Apr 29, 2022
For instance, let's look at the charts for the spring of 1984, when I was working on my master's degree:
Phil Collins, "Against All Odds": a girl left him, and now he's depressed.
Lionel Richie, "Hello": a girl left him, and now he's depressed.
Ultravox, "Dancing with Tears in My Eyes": a girl left him, and now he's depressed.
Julio Inglesias, "To All the Girls I've Loved Before."
Nik Kershaw, "Dancing Girls." 'Nuff said.
But there were exceptions. A dozen songs of the early 1980s could be appropriated, read as gay-positive regardless of what the performers intended. Especially "Let's Hear it for the Boy," by Deniece Williams
The lyrics are standard pop hetero-romance, about the female singer's boyfriend, who is not rich, a fancy dresser, or a good singer, but nevertheless provides hetero-romance. In the music video, however, she praises a variety of boys, starting with with a tap dancing little kid (Aaron Lohr, later photo), who of course is not her boyfriend.
Here's another recent photo of Aaron, in a stage version of The Full Monty.
The scene shifts to a teenager who plays the piano and dances, badly, then to more teenage boys and adult men, playing chess, playing football, dancing with her, dancing with each other. Some are athletic, some aren't, some are shirtless, some aren't, but all of them are beautiful due to their exuberance, their energy, and their fun-loving joie de vivre. Who has time to even think about muscles?
Finally there are thirty men and one woman on stage. The song has become a paeon to the entire male sex.
See also: Ocho Rios: Tracking Down a Jamaican Bodybuilder.
Apr 28, 2022
"Momma Named Me Sheriff": Making Fun of the Intellectually Disabled, Gay Predators, and Female Butts
The Adult Swim cartoons I watched in the 2000s were quite homophobic, but there were a few gems, such as The Venture Brothers. So I went into the Adult Swim series Momma Named Me Sheriff" with some hope. I reviewed the episode where the Sheriff has secret encounters with a man.
Scene 3: Yo-Guy, investigating, watches as the Sheriff goes into the woods and meets Sunday Man. Satisfied that his room is clean, Sunday Man prepares to give him the ice cream sundae -- by unzipping his pants! He pulls a sundae out, but the implication couldn't be more clear: gay men are predators and pedophiles (sort of). I'm disgusted. Yo-Guy screams in horror, interrupting the activity.
Apr 27, 2022
An April morning. The last week of class, with the dreary, boring summer coming up. The highlights will be a colonoscopy and a trip crosscountry to visit relatives. I don't know which I'm looking forward to the most.
I've already checked Netflix, Hulu, and Disney for something "new and notable," and come up empty. Now it's time to check the bottom of the barrel Amazon Prime for something that isn't terrible: no plots featuring detectives with dead wives or teenage boys trying to win the girls of their dreams, no trailers featuring men and women falling in love.
1. Deadly Promises: "At Castle Park High, both Dylan and Travis have a crush on Megan. Of course they do. Dylan is played by Julian Crouser, a Denver-based actor with only six credits on IMDB, including Beautiful Boy and The Sinister Tale of Scoopy Burger. I'd watch those.
2. Only the Animals: A French movie about men and women kissing and men glaring at each other.
3. Adam and Evil: "A group of sexy high school graduates" go somewhere remote to be stalked by a psycho-killer. There is an Adam in the cast (Sean Arnfinson). The trailer shows boy-girl couples all the way down.
4. Tyfelstei: An Alpine Horror Tale: "After a serious accident, Michael Dorn wakes up in a village in the Swiss Alps." Where he meets a girl. Never, ever, under any circumstances, does a boy ever meet a boy.
5. These Streets We Haunt: Marcus, "a corporate artist who's lost his zeal for life, rents out his spare room to...." Let me guess: a hot guy who restores his joie de vivre. Nope, a girl.
Strangely, the actor playing Marcus is at the bottom of the cast list on IMDB. Top billing: Sam Brooks as Pedro, whose IMDB photo gallery has some pictures of a boy and some of a girl. Maybe they transitioned.
6. Shangri-La: No connection to Lost Horizon, the 1937 movie with Ronald Coleman discovering the mythical Tibetan kingdom. Here "Shangri-La" is the last human refuge in a postapocalyptic world. The trailer shows shooting, fighting, arguing, trudging through snow...and a man and a woman kissing...and tied-up girls in bikinis. Ugh!
7. Seven Stages to Achieve Eternal Happiness. An "offbeat comedy" from New Zealand about a man and a woman kissing, hugging, lying on the floor, kissing again, and then fighting off a weird cult. One of the IMDB reviewers trashes anyone who doesn't love, love, love this movie: they "are no doubt boring and devoid of any real joy in life." Right, people who don't like exactly the same things you like are doomed to a life of eternal misery. Sounds like the Birdy-philes who were so insistent that the movie Birdy contained the meaning of life.
8. Iberion: "Joe is a loser who is in love with a woman who doesn't even know his name." How do you love someone that you have never actually met?'
I'm having a hard time finding beefcake images for actors in any of these movies: they're all obscure, with no social media presence, or they have the exact name as 30,000 other people. So here's a random hunk.
9. Honeymoon. I'm not even trying.
10. Ragnarok: Sigurd, his kids, and a colleague set out to discover the mystery of Ragnarok, the future battle that will destroy heaven and earth. The colleague is...a woman. Did you dare to hope that he'd invite a cute guy along?
11. Kopy Kings: The hilarious misadvetures of employees at a copy store in Austria. Do copy stores still exist? Do hard copies of documents still exist? The only pieces of paper I see these days are in junk mail. But there are no men and women kissing each other in the trailer, so maybe it's not terrible.
12. Retreat: "Kate and Martin (Cilian Murphy) escape from personal tragedies to an Island Retreat. Their attempts to recover are shattered when a Man is washed ashore." Doesn't anyone learn about common and proper nouns in school? By the way, the Man (Jamie Bell, left) is a threat. It's kind, nurturing, compassionate women and glaring men all the way down.
13. Straight Edge Kegger: "After his straight edge friends go too far," a young man goes to a party where a psycho killer awaits. And he meets....a girl. Wait -- I thought "straight edge" meant someone who always follows conventional norms, never breaks the rules. How could a "straight edge" person go too far?
14. Maiden Woods: A town full of "Decent, hard-working people." I'd like to see those towns full of indecent lazy people. Then bad things start to happen (or as the blurb says, "transpire"), and former child star Lukas Haas kisses a girl.
15. Is It Just Me? A comedy about a gay man (Nicholas Downs) looking for love online, and in the ads in the gay news magazine Frontiers. I used to read that in L.A. in the 1980s, but I haven't seen a copy for years. Does it still exist? The trailer mostly shows him hanging out with his female bestie -- interesting that even in a movie about gay men, you need to portray men interacting with women.
16. Flashback. Charlie, "a female lawyer who believes in nothing but herself," takes a cab into the past to "The French Revolution, the Glorious Thirties, and the First World War," where she meets famous women: Marie Curie, Jean D'Arc, Gisele Halimi. I've never heard the 1930s described as "Glorious" before: in the U.S. they're always about bread lines, Hoovertowns, and "Brother, can you spare a dime?" The trailer shows Charlie getting naked and taking pratfalls, but not falling in love with her cabbie (Issa Doumbia, left).
17. All the Old Knives: "two CIA agents and ex-lovers (Chris Pine and Thandiwe Newton)" broke up so they could get back together in this movie. The gender of Thandiwe isn't obvious from their name, but 90% of the trailer consists of a man and a woman kissing, having sex, cuddling in bed, kissing, arguing, gazing at each other across a crowded room, and kissing.
18. Goodbye, Seventies. "The Golden Age of Gay Porn." The trailer features footage of Watergate, homophobic cops, and the Everard Baths fire, a lot of half-naked men, and a lot of women, for some reason.
19. Wrath of Man: "A mysterious new cash truck security guard surprises his coworkers during a heist with his precision skills." What's a cash truck security guard? What are precision skills? The trailer shows him shooting a lot of people, in prison, in heists, and in an office, and talking to a woman but not kissing her.
20. Horizon Line; "A couple that broke up so they can get back together again (Alexander Dreymon and....you guessed it. A woman) boards a routine flight to their friend's island wedding, but the pilot suffers a fatal heart attack, leaving them with no idea how to fly the plane." The trailer shows them kissing and having sex, then boarding the plane. So when did they break up so they could get back together? And why would they even get on a plane where the pilot looks like he fought in World War I?
Conclusion: Every movie is about men and women kissing, except when it is specifically aimed at a gay audience, and then it's about men and women talking.
Apr 26, 2022
Apr 25, 2022
The Family Law, on Hulu, is a sitcom about a Chinese-Australian family in Queensland: wildly inappropriate Mom, harried Dad (Anthony Brandon Wong), jock older brother (George Zhou, left), two sisters, and focus character, "life is unfair" Ben (Trystan Go). Sort of like Malcolm in the Middle or The Goldbergs, except that at some point Ben comes out.
Looking through the episode synopses, I don't see any indication of romantic interest for Ben, until Season 3 Episode 1: When their parents are gone, Melissa and Ben "scheme to get into a Year 12 (high school senior) party, where there will be booze and -- more importantly for Melissa -- boys." Obviously Ben is not out yet.
Episode 3: "Ben struggles with a crippling addiction to watching Klaus pump iron across the street, and is riddled with anxiety over what it means."
Episode 5: "Ben battles with his feelings toward Klaus."
Season and Series Finale: "Aunt Maisy's son has come out as gay and it's the end of the world." So they wait until the very last moment for Ben to come out! Typical! I'll watch Episode 3 instead. Maybe there will be beefcake.
Scene 1: Ben peers through his telescope to watch across-the-street neighbor Klaus (Takaya Honda, left) working out. Shirtless, extremely muscular! In voice over, he talks about how dangerous an addiction is. Sometimes you have to remove yourself. He backs away.
Scene 2: Dinner. Sister Candy and her boyfriend Wayne (Sam Cotton, below) have an announcement. Everyone thinks that they are engaged, but no, they're taking the family camping. Wayne explains: "No distractions, no temptations." Everyone hates the idea, except Ben, who thinks this might get his mind off Klaus's muscles.
Scene 3: Getting ready for school. Everyone except Ben is complaining about the camping trip: "Being raped and killed by dingos."
In the B plot, divorced Mom had a date with Pete (Jeremy Lindsay Taylor), but -- vulgarity alert -- he...um...soiled his pants.This ain't the Goldbergs! He doesn't want a second date: "It's not the right time." Mom is crushed.
Scene 4: Unpacking groceries. Mom is still crushed. Suddenly Klaus from across the street drops by: he accidentally picked up Ben's shorts after gym class. The embarrassed Ben rushes into his room; Klaus follows, and finds the telescope Ben uses to spy on him: "Hey, I can see right into my bedroom!" Then he lies down on Ben's bed. Ok, now you're deliberately teasing him.
Scene 5: The next day at school, Ben complains to his friend: "He was in my bed, touching my junk (which means something different in Australia), overstepping his bounds!" Klaus appears: he heard that they were going camping, so he's going to lend Ben his state-of-the-art sleeping bag: "But wash it first. It still smells like me." Ulp!
Scene 6: Packing up the car. It's way overcrowded. Off to the outback!
Scene 7: Everyone is there, including the five Laws, Boyfriend Wayne (Sam Cotton), divorced Dad and his girlfriend, and Wayne's gung-ho parents. They claim that the site was sacred to the Aboriginals. Then they discuss the various poisonous snakes and spiders in the area. "But don't worry -- there are first aid kits next to the eskies (coolers)."
They set up their tents. Ben isn't doing it right, so Wayne's Mom shows him how: "Man goes into woman, Bob's your uncle, and erect." Even erecting tents becomes sexual in this show.
In the B plot, everyone wonders why Mom didn't bring Pete. She gets angry, and finally claims that she dumped him..
Scene 8: Night. The couples cuddle. Ben hangs out with his older brother. Mom is alone and miserable. When everyone goes to bed, divorced Dad stays behind to talk. He thinks his new girlfriend is pregnant.
Scene 9: Ben imagines Klaus in the tent, shirtless. They almost kiss. When he awakens in the morning, he discovers that he had a "wet dream" and got semen all over Klaus's sleeping bag (a parallel to what happened with Mom and Pete). He rushes to wash it off. Mom sees him and congratulates him for "becoming a man." How does she know that it's semen and not urine? Suddenly everybody is watching. They laugh and point like junior-high bullies.
Scene 10: Breakfast. Ben accidentally squirts too much ketchup onto his egg sandwich, inviting the inevitable laughter. That's just mean. He runs into the woods. They yell "Off to have a private moment?" Come on, he's a teenager. These things happen.
Later, Boyfriend Wayne's Mom overhears them talking about Dad's girlfriend being pregnant, and thinks it's Candy, her son's girlfriend. Misunderstanding jokes.
Scene 11: Bushwalking. The misunderstandings are resolved: Candy isn't pregnant, and neither is Dad's girlfriend: she had a hysterectomy (she doesn't know the English word, so she describes the procedure in vulgar detail instead). The whole group is shocked. Mom tells everyone that she didn't dump Pete, he dumped her. The whole group is shocked again. Later Mom bonds with Wayne's Mom over the misunderstandings.
Scene 12: Campfire, night. Ben is still upset over what happened in Klaus's sleeping bag. Could this mean that he is attracted to Klaus? That he likes boys? That he's....you know...? Mom, misunderstanding his distress, tries to comfort him: "Klaus won't mind. He's a teenager. He's probably done that in his sleeping bag a hundred times." This only increases Ben's anxiety. We fade out to melancholy music.
Beefcake: Klaus working out.
Vulgarity: Lots more than I wanted to hear.
Chinese Culture: The parents and Dad's girlfriend all have accents, so they're first generation. You would expect some cultural references. But there aren't any.
Coming Out Anxiety: Ben seems to think of being gay as a "dangerous obsession." I don't understand his distress. This is around the year 2000, in gay-friendly Brisbane. Ben's sex-positive family would certainly be fine with it. Besides, his interest is obvious, and no one ever associates him with girls, so doubtless they know already.
Waiting Until the Very End of the Series: Typical.
My Grade: B-.
Apr 24, 2022
The early Hanna Barbara cartoon stars -- Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, Huckleberry Hound, the Flintstones, Jonny Quest (and Race Bannon --sigh) -- were ubiquitous in my childhood in the 1960s. I don't remember much about their cartoons, but they appeared on an endless supply of toys and games. There have been many, many parodies, revisions, and rehashes over the years. Most recently, Jellystone! (2021-22) puts all of them -- including the obscure ones you've never heard of -- into the same small town, for "slice of life"-style adventures. There were virtually no female characters in the Hanna-Barbara universe, so some of them have had a gender change. I heard that there is some gay inclusivity, including Jonny Quest and Hadji as a canonical gay couple. So I watched the episode in which the two own a bowling alley.
Intro: Establishing shot of the town of Jellystone, built in Swiss chalet style, with the inhabitants in a parade: Huckleberry Hound, Yogi and Boo Boo, and so on, oddly animated but recognizable from the 1960s. The characters who have turned female all have eyelashes, a standard signifier in animation since the 1930s. Suddenly a character I don't recognize causes the buildings to all fall over in domino style.
Scene 1: Doggie Daddy, who still talks like Jimmy Durante, pushing his now-female child Augie Doggie in a baby carriage, even though he knows that she is 11 years old. She doesn't mind. They stop for a kiss break. As she walks over to a snack cart for a sandwich, he's overcome by worry. A tad over-protective.
Scene 2: Yogi, Boo Boo, and Captain Caveman approach Doggie Daddy and ask him to a "grownups only" bowling night. What, exactly, do they have planned? He wants to go, but he's afraid of leaving Augie with a babysitter.
Scene 3: Doggie Daddy's house, which is a lighthouse. He has hired Jabberjaws, now female with a Southern accent, to babysit: "Don't worry -- it will be fun. We'll talk about boys." How does she know that the 11-year old is interested in boys?
Doggie Daddy can't manage to leave Augie, so he brings her to the bowling alley disguised as an "adult friend," Dave. Adding a moustache makes her unrecognizable, in spite of the eyelashes.
Scene 4: Bowling. Augie/Dave is bad at it, but fits in by discussing stock options with Baba Louie (now female), and braiding Captain Caveman's hair. He seems to be complaining that a guy he dated was inadequate in bed: "he said he would kabunga, but he barely even kawunga-ed."
When Augie/Dave finally knocks over a pin, Doggie Daddy kissses him. The guys look on, shocked, angry -- are they homophobic, or do they suspect the deception? Doggie Daddy explains that he kisses all of his adult friends, so they line up to be kissed. I guess they're not homophobic He is disgusted by the idea of kissing guys, so he tries to rush off. They convince him to stay.
Scene 5: Johnny and Hadji, now adults, drop a disco ball so the bowlers can dance. They aren't named, and don't speak, so you'll only know who they are by reading the plot synopsis. There's no indication that they are romantic partners.
Scene 6: Morning. Making breakfast, Doggie Daddy muses that last night was horrible, but he won't have to do it again. "Goodbye, Dave." But Augie comes downstairs in her Dave moustache. She announces that she is going to brunch -- as Dave. Daddy is shocked and horrified. He can't deal with having a nonbinary or trans kid!
Always use the names and pronouns that people prefer. "Augie" is a deadname. He goes by Dave now.
A montage of Dave saying goodbye to go to an estate sale, out for tapas, and to watch the football game. Doggie Daddy screams that he's lost his daughter! But you've gained a son. And maybe he was never a daughter at all.
Scene 7: The bowling alley. Ok, it's Quest Bowling, with the same font used for the old show, so fans will know that they are Johnny and Hadji -- if they ever show up again. Dave is playing "Duck, duck, goose" with the gang.
Doggie Daddy appears and announces: "Until today, I thought that my life was a bowl of cereal, with those little marshmallows in them. But I realized that one of those marshmallows is actually..." Something phallic? Are you going to be accepting of Dave's gender identity? Nope: "A booger named Dave! I am not going to take this and pretend that everything is ok! It's not!" Way transphobic, Daddy.
He challenges David to Hock-Ma, a mega-bowling game. (Johnny and Hadji appear again to set it up). "If I win, you promise to go back to being a girl. If I lose, I'll go live in that grave over there." You're going to commit suicide rather than face having a trans kid?
The guys tell him that he's acting like a jackass, so Doggie Daddy loses deliberately. But instead of finally accepting his son, he goes to live in the grave: "That's it! I've lost my daughter forever!," he says in tears. So Augie drops the moustache and goes back to being a girl. The end.
What...no! Boo! What kind of message does that send about gender diversity? Doggie Daddy should have accepted his child, boy or girl.
And what about Johnny and Hadji. The writers tweeted that they couldn't be explicit about the couple, but "in our minds they are happily married." So you can have gay characters as long as no one watching the show has any idea that they are gay.
My Grade: F-.
See also: Yogi Bear and Boo Boo.