Sep 15, 2022

"Heartbreak High": Lots of Hookup Secrets at an Australian High School

 


Heartbreak High, another Netflix series about a girl revealing all of her classmates' secrets.  Sure, I'm game.  Maybe there will be gay characters.

Scene 1: A little girl calls her classmate's crocodile picture "shit," and gets the finger.  Amerie narrates: "Harper and I have been friends ever since." Fast-forward to their teen years, when they're watching various heterosexual couples and making nasty comments.  "That's how the incest map came about."

They drew a diagram of everybody at school who hooked up with anybody else, with a handy legend detailing blow jobs, teabaggging, and so on.  Some they had heard about, and others were just "destined," like Amerie's plan to spend eternity with the Boy of Her Dreams, Dusty.  They reasoned that this map would make them queens of the school, but it didn't work out that way.  Cut to Amerie in the nurse's office with a bloody nose. You mean not everyone was thrilled to have their secret affairs broadcast to the whole school?

Scene 2:  Eight hours earlier.  Amerie fights with her little brother, gets criticized by her mother, and storms off.   She gets picked up by two girls, and wonders where bff Harper is.  "Dunno.  Bitch wasn't in front of her house."

They sing and frolick through the town.  When a carload of boys in panama hats mock them, Amerie gets even by throwing her drink at them and yelling "Rapists!"  

Scene 3: They arrive at the high school.  Amerie gets mocked by a boy named Spider, drools over the Boy of Her Dreams, and deliberately bumps into  femme gay boy Darren (James Majoos) and his platonic life partner, Quinn.  

The incest map has been discovered; everyone rushes to look.  Pink haired girl gets yelled at by her girlfriend for scissoring someone else.  Spider's friends conclude that he's "into dudes" for hooking up with the femme gay boy, Darren, who counters "What makes you think I'm a dude?"  

Scene 4: School assembly.  Bff Harper arrives with a shaved head.  Everybody stares and comments.  Headmaster yells at them for the map: it's ruined their reputations, and the reputation of the school.  We're calling your parents, cancelling all school events, and requiring sex ed classes.  

Scene 5: Headmaster asks Amerie the details of the hookups.  "Was it all consensual?  Did the two girls who scissored use contraceptives?"  Um...I don't think they're going to get pregnant.  "Oh, and one more infraction, and you're expelled."

Scene 6: Amerie tracks down her bff Harper and asks "Why haven't you answered my texts?"  "We're not friends anymore.  Fuck off!"  Harper swings; they fight. Everyone mocks and films them.  An awful lot of mocking at this high school.  


Scene 7: 
 Amerie leaving the nurse's office with her bloody nose.  Everyone points and glares and whispers hateful things -- because of the map, not because of the nose.  Pink-Haired Girl yells at her: "The map is real dog, dude!"  

Scene 8: The incest map criticized Darren's bff Quinn for having a "dusty kebob."  She doesn't know what it means, so Darren tells her: "Giant flaps."  I don't get it.

Suddenly the principal calls for everyone named on the map.  The boys include Dusty (Josh Heuston, top photo),  Spider (Bryn Chapman Parish), his buddy Ant (Brody Townsend, left), femme boy Darren, Cash (Will McDonald), and new kid Malakai (Thomas Weatherall, below).  If he just arrived today, how can he be on the map?  Time for mandatory Sex Literacy Training (SLUTS).  

First exercise: everyone walk around the room and shake hands with three people.  Suppose that Spider had genital crabs, and the handshake was sex, how many of you would have them, too?  Everybody.  So just buy some RIDD at the supermarket. 


Scene 9: 
 Dusty wants to know why he's connected to Amerie on the map, when he doesn't remember hooking up.  Spider explains that the gold line means "destiny."  This embarrasses Amerie, who rushes off. But you're the one who drew the map.  Didn't you expect him to find out about your crush?

Scene 10:  Femme boy's bff corners Amerie in the girls' room and tries to bond with a story of her own embarrassing experience.  When that doesn't work, she wonders if Amerie is about to do a 13 Reasons Why (a Netflix series referencing a Netflix series.  How incestuous!).

Scene 11:  Sex ed teacher complaining to headmaster that the textbook is "outdated and heteronormative."  "Tough, deal with it."  

Next she tries to bond with Amerie (first mocking, now bonding): "I thought your map was beautiful.  The connections were poetic."  

Whoops, a boy upstairs mocks Amerie, so she throws a rock at him and breaks a window!  She runs away to avoid being expelled.

Scene 12:  Naked boy butt!  Darren is having sex with one of the Panama Hat boys.  Then he steals the boy's Panama costume and exits down a royal staircase, waving at the other ultra-richster boys.  

Still in Panama hat disguise, he applies for a job at a walk-up restaurant.  The disguise is necessary because there's a ban on hiring kids from Hartley High. (So how can he explain an ultra-richster Panama hat boy wanting a job?)

Home.  He -- sorry, they use they/them pronouns.  They sneak into the house, change into their regular clothes, and meet the parents in the kitchen.  Stepdad: "The boys are coming round to watch the game tonight, so could you not be here?  They won't understand the they/them business."  They argue; Mom suggests staying with Dad tonight.  Darren storms off.

Scene 13: Amerie stops by former bff Harper's house, but her Dad says she's not home.  So she goes to the beach and cries, and then goes home, where Mom is horrified by her "wagging the school."  Also, "we need to talk about sex." Abstinence until marriage? 

Switch to Harper with another family.  She helps preteen girl color a picture of Jesus.  Then the family goes around to say what they're grateful for.  Harper says something nasty.  They cross themselves.  Evangelical Christian Catholics? Or do the writers think everyone is Catholic?  


Scene 14: 
Looking for a place to spend the night, Darren asks Panama Hat Boy, Jacob (Shaye Hutchins), but he refuses since they stole his clothes and his Maniki Fortune Cat.  They try their bff, but there's no answer.  The only remaining option is camping on the beach.  

Scene 15: Morning.  Amerie has cut her hair, and is comatose with depression.  Mom drags her off to a burger place, but she won't eat.  She wants to be homeschooled. 

Meanwhile, Darren washes up in a public restroom (chest shot), and goes to their job at the restaurant, where they can't believe that Cash from school is working as a delivery driver. "It's a cover for my drug dealing."  Then they see Amerie.  They offer to fix her horrible hairstyle (hoary old gay hairdresser stereotype?)

They do the deed, with Darren's bff (Quinn) tagging along, in a shopping cart on the roof, meanwhile discussing why Harper hates her now.  The friendship ended at a music festival last week, but Amerie doesn't recall anything unusual.  They all try scream therapy: "My best friend dumped me!" "I'm a reject!" "I have a lazy kebob!"

Scene 16: The cemetery, where all the high schoolers hang out at night.  The three rejects are nervous, but try to make a grand entrance.  Everyone stares menacingly except for New Kid Malakia, who offers beers and distracts the haters with a robot dance.  

Amerie got bff Quinn's "lazy kebob" characterization from Spider, so Quinn confronts him with a file folder of photos of kebobs (vaginas).  Hers is not particularly big.  "You would know that if you had ever seen one," she continues, insulting his sexual proficiency. 

Darren asks Cash why he doesn't just drop out of school, since he's 18, and he's got a good job as a drug dealer.  

Amerie and Boy of Her Dreams Dusty flirt and kiss.  Then she asks Harper what happened at the music festival to elicit her hatred, but Harper won't say: "I just want to move on.  Get out of my life." 

Scene 17: Darren heads home.  They sneak in through the window. Uh-oh, it's Stepdad, about to clobber them, thinking that they are a burglar. 

Meanwhile, the police break up the party at the cemetery.  Everyone scatters. Dustin and former bff Harper run off together.  Later, someone starts the map again, with the line "Dusty fucked Harper." Uh-oh.  The end.

Beefcake: Boy butt.

LGBT Characters: Some lesbians, a nonbinary male-presenting person who has sex with several guys.

The Big Mystery: What caused the breakup.  That's a little thin;hopefully there will be more.

My Grade: B

Gidget and Her Boys

During the early 1960s, there was a surfing craze. The Beach Boys were singing "Surfing Sarfari" (1962) and  "Surfing U.S.A." (1963). The documentary Endless Summer (1966) followed buff young men around the world in search of the perfect wave. Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello starred in seven surf-and-sun movies: Muscle Beach Party (1964), Beach Blanket Bingo (1965), How to Stuff a Wild Bikini (1965).


And in the fall of 1965, the 19-year old Sally Field, soon to become one of the most accomplished and successful actors in Hollywood, played Gidget, the "girl midget" who dares enter the male-only surfing world  (a role originated by Sandra Dee in 1959, and based on a novel by Frederick Kohner).

It aired on Wednesday nights after teen fave rave The Patty Duke Show, and was expected to draw a similar audience.  It was hip, in color, with a modern soundtrack and lots of exterior shots -- almost unheard of for a sitcom.  But in 1965 there was usually just one tv set per household, and the grown-ups all wanted to watch The Beverly Hillbillies or The Virginian,  so it wiped out after only 32 episodes.

Too bad.  It had a lot for gay kids to like.  Fortunately, it's available on DVD.

1. Although Gidget and her best friend Larue both have boyfriends, they seem more social necessities and objects of competition than conduits of desire.  The main emotional bond comes between the two girls.

2. And for the gay boys in the audience, there is an endless parade of beefcake.  In color.


Gidget's main boyfriend, played by Peter Duel (who would go on to Alias Smith and Jones).
















Her boy pals, played by Rickie Sorenson and Michael Nader, left (nephew of gay actor George Nader)
















Martin Milner of Route 66 and Adam-12 as the surfing great Kahuna.


















Lots of muscular guest stars lounged in swimsuits on the beach,  included Dick Gautier, Walter Koenig (Star Trek), Daniel J. Travanti (left), and Tim Rooney (Village of the Giants).

Sally Field went on to star in The Flying Nun and become one of the most respected actresses in Hollywood, but she still has a soft spot in her heart for Gidget and her boys. 

Sep 14, 2022

"Bite Sized Halloween": 3-Minute Horror Stories with Cute Guys


It's 48 days to Halloween, but the ghosts and pumpkins are already decorating houses, tv commercials involve cobwebs, and the movie/tv recommendations on streaming services are all scary.  At least I haven't seen any Santa Claus hats yet.  

The Hulu series Bite Sized Halloween consists of two seasons of 3-minute horror stories.  They are a mixed lot. 

 Some give away the plot instantly:

An obnoxious airplane passenger (David Banks) refuses to give up his seat, so he must be forcibly ejected...


Some have (very short) Twilight Zone-style twists:

An office worker  (Casey Feigh) refuses to hold the elevator door open for an old lady, who....









Some feel lik the beginning of a regular-sized movie, and end at a frustrating point:

A man (Aaron Thomas Ward) searching for his brother investigates an old house, where there is a doorway to a parallel world....

LGBTQ representation is also a mixed bag.

8 of the 28 first-season episodes specifically involve heterosexual romance, and 6 involve parents and children.  None mention same-sex couples or LGBTQ people.

The second season is a bit more inclusive.  4 of 18 episodes involve heterosexual romance, 2 involve parents and children, and 3 mention LGBTQ persons:

Nonbinary: "The New Nanny."  An actual witch, complete with black hat, becomes the nanny to a boy who likes to wear dresses (not really nonbinary, just into drag).  He wears his pretty princess dress to the park (to play soccer?  Buy him a skirt!).  A bully starts mocking him, whereupon the witch-nanny..... 

Bisexual: "Unicorn": A bisexual man wants to become a unicorn (a regular sex partner) for a male-female couple.  He appears at their apartment with flowers, which strikes me as odd for a sex partner, and just makes out with the woman.  Turns out that they have nefarious intent.  (A rare 13-minute long episode).

Lesbian: "Freebirth": A lesbian couple go into the woods for a "natural" childbirth.  Things go wrong, but fortunately a heterosexual couple...

Three episodes out of 46 is about 6%.  Better than 0%, but one wonders what happened to the gay men.  At least the guys are cute. 

Kalevipoeg: Gay Epic Hero of Estonia

When I was visiting Estonia in the summer of 1998, I couldn't go anywhere without hearing about Kalevipoeg.  There were a dozen public statues of him, a naked, muscular god carrying small people.

There was a Kalevipoeg Sculpture Park in Tallinn.

There was a Kalevipoeg Museum near Kaapa, which became a full Theme Park in 2007.

There was a chain of Kalev Chocolate Shops.

Teenagers were filming adaptions of his adventures for  school projects.







Kalevipoeg Imprisoned, Enn Poldroos
Museums were crowded with sculptures, murals, and paintings, often emphasizing the god's superheroic endowment.



















Kalevipoeg at the Gates of Hell, Kristjan Raud
Or muscular backside.

Bookstores were teeming with books that praise Kalevipoeg as "James Bond and Chuck Norris put together."

So who is this guy?

He's the son of the god Kalev in The Kalevipoeg,  the Estonian national epic, culled from ancient myths by Friedrich Kreutzwald and published in 1853.

The youngest of  Kalev's children, but the biggest, strongest, and most resourceful, Kalevipoeg has many adventures.  He:
1. Swims to Finland to rescue his mother from an evil wizard
2. Gets a cursed sword from the Finish god Ilmarin.
3. Wins the throne of Estonia in a stone-throwing contest.






Kalevipoeg, Amandus Adamson
From then on, his companion is Alevipoeg, with whom he:
4. Fights a water demon and a sorcerer.
5. Travels to Porgu (Hell) twice.
6. Seeks out the edge of the world.
7. Fights an apocalyptic battle with the demon Sarvik and his army.

When Alevipoeg is killed, Kalevipoeg is so grief-stricken that he gives up his kingdom and becomes a hermit.  When he dies, he goes to Heaven, but is deemed so valuable that he is tied to the gates of Porgu to keep the world safe.

Kreutzwald was inspired by the Finnish Kalevala, also compiled from ancient myths, and set to verse by Elias Lönnrot in 1849.

But there's a big difference: the Kalevala is all about the quest after the Eternal Feminine, the gods Ilmarin, Väinämöinen, and Lemminkäinen searching for wives.





Kalevipoeg, Drisil Woan


But except for one short maiden-seduction early on (which, admittedly, gets a lot of attention), Kalevipoeg is oblivious to women.  When he rescues three maidens from Porgu, he busily tries to find them husbands, never attempting to seduce them himself.

He is all about masculine buddy-bonding, first with his brothers, and then with Alevipoeg.


A gay epic hero?









Kalevipoeg Mural, Tallinn
In addition to the many literary and artistic adaptations of The Kalevipoeg, there's been a ballet featuring the Kalevipoeg Suite, by Eugen Kapp, and a stage play, a "Cool Epic" starring Tanel Saar, that has toured Europe and the U.S.

See also: Kristjan Raud: Mesmerized by Male Beauty and Yuri and I Cruise in Estonia.
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