Nov 5, 2022

"The Secret of the Greco Family": Lesbian Text, Gay/Bi Subtexts in a Kidnapping Family in 1980s Mexico

 In the promo to Mexican series The Secret of the Greco Family, a middle-aged man in a ritzy kitchen puts on a ski mask and takes a tray of food down a secret staircase.  I think "100 to 1 he's got a girl tied up down there."  Surprise!  It's a guy! 

 There's no big mystery -- the guy is being held for ransom -- but just having a Man in Distress instead of a Damsel incites my interest.  

Problem: this tv series is based on a real kidnapping family in Argentina in the 1980s, so there will doubtless be no gay characters.  Maybe some daring boy-on-boy rescues, though.

Scene 1: Tribune of Justice, Jalisco, Mexico, 1985.  Andres Greco (Manuel Masalva, top photo), a  bearded young man,  is interrogated by the police.  He claims that he had no choice: his father forced him. The interrogator: "Gustavo Balbuena tells us that you were in charge of the gate, so you could have helped Gael escape at any time."  

As Andres is led out of the interrogation room, he runs away, jumps from a second-story gallery, and crashes into a glass display case below.  He's still alive, but severely injured.

Scene 2: 
 Flashback.  Andres playing polo, the Sport of Kings.  He and his teammates frolick naked in the showers (bare butts, no cocks), then get dressed and head into a small party at the country club.  

He kisses his girlfriend and shakes hands with Gael Espinoza, the future kidnapping victim.  Gael (Junior Pisanu) seems a bit feminine, dressed all in pink, with a sweater wrapped around his neck.   Maybe he's gay-coded?  Nope, he compliments Andres on having "pretty sisters."  

He offers to give Andres and his girlfriend a ride home. They have no car?  I thought they were rich.

Scene 3:  The upper-middle class Greco house.  Mom and a daughter are cooking, and another daughter, Abril, is roller-skating.  Andres and his girlfriend enter, and get grabbed by brother Dario (Alejandro de Hojos, bottom two photos), on a surprise visit home (he lives in Baja California).  

Scene 4:
Andres wonders why Dad (Fernando Calunga, left, old photo) is hiding out in the bathroom, smoking and drinking but know.  He explains: "In the life of every man, there is a moment of lucidity where you can choose your destiny or remain a nobody forever."   That doesn't explain the bathroom, dude.  After several epigrams of a similar nature, Andres asks why Dad sent brother Dario a letter saying he was in bad health, when he's fine.

Scene 5: Apparently Dad didn't answer (except in epigram): Dario and Andres are discussing the mystery.  Andres tells a story of the epigrams Dad delivered back when he went to the Open with Prince Charles (whew, this guy is gliterati). Sister Abril comes in and complains that Andres is always being featured in teen magazines.  They frolick.

Meanwhile, Dad gets ready for bed.  A closeup of his bare foot.  He steps on a cockroach, then decides to let it go and says "Goodnight, Beautiful"  Is he talking to the cockroach or his wife? 

Scene 6: In the morning, they sit down to breakfast. Dad compliments Abril on how beautiful she is (creepy, dude!).  

A young nun arrives for older sister Sabrina; Mom sends her upstairs to wake her up.  Whoa, and she does: the two girls caress each other's faces.  They are secret forbidden lovers!   

Scene 7: Dad takes daughter Abril into the basement bathroom and instructs her to scream, while older daughter Sabrina listens upstairs in the kitchen.  Very creepy!  Andres, still in his underwear (bulge shot), wants to know what's going on.  Dad won't say.

Scene 8:
Dad in his office.  He has just told son Dario about The Project, but he won't tell Andres until the right moment: "When the boy is playing polo, he's something, but off the horse, he's nothing,  But you're ok.  You understand."

Scene 9: A party at Andres' house, the women in skimpy bikinis, the men fully clothed except Gael, the rich kid, wears his shirt open.  He and Andres discuss business ideas, then dance, snort cocaine, and make plans to go on go-karts.  Weirdly childish, but apparently Gael has a dedicated go-kart track on his estate.  

Scene 10: Andres awakens in his bedroom.  Dad sits at the foot of his bed, giving himself a foot rub. That's the second close-up of Dad's bare feet in 17 minutes.  Does someone have a fetish?   

He circumambulates about the Project: "I have a lot of debt, and people are threatening to hurt your sisters. Do terrible things to them.  When I was a cop, I arrested a lot of kidnappers, but they were clumsy and did a bad job.  We won't make mistakes."   

Next he justifies the kidnapping by pointing out that the rich got that way by exploiting the poor.  It's only just to take some of their money.  I'm confused.  Isn't Dad rich?  He lives in a mansion, and his son plays polo with Prince Charles.  Finally he asks Andres to choose one of his rich friends to become the victim.

Scene 11: Church.  The Nun and Older Sister Sabrina are sitting together. Dad and brother Dario take the consecrated host in their hands instead of their mouths.  I'm not sure why this is significant.   

Afterwards, Andres, Sabrina, and their romantic partners flirt in the town square.  Dad's friends offers to set him up in business, but he refuses.  That's two people who have offered to help the family financially.  I think Dad and Dario just like the idea of committing a crime.

Scene 12: Dad discussing logistics of The Project with Dario and two older guys.  Andres has the job of luring Gael to the pickup spot.  

Meanwhile, Mom and her friend Lupe are taking tennis lessons and discussing how handsome their instructor is.   Andres arrives just as they leave, enters the country club, sees Gael, and feels guilty.  He goes home, where the gang is preparing the victim's cell and the van, and lies down on his bed, feeling guilty.

Scene 13: Morning.  Dad criticizes younger daughter Abril for wearing her skirt too short.  Andres goes to a party at Gael's house, and runs into his Uncle Hugo, Dad's partner from when he was a cop.  Five parties so far, and this is the first where Gael is shown with a girl.   

Andres asks Gael "Are you busy?", and he responds: "No.  Shall we all head upstairs?"  Flashing signficant looks, Andres, Gael, and the Girl head upstairs -- for a three way?  So Andres and Gael are bi?

Meanwhile, Dad and the gang argue over how to split the money.  Dad wants a larger portion, since his sons are involved, too.

Scene 14:  Older sister Sabrina and her nun-girlfriend are doing girl stuff when Andres stops by the room with his shirt off, to see if he turns on the nun.  He does.  Then Mom drags Sabrina off to a massage session, in spite of her protest that she wants to stay an empty house...with her girlfriend.  

While the women get massages, Dad and Andres start the kidnapping.  "He won't be a good victim.  He knows Uncle Hugo, your old cop partner."  Dad is upset, but it's too late to choose another victim now.

Everyone waits in their separate cars and van for Gael to drive by and see Andres on the street.  He explains that he's waiting for his girlfriend to get out of class.  Gael offers him a ride.  Suddenly the guys put a bag on Gael's head, punch him, and drag him into the van, where they use chloroform to knock him out.  But won't he wonder why Andres didn't intervene?  

Andres runs home and opens the gate so they can drag Gael in, then starts crying.  Dad orders him to go to the club for polo training, like usual.

Scene 15:  Polo training, followed by nude-butt showering.  Dad and Dario are back home, watching tv. The women return from their day-long massage and begin preparing dinner.  Andres returns from practice, glances at the hidden door, and feels guilty.  They sit down to dinner, and say the Lord's Prayer.  The end.

I fast-forwarded through the rest of the series.

Beefcake: Mostly Andres, showering, in underwear, and having sex with two women in various positions.  

Foot Fetish: One or more closeups of a man's bare feet in most episodes.

Gay Characters:  Older daughter and nun have a canonical gay relationship, complete with kissing.  

No more hints that Andres is bisexual, at least none that I could see by fast-forwarding.

Dario is never shown interacting with women, and seems to be falling in love with kidnapping victim Gael:   "We talked all day.  When I wake up in the morning, the only thing I can think of is seeing him again."  He also flirts with the second kidnapping victim (and tickles his bare feet, of course).  It remains subtext, although the scene where he practices oral sex on a banana comes close to text. 

Nov 4, 2022

"Out of Body": A Gay Spirit is in Love with His Best Friend

Out of Body
, on Amazon Prime: "When a demon takes possession of Malcolm's body on Halloween, his spirit is trapped in his friend Henry's house. Believing spirits who linger must complete "unfinished business" before they depart, Mal thinks his task is to help Henry fall in love. Even though Mal's been in love with Henry for years, he valiantly tries to hook up his friend with a hot new neighbor."

This plot synopsis is gibberish. When a demon possess you, you're not actually dead, just being controlled.  So is Malcolm dead anyhow, and trapped in Henry's house while his demon-controlled body does whatever it wants?  If he completes his "unfinished business," will he go on to the afterlife, or get his body back?   I have to watch this, to see if they just have a catatonic blurb-writer, or if the whole movie is gibberish.

Scene 1: The young, not particularly buffed Henry (writer/director/star Jason T. Gaffney) jogs -- in the middle of the street! -- through a desert-country suburb festooned with Halloween decorations. He stops to stretch, and gets cruised by a guy in a suit (Max Torrez)-- who is walking in the middle of the street!  Haven't these people ever walked anywhere before?   This makes Henry recoil in homophobic panic.  So the "unfinished business" is to hook up your straight friend with a woman?  He rushes in the house, takes off his clothes, and calls someone named Gina, no doubt his girlfriend. about his candy-corn cupcake recipe.  

"Malcolm will coming to the party late," he complains.  "Yes, tonight would be the perfect...well, what am I supposed to do, grab him and kiss him?"  Wait -- I thought Mal was in love with Henry, not vice versa.  And isn't Henry straight?  Why did he just have a gay-panic over a guy cruising him?   

Scene 2: 
 Mal (Kevin Held, left) arrives at the party late, while Henry is passing out candy -- and hugging trick-or-treaters.  Hugging?  Do the writers know how trick-or-treating works? Or is he saying goodbye to a little-girl party guest?

He greets the other party guests, Gina and Carl (David Singletary).  The party consists of the host, his unrequited crush, and a straight couple?  That's just sad.  Henry presents Mal with a candy-corn cupcake that he had sitting on the floor?  On a plate, but  still gross.

Carl is new to the group, so Gina gives him a plot dump: Henry is a freelance photographer, and Mal has a high-power businessman job.  They're just friends, even though they are perfect for each other and have been inseparable for 12 years.  Henry has actually been in love with Mal for all that time, but he's also interested in the hot neighbor  -- the guy in the suit who cruised him this morning.  Wait -- he ran away from a guy he likes, who was displaying obvious interest.  Is he, like, twelve?

Then they discuss the spirit realm, trapped spirits, and so on.  They brought a mystical orb which glows different colors depending on the mood of the people present -- notably red if there's anyone "recently dead" around.  Finally they get down to party business: a ouija board.  Wait -- they don't even play with it -- Gina and Carl pack it up and leave.  All that buildup for nothing!

Now just two guys at the party, struggling to ignore their intensive attraction because it's necessary for the plot.  Finally Henry kisses Mal, who is shocked, having been oblivious to his mooning for 12 years.  

They are interrupted by a knock on the door.  As Henry goes to answer it, Mal is jolted and whooshed, and collapses onto the couch in the recently-deceased position.   Henry thinks he fell asleep, covers him with a quilt, and goes to bed.  The orbb glows red, indicating that Henry is dead.

Scene 3:  Morning.  When Henry awakens, Mal is gone -- he must have left during the night.  Maybe he was upset by the kiss?  Henry calls to apologize -- no answer.  Except -- when he leaves to go jogging, Mal's body is still on the couch!

Mal awakens, disoriented.  It's difficult to walk or move objects, like the romance novels Henry keeps in the kitchen.  Why are there romance novels in the kitchen?  There's also a hidden stash of photos of Mal.  Why would a professional photographer have to hide photos of his best friend?  It would be weird if he didn't have any.  And why would you hide anything in the kitchen, where guests will be milling around, looking for glasses and such.

Henry returns, but Mal doesn't see or hear him, so he gets on the phone to Gina and discusses how much he is in love with Mal,  who of course overhears everything.   He thinks Mal isn't answering his phone due to being upset over the kiss.

Scene 4: 
 Gina and Carl come over to comfort Henry in his distress over not being able to contact his friend for two hours. My mistake -- they're not a romantic couple, they're gay man-straight woman life partners, like "Will and Grace,"   They can't see or hear Mal either, so he gets the idea that he's a ghost.  But, he wonders, where's my body, and why am I haunting Henry?  Maybe Henry murdered him with a poisoned cupcake, and buried his body in the back yard!  That's rather a unusual leap, but who would imagine that an evil spirit kicked him out of his body and took it to a sex club?  

Scene 5:  Mal discovers that, with great effort, he can push a photo off the table, change tv channels,  click on a laptop (which Henry instantly closes), and spell a message with candy corn (which he scatters when he climbs out of bed naked)  All of Henry's books are by Suzanne Brockman, who happens to be the co-writer.  She has published over 100 novels, mostly romances, and won a lifetime achievement award from RWA, the Romance Writers of America. 

Scene 6:  Night.  Henry leaves the house on a mysterious mission, and parks in the wilderness in the dark.  He walks toward the woods.  Is he going to a secret meeting of Cthulhu worshippers?   No, he went out for Thai food! Bad lighting, camera angles, and somber music made it seem like he was doing something mysterious and sinister...and interesting.  Darn.

Back home, Henry doesn't eat his Thai food.  He calls Gina to see if there's any word from Mal, who is still struggling to find a way to communicate.  These scenes of Ghost Mal trying to communicate with Henry are becoming tiresome.  When is the demon-possessed Mal's body going to show up to wreak havoc?  When is Mal going to start playing matchmaker?  

Scene 7:  Mal tries to communicate with Henry some more.  He is unsuccessful, but at least Henry realizes that he's being haunted.  He suspects that it is a very elaborate Halloween prank (even though it's now like November 4th), but he agrees to call Pat the Crazy Ghost-Hunting Lady.

Scene 8: Pat, the Crazy Ghost-Hunting Lady, brings her crazy measuring devices to the house.   She's completely wonky, sensing a spirit in the wrong part of the house, but not Mal standing right in front of her.  Plus she thinks that it's "female."  Is that the stereotype that gay men are all feminine?  But she finds a way to communicate through "whooshes" of wind: one whoosh for "yes," two for "no."  Pat soon discovers that it is actually Mal, but Henry still thinks that he is being pranked or scammed.

I'll stop the scene by scene there.

Beefcake: Henry takes off his clothes a lot -- the six pack abs in the top photo are not there.  Mal doesn't take anything off, because of course ghosts are trapped wearing whatever they had on when they died.

Gay Characters: All of the men, none of the women.

Spoiler Alert:  The demon occupying Mal's body eventually shows up; he's been having fun in Las Vegas (no exterior shots).  There's a nonsensical "who will sacrifice himself for the other" scene, before they vanquish the demon, Mal gets his body back, and they express their love for each other.  The hot guy from the first scene never appears again.

Nov 3, 2022

"Dive!!": Japanese Anime Featuring Bulges, Biceps, and Longing Gazes

 Most Japanese anime series devote about 70% of the run time to close-ups of women's breasts, but Dive!! (with two exclamation points) is somewhat different: instead of boobs, we see biceps, bulges, pecs, and abs filling the screen.  Most of the characters are in high school, but we'll assume that they are of legal age, so it's ok to look, and the camera certainly expects us to.   I reviewed the first episode. 

Scene 1:  A little boy, Tomoki, follows his dog to a swimming pool, and is mesmerized by the diving boards, and by a boy getting ready to dive (long full-body shot).  A Damascus Road moment -- he's just discovered the meaning of life!  Diving or cute boys?  Another lingering full body shot as the boy notices Tomoki's interest, approaches, and asks, "Want to jump?"  Did you say "jump" or "kiss"?

Tomoki narrates: "Since that day I have been addicted to the fear and excitement of this world of wind and water." And cute boys.

Scene 2:  A huge auditorium.  The teenage Tomoki gazes in ecstasy as Yoichi, the boy at the pool that day bulked and bulged up,  approaches the board and executes a dive. He wins first place, and gets a full body shot (I'm going to stop pointing these out.  They happen constantly.)  "You were awesome!" Tomoki exclaims.  Yoichi counters: "You can soar, too!"  They gaze into each other's eyes.

Scene 3: At school, Tomoki's classmates criticize him for his diving obsession. "But you see so many bulges!"  (Just kidding.)  A hot girl approaches.  Now they understand why he dives: to get girls.  When I was in school, everyone assumed that the only reason a boy did anything, from joining a club to choosing a college, was to meet or impress girls.

Scene 4: Tomoki and the Girl walking.  While she blathers on about pancake toppings, he reflects: people always ask if diving is scary.  But it's not: the real problem is the pain.  I've jumped off the high dive. There's a little sting as you hit the water.  Maybe when you dive, you're going faster, so it hurts more.

They reach the pool.  The Girl want to watch him dive, but "You can't.  No spectators.  Um...look, there's Yoichi! Bye!"  He abandons her for the cute boy.  

Scene 5
: Yoichi displaying his, I mean stretching.  The obviously smitten Tomoki approaches to watch him dive. 

 Coach: "Growl, growl, your shoulders were off."

Now it's Tomoki's turn.  He hesitates; the other divers tell him to hurry up.  Hey, one of them flashed a limp wrist!  Does that mean the same thing in Japan as it does in America?  He does a backwards double-somersault.  

Coach: "Growl, growl, your toes were off."

Scene 6: The divers in the hot tub, complaining about the coach: he expect us to become Olympic athletes.  This is supposed to be fun. They also criticize Tomoki for hesitating on the board: it throws all of the divers off.  

Scene 7: As we look at various diver bulges, the narrator plot dumps: Mizuki Diving Club was founded six years ago by Chairman Mizuki, head of the biggest sports company in Japan, to promote Japanese divers.  If they don't start producing results -- Olympic-ready athletes -- they will be closed.  So far Yoichi is their only hope: both of his parents were famous divers, so he grew up on the boards. The camera lingers on his body.

Scene 8: Flashback to Tomoki's first day of diving instruction.  As the kids practice on the low dive, he gazes awestricken up at Yoichi on the high dive.  "He is so cool!"

Scene 9: It's raining, but the young Tomoki goes to the pool anyway: "I thought there would still be practice.  I want to learn to go on the high dive like everyone else."  Yoichi encourages him to try.  He bounces and splats on the water: 

Yoichi: "Next time keep your eyes open."  Whoops, he goes in too slowly, and splats again. A third try, and he makes it!  Yoichi helps him out of the pool, grinning.

Tomoki narrates: "That was the only time Yoichi taught me something."

Scene 10: The team is gossipping about "A scandal!  Adultery!"  One of the boys saw Coach Fujitani talking to a young woman; obviously his girlfriend! And then he bailed on practice.  "No way!  Coach would never abandon us like that! She's obviously from corporate, here to shut us down."

Meanwhile, Yoichi accuses Tomoki of having a girlfriend.  "It's not like that!" he exclaims, but Yoichi is already walking away.  Tomoki watches him sadly. "Oh, no, this is the worst!" he thinks. Why is he upset that Yoichi thinks he's dating a girl?  Because now Yoichi will never ask him out? 

Scene 11:  A forlorn Tomoki goes home.  Younger brother Hiro:  "The Girl is upset because you didn't return her texts."  Tell her to get lost!  "Leave me alone!  I'm having boyfriend problems!"  

Scene 12: Tomoki walking his dog, being forlorn: "The Girl said that she was in love with me, and wanted to be my girlfriend, and I agreed!  Why did I do it?  Maybe I wanted to brag to my friends, or keep from hurting her feelings?  Or maybe I was scared of what rejecting a girl might mean."  The Girl keeps texting him, and he keeps ignoring her.

Scene 13:
After school.  Tomoki says goodbye to his classmates, sees the Girl, and...runs to the pool.  Suddenly one of his teammates points out that the young woman from corporate is here to shut them down!

The bulges line up for her announcement: she's the new coach, determined to take them to the Tokyo Olympics.  The end.

Beefcake: Lots of physiques, bulges everywhere. In later episodes, we get butt shots, too.  Of course they have to dress in swimsuits to dive, but the camera loves lingering,   

Is Tomoki Gay
:  It looks canonical, but to be sure, I fast-forwarded through some other episodes.

In Episode 3, Tomoki and the Girl go on a picnic.  He sees other couples kissing, and asks: "Do you ever feel like you're trapped?  Penned in a small space, and you'll be stuck there for the rest of your life?"  Sure, that was my childhood and adolescence, trapped by the "all boys like girls" mythos.

In Episode 6, the Girl has dumped Tomoki for his brother.  He is angry and betrayed, but brother points out that he doesn't know her birthday, her favorite color, or anything else about her.  "And have you ever kissed?"

But there is no same-sex kiss, either, just some longing looks and touched hands.  If he is canonically gay, it is all in conversations.

The original novel by Eto Mori (2000-2002) is dubbed "homoerotic" by wikipedia, but no further details are given.  The 2008 movie adaption, as described on Asianwiki, seems to concentrate on the "beautiful coach" and reduce the homoerotic to subtext. 

Nov 2, 2022

"Unhuman": Trans Girl Fights Zombies, Sort Of

  I'm sick today, so I want something that doesn't require concentration, like a zombie movie, Unhuman.  Haven't we seen enough of those?

Scene 1:
 A middle-aged gender-indeterminant person is  packing a lunch (actress Brianne Tju is a trans woman, so I'll go with she/her).    Her daughter comes in and criticizes her -- for not having any fun in high school!  Wait -- she's the child?  She looks older than the actress playing her mother!  The middle-aged teenager -- Ever -- disapproves of high school, with all the sex, drinking, and drugs: "It's like chemical warfare."  So, is she an immortal, which is why she is named Ever, and why she acts like an old codger? 

Scene 2:  Her friend Tamra arrives, and criticizes her outfit: "You're dressed like my Grandpa!"  Sounds like Ever is trans, and her friend is not quite used to the she/her pronouns yet.  .  Show some skin!  How do you expect Steven to get turned on?" 

They're so busy arguing that Tamra hits a cyclist!  He -- Randall  (Benjamin Wadsworth) -- crashes into some garbage bags and emerges swinging, but when he sees that the driver was The Girl, he's all smiles.  Even though his drawings of disturbing monsters have been scattered.

Three more students pull up in a convertible and make fun of Randall: Hunt (CJ LeBlanc), Danny (Uriah Shelton, left), and a girl.  They complement Tamra's body and zoom off.

Tamra insults Randall; Ever wants to be nice, but Tamra drags them off.  

Scene 3:
Everyone gets on the school bus with their chaperone (Peter Giles), who looks like a fugitive from a 1970s disco inferno.  He collects their cell phones, and insults Ever for not having one. Another girl for having braces.  And everyone insults Randall.  These people are just plain cruel.  A fat kid enters, and they turn their attention to fat-shaming. 

The guy that Ever is crushing on, Steven (Drew Scheid), enters, and Ever has to be restrained from bolting.  "How am I supposed to spend three hours with a boy who looks like that?"  "Chill -- maybe you'll get laid!" On a school field trip?

Scene 4: On the way, they're insulting each other at random and using bad words, when suddenly blood or paint splashses on the windsheld, and they go off the embankment into  ravine. Blood splatters everywhere, and a girl vomits in slow motion.

Scene 5: Gasping, coughing, bleeding, insulting, and something keeps thudding on the bus roof!  Call for help.  A message from Civil Defense comes on the radio, informing them that "We are under siege by a chemical attack.  Proceed to the nearest fallout shelter.  Just when you thought the day couldn't get any worse....

A bloody person (or zombie) knocks at the door.  Bus driver wants to let them in. Chaperone insults him,, but consents.  The zombie eats his face off, and then starts grabbing on the kids.  The survivors run out the emergency exit.

Outside, it's all foggy with the chemical agent.  Wouldn't they target population centers, not the wilderness?

Scene 6: They run to a house.  Danny bursts in, and falls onto a pile of animal guts.  No one will help him out. Serves you right for insulting everyone

They pick a direction that isn't making scary snarling sounds, and keep going.  

Danny insults their belief that it could be zombies: "This isn't a comic book!  You shut-ins nead to learn the difference between fantasy and reality."  

Scene 7: Next, an abandoned building covered with graffiti and street art.  While the "real men" secure the facility, Randall, Steven, and Ever (the nice ones) scrounge some sticks and lacrosse paddles that can be used as weapons. What about food and water?  

Various kids pair off to bond or insult each other.  The three nice ones discuss their constant bullying.  Does it get better when you graduate high school?  Heck, it was better in high school.  I got all of my bullying victimization in grade school and junior high.  

Scene 8:  Candace, one of the "randos" (kids left behind on the bus), is hiding in a van outside, while a metalhead zombie tries to get at her.  While they are arguing over whether to rescue  "a freak" who wears braces, she gets eaten.

The zombified bus driver breaks in, bringing the metalhead zombie with him (these zombies can run fast and use tools).  The kids run into a room filled with "rave shit," and encounter the fat rando, Ryan (Blake Burt, who is not at all overweight in real life).  Plot complication: Ryan and bad boy Danny used to be friends, before high school and the nonstop insulting.  

A group of zombies break in.  The kids flee.  Uh-oh, Hunt is left behind.  Danny rushes to save him, but he is dragged off.  The black guy is always the first to get murdered.

Scene 9: Danny cries over the loss of his friend.  Gay subtext?  There are life-sized mannikins that look like the regulars scattered all over.  "This isn't random," Danny exclaims.  "We were chosen."  Because you're assholes?

Bus driver zombie breaks in.  I keep wanting to say "Heeeere's Johnny!"    Randall splatters his head, and gets praised and hugged.

Danny got bit, and is turning, but he is determined to climb upstairs and save his friend Hunt.  He doesn't quite make it, instead, he starts growling, and attacks Ryan (the fat one who used to be his friend): "I lost it all at summer camp that year!  I changed everything about myself so I wouldn't vomit every time I looked in the mirror."  What was wrong with him?  Was this a fat camp?  At that moment, he gets zombie splattered, and resurrected.  "What in the uppercase fuck was that?"

Scene 10: Looks like it's only Randall, Ryan, Steven, Ever, and two other girls.  Ever find a radio: hey, it's normal broacasting! The emergency evacuation message is on a cassette tape! When he discovers that she knows the truth, Steven injects her with something: "You weren't supposed to find out!  I'm sorry!"  Randall complements him: "You had to do it."

I'll stop the scene by scene there.

Spoiler alert:  This was all staged by the bullied kids to get even with their bullies.  There were no zombies.  No one was actually killed, although Danny hurt his leg.  Everyone gets back on the bus and goes home.  The bullies, properly chastised, buddy up with their former victims...who put them through hell for the last 2 hours?

I did not see that plot twist coming. But I don't believe it for a second. 

Is Ever Trans:  After the "Grandpa" quip, it's not implied again, so I doubt it. 

Is Ever Immortal:  No.  That was just a tease.


Oct 31, 2022

Bastard Son and the Devil Himself: A Girlfriend in Episode 1, A Boyfriend in Episode 7


The Bastard Son & the Devil Himself
, on Netflix, posits that there are two kinds of witches in the world, Fairborn/good and Blood/evil.  The Blood Witches hate the Fairborn, and try to exterminate them; in fact, they fly into a murderous rage whenever they see one of the good ones.  Nathan (Jay Lycurgo) was raised by the Fairborn, but the authorities keep testing him to see if he is Blood, asking questions like "Do you find yourself getting quick to anger?" and "Do you feel the urge to hurt other witches?"

He may even be the Witch Antichrist, the "bastard son" of the most evil of all Blood Witches, who killed the Fairborn and ate their hearts. Could we stop shaming people for being born out of wedlock? It's not their fault. And for the sins of their fathers?  Evil is not hereditary.

Growing into adolescence an outcast, facing guilt, the hatred of his older sister, and the suspicions of the Fairborn witches, Nathan is naturally relieved when Annalise is nice to him.  Unfortunately, her father is the Head of the Fairborn Protection Unit, monitorined Nathan, waiting for the "inevitable" moment when he turns evil and has to be killed.  If she were the daughter of the greengrocer, would be lousy story.  The star-crossed lovers are kissing by Episode 1, Minute 33.  

I stopped watching at that point, but a fan of the series tells me that Nathan gets a gay subtext with a character introduced in Episode 2, as suggeted in this scene (don't get excited, they don't do anything but cuddle, and there's a girl next to them).  They are reputedly outed as a couple in Episode 7  (the penultimate episode, naturally).  So let's see what this outing entails.

Scene 1:
Evil guy named Soul (Paul Ready) is doing a weird ritual in someone's living room when the phone rings (the old joke: the phone always rings when you're in the bathtub or summoning Satan!).  It's Aoife, with intel: The Boy is lost, and the Bloods are on the move again: you're in danger! Soul scoffs.  "Bloods don't scare me.  We'll draw the Boy out, and kill him."

Scene 2: Houseboat.  The woman who kept testing Nathan for Blood tendencies in Scene 1 is packing supplies.  She leaves Nathan asleep in his bed.  Girlfriend Annalise offers to come, too, even though it will be dangerous.  The blond guy from the three-way scene looks on from the window. He may have been in the houseboat, too.

Scene 3: Carnival, with rides and cotton candy and such. Woman asks a guy with a gun if he's ok.  He asks: "Where's the Boy?"  "Lost.  But I can shapeshift, so maybe I can turn into him and complete the ceremony."  The ceremony to make him the Witch Antichrist and take over the world?   

She brings him a new assignment: "Soul ordered you to find Annalise and bring her back here."  

They kiss.  Weird kiss -- he misses her mouth and goes for the area under her nose.  Maybe that's the actor's decision, because he doesn't like kissing girls?  He pushes her away in disgust.

Before I conducted research, I thought that this was the coming-out scene.  But it's yet to come.

Scene 4:
Nathan and the Blond Guy awaken.  They were holding hands in bed.   "Wait -- where's Annalise?'  Blond Guy -- Gabriel (Emilien Vekemans) -- looks disgusted.  Wouldn't you be, if your boyfriend started calling for his ex?  They kiss.  Ok, they're out as a couple.

Plot synopses and mainstream reviews don't say anything about a gay subtext/text:  Gabriel is a sort of vampiric bad boy who betrays you, then befriends you.  But gay reviewers point out that he has a gay-subtext boyfriend in a flashback episode, and by the end of the series/season, it is hinted that he, Nathan, and Annalise are involved in a three-way relationship.  So they're both bi, or post-gay pansexual.  Interviewed in The Gay Times, the actors praised the "quiet queer romance" of the series.

Oct 30, 2022

Gilligan's Island

Gilligan's Island (1964-67), the tale of seven nitwits who set out from Honolulu for a “three hour tour” and end up stranded on a desert island,  has become iconic for its ineptness and naiveté. They pull endless supplies from nowhere, build anything they need (except a boat) from bamboo and coconuts, and get a steady stream of visitors who promise rescue, but betray them or forget the island's location.  Even Santa Claus dropped by to offer holiday cheer.

But  actually, it was no more inept or naive than other 1960s sitcoms.

In case Gilligan's Island is before your time, the seven castaways are:
1.-2. The Skipper and his first mate Gilligan, who ran an island tour service out of Honolulu, and brought five passengers on the "three hour tour."
3.-4. The absurdly wealthy Mr. and Mrs. Howell, who for some reason brought suitcases full of money on the tour.
5. Glamorous Marilyn Monroe-style movie star Ginger.
6. Wholesome Kansas farmgirl Mary Anne.
7. The Professor, who has a B.A. from USC, a B.S. from UCLA, an M.A. from SMU, and a Ph. D from TCU, yet works as a high school science teacher.

The Skipper and the Professor were never referred to by name, except on the radio in an early episode.

There was a lot for gay kids to like:

1. Beefcake First mate Gillian (Bob Denver, below) was slim, smooth, and occasionally shirtless.

Lithe, hard bodied Denny Miller, a 1959 Tarzan (left), appeared twice, as a "jungle man" and as as a surfer who rode a wild wave all the way in from Honolulu.

 In February 1965, Kurt Russell appeared as a jungle boy, wearing only a loincloth (he counts as beefcake when you're five years old)

Even the Professor (Russell Johnson) took off his shirt a couple of times.

2. Utter lack of heterosexual interest.

There was lots of heterosexism, of course.  When the Professor wonders why headhunters would abduct only the girls, Gilligan quips “Because they’re boys!”  

When Mrs. Howell becomes the recipient of anonymous love letters, she interrogate all of the male castaways. They are innocent.  "But that's impossible!" she exclaims.  "We've asked everyone on the island!" She is omitting Ginger and Mary Anne. 

The Skipper occasionally bats his eyes at Ginger or Mary Anne, but the other two single men, Gilligan and the Professor, never display the least interest in girls.

  (Incidentally, Russell Johnson's son was very active in gay politics in Los Angeles.  After his death from AIDS in 1994, the elder Johnson devoted himself full-time to fundraising for AIDS research.)

3. Same-sex bonding.  

When Gilligan and the Skipper fantasize about being rescued, they mention hamburgers and milkshakes, but never girls or “settling down.”

 Perhaps they've already settled down: they’ve been together since the War (probably the Korean War, over a decade ago), without even a perfunctory search for girlfriends or wives. 

Presumably Bob Denver, who had previously played "allergic to girls" on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis played Gilligan as a man-child with “arrested development,” excused from demonstrating heterosexual desire because he hasn’t “discovered” girls yet,

But occasionally we see a hint of an alternative explanation:. In “High Man on Totem Pole” (February 1967), headhunters capture the Professor, the Skipper, and Mr. Howell. The girls are disconsolate:

Ginger: All of the men are gone!

Gilligan: I’m still here!

Ginger: [Dryly.] I said, all of the men.

But what sort of man is not really a man?

 In the last original episode of the series, “Gilligan the Goddess” (April 1967), savage tribesmen visit the island in search of a “white goddess” to throw into a volcano. Gilligan pretends to be a girl, donning a wig and a sixties mod dress, so he will be selected (the plan is to go to the other island and call Hawaii for rescue).

 Blustering King Killiwani (Stanley Adams) demonstrates an interest in Gilligan even when he is male, ignoring the other castaways while forcing him to dance, but when Gilligan becomes “Gilliana,” he becmes downright grabby. Unwilling to reveal the truth and ruin the rescue plan, but also unwilling to let Killiwani commit date rape, the castaways try to distract him with food and entertainment.

Mrs. Howell: Anybody for passion fruit?

Gilligan: No passion fruit! I think I’ll have a banana. [He grabs one and peels it, then feeds a piece to Killiwani.]

Girls: And now for your pleasure we present the great magician, Thurston Howell the Third!

Gilligan: [Applauds.] He’s great. He knows a thousand tricks, and I want to see them all.

Killiwani: [Places hand on Gilligan’s knee.] You the only trick I interested in!

Gilligan rejects the passion fruit because he is skittish about getting passionate, of course, but his choice of a phallic symbol-banana instead suggests another dimension, especially when he feeds it to Killiwani. His gesture is natural, almost unconscious, and surprisingly intimate; he behaves as if he really in a romantic relationship. (We should note that he objects to the ruse because he doesn’t want to dress like a girl, not because he dislikes Killiwani’s attention.)

Maybe  same-sex desire was  not beyond all imagining, even in 1967.
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