Feb 11, 2023

"Night at the Museum: Kahmunrah Rises Again": The trailer shows a gay couple and no fade-out kiss, but....


I lived in New York for four years, but never went to the Museum of Natural History -- I was more of a MOMA guy.  And I've never seen any of the Night at the Museum movies, about the statues of historical figures in dioramas coming to life and befuddling security guard Ben Stiller and his son Skyler Gisondo.  

But the trailer to the Disney Plus animated Night at the Museum: Kamunrah Rises Again does not feature any boy-girl kissing -- a relief because earlier today I tried the fourth season of You, on Netflix, due to the promise of a gay character, and was treated to a "recap" involving 15 men and women swallowing each other's tongues. 

Plus the trailer appears to show a gay couple, two cavemen with their arms around each other, so I'll give it a try.

Scene 1
: We zoom through a diverse New York to the Museum, past dioramas with Sacajawea, Joan of Arc, Genghis Khan, a barrel-chested caveman, a monkey, a cowboy, a Roman soldier, Teddy Roosevelt, a T-Rex skeleton, and a future exhibit, "Kahmunrah: The Disappointing Son."  He's an Egyptian pharaoh with standard Disney villain's long face and (I assume) British posh accent.  

A rather chunky security guard enters, singing about his new job (he's just doing this until he makes it on Broadway), and stares as if he's never been inside the museum before.  Wouldn't he have seen it during his interview, at least?  He ignores the Instruction Manual and takes a nap.  Then the sun goes down...

He wakes up to a monkey and Teddy Roosevelt.  Then a mastadon, Sacajawea'a bear, a cave man and woman (I guess they were a heterosexual couple), and an additional cave man, who talks in stereotyped "Me Tarzan" talk.  Actually languages begin complex, with multiple noun cases and irregular verbs, and become simpler over time. Then two miniatures, the cowboy and the Roman soldier. Joan of Arc tries to kill him.  The T-Rex skeleton eats him and "poops him out."  And so on, until he scrams.  The denizens chuckle: they got rid of him in just two minutes!

Wait -- don't they inform new hires that the museum has a coming-to-life problem? No wonder they flee in terror!

Scene 2: Larry, the Ben Stiller character who originally discovered the coming-to-life problem, asks the denizens to stop scaring away the security guards.  They argue that he wasn't a good fit; they want Larry's son.   No way!  Instead, he calls the chubby, feminine McPhee, who is in a bubble bath, with cucumber slices over his eyes.  

McPhee thinks his mother is calling, and criticizes her bath-drawing ability.  Then he covers by saying that "Mother" is a pet name for his supermodel girlfriend. Oh, no, a gay stereotype, complete with mother-obsession and fake girlfriend.  I am disgustipated.

He tells Larry to hire a new guard.

The denizens repeat: hire your son.  "But Nick can't take care of you.  He's a screw-up!  And he's still in high school."   In most states, 16-17 year olds can only work until 9:00 pm on school nights and 11:00 pm on weekends, so Nick would automatically be disqualified.

Ok, the caveman-gay couple was just a tease, and there's a homophobic stereotype (maybe two, if Kamunrah turns out to be swishy).  I'm just going to fast-forward to the end, to see if this movie can be redeemed by the lack of a boy-girl fade-out kiss.

Nope.  Not a kiss, but Nick and his girlfriend holding hands as they walk blissfully into the future.  Ugh.

Feb 10, 2023

7Seeds: Japanese teens criticize, belittle, and assault each other. And there are gigantic bugs.


I know Netflix does it on purpose to draw the attention of subscribers who watch a lot of LGBT-themed programs, but it worked: the Japanese anime 7Seeds is advertised by a shirtless hunk and I'm going in.

Scene 1: "Spring begins," and in Japan that means bugs, flowers -- and baseball. A teenage boy girl couple sit in front of the tv, watching their favorite player, Takahiro Aramaki.  Meanwhile, a little girl plays with her cat, a sullen, androgynous man plays the piano in a posh apartment, and Mom leads another little girl out of a sinking lighthouse-shaped ship.

Scene 2: A raft that inexplicably contains a fire pit, with an adventurer girl tending it.  We then see a posh male-female couple, a shepherd, some hikers, a guy with a baseball bat, a meteor falling to Earth, wolves, giant bugs, cultists, peasants, and the word "help" drawn in sand on the beach.  

Scene 3: The lighthouse girl missed the life raft, and is drowning.  She is rescued by a black-haired young man. A long-haired decadent type ridicules him for saving a stranger. 

The survivors gather in a tent on the life raft: the little girl, her Mom, and two guys, I think the baseball player and the androgynous pianist,  No one remembers getting on the ship.  They were all at home, asleep in their beds!  (Ok, that's not the little girl's mom, just a random stranger).

Scene 3
: They row to a nearby island, but the beach is enclosed by high cliffs. The only way out is to climb. Darn, the Androgynous Pianist tells not-Mom that she has a nice butt.  Hetero identity established.  She rebuffs him; Baseball Player criticizes him for being an asshole, and the Little Girl for being too polite. 

Introductions all around.  The Baseball Player is actually Arashi Aota (left), a high school sophomore, 15-16 years old in the Japanese system.  Then why mention the baseball player by name?  

The Little Girl is Natsu, a high school freshman. 14 -15 years old?  She looks around 6!  

The Androgynous Pianist is Semimaru, age 18 (below).  He announces that he's a bully, and Natsu is his new prey!  Gulp, androgyny means evil.  Then he attacks Sophomore Arashi.

The Not-Mom, Botan, breaks them up and orders them to look for water. They split into two groups.

Scene 4: 
 Searching for water, Sophomore Arashi complements Freshman Natsu on her courage. She is overwhelmed by indecision and doubt. Don't tell me they're going to start dating!  She's half his size!  Sure enough, Natsu wonders how she'll keep him interested long enough to make him a boyfriend.  When she thinks he's talking about a girlfriend back home, she becomes angry and tries to shift attention back to her. They find a waterfall.

Meanwhile, in the other group, Androgynous Semimaru tries to rape Not-Mom Botan at knife-point.  When she easiy disarms him, he claims that he was just kidding.  

Scene 5: After getting their water and scrawling "Help!" in the dirt, Not-Mom Botan orders them to look for food and firewood.  Androgynous Semimaru tells Freshman Natsu to strip down some plant fibers instead. Not-Mom Botan calls her an idiot for complying.  "We have to think for ourselves in order to survive.  Now go do what I ordered you to do." Hypocritical, aren't you, Not-Mom?  

Scene 6: Oh, good, a new character. I don't even care that it's a girl, Hana.  She runs up from the beach, being chased by what looks like giant bugs, yelling "Sophomore Arashi, save me!"  Uh-oh, the girlfriend!  Freshman Natsu will be outraged!   She stops at a waterfall to fill her canteen, and a herd of giant praying mantises attack!  Two guys in traditional costumes approach,  one (Yanagi) with a torch and the other (Tsunomata) with a bow and arrow.  They work together to subdue the three. Presumably people from different time periods end up on the island.

Feudal Yanagi wants to burn the mantis lair.  While the others are arguing against species extinction,  he is pieced by one of the insect's claws. "Shit!  Goddamn it!" he yells.  Not what I expect from someone from feudal Japan.

Scene 7: 
 Hana and her criticizing companions return to camp: three life rafts, two tents, and a fire pit, all on a bamboo platform just offshore from the cliff-beach.  The other survivors: a teenage boy (Haru) and girl (Fugiko), and a young boy (Momotaro).  

Feudal guy Yanagi insults everyone, and complains: "We've been stranded here for two weeks, with no rescue boats or planes, so let's leave!"  When Hana suggests waiting until tomorrow, he slaps her! "Shut up and follow my orders!" Teenage Haru defends her, and gets kicked in the crotch!  Geez, everyone is totally abrasive in this show.  

They start rowing,  Huh?  That huge platform won't move an inch!  Hana peeks inside one of the tents and asks Chisa (a teenage girl) how Hibari (a little girl) is doing. Not good: her body is as cold as ice.

Survivors so far: six female, six male, but one of the males is a little boy, and two are jerks.   I don't like those ratios!

Scene 9: Late at night, Hana is alone, standing watch, when Feudal Yanagi attacks, planning to either rape her or kill her. But at that moment a storm hits, and cold-as-ice Hibari is swept overboard!  Hana dives in to save her, and is criticized by Feudal Yanagi, of course.

Scene 10: They all end up on floating wreckage on the cliff-beach, with the herds of giant bugs.  Feudal Yanagi wants to use the unconscious Hibari as bait, so the rest can escape.  While the others are arguing, he falls into a giant bug den!  Hana wants to try to rescue him, but they pull her away.  She feels guilty anyway.

The adult woman notes that most of their supplies have washed ashore, so they have food.   Whoops -- Feudal Yanagi returns from the bug den, unharmed but irate! 

Scene 11: A group of consisting of four teenage girls, three teenage boys, and a little boy are asleep in a dormitory.  An angry adult, Unami, comes in to criticize them.  Since they're such idiots, the bosses put him in charge. They draw their guns and shoot him.  The end.

Beefake: None in this episode.

Heterosexism: Every boy seems to have a girlfriend or is planning to rape a girl.

Gay Characters: None that I noticed.

My Grade: In addition to not having the slightest idea of what was going on, I was turned off by the incessant unpleasantness of the characters.  Even the heroes were constantly criticizing and belittling their social subordinates. The two main jerks went even farther, threatening, assaulting, and attempting rape and murder.  Yuck!  F-

Research: This show is based on a manga series where Japan's top scientists respond to the impending destruction of life on Earth by establishing five "seeds," each containing seven people in cryogenic stasis until it is safe to emerge.  Instead of asking for volunteers, they select the "best" specimens, healthy, fertile, attractive, and heterosexual (darn homophobes!), kidnap them from their beds, and shove them into the statis tubes, to wake up in 1000 years and have no idea what's going on.  What kind of idiotic plan is that?  Besides, you can't repopulate the Earth with just 35 people.  I believe it takes at least 500.

I've learned my lesson.  Never again will I start watching a show just because there is a shirtless hunk in the icon.

Well, maybe this once....

Feb 6, 2023

"The Culprit Hanzawa": A Muscular, Naked Shadow Being Finds a Boyfriend


The Culprit Hanzawa, on Netflix, is a spinoff/spoof of the anime Detective Conan, which I've never heard of -- Conan the Barbarian solving crimes?  Twelve 10-minute episodes, and none mentioning a wife or girlfriend, so I'm in.

Episode 1, Scene 1: A muscular, naked shadow person gyrates, dances with ping pong paddles,  (bulge but no visible penis), and stares out onto a pink and black city.  He then gyrates again, accompanied by a teenage girl and a little girl, while his baby form dances with a cat and a chicken.  Then all five of them dance together.  Sorry, that was just a 9-minute long intro.  On to the episode.

Real Scene 1: The muscular, naked shadow person, carrying a knapsack -- Hanzawa?  -- gets off the train at Beika Town.  The other passengers warn him not to get off -- he'll be killed!  But he reassures them: "Don't worry -- I'll be doing the killing."

He walks through a blank crowd, thinking: "This is the legendary city of crime.  He's bound to be here. I came here to kill him."  But he doesn't get the ticket slot right, and trips. A teenage girl laughs at him; he briefly considers murdering her, but there's no time.

Scene 2: First step: finding an apartment.  He can only afford 50,000 yen ($376).  One advertised for only 32,000 yen is obviously a trick, so he goes in planning to murder the rental agent.  But he's on the level!  

It turns out to be an amazing room in a high-rise condo, with a great view of the town!  So why is it so cheap?  A pro golfer bludgeoned his girlfriend to death here. For a murderer, Hanzawa is rather skittish about other people's murders, and refuses.  But all of the other rooms in the condo were sites of murders, too: non-stigmatized property is rare, and expensive, in the Legendary Crime City.  He considers murdering the rental agent to make the price go down..  The end.

Scene 3:
Not the end.  After three minutes of closing credits, we move on to Hanzawa walking through the city, wondering how he is going to find the guy he wants to kill.  He overhears two teenage girls discussing the pop star Yoko Okino  The real end?  But...nothing happened except looking for an apartment,  thinking about murdering random people, and a name-drop.  I'd better go on.

Episode 2: This time the intro is only 2.5 minutes long.

Scene 1: Hanzawa sitting on a street corner, watching tv: The murderer at the apartment complex has been captured.  The commentators praise the crime as "a work of genius," which angers Hanzawa.  He continues to look for an apartment.

Suddenly he sees a cheerful fat onigiri kid crossing the street, and almost being creamed.  (Onigiri are rice balls.)  He has a brainstorm: "If we live together, a stigmatized apartment won't be scary!"  So he's going to move in with an onigiri kid?

The rental agent shows him a room in a "share house": furnished, with tv, microwave, and so on.  He decides to take it, and meets one of his new housemates: Hanbashi, another naked, muscular, shadow person wearing a ski cap. They bond over their shared desire to kill the rental agent, and decide to have a sleepover.  Different rooms in the same house, and they need a sleepover?   Definite gay subtext here.

Scene 2:  In the bedroom, the two muscular shadow beings are bonding.  Hanzawa reflects: "The first person I've ever been able to open up to.  I'll live here while waiting to kill that guy."  

Scene 3: Late at night, the rental agent is stumbling home drunk, muttering that he's going to increase his rental fee to get even with the "country bumpkin" Hanzawa, and increase the renewal fee for the "partying rapper" Hanbashi.  A muscular shadow being kills him, and a little boy gives chase, throwing a bento box at him.  

Scene 4: Hanzawa awakens after the sleepover (he slept in a sleeping bag on the floor of Hanbashi's room).  Looking for Hanbashi, he wanders into the main area, turns on the tv, and sees a story about the rental agent's murder.  Hanbashi has been arrested (he still has a fish from the bento box in his mouth).  Hanzawa is irate.  The end.

Detective Conan is a manga series and anime about a high school detective who has been turned into a little boy but continues to work on cases, pretending that they have actually been solved by his detective foster-father. He has a cameo in Scene 4, as the boy with the bento box. 

 As far as I can tell, Hanzawa appears only in the spin-off series, but apparently all of Conan's foes are stylized as muscular, naked shadow men, so he may be a composite.  No doubt Conan is the "he" that Hanzawa has come to town to kill.

He is voiced by Shouta Aoi, a Japanese singer and actor known for his androgynous stage presence.  So I expect that there will be more gay subtexts and not a lot of heterosexual romance going on.

Feb 5, 2023

"All My Friends Hate Me": And the guys are gay. Just kidding: they're homophobic. Just kidding...


All My Friends Hate Me, on Hulu, tells us that a guy has a reunion with his friends, but they act strange, then bizarre, then surreal.  Interesting premise.  Unfortunately, I can't research it, because the only movie with that title that Google knows about is Polish, and this is in English.  So I'll just have to muddle through.

Scene 1:  Early 30s bearded guy (Tom Stourton, top photo) riding in his car, bobbing his head and singing along with the music.  I already dislike him.  Switch to him getting ready for bed (no beefcake), telling his wife/girlfriend that one of his old friends has a wife named Fig.  Heterosexual identity established in the first beat!   We cut between singing and bobbing in the car and explaining to girlfriend/wife who all is going to be at this reunion party: Archie, his wife Fig, George -- and Claire, which makes girlfriend/wife jealous.

Scene 2: In the quaint English countryside, he stops to urinate behind a bush, and sees that a car has crashed through a fence.  When he investigates, a zombie jumps out and chases him!   I figured it would be one of his friends playing a prank, but no, he jumps into his car and drives on for miles and miles.

He stops to ask an old guy directions to Cleve Hill Manor, where the party is being held: "Do you know where it is?" "Yes."  "Can you tell me where it is?" "Yes." Annoying literalist!  Plot dump: it's his birthday.  So he's having a birthday party with friends he knew back in the day, not his current friends, and not his girlfriend/wife?  Bizarre! 

Scene 3: He arrives at the posh manor.   It's deserted, but at least we get a grand tour as he looks around.  Super-posh, gorgeous library!  He waits for hours, drinking beer, watching tv, wrapping himself in blankets as it gets colder (I'd be going through that library for the rest of the night).  

Finally, late at night, his friend Archie (Graham Dickson, left) arrives, and is shocked: "What are you doing here?" Finally we get his name: Pete.  "That party invitation was a joke. You knew that, right?"  

Psych -- it wasn't a joke. Archie and Claire rush over and hug and kiss him. A kiss?  Now I'm interested.    Then George (Joshua McGuire, bottom photo) and Fig, who rub his new beard.  Two heterosexual couples, and Pete left his wife/girlfriend at home?

Next Harry (Dustin Demri-Burns, below), a guy Pete doesn't know, bursts in and pretends to have oral sex with a goose's beak.  Ugh!  He calls Pete a "fannny" (women's sex organ),  hugs him, and says "Birthday boy needs a stripper."  He grinds his butt into Pete's crotch, but recoils in homophobic disgust when he feels something hard (just a cell phone).  

Ok, these people are not only hetero-horny, but actively homophobic.  I'm out.  I'll just go through on fast-forward to see if there's any beefcake or obvious subtexts. 

Minute 17:  Peter is in the bathtub (bare shoulders only) when Harry comes in wearing only a towel (nice chest and brief cock shot).  He recoils in homophobic horror, but  Harry just wants to shave.  

Minute 35: Peter is lying in bed, when Harry bursts into his room (nice chest) to use his bathroom and steal his pills.  He curls up on a day bed and begins to snore.

Minute 39: Pete awakens in the morning and goes down to the library, where Archie is staring into space, shirtless (a little skinny), being depressed.

Minute 54: Archie appears to be trying to seduce Pete: he pushes their bodies together, hugs him, and says "You're not leaving until you get some of this."  Pete protests: "I haven't done that since Uni."  But Archie insists.  It's not sex, it's karaoke!

Minute 69: Archie and Pete sitting the bed, hugging and discussing their anxieties.  Pete's in therapy, and doing much better.  They discuss Harry's bizarre behavior: switching his pills, barking like a dog, wearing a plastic bag over his head, and parading a "fake Pete" around.  But nothing romantic happens.

Minute 121: The reason for Harry's bizarre behavior surfaces. 

Spoiler alert
: When he was 15, Pete and another guy used to torture a mentally-disabled neighbor girl. She was terrified of dogs, so they would call her on the phone and bark.  One day she killed herself.  Her brother blamed Pete, and years, later, looked up his friends and got invited to othe party. So there are reasons for the bizarre behavior.

Wait -- Harry is not the brother after all. He's a friend from Uni.  The barking, shower cap, and photo of a girl on his phone are all coincidences!

Beefcake: Quite a lot.

Heterosexism: Everyone is divided into boy-girl couples.

Homophobia:  I don't understand these people, engaging in patently homoerotic behavior, then backing off and saying "Just kidding!  I'm actually homophobic."


One Day at a Time

Why would gay teenage boys like One Day at a Time (1975-1984), the sitcom about Indianapolis divorcee Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) and her two teenage daughters?  Sure, it was hip and "with it," one of the stable of realistic comedy-dramas that Norman Lear trotted out -- All in the Family, The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, Alice, Maude -- for audiences sick of 1960s fantasy and hillbilly fare.

But there were no gay characters.  No "mistaken for gay" episodes.  No episodes where regulars discover that their brother/college buddy/coworker/coach is gay -- even Alice had one of those.  For all its hipness, nothing but weeks and months and years of dreary heteronormativity.

So what was the attraction?

1. The endless parade of boyfriends.  Practically every hunk in Hollywood over age 30 played one of Ms. Romano's beaus, and practically every Tiger Beat fave rave guest starred as Barbara or Julie's dates.  Two long-running teen dreams were Chuck (William Kirby Cullen) for Julie:

And Cliff (Scott Colomby) for Barbara (standing next to competition John Putch).  Colomby later played the slim, androgynous Tony in Caddyshack.

Eventually Julie married the hunky Max Horvath (Michael Lembeck, center), and Barbara married stick-in-the-mud Mark Royer (Boyd Gaines, left)

2. In 1980, after Ann's boyfriend dies, she adopts his 14-year old son, Alex Handris (Glenn Scarpelli).  Usually end-of-series cast additions are a disaster, but Alex brought wit, style, and humor to the doddering series.

And a decided lack of interest in girls, in spite of the "I'm so into girls!" lines that the scripts made him say.

Glenn Scarpelli came out a few years after the show ended.  Today he runs a public tv station in Sedona, Arizona with partner Jude Belanger. He also seems to have joined a gym:

The Gay Plot Arc of Robbie Hobbie


In my search for the acting credits of Charles Vandervaart, I stumbled across Hollie Hobbie (2018-2021), a Hulu series about a young girl with Big Dreams in a small town in Canada.  Who would make a tv series about the 1970s doll who wore 19th century outfits?  And more importantly, was Charles' character, older brother Robbie Hollie, gay-coded, like older brothers in many other teencoms?  So I went through the entire first season, fast-forwarding to Robbie's scenes.

Season 1 Episode 1: No connection to the doll, except someone dresses like her during the opening credits.  We meet Hollie's parents (Dad Evan Buliung, left), boyfriend (Hunter Dillon, below), best friends, little sister Heather (the bratty, manipulate younger sibling cliche), and Robbie (the dimwitted jock cliche).

Ep. 2: Robbie's first B plot, sneaking into a bull pen with some friends to take photographs.  He doesn't get one, so he returns later with a girl,  and accidentally lets the bull out.  It then eats the an important cucumber.

Ep 3:
Robbie teaches little sister how to arm wrestle, so she can beat her frenemy and future boyfriend Levi, thus proving that girls are better than boys.  It's hard to distinguish him on fast-forward, since he looks a lot like Hollie's boyfriend.

Ep 4: Robbie tries to blame the destruction of the cucumber on Hollie's boyfriend.  It's a big mess.  Finally he comes clean.  No heterosexual interest yet, unless you count his bull pen companion.

Ep 5: As punishment for the cucumber deal, Robbie and Hollie have to build a chicken coop.  But Robbie blows it off to play football.  Hollie yells "I hope you break your leg," and he does!

Ep 6: Robbie on crutches.  He can't play football anymore, so he has lost his identity.  Dad assigns him the job of fixing a broken tractor, to teach him responsibility or something. No heterosexual interest yet, but some macho football stuff.  There are gay football players in real life, of course, but it's not a standard tv trope.

Ep 7: No centric.

Ep 8: Hollie and her boyfriend run away together.  I thought this was Canada, but it turns out to be small-town Wisconsin.  In the B plot, Robbie and Little Sister accidentally break the urn containing the ashes of their beloved pet, and somehow Dad mistakes it for brownies.

Ep 9: 
Ulp -- Robbie is all lovey-dovey with Lyla, who appeared in the bull pen episode, but hasn't had any scenes with him since.   He's got a new life plan -- skip college and become  Lyla's househusband.  He proposes, and she says yes, to the consternation of the parents.  But it turns out that they were just playing a joke, to get even with the parents for pushing college so aggressively.  So, was he actually dating Lyla, or was the relationship part of the joke?

To find out, I watched the last episode she appears in, Season 3, Episode 9:  Robbie's artisanal jam has become a hit.  A company in Madison wants to hire him to start a jam line.  Little Sister Heather calls them and says he doesn't want the job,  so he won't leave town.  He is angry, of course, but she explains that she doesn't want to lose her best friend (Isn't Madison like an hour away?).  Robbie  opens up his business right there in town, so problem solved. 

Robbie and Lyla don't have any scenes together.  She has become one of Hollie's friends.  

Season 3, Episode 10.  The series finale.  Hollie is moving to Paris for a singing job.  Grandpa is getting married.  At the wedding reception, Robbie is dancing...with a guy!  It's a "blink and you miss it" shot in the final montage of the last episode. But it's there.

So...couldn't Robbie open his artisanal jam shop in West Hollywood?

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