, and C- for the gay representation.

Mar 7, 2022

Spin and Marty: Summer Camp Boys in Love

In the spring of 1955, William Beaudine began casting an adaptation of the novel Marty Markham, about a wealthy mollycoddle who learns to be a regular fella at summer camp.   When buzz-cut jock Tim Considine auditioned, he was deemed too macho to play Marty, but far too charismatic to pass on, so a minor character in the novel, Spin Evans, was expanded for him.

 Marty was cast with David Stollery, a fey redhead who starred with Tim in Her Twelve Men (1954).

The Adventures of Spin and Marty premiered in November 1955 as a serial segment of Disney’s late-afternoon kiddie show The Mickey Mouse Club.

Though the original novel contains no homoromance, the tough-sissy contrast seems tailor-made for a revival of Tom Brown’s School Days or Cadets on Parade, and the series wastes no time in meeting the beefcake quota, displaying both stars' muscles and the respectable physique of an older boy (Sammy Ogg).  (Kevin Corcoran starred as tagalong annoyance Moochie.)

However, there is no instant camaraderie, no moment of falling in love.  In the first twenty episodes, Spin and Marty despise each other.  They often stare at each other, but they come face-to-face only for pranks, insults, and fights.  Late in the season, as counselors break up their latest fight by holding them upside down, Spin and Marty seem to really see each other for the first time.  Their shield of rage vanishes; they grin, and then laugh, and suddenly, inevitably, they are “together.”

In the remaining episodes, their fellow campers and the adults behave as if they have always been inseparable companions.  Intimacy appears, and passion when each tries to sacrifice himself for the other.  They even achieve homoromantic permanence: in the last scene, as the other campers prepare to go home, they are invited to stay on as ranch hands.

Viewers – grade schoolers and no doubt not a few high schoolers – were mesmerized by this hostility melting into love, and they responded with an urgency unknown in the days of Tom Brown’s School Days.  Books, comics, sheet music, and 45-rpm records flew off the shelves, continuing to evoke the homoromantic Arcadia for two years after the series ended.  Today, when the other live-action segments of The Mickey Mouse Club have faded into obscurity, many Boomers recall Spin and Marty fondly, as icons of their childhood.  Many recall them, clearly and unequivocally, as a gay couple.

In November 1956, Tim Considine and David Stollery returned for The Further Adventures of Spin and Marty.  Now Spin has an impressively tight, hard-lined chest and stomach, while Marty is lean and lanky (and decidedly feminine).  They are on display often and earnestly, as are all of the boys, presented in swimsuit and underwear shots as often as in Toy Soldiers decades later. But their homoromantic idyll is threatened: a girl’s camp has just opened up across the lake, and after some initial hesitation, they spend the series posturing, competing, and arguing over who gets to date Annette Funicello.  Then, when Marty is drowning, Spin rushes to the rescue.  The crisis makes them realize how much they care for each other and they renew their commitment, swearing off trivial distractions like girls.  Homoromance has triumphed.

But not for long.  In The New Adventures of Spin and Marty (November 1958), seventeen-year old Spin is dating Annette, and Marty is dating her fellow Mousketeer Darlene Gillespie.  Whatever passion they once felt for each other has been forgotten; they are not now, nor ever have been, more than buddies.

A fourth season of Spin and Marty was scripted, but never filmed.  Instead Tim Considine went on to star as in a Hardy Boys adaption with Tommy Kirk and Kevin Corcorran. and as the eldest of My Three Sons on television before retiring, and David Stollery left Disneyland to become an automobile designer, and marry once. They still run into each other from time to time, at fan conventions, but they have not stayed in touch.

"Back to Fifteen": No Adult or Teen Beefcake, But a Trans Best Friend in this Brazilian Comedy-Drama

 Researching Back to 15, the new Netflix Brazilian comedy-drama about a 30 year old who travels back in time to relive her teenage years, resulted in superlatives: "the most anticipated Netflix show of the year!", "a stellar cast!", "an intriguing premise."  

Intriguing?  I've seen Back to the Future.  But I'll take a look.

Scene 1:
Establishing shot of a beautiful red-roofed town in the mountains of Brazil, 2006.  Anita, in her pastel-colored girly-girl room, is overjoyed because she has successfully created her own video blog.  She puts on her pink girly-girl shoes, and flashes her multi-spangled girly-girl fingers over the keys, writing that she likes kittens, rainbows, Paris, perfume, and the movie Amelie.  

"When will I be an adult, so I move out of this horrible small town and can start living my life?" she moans.  Like buy more pink accessories?

Too... much... girlness.... getting...faint...quick, somebody show me a bicep! Or a penis.  Or a football.

Whew, that's better.

Scene 2:  2021.  The 30-year old Anita, still in girly-girl pink sneakers, awakens in a horrible apartment with the same decor as her old room.  She's in the big city of Sao Paulo, but nothing has changed: she has no job, no boyfriend, no friends.  Mom calls: It's sister Luiza's wedding day, and she can't be late.  Plot dump: her Dad is dead, and Anita hates her sister for having a perfect life, while she's a flop at adulting.

Scene 3:
Anita at the pre-wedding reception, being all floozy, boozy, and sarcastic.  (Gay couple sighting: two guys alone at a table).  All the people she hated in high school are there, including the Groom, Douglas; the Three Bullies; and the sleazy Fabrizio (Bruno Montaleone, left), who says "Face it, your life is pretty shitty. Mine is, too."

Former best friend Henrique is now "surprisingly hot," although his adult life is horrible, too: he had to give up on his dream of becoming a musician.  Ten to one Anita hooks up with him when she goes back to the past. 

More desperate lives: Cousin Carol had to give up her dream of coaching handball when her (abusive?) husband Eduardo disapproved; meanwhile Eduardo hits on every women in sight, including Anita.  But no one in town says anything.

Finally Anita's hatred boils over, and she yells at all the wedding guests, while they stare in shock and film her on their cell phones.  Then she runs up to her old room, which has has not changed at all, lies on the bed, and asks "Where did things go wrong? I was happy once..."  All alone in the moonlight, I can smile at the old days -- I was beautiful then.  Once I knew what happiness was....Sorry, wrong show.  "If only I could undo the last 15 years and start over..."

She turns on her old desktop computer and tries to log into her old video blog. Zap!  She's 15 again!

Scene 4:  While Anita is freaking out, her 15-years-younger sister Luiza comes in: time for school!  Assuming that this is a weird lucid dream, she dresses and follows Luiza out the door.  She marvels at the ancient world of her childhood: the cars!  The clothes!  Bubblegum ice cream!  The naked performance artist!  What's wrong with this small town?  It looks like a nonstop Carnival.  

It's the first day of high school, traditionally "hazing day," where the older kids laugh, point, and yell at selected new students, thus scarring them for life.  Ana cringes, remembering the insults: "You're a freak!  A monster!  So hideous!  You should wear a bag on your head!  No one will ever love you!"  

Scene 5:  They reach the high school. Anita's best friend Henrique and cousin Carol join her, all upset over the hazing they will receive today: "We're going to die!  They'll rip us apart!"  But the adult Anita has a plan: hide.

Henrique and Anita decide to hide in the video library, where no one ever goes, but Cousin Carol opts for the courtyard.  As she runs past, Eduardo her future husband claims her: "That one's mine."   He then ridicules his friend Joel for being a virgin.  

Scene 6:  Henrique and Anita wander the stacks in the deserted library.  They see a boy-girl couple making out.  "How stupid!" Anita sneers.  Henrique reluctantly agrees: "Who'd want to kiss anyone?  It's gross!"  

They sit in the stacks, where Henrique gets all goofy-eyed with absurdly over-acted hetero-horniness.  Anita, ignoring his absurdly obvious obsession, gets all goofy-eyed over the memory of VHS tapes, which apparently they still used in Brazil in 2006.  They make a date to watch actual VHS movies that night.   Her body is 15, but her mind and experiences are 30.  Hooking up doesn't sound ethical.  

I get bored and fast forward through Henrique's interminable bad flirting.

They are interrupted by another student hiding, Cesar (Pedro Vinicius), a boy with a girl's hairstyle.  He points out that for him, every day is hazing day.  Even his brother, Sleazy Fabrizio,  bullies him (the plot thickens!).  Plus he has a boyfriend online who lives in town, but uses a fake profile and won't give his real name.  I'll bet it's Joel the Virgin.

Scene 7: Cousin Carol is hiding in the courtyard (next to the snack counter? not smart).  The three bullies approach and offer protection, but her three "nerdy friends" (Anita, bff Henrique, and Cesar) are grabbed for hazing.

The students gather in a circle to watch, laugh, and point while the three bullies hurl insults.  But the 30-year old Anita turns the tables and insults the bullies instead.  Although she includes some references to their future lives that they don't understand, they are crushed.  She gets an ovation from the students who had gathered around to laugh and point; apparently they just wanted to see someone insulted.  

Scene 8:  After school.  Cousin Carol and BFF Henrique go off, leaving Anita and Cesar, who offers to give her a makeover.  They get their ears pierced and take a selfie -- 2006 style, with a camera (remember those?).  

Scene 9: Back home, Anita posts the selfie on her video blog.  And Zap!  She's back to the future, in her old room on the day of her sister's pre-wedding reception!  Cesar comes in -- now Camilla  -- and congratulates Anita on her lovely speech.  She still has pierced ears -- it wasn't a dream!  Now everyone loves her,  and Camilla is her best friend, just because she made some minor changes to the events of a day 15 years ago.  Whew, butterfly effect!  The End.

None.  I checked the adult and teenage versions of Fabrizio, Henrique, Joel, and Eduardo, and found only one beefcake photo.  Two, if you count this photo from Paulo Muccheroni's instagram. (I don't know who he plays)

LGBTQ Characters: Cesar is transgender.  Maybe Joel is gay.  

Heterosexism:  Hey, Henrique, Anita is your best friend.  That means you are comfortable with her.  Why the jaw-dropping hetero-horny longing, as if you have just now seen the Girl of Your Dreams  waking in slow motion across the yard?

Will I Keep Watching: I definitely want to know how each zap into the past will change Anita's world in the present.  And if Cesar finally meets his internet boyfriend.

Mar 6, 2022

"Sonny Boy": Gay Villain, Hunky Crony in a High School Lost in Space

 Seeing a feminine/masculine same-sex couple hugging in the bathroom prompted me to watch Sonny Boy on Hulu, even though I generally dislike anime.  

Scene 1
: A feminine boy named Nagara (Aoi Ichikawa, left, who looks nonbinary but identifies as male)  is lying on the floor in an empty classroom.  A girl named Nozimi comes in and asks if he has a superpower.  He doesn't.  They explain the premise to each other: the world outside has vanished, or the school has vanished: it is floating alone in a dark void.  36 summer school students, but no adults, are trapped there; some have developed superpowers.  Oddly, no one is panicking; they take it as a given, unfortunate, but a common occurance.

Scene 2:
  Nagara, who is now called Hoshi (English voice by Ry Mckeand), is at a urinal in the bathroom.  Cap, a jock, is on the toilet.  They discuss what will happen when things go back to normal, and the teachers yell at them for not working on their summer projects while in the void.   They decide to "make some new rules" to maintain discipline during this down-time.

Scene 3: Feminine Nagara and his gal pal Nozimi having lunch on the soccer field.  They discuss their situation some more. Suddenly everyone gets a text message (the towers are still operational?) suggesting that they elect a leader to help them continue their studies.  

Scene 4:  The Muscular Cap is elected leader, but Evil Queen Hoshi is behind the scenes, pulling his strings.  Feminine Nagara and his gal paldiscuss their situation some more.  

Wait -- Nagara and Hoshi are obviously different people.  So, why make them look alike?  Why have Nagara announce that he is going to the bathroom, with a switch to Hoshi in the bathroom?  Sounds like the writers are trying their best to confuse us.

Another boy comes in and asks why Feminine Nagara didn't show up for his Cleaning Crew duty.  He didn't want to.  "Haven't you heard?  There are a bunch of new rules, and everyone has a job to do."  He's too self-possessed to notice.

Scene 5:
Some kids are  arguing with Muscular Cap.  Why can't they use their superpowers in school?  Where else is there?   One gets so mad that he breaks all the windows, which is against the rule "do not damage our school."  

The penalty: wearing a x-shaped mask and doing difficult math problems.  
Evil Queen Hoshi congratulates Muscular Cap on his managerial skill.

Scene 6:  Some kids discuss what happened to the window-breaking boy.  Meanwhile,  Muscular Cap and his goons track down Gal Pal Nozimi to see why she's not following the rules.  Do most Japanese schools have a carousel, or did someone zap one up with their superpowers?  She doesn't know about them, since she doesn't have a cell phone.  Muscular Cap offers her one; she breaks it.  She doesn't want to participate in their silly dictator game.  Penalty: running 100 laps.

Scene 7:
The students, led by New Character Azakezi, discuss a mutiny. Azakezi is voiced in English by Daman Mills, who looks nonbinary identifies as male. Meanwhile, another new character,  Science Boy tries to explain their situation: a void outside, but time goes on; they have to eat and sleep.  

Flashback to the day it happened: Feminine Nagara's teacher calls him in to discuss his deteriorating "mental state."  He meets Gal Pal Nozimi, who asks him out on a date; he refuses.  She criticizes his inability to make friends.  He tries to run away, and suddenly the world goes black.  So this is all Nagara's fault, for not accepting a date with a girl!

Scene 8: Azakeze and the rebels use their superpowers to twist the school like a pretzel.  They announce: "We'll be taking over now."  Exchanging one dictator for another?

Penalty: push-ups and sit-ups (apparently Cap can force them due to his superpower).  But it doesn't work on Azakeze, since he technically hasn't broken any school rules.  So Cap clobbers him with a baseball bat.

Now Cap has broken a rule!  Evil Queen Hoshi turns on him, and forces a penalty of his own: take off your clothes and jump up and down.  (I can get behind that penalty!). Everyone laugh; Cap is humiliated.

Suddenly Evil Queen Hoshi turns into the Dark Lord.  "None of you will ever leave this place!" he exclaims.  American villains speak with a British accent; do Japanese villains sound Chinese?  

Meanwhile, Feminine Nagara and Gal Pal Nozimi, holding hands, think they have found a way out of the void; it involves following a floating feather.  Gal Pal Nozimi, confident, takes a flying leap into the void, and starts to fall.  Feminine Nagara tries to grab her, but they both fall into the void.

And splash into the ocean near a tropical island.  The school comes with them. Next Episode: The Lord of the Flies.   No fair!  The void was much more interesting than a dumb desert island.

Title:  Sonny Boy in both English and Japanese.  But I don't know who Sonny Boy is.

Beefcake:  The muscular Cap nude.

Gay Characters: Evil Queen Hoshi is obviously gay.  Feminine Nagara's lack of interest in girls apparently pushed them into the void in the first place, but he "got over it" and began dating Gal Pal Nozimi. 

Gay Voice Actors:  Most of them, apparently.

Heterosexism: A romance with Nozimi is key to Nagara's salvation, AND the heterosexual couple saves the day. 

My Grade: D

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