Jun 25, 2022

Going to Movies in 1989: Keanu Reeves was still funny, Patrick Dempsey was still hot, and gay people still did not exist

 I did a lot of wandering around in the spring of 1989: a month in Turkey, visits to Paris, London, Tel Aviv, and Cairo.  But by fall, no longer in grad school, I needed a "real job," so I went to work at the Getty Consternation Institute.  How can people stand sitting at a desk for eight hours a day, five days a week, while the boss treats them like a robot and takes credit for all of their work?  But at least I had a permanent partner, Lane, a massive science fiction/fantasy fan who insisted that we go to every movie that was even tangentially related to science fiction.  I saw 17 movies in the theater that year!

January; Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure, about time traveling stoner dudes, because I had a friend who claimed to have hooked up with Keanu Reeves.  There's a homophobic slur, but so what?  The guys apologized for it later.

Dream a Little Dream, because it starred the two Coreys (Haim and Feldman), who always appeared together.  We assumed that they wer a gay couple, and didn't know about the child-sex-ring stuff.  Feldman, the star, finds himself in a dream state, which he manipulates to Get The Girl.  But at least Haim is obviously in love with him.

March: The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, because the Cute Young Thing, my ex-boyfriend's Fred's partner, claimed to have read the original tall tales as a German major at Harvard (turns out they were originally published in English in 1785).  I had no idea what was going on, except that the Baron has sex with every woman in sight, including the Queen of the Moon.

Loverboy, because who wouldn't want to see Patrick Dempsey in anything? I'd pay to watch him read silently, to himself, for 90 minutes.  Or, in this case, play a pizza delivery boy who delivers more than pizza to lonely houswives.  One of the women is named Alex, causing Patrick's parents to conclude that he is gay.  Surprisingly, they're fine with it.

 May: Miracle Mile, because the Miracle Mile is in Los Angeles, and Tangerine Dream, Lane's favorite group, is on the sound track.  Who knew that it was about a guy (Anthony Edwards) and his lady friend dealing with the end of the world?  I hate movies where everyone dies!

June: Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, because...well, it's Star Trek, and I was dating Lane, so did I have a choice?  This one is about finding God in the center of the galaxy.  Except -- spoiler alert -- the being in there is not actually God.

June: Batman, the Tim Burton version with Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader, Jack Nicholson as the Joker, and no Robin.  Lane and I brought a friend who had never heard of Batman, in comics or on tv.  How is that possible?  He thought it made no sense, but I liked the noir elements.

Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, because it was science fiction, sort of.  Completely heteronormative, but I found Rick Moranis (the husband who accidentally shrinks his kids) cute, and Thomas Wilson Brown (the boy next door who is in the wrong place at the wrong time) had a sort of teen idol dreaminess.

July: Weekend at Bernie's.  Two salary men (Jonathan Silverman, Andrew McCarthy) are stuck babysitting their boss's corpse.  Silly.  But they're both entirely cute, and they have a strong gay-subtext bond in spite of The Girl.  

August.  Shirley Valentine.  I can't remember why.  It's about a middle-aged housewife from Liverpool who goes on a Greek holiday and falls in love with a rather unattractive guy.  

August: The Abyss, because it was science fiction.  When an unidentified object sinks a submarine, drillers on an oil platform rush to the rescue, including foreman Bud (Ed Harris) and the ex-wife who dumped him just so they could get back together again.  Yawn.

Erik the Viking. I argued that anything directed by Terry Jones would be an impenetrable mess, but Lane insisted: Vikings, winged helmets, dragon ships, all that he-man stuff.  Erik (Tim Robbins) goes to the land of Hy-Brasil, where he, of course, Falls in Love.  

October: Look Who's Talking, probably because it starred John Travolta (still cute) and Kirstie Allie, the second "you're arrogant! (that is, sexy)" foil to Ted Danson on the must-watch sitcom Cheers (1982-93).  They play the single mom of a baby who doesn't actually talk to humans, and the taxi driver who falls in love with her.

November: Back to the Future, Part 2, because I knew Michael J. Fox (Marty McFly, the small-town teenager who travels to the future in a souped-up Delorean).  Here he travels to 2015 to help his future self and lookalike son and prevent a time paradox.  Of course he has a girlfriend/wife.  

November: Valmont, yet another adaption of Les Liaisons dangereuses, the 18th century epistolary novel about aristocrats who have fun destroying people's lives.  They keep churning them out, and we keep going, hoping for gay references.  

December: The War of the Roses.  It was advertised as hilarious comedy starring Danny DeVito, but it's actually a very dark drama starring Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner as spouses who destroy each other (resulting in their deaths).  Just what you want to see the week before Christmas!

"Fire Island": Five Swishy Guys Face the World of "No Fats, No Fems, No Asians, No One Over 30"


I lived in Manhattan for four years, but visited the gay resort of Fire Island only twice, in the off season.  But I heard stories of the summertime: nonstop bacchanalia, the whole island turning into a bathhouse, the swimming, dancing, and socializing just breathers amid the tricking.  Guys who lived closeted lives back in the city, who rarely hooked up and never dated for fear of Mom or the boss finding out, became intoxicated by the sexual freedom.   So I am expecting the 2022 movie Fire Island to be a sex romp.  

Scene 1 (Thursday): Asian muscle guy wakes up, thinking of that quote from Pride and Prejudice: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife."  Well, Austin was wrong: not every man wants a wife.  Cut back to see a black muscle hunk in his bed!  Surprise -- he's gay!  Not really -- I read the synopsis.  Asian muscle guy (Noah, played by Joel Kim Booster) is shocked that last night's trick is still around.  "He had the boyfriend look -- that's not me."  

Noah rushes to get to the dock on time.  He sees his "faggots" beckoning furiously from the ferry.  "Don't cancel me," he cautions. "I'm reclaiming it."   

They are all 30-ish queens who flutter and carry handbags and call each other "girlfriend."  He explains: they all met ten years ago, when they were working at a brunch spot in Williamsburg: "Bottomless mimosas."  

1.-2. Luke and Keegan (back row left), a couple, I think, dropped out of film school.

3. Max (back row right), a little chunky, reading a biography of Marilyn Albright, is super-smart but a bit of a downer.

4. Howie, his best friend (front row right), has a cushy job in San Francisco, but returns for the Fire Island trip every year.  They bonded over the anti-Asian prejudice they experienced in the gay community. 

Hey, there are five friends, and there are five Bennett sisters in Pride and Prejudice.  Could there be a connection?

Noah takes his shirt off, but doesn't draw any attention from the other guys on the ferry.   Although he's a muscle-hunk, he still has trouble hooking up in a culture that values whiteness, thinness, and masculinity: "No fats, no fems, no Asians." He's two out of the three!

Scene 3: They arrive at Fire Island, and drag their "hello, kitty" luggage all the way up to the beach house.  Most of the men they pass are cruising everyone -- except them.  Howie tries a "hello," and is told "No, thanks."  This seems a little harsh.  Surely someone on Fire Island is into feminine men! 

They are greeted with "Bitch!  I thought I smelled some bottoms!" by their lesbian fag hag friend, Erin.  (It's ok, I'm reclaiming it).  Noah explains: ten years ago she accidentally ate a piece of glass at an Olive Garden, got a huge settlement, and bought the house where they all spend a week every summer.

Scene 4: Noah and Howie smoking and drinking.  Howie is upset because Fire Island is all about hooking up, and he wants a boyfriend.  Noah scoffs: monogamy was invented by heterosexual men to maintain control over their wives' bodies.  Gay people are free from all that nonsense; so just pick a dick or two, and have at it!  Ten to one they get together. 

Howie also states that he's never had sex.  A cute, young guy living in San Francisco wants sex but can't find a partner?  Impossible!  Just walk down the street; you'll be cruised a dozen times.  I'm over 60, living in a small town on the Plains, and if I want "Mr. Right Now," I just have to go on Grindr for about 20 minutes.  

Howie agrees to let Noah set him up with a trick.  Except he has to be a nice guy.  

Scene 5: Plot complication: Mama Erin reveals to the "girls" that she's broke, so she has to sell the house.  They're too poor to come unless they get free lodging, so this will be their last week on Fire Island, ever.  

I'll stop the scene-by-scene there.  You just need to know that:

1. This movie is heftier than I expected, centering on the problems that feminine and Asian men face in a gay culture that denigrates or fetishizes them.  

2. There are lots of parallels with Pride and Prejudice.  It's easy to identify Noah as Elizabeth Bennett, Howie as Jane, Will (Conrad Riccamora, left) as Mr. Darcy, and Charlie (James Scully) as Mr. Bingley.  

3. And there's all of the foam parties, underwear parties, fetish parties, dark room hookups, beach hookups, veranda hookups, and behind-the-bushes hookups that you remember (or heard about).  I didn't think that such things still happened in the era of Grindr, and in fact Noah loses his cell phone right away, giving his erotic machinations a distinctly nostalgic feel. 

My Grade: A.

Jun 24, 2022

"The Villains of Valley View": Classic Disney Teencom about a Supervillain Family in Hiding


A sitcom commonplace sends people with magical or arcane powers to live in the mundane world, where "my secret"-type gay subtexts abound.  But usually they are the good guys.  In the Disney teencom The Villains of Valley View (2022-) they're villains; a family of supervillains in hiding. Can I still hope for gay subtexts?

Scene 1: The nuclear family watching tv: mom, teenage son (Reed Horstman, below), teenage daughter, preteen son.  Dad (James Patrick Stewart, left) brings out popcorn.  Ugh, what a cliche.  No one ever actually eats popcorn while watching tv.  

Daughter complains: "Is this what our life is now?" "Yep, this is what regular families do."  

Doorbell.  They get into fighting mode, but remember that they have to act "regular."  Mom announces what everybody knows: "It's our landlady, Cecilia, and her teenage granddaughter, Hartley."  They invite themselves in for Family Movie Night, and pepper the family with questions about where they're from and why they moved to....of all the places to hide, they picked...ugh...Texas, the worst place in the world! 

Scene 2:
Flashback to Centropolis, two weeks ago.  In their evil headquarters, the 13-year old Colby (Malachi Barton) is depressed because his superpowers haven't come in yet.  In other news, Mom was passed over for the promotion to the Council of Evil Villains.  Daughter Amy (supervillain name Havoc) is so upset that she rushes out to confront the Big Boss.  

Scene 3: Landlady and granddaughter leave (in a pleasant surprise, the teenage son never once comments on her hotness).  The family discusses why they have to be incognito:  the Council of Evil Villains is after us.  They don't like deserters?  Plus their attempts to take over the world raised the ire of many superheroes, not to mention mundane law enforcement.  

Scene 4: At the high school, Amy plans to use her sonic powers to get revenge on the math teacher for giving her Fs (because her answers are all "can't read the paper of the girl next to me").  Her brother Jake (supervillain name Chaos) disapproves, because using superpowers means risking exposure.  He suggests that she become a better person by doing non-villainous things like making friends.  Just then Hartley (landlady's granddaughter) walks by.  "No way!  She's nice, and friendly, and always sees the best in people.  That's everything I despise!"

Too late: Jake pushes them together! I'm pleased that the plot arc involves Amy befriending Hartley, not Jake dissolving into a pool of hormones over her.

Scene 5: At home, Dad is fiddling with a device to trap enemies in another dimension.  He's also built a secret lair in the basement.  Mom points out that he's supposed to be retired. 

Surprise!  The 13-year old Colby finally got his superpower: he's a shape-shifter!  They all rush out to watch him use his power to "scare the pants off the locals."  

Scene 6:
In the living room after school.  Jake (left) and Amy wait for Hartley to appear: "Remember, control your villain instincts.  Be...um, what's the word?  Oh, yeah: nice."  

Hartley tries to sell Amy on the Sunshine Club, a community service group with stupid hats.  Then it's time for Keeping Up with the Supes: a superhero reality program.  Her favorite is Starling, who happens to be Amy's arch-nemesis.  As Hartley continues to praise Starling and laugh at Amy's villain persona, Havoc, Amy runs into the kitchen and grabs the interdimensional trapper.  Jake tries to take it out of her hand, and...uh-oh.

Scene 7: Mom and Dad return, with Colby as a dog.  Jake and Amy explain the situation.  Suddenly Grandma Cecilia arrives, looking for Hartley.  To stall while Dad invents a device to bring her back, Mom forces Colby to shapeshift into her.  He hates being a girl, with the dress and the boobs.  Please tell me he doesn't find it humiliating.    To make matters worse, it's time for Hartley 's dentist appointment!  

Scene 8: The return-device is finished.  Someone has to go to the other dimension and rescue Hartley.  Dad asks Jake, but he refuses.  Doesn't want to save the girl?  A pleasant change of pace.  Amy volunteers, but she takes the wrong device, so she's stuck there until someone comes to save them both.

Scene 9: It's a creepy dimension full of floating boulders that intermittently hurl themselves at your head.  Amy uses her powers to destroy one, which makes Hartley realize that she's the supervillain Havoc.

Amy explains why they can't go back: after Mom failed to get the promotion, she was so upset that she used a sonic blast on Onyx, the head of the evil council!  Onyx then ordered her minions to destroy the family!

Scene 9:  Jake reluctantly rescues the girls.  They burst into the living room, but Colby/Hartley is there, too!  Seeing two of her granddaughter, Cecilia naturally becomes suspicious. But they dissimulate, and Hartley decides to keep their secret. 

Scene 10: Hartley and Amy bonding on the front porch.  What happened to the dentist appointment?

Beefcake: None.  No beefcake photos of the actors online, except, oddly, Malachi Barton.


Gay Characters:  Jake never expresses any heterosexual interest, but there are several girls his age in the cast list, so doubtless there was no time in an Amy-centric episode.  Amy and Hartley might have a gay subtext going on.  

A boy named Milo appears in several episodes as a snoop who suspects the family's secret.  He may be gay or gay-vague.

My Grade:  This is a classic Disney teencom, very similar to style and tone to The Wizards of Waverly Place 10 years ago.  Malachi Barton even looks like Jake T. Austin, the stand-out star of that series (left, recent photo).  There are also hints of other organized-superhero sitcoms, like The Thundermans and Henry Danger.  But this isn't really aimed at viewers who have seen those other shows.  It's for kids in junior high, who come home from school and turn on the Disney Channel, and everything is fresh and new.  I remember those day.  B

See also: The Wizards of Waverly Place

Jun 23, 2022

"Love, Victor": A Slow, Painful Coming Out Process, with Simon as Cheerleader


Love, Victor, on Hulu, is apparently a tv adaption of the movie Love, Simon, about a high school boy who comes out and kisses his boyfriend on a ferris wheel.  So why isn't it called Love, Simon: the Series?  We'll find out.

Scene 1: Victor (Michael Cimino, left) in his room.  He's just moved; boxes of stuff are yet to be unpacked.   Including a cartoon of Texas.  Could he be living in ...ugh...Texas?   He writes to Simon back home "Dear Simon, you don't know me, but my family just moved to Atlanta." Ok, they escaped from Texas.  Whew!   Why are you texting someone you don't know, and writing as if it was an old fashioned letter?  

Apparently Simon is famous at his old school for coming out, and Victor is texting him to say "Screw you!"  He came to perfect parents and supportive friends.  Some of us don't have it that easy.  Coming out in Atlanta is harder than in ugh..Texas?  Victor thought that by moving to a new school, he could finally be himself.  Nope.

Scene 2:
24 Hours Earlier: The family pulls up to an apartment complex, where Dad has a job managing wiring or something.  Teenage Pilar is upset at being forced to move 1,000 miles from the only man she will ever love; she tells Victor "If you had a girlfriend, you'd understand."  So he's not out to the family yet.

Upstairs neighbor Felix  (Anthony Turpel, left) introduces himself.  They'll be going to the same high school, Victor as a junior and Pilar as a freshman (she met the love of her life at age 14?  How is she even dating? Didn't Reba yell at her teenage daughter for just talking to a boy?).  

Scene 3: They investigate their new apartment.  Victor flashes back to his life in Texas.  "It wasn't so bad...There was just no room to be different."  In the cafeteria, the guys call a boy "a girl" because he's eating a salad.  Nothing green for real men!  If you didn't hunt it down and kill it yourself, throw it away!  

"And if you were different, it was easier to pretend that you weren't."  Cut to church, where a swishy hairdresser rejects the offer of a date with a woman. Hey, he said no.  What else did you want him to do?  Dad thinks he's a little (limp-wrist gesture), but Mom shuts him down.  "Don't say nasty things about people!"  Ok, Mom and Dad are quite homophobic.

Scene 4: Morning.  While the family is installing their crucifixes (over the stove!), Felix arrives to walk Victor to school.  He envies Victor for being the new kid, since the rest of them had their destinies written in stone years ago: one mishap in grade school pegs you for life.

Scene 5: Inside the school, the Vice Principal (never the principal) shoos Felix off.  She interrogates Victor on whether he's made any friends yet (um...it's his first day).  Well, he'll make some tonight at the Winter Carnival, where love is always in the air. In Atlanta, January weather hovers around the 40s, so they would be wearing coats, not dressed for the beach.  And who has a carnival on the first day of class?  You need students to set things up.

She continues: several years ago, a boy named Simon made a gesture of true love at the Winter Carnival that got him a standing ovation from the whole school.  Wait -- I thought that Simon was from Victor's old school in Texas, and Victor already knew him.  He was texting him in Scene 1! I'm lost.

Victor is thrilled that it's ok to be gay in Atlanta. Which will be helpful, if he decides that he's gay.  He isn't sure yet.  Please, it's obvious.  You like guys?  You're gay.  You like girls?  You're straight.  You like both?  You're bi.  

Scene 6: When the Vice Principal wanders off, Victor is ambushed by a girl named Lake, who films him for her podcast and interrogates him on his dets, like is he "cuffed": "do you have a girlfriend?"  I guess heteronormativity, the belief that gay people do not exist, is still rampant in Atlanta.  Her friend Mia appears and starts flirting with Victor, so Lake gets a clue and vanishes.  

As Mia walks away, Felix re-appears (are they on a schedule?) and congratulates Victor for acquiring the attention of "the hottest girl in school."  Boys who can think of nothing but girls.  Is this a 1980s teen-nerd comedy?

Scene 7: 
 As Felix prattles on, Victor gazes with jaw-dropping, eye-bulging, time-slowing "love at first sight" ecstasy at a boy walking in slow motion, his hair blowing in the wind.  Yep, all of the cliches transferred from 1980s teen nerd comedy Girl-of-His-Dreams to 2022 streaming comedy Boy-of-His-Dreams.  Oblivious, Felix introduces him: "My friend Benji (George Sear)"

When he leaves, Felix cautions: "Benji's gay, so you have to be careful around him.  You don't want people thinking...you know."  Whoa, that's homophobic.  Not the gay-friendly paradise you thought, huh?

Scene 8:  In the locker room, some shirtless muscle hunks are talking. "Dude, you just got to second base with her.  That makes you gay!" "Yeah, it's the same thing as having sex with a dude."  So it's not enough to kiss, or fondle a girl's breasts.  You have to do intercourse on every date, or you're not actually attracted to women?  That's messed up.

Muscle hunk Andrew (Mason Gooding) approaches Victor and asks "You like what you see.  Just kidding, I know you're not gay."  Because he's not wearing a dress? Maybe he took it off for gym class.

Victor is good at basketball, so the coach wants him to join the team.  But joining costs $500.  Huh?  They charge you to play a sport?  Victor is shocked, too, plus he can't afford $500.  

Scene 9:  At lunch, Victor notices all the evidence of amassed wealth among the students: Gucci bags, fancy watches, sushi.   He meets with his sister Pilar, who hates the school: two mean girls kept criticizing her hair and clothes.  Mia, dropping by to flirt, tells her to not worry about it, but she says something about how great Texas is, and stomps off.

Whoops, muscle hunk Andrew started a GoFundMe to raise the money for Victor to join the team.  Humiliated, he rushes over and starts yelling.  Andrew doesn't get it.  They argue; they almost fight.  Benji the Gay Kid tries to come to the rescue, but Victor shrugs him off -- can't let anyone think that he's...you know.

Scene 10: Best friend Felix tells Victor that the podcast now contains a video of the near-fight, with the caption "New kid has a short fuse."  He suggests damage control by being cool-headed at the Winter Carnival tonight.  "So what time should I pick you up?"  Victor blows his top: "I don't want to go to the Winter Carnival with you.  We're not friends."  He stomps off.  Jerk!  He's been nothing but nice to you.

Scene 11: Back home, Mom and Dad are arguing. "Don't tell me to calm down!  I knew something like this would happen!"  It seems that earlier today, Pilar pushed a girl into a wall, and got sent down for fighting.  Dad thinks that she was justified, since the girls kept calling her "terrible names."  Mom disagrees.  Victor wisely keeps mum about his near-fight.

Mom tells Victor that he's such a good boy.  She never has to worry that he'll do anything wrong, or disgrace the family in any way.  Ulp -- Victor knows what that means! Be straight!

Scene 12:  Victor goes to his room, looks up Simon online, and starts the Scene 1 texting.  Ok, an explanation. Simon was at the new school, in Atlanta, so Victor just heard about him today.   Why mix up the chronology, just to confuse viewers?   He then calls Felix to apologize and accept his invitation to the Winter Carnival.

Scene 13: At the carnival.  While Felix is off getting churros and cider, Victor gets a text: Simon wrote back.  "Coming out is hard, even with liberal parents..."  (Victor's family shows up at the carnival).  "But you'll find supportive friends." (There's Felix with the churros.) "And maybe even the One Person who will change your life forever."  (There's Benji!)  "You deserve a great story, Victor." Joel and the Bots: "Well, this ain't it."

Inspired, he approaches Benji with ferris-wheel tickets, but changes his mind at the last minute and asks Mia, instead.  Boo!  

Beefcake: Some cute boys, but no muscle.  Even the "muscle hunks" are rather skinny.  They play basketball, not football.

Gay Characters: Benji, of course.  Victor doesn't figure out that he's gay until the end of the first season, after dating Mia for awhile, which is silly.  You don't need to try sex with girls to figure out you're not into it.  It's not Brussels sprouts.

Homophobia: I know it's there to provide conflict and make Victor's coming-out process more interesting, but I still found it disturbing.  Also, it makes no sense a few years after Simon's triumphant ferris-wheel kiss.

Felix:  What was he doing before Victor arrived?  Waiting around for an instant best friend?

Standing in Line: Person A shows up, says things, and leaves.  Person B shows up, says things, and leaves.  Person C shows up, says things, and leaves.  Person A returns and says more things.  Annoyingly contrived.

My Grade: C

"The Bear": It took 3,430 f-words to realize that this wasn't about gay bears

The Bear,
on Hulu (originally on FX): everyone knows that a bear is a hairy, chunky gay man.  Plus the icon for Episode 8 looks like two guys holding hands.  On close inspection, they are not, but still, they're quite chummy.  Is it a gay-themed series?  Searching for "The Bear" and "gay" of course yields 35,000,000 hits, so I'll have to review an episode to be sure.  I chose Episode 4, "Dogs," in which Carmy and Ritchie work together.

Intro: Someone's hands making donuts.  The promo said that this was a meat restaurant, "The Original Beef of Chicagoland." No, it's Roecker's Bakery.

Scene 1:
  Behind the store, a slim bearded guy (Ebon Moss-Bachrach, left) is putting a t-shirt on a a giant inflated hot dog.  Curly-haired guy with ugly tattoos (Jeremy Allen White, below) asks why.  "Because fucking kids love fucking hot dogs, dumbass."  "I know, that's why we fucking sell fucking hot dogs."  "We're bringing this fucking hot dog to the fucking kid's party we are catering, so shut the fuck up, fucking dumb ass."  I doubt that these guys are boyfriends. About 300 "fucks" later, we get the gist: they borrowed money from a gangster, so they're catering the kid's party to avoid getting their legs broken.

They try to get the hot dog into their car, but it doesn't fit.  They begin cursing at each other (more) and throwing punches.  Not only are they not boyfriends, they actively hate each other.

Scene 2: 
In the bakery, the Chef has prepared a new chocolate cake.  Sydney, a woman, tastes it and pronounces it "ok." He is thrilled.   Sydney asks another employee about the mashed potatoes (essential in a bakery), and is told to "I have been in this kitchen since before you were born, so fuck off." I'm getting nauseated from the "fucks," so I'll substitute f***."    

Scene 3: The hot dog guys on the highway.  Slim guy is laughing hysterically over a video in which "this f**ing guy tries to f** up a f***ing little nerd, and the f*** little nerd just f***ing washes him!  F***!"  I give up.  Just assume that 3/4ths of the dialogue consists of the F word.  Ugly Tattoo guy cautions him to not bring up the stuff about Cicero (a person, not the Chicago suburb.) Cut to Cicero and Slim Guy yelling at each other.  

Scene 4: As they set  up for the birthday party, an old guy approaches Ugly Tattoo -- Carmen.  "I thought  you killed yourself." "No, sir, that was my brother."  Slim guy -- Richie -- takes a pill for his anxiety.  He didn't bring ketchup because only f* assholes put ketchup on hot dogs.  He also wants to know why Carmen brought all this "gay-ass fruit."  

Not only are they not a romantic couple, they're f*** homophobes.  I'm out.

The producers must be so homophobic that they never heard of gay bears, so they didn't expect any confusion.  Or they don't care.

By the way, Richie gets top billing, and Carmen third.  Second billing goes to "Pete," played by Chris Witaske of the comedy series What Men Want.  I'm guessing the answer is "women."

Jun 21, 2022

Going to Movies in 1988: Matthew Broderick Plays Gay, the Two Coreys Learn to Drive, and Bob Hoskins Takes His Shirt Off


1988 in West Hollywood was like 1986 and 1987 in West Hollywood.  And 1989, 1990, and 1991.  I abandoned my Ph.D. program in Comparative Literature when my committee got too picky and homophobic.  My first boyfriend Fred moved to L.A. with his Cute Young Thing Matt in tow.  I spent two weeks in Thailand, and "dated" celebrity Richard Dreyfuss.   My days were spent at the gym, in class, at at the Different Light; my evenings on dates, at parties, cruising at Mugi, or renting videos.  Going to the movies was unusual, but I managed to see twelve.

January: None

February: None

March: Biloxi Blues, because who wouldn't want to see Matthew Broderick in anything?  Even if the promo shows him with post-smooch lipstick and promises a sex romp: "The army made him a man, but Daisy gave him basic training."  This one calls out the cadets for anti-Semitism and homophobia.

March (second movie of the month!): Johnny Be Good, because the posters showed the hunky football player (Anthony Michael Hall) being grabbed by a girl and a boy (Robert Downey Jr).  So there must be a gay subtext.  In fact, the girl and the boy openly compete for his affection, and try to talk him into going to the college of their choice.  He drives off into the sunset with both.

April: None.

May: None.

June: Big Business, because it starred gay allies Bette Midler and Lily Tomlin (we later discovered that she is actually gay).  The plot is horrendously silly, something about mismatched identical twins who grow up in rich socialite and hillbilly hick families.  Nature wins out over nurture, as the girls raised in the hick sticks long for the big city, and the girls raised in the big city...well, you get the idea.  Plus they all get boyfriends.

June (second movie!)
: Who Framed Roger Rabbit, because new computer technology allowed toons to interact with live-action characters.  Plus this was the first time you saw Disney and Warner Brother characters sharing a stage.  Plus hunky bear Bob Hoskins takes his shirt off.

July: License to Drive.  We didn't know at the time that the two Coreys (Haim and Feldman) were being passed around like party favors in the ranks of Hollywood ephebophiles.  We only knew that they appeared together all the time, so they must be a gay couple, right?  The plot: while learning to drive (to impress a girl, naturally), the Coreys get into various mishaps and end up destroying Grandpa's car.  

July (second movie of the month): Die Hard, because it starred Bruce Willis, then known as the p.i. who Cybill Shepard called "arrogant" (that is, sexy) on Moonlighting (1985-88) He saves the world from terrorists and gets reunited with the wife he broke up with so they could get reunited. At Christmas.  So why did this movie premiere in July?

August: The Last Temptation of Christ, because Christians were  protesting outside all the theaters: "Please don't see this movie!"  Christians were protesting at all the gay events at the time, and it was fun to see a lot of signs and placards and hear a lot of yelling that didn't target us.   I didn't see the problem: Christ (Willem Dafoe) is tempted to abandon his mission and start a "normal" wife-and-kids life with Mary Magdalene.  But he doesn't.  

September: Moon over Parador, with Richard Dreyfuss as an actor hired to impersonate the dead president of a Latin American country.  He falls in love with the ex-president's mistress.

September (second movie of the month!)
: Running on Empty, with teen star River Phoenix (whom we all thought was gay) as a boy who discovers that his parents are 1960s radicals hiding from the feds.  Also he falls in love with his music teacher's daughter.  Of course.  On October 30, 1993, River had a seizure outside the Viper Room nightclub, five blocks from my house. He died a short time later.

September (third movie of the month!): Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.  The sarcastic bad-movie host gets involved with movie-hating yokels (a nice parody of Jerry Falwell's frothing-at-the-mouth hatred of gay people).  She falls in love with a hot guy.

October: None.

November: None.

December: Torch Song Trilogy.  Not actually a trilogy, but definitely a torch song (sad song about lost love).  Depressed drag queen Arnold (Harvey Fierstein) loses a boyfriend (Brian Kerwin) to a girl, loses another (Matthew Broderick) to murder, adopts a gay teenager (Eddie Castrodad), fights with his mom, and gets back together with boyfriend #1.  Extremely depressing, but you never saw gay people in movies at the time, so even depressing was a triumph.  

December (second movie of the month!): Dangerous Liaisons.  Two 18th-century bffs (Glenn Close, John Malkovich) have fun destroying people's lives.  The original novel by Pierre de Laclos hinted at some same-sex liaisons amid the heterosexual machinations.  Here, it's all about boys and girls.

"Shadowhunters": Will Any of This Be On the Final Exam?


Hulu advertised the vampire tv series Shadowhunters (2016-2020) in its Pride Collection under "groundbreaking LGBT characters."   I'm getting tired of angst-ridden teenage vampires, but I'll check out the first episode.

Prologue:  New York, night.  Three Bohemian types stalk an elderly Asian man, jumping atop buildings to track him better.  He bumps into a young black man, and turns into him!  Then a young white woman!  They track her into the Pandemonium club, which flashes Demon at us, in case we don't get the reference to Paradise Lost.  One of the Bohemina types (Dominic Sherwood, left) bumps into a red-haired girl, who yells at him for being rude.  "Wait -- you can see me?"

Scene 1: 8 hours earlier.  The red-haired girl, Clary, is applying to the prestigious Brooklyn Academy of Art.  She accidentally included a page of Lovecraftian monsters from a graphic novel in her portfolio -- she apologizes, but the admissions committee is impressed.  


Scene 2:
Clary tells her nerd bff, Simon (Alberto Rosende, left), the good news. Maybe Simon is gay?   She encourages him to date Maureen, his singing partner.  He scoffs at the idea, but she persists.  "How can smart people not realize when someone is in love with them."  He stares wistfully.  Great, a best friend who is secretly in love with the it-girl.  Dreadfully cliched, plus it identifies him as heterosexual.

Scene 3: 
Hunky Luke (Isaiah Mustafa)  approaches a murder scene -- a woman in a red dress drained of blood, but there's no blood around.  The seventh so far!  Instead of investigating, the Captain decides that this would be a good time to discuss his personal life: "Why don't you marry Jocelyn?"  This is the same exchange as in Scene 1.  Why is it so absolutely essential to establish that gay people do not exist in the first few scenes?  The writers didn't know that their series would be in a Pride Collection in six years. 

Plot dump: It's Clary's 18th birthday.  Jocelyn is her mother.

Scene 4:  Clary heads to Greenpointe Antiques, where Dot, a young woman wearing multiple rings, is reading Tarot cards.  She congratulates Clary on her academy admission, gives her a birthday present, a sexy top, and says she loves her.  So Dot is gay?  

Plot dump: Clary's mum Jocelyn owns the antique shop.  

The moment Clary leaves, Dot gets a sinister expression and closes the shop.  

Scene 5: Jocelyn's huge, elegantly appointed apartment. The rent must be at least $5000 per month.  Who knew that antiquing was so lucrative?  Jocelyn, who is the same age as her daughter, gives her a birthday present: a stele (knife-shaped stone) that's been in the family for thousands of years.  "And, by the way, we need to talk..."  No time now, Simon is coming over.  He has a gig tonight. Let me guess -- Clary is the Chosen One?

Scene 6:
Flashback10 years ago.  In a scary, shadowy park, Mom Jocelyn watches while 8-year old Clary tries to get a frog to attack her doll.  Sinister!  But it turns into a Lovecraftian monster instead.  Mom grabs the stele, brushes it against her arm, and zaps the monster.  She then takes Clary to see Magnus (Harry Shum Jr) -- "only a warlock can do this."

Magnus disapproves of keeping the girl from the truth, Mom persists, so he zaps Clary's memories.  Gross -- I thought he was cute until I saw that he's wearing like 530 rings.  Major turn-off!

While Mom Jocelyn is reminiscing, hunky Luke comes in.  "Sorry I'm late -- I was investigating the demonic murders."  "It's time to tell Clary," Mom says.  So tell her, already.  This is not exactly uncharted territory.  Do you know how many Chosen Ones there are in fictional media?

Clary and bff Simon come in.  "Come home right after your gig tonight, yada yada yada."

Scene 7: Clary, bff Simon, and Maureen, the girl who is in love with him, atop their van.  Their group is called Champaign Enema.  Clary mentions that she has no living relatives other than her Mom.  Maureen finds this suspicious.  So Mom was an only child.  It happens.

Scene 8:
In a scary Gothic mansion, one of the Bohemian types from the prologue is getting dressed -- weird white outfit that reveals a lot more of her body than I wanted to see.  Her older brother Alec (Matthew Daddario) asks why she is carrying a white wig.  "Because demons dig blondes."  

They go downstairs.  It's a giant spy headquarters with various agents mulling around, being busy.  The third Bohemian type from the prologue, Jace, announces that a shape-shifting demon is killing mundanes and draining their blood.  What would a demon need mundane blood for?  "We have to investigate.  I'll prepare the requisition."  Alec scoffs: there's no time to go through all the bureacratic red-tape.  Ok, one of these two guys has to be gay.

Scene 9: Meanwhile, at the gig in a small coffee house, Simon and Maureen are singing "Forever young."  He gazes at Clary longingly while Maureen gazes at him longingly.  There's no way these people could be oblivious.  Maybe they're pretending not to know.  

Afterwards, at the van, Simon strips down to reveal six-pack abs. His daily schedule: gym 6-9, practice singing 9-12, moon over Clary 12-6.  They happen to be parked in front of the Pandemonium club.  Bohemian type Jace bumps into Clary.  "Wait --you can see me?  You have the Sight.  Why haven't I met you before?"  He rushes away.

The others don't see or hear anyone, and think that Clary is crazy.  To prove that he exists, she follows him into Pandemonium.

Scene 10: A giant industrial-warehouse space crowded with gyrating Bohemian types.  The demon-hunters observe the demon making a clandestine blood delivery.  Well, not really clandestine: she announces "More mundane blood for your boss."  

A warlock lounging with girls notices Clary, and gets angry.  "Circle members aren't allowed at my club!" he yells to his henchmen. 

The female demon-hunter in the revealing white costume stands on a platform and does a sexy dance to distract the henchmen while demon-hunter Jace approaches the demon. He wants to know who she's selling mundane blood to.  Obviously the warlock lounging with girls.  She refuses to say, so he pulls out a sword.  Clary rushes to the rescue.  All pandemonium breaks loose: fights with glowing swords, demons sprouting tentacles and getting evaporated.  Clary has had enough, and leaves.

Scene 11: At home, Clary describes the events to Mom Jocelyn.  She's about to explain everything, when Dot, the Tarot-reading employee at the antique shop, rushes in: "Magnus found you.  He's here." 

While Magnus from the club and his henchmen approach with glowing swords, Mom puts a protective necklace on Clary and opens a magic portal.  "Go to Luke.  He'll hide you."  Zap!  

Scene 12: Zap!  Clary is at the police station.  Captain Vargas, who is much too young to be a police captain, or even a police officer, asks if there is anything wrong.  "Guy trouble?"  Of course she automatically assumes that Clary is heterosexual.  Gay people do not exist.  Clary goes off to find Luke.  

Meanwhile, Magnus and henchmen trash the antique shop.  Dot tries to fight them off, but they kill her.  Mom Jocelyn destroys all of Clary's stuff so they can't use it to track her.  Then she grabs a magic sword and a jar of green goop and joins the fight.

"Turn over the Mortal Cup!" Magnus yells.

"No way! Why do you want it so badly?"

"It's not for us.  It's for him."  Every boss has a bigger boss.

"What?  He's still alive?  You'll never get the Cup."  She drinks the green goop and dies.

Scene 13: Clary eavesdrops while Luke is talking to a man and a woman, the woman sitting on the table for some reason:  "When we discovered that Jocelyn was still alive, you were easy to track. Now tell us where the daughter is!"  If she's not at home at 2:00 am, how would he know?   Luke: "I don't know, and I don't care.  Kill her, if you want.  I'm just after the Cup.  And you can tell him the same thing!"  Ten to one Clary is the Cup.

Uh-oh, Luke is not an ally.  Clary runs out into the pouring rain.

Scene 14: Chernobyl?  A decadent-looking scientist is about to give an injection to a monster, when Marcus and his henchmen appear, levitating the unconscious Jocelyn.  "Hey, I told you to bring her back unharmed!"  One of the henchmen disapproves: "She betrayed the Circle!  She doesn't deserve our respect!" So he melts him to death.

Scene 15: Clary runs home to find the apartment trashed. Dot, still alive, tells her: "Rogue shadowhunters took your mother.  They're looking for the Mortal Cup. Do you know where it is?"


She turns into a Lovecraftian monster and attacks, but Jace from Scene 10 happens to be walking by, and skewers her with his magic sword.  Clary collapses. 

Scene 15: Clary awakens at Shadow Hunter Headquarters.  Isabelle from Scene 10 tells her: "I've never seen Jace so interested in a mundane.  Or distracted."  Other than establishing that Jace is heterosexual, why would you talk about that instead of explaining what's going on?  

Jace comes in and starts to explain, sort of.  "She's not a mundane.  I can tell because the seraph blade lit up when she touched it."  Alec from Scene 10 is irate: "This is impossible!  We have to tell the Clave!."   His sister drags him out.  "Why are you so upset about this  You should be happy that Jace found a potential girlfriend."  I'm guessing because he's into Clary, too.   

"I'm just upset because she ruined the mission."  Remember, they wanted to know who the demon was selling mundane blood to?  It seems like eons ago.  

Meanwhile, Clary tells Jace how hot he is, while he tries to explain again.  "We are shadowhunters.  We protect the human world from the demon world.  We can help you find your mother."  

Whoops, Simon (remember him) shows up -- he tracked her with the Find My Friend app on her phone.  Her clothes got destroyed in the fight, so Isabelle gives her a leather dominatrix costume to wear.  "And by the way, we inscribed your neck with a protection rune.  You know all about runes, right?"  Oy, it just goes on and on.

Scene 16:   Clary leaves with Jace, but of course Simon can't see him.  Suddenly Marcus from the club appears: "If you give us the girl, I'll let you live."  He and Jace fight.  Simon can't see that, either.  Finally Jace swords him to death, saying "This is for my father."  I don't think I can take much more back story.

Jace makes himself visible.  "The Circle knows you're here.  Get back inside, both of you."  Simon resists -- wouldn't you?  

Meanwhile, back in Chernobyl, the Big Bad is yelling at his henchmen about not finding the Mortal Cup.  He is surprised to discover that Jocelyn has a daughter.  Wait -- isn't he the one who sent Marcus to look for her?  I'm lost.

Beefcake:  Just Simon so far.

Heterosexism:  Nearly every boy is introduced with a conversation about liking a girl.  

Gay Characters:
  None.  The only major character who hasn't been introduced with a heterosexual identifier is Alec, so he could be the "groundbreaking LGBT character."  Or maybe it's someone who hasn't been introduced  yet, like Jon Cor (left) as Hodge Starkweather, who has something to do with the Mortal Cup.

By the way, this is his "before" picture, so we can see how much his physique has improved over time.

Premise: Shadowhunters protect humans from demons. At some point, Jocelyn and the Big Bad joined an splinter group called the Circle, but she dropped out to due to a squabble over the Mortal Cup, and to protect her daughter.  Warlocks do their own thing.  Everyone has familial interconnections and dark secrets.  The complexity is overwhelming.  Ever hear of introducing the mythology a little at a time?

Will I Keep Watching:  No.  I felt like I was taking the final exam in the advanced course of a subject I had never studied

Jun 19, 2022

Going to Movies in 1987: Sex with the Devil, A Voodoo Queen, a Spy, and a Ghost. Plus an Honest-to-Goodness Gay Romance


Might as well make a series out of it.

1987!  I was 26 years old, living in West Hollywood, and single.  Afternoons at the gym, browsing at the Different Light bookstore, Friday night parties, Saturday night cruising, church on Sunday followed by brunch at the French Quarter. My celebrity boyfriend.  A porn star at my birthday party. .  Mario in the White Room.  We rarely ventured out of West Hollywood, if we could help it, so going to movies was not a regular experience.  I saw only 11 in the theater that year.

January: The Bedroom Window, because the promos featured Steve Guttenberg's bare butt as he looked out "the bedroom window."  Male real nudity was unusual in movies in 1987, and Steve was spectacular.  By the way, he sees a murder through the window during a hookup with the boss's wife.

January (second movie of the month!): Outrageous Fortune, because it starred pro-gay Bette Midler and Shelly Long from Cheers.  They play acting students who discover that they were dating the same guy when he "dies" in an explosion.  But the body in the morgue can't be him...he was much, much bigger where it counts!  They get mixed up with spies.

February: None

: Angel Heart, because it starred Mickey Rourke, who had a boxer's physiaque, and because it was set in New Orleans: we figured that there would be some French Quarter drag queens.  There aren't.  Mickey plays a p.i. who investigates a murder and hooks up with voodoo princess Lisa Bonet. Apparently the sex scene was not simulated. 

April: Project X, because who wouldn't want to see anything that Matthew Broderick was in, even if it featured monkeys?  Actually they're chimpanzees.  And of course he gets a girlfriend.

May: None

June: The Witches of Eastwick. Three widowed/divorced Connecticut housewives (Cher, Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer) resort to witchcraft to find men, and hook up with the Devil (Jack Nicholson).  Things don't go well.  There's a lesbian subtext, but the cherry-pit-vomiting scene was nearly as disgusting as Jeff Goldblum turning into a human-fly-chair hybrid in The Fly last year.

July: Adventures in Babysitting, because it was set in Chicago, and I was feeling homesick.  The babysitter (Elizabeth Shue) and her three charges, including two teenage boys who are hot for her (Keith Coogan, Anthony Rapp), plow through the cliched streets of Chicago's South Side.  While fighting gangsters, she gets a boyfriend.  The throwaway line "Thor is a homo" is offensive today, but in 1987 we didn't think anything of it.  Anytime you interacted with heterosexuals, you heard homophobic slurs.

July (second movie of the month, although I didn't actually see it until August): 
The Lost Boys: Corey Haim, a teen idol whom we assumed was gay, and his boyfriend discover that  a pack of vampires is living in small-town Santa Carla, California.  Their leader (Kiefer Sutherland) is seducing his older brother (Jason Patric)!  Gay subtexts everywhere!

August: Born in East L.A., because it was set in L.A., and starred Cheech Marin of the stoner comedy duo Cheech and Chong (naturally, we assumed that they were gay).  He plays an American citizen, born in East L.A., who loses his passport and gets stuck in Tijuana.  Where, of course he falls in love.  But there's some rear nudity and a flash of penis as he's hanging out of an elevator.

Maurice, an actual, real gay-themed movie, based on the novel by E.M. Forster. In the 1920s, upper class Maurice falls in love with working-class bloke Alec. They don't die; they don't break up; they don't marry women as a cover.  They are together at the end.  You can see movies of this sort all the time today, but in 1987, never.  It was overwhelming.  

October: None

November: Hello, Again. A housewife (Shelly Long) dies and is resurrected a year later.  Not only has her husband moved on, she must find a new love within a month, or she'll return to the dead.  Not to worry, by the end of the movie everyone -- Shelly, her sister, even her teenage son -- everyone -- is married wth children. 

Throw Momma From the Train. Danny DeVito agrees to murder Billy Crystal's ex-wife, if Billy will murder his mother.  A comedy remake of Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train, with no one actually murdered.  The gay subtext is left nearly intact: the end the two guys (and a girl) walk off into the sunset together.

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