Sep 6, 2014

Gotham, 2014: Can We Expect Gay Subtexts?

On the treadmill at the gym, I've been seeing commercials about Gotham (2014-), the upcoming Fox series about a young cop named James Gordon (Ben McKenzie).















He encounters a young boy named Bruce Wayne (child star David Mazouz of Touch), living with his butler, Alfred (Sean Pertwee, left) after his parents were murdered.  Man and boy form an unwilling alliance.

Of course, Bruce will grow up to become Batman, and James into Commissioner Gordon.

As a prototypical Batman and Robin, they run afoul of many of the future villains of Gotham City, such as the Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor) and the Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) in their pre-costume days.




Don't expect retro camp; this is the grim, noirish Dark Knight Batman.

Or gay characters, although the villains will probably be standard feminine/sophisticated/gay-vague.










But you might expect some gay subtexts.  The Batman franchise has been deliberately minimizing gay content by getting rid of the teen sidekick, or making him a preteen.  But Ben McKenzie played a gay cop in Southland, so maybe he'll add some glimmers of homoerotic interest to his relationship with coworkers.  

And the young Bruce Wayne might have an occasional male friend.

See also: Batman and the Boy Wonder.


Sep 4, 2014

Kieron Richardson: Questioning His Sexuality

Kieron Richardson was starring as the teenage bad boy Steven Hays on the long-running British soap Hollyoaks.  His character was involved in domestic violence, drugs, and various scandalous behaviors, so the producers thought, "Let's really up the ante and get super-scandalous,  and have him 'question his sexuality'!"

So they made Steven wonder if he might be gay.  While he was wondering, he got involved in a violent same-sex relationship, and later got a new boyfriend and married him.  Apparently while still wondering.

During all of this, Kieron announced that he was gay in real life.





He's been out for several years now, and claims that he never experienced any homophobic bias, slurs, statements, or discrimination.  He reasons, "We're in the 21st century and actually homophobia's more or less been stamped out."

Um...Kieron, have you being paying attention to your own storyline?  The phrase "question your sexuality" is in itself homophobic, asserting that being heterosexual is the default, a universal category, and you turn gay when you become "confused."

That's a Hollywood myth.  I have never once met any gay person who was ever "confused."  They knew exactly who they were attracted to.  It was the heterosexuals who were confused, constantly chiming "What girl do you like?" to gay boys and "What boy do you like?" to gay girls.

Apparently Kieron has never been to a gay event where the bigots are screaming and waving signs.  Or heard politicians make their "gay marriage leads to incest" spiel?  Or lost a job, or never got the interview, because someone in the office thinks he has no right to exist.  Or read the comments at the end of every internet article on a gay topic.

In July 2014, a footballer named Kieran Richardson signed on to the Aston Villa team, thus making headlines in Britain.  Fans confused the two, and thought the footballer was gay.

Suddenly Kieron started receiving homophobic tweets.  He was shocked.

I wasn't.

Sep 3, 2014

Summer Cruising at the Bookmobile

Other kids spent the summer waiting anxiously for the ice cream truck.  I spent the summer waiting anxiously for the bookmobile.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, there were hundreds of bookmobiles, vans carrying an assortment of books for those underprivileged readers who couldn't get to the public library.  Such as kids.

 You could check out up to 3 books at a time, and keep them for two weeks. If you read 10 during the summer, you got a prize.

I don't remember any of the prizes, but I remember the books.  Some of my top childhood favorites came from the bookmobile, like  My Village Books of Sonia and Tim Gidal,  The Wonderful Flight to the Mushroom PlanetTom Sawyer, and the boys' adventure books of Robert Louis Stevenson.




The bookmobile pulled into the parking lot of Denkmann Elementary School every Tuesday morning at about 10:00 am. Other neighborhood bookworms had to wait on the blacktop.  I could hear it coming from inside the house, and then run over.

But soon I discovered a reason to wait with the others: the bookmobile was a good place for cruising.

I met a lot of cute guys while cruising at the bookmobile. Like Greg, the Boy Vampire who gave me my first kiss.  Joel, the curly-haired soccer player who came with me to A Little Bit O'Heaven.

And Robbie, a dark-haired boy wearing a red muscle shirt.


I was only about 10 years old, but I already knew the rules of gay cruising:

1. Select a venue with mostly guys.  Check.  The early birds were usually boys; girls came later.

2. Cruise early. Check. The bookmobile came in the morning.

3. Cruise with a buddy.  No, I went by myself.


4. Do not drink while cruising.  Check. I hadn't had any soda or candy all day, in case a cute boy invited me to Dewey's Candy Store.

5. Gather information. Check.  Robbie was waiting to check out a book on caves, because he was going to Mammoth Caves in Kentucky with his parents later that summer.  He was a Cute Young Thing, a year younger than me.  He liked Star Trek, and his favorite subject was math.

6. Don't discuss sizes or acts.  Nope.  I definitely asked about his size: "You have really big muscles.  How strong are you?"

7. Word the invitation carefully.  If you invite him to do something specific in the future, it's a romance. Something vague in the future, it's a friendship.  Something vague right now, it's a hookup.

After we checked out our books, I asked, "Wanna play?"

Hookup.


8. Invite him to your place.  Check.

9. Take your own cars.  Well, we were walking.

10. Make sure someone knows where you are. Check. My Mom was upstairs.

11. Clean your house in advance.  Mom always had the house clean.

12. Hide your valuables.  I was a kid.  I didn't have any valuables.

13. Bring condoms.  Um...I was a kid.  We sat on my bed to look at our books, then we played space explorers in the back yard. I did get to feel his biceps.

14. Don't kick him out afterwards.  Check. Robbie stayed for lunch.  Mom made us hot dogs and potato chips.

15. Don't pretend you want a relationship.  Check. I didn't give him my phone number.

I saw him at the bookmobile a few times after that.  We talked politely, but I didn't ask him over again.

Not a friendship.  Not a relationship.  Just play.

See also: The Boy Vampire; and 15 Rules of Gay Cruising.

Sep 2, 2014

Beefcake and Grammatical Atrocities in Hidden Valley

Have you heard the buzz for Hidden Valley: The Awakening?  It's being advertised as the greatest horror movie of this generation.  But it sounds utterly putrid.  A cliche plot, stereotyped characters, stilted dialogue, and bad grammar.

A dark mystery lies hidden in a small rural community as a chilling story unfolds about young love, life, and the extreme measures a small town is willing to undergo trying to win a high school championship.
The first rule of writing: cut back on the adjectives.
The second rule: cut back on the repetition.
You don't "undergo" measures.
And saying your movie is about "life" is like saying it's about "people"!

It's got a facebook page with random pictures of teen hunks, dead cheerleaders, and werewolves, and an official site full of gushing hyperbole (and bad grammar).

And a tie-in novel, incredibly, monumentally hackneyed.  High schoolers come up with better dialogue in their Remedial English classes.

"Well Sheriff...I know this is something you are not going to want to hear, I mean with your boy in the hospital and the town in a damn uproar an-"
He was immediately cut off by Tom.
Need a comma, and that's not being cut off "immediately."

"Yeah, yeah, I got everybody screaming in my ear and wanting to know what the hell is going on with this thing," he said as his face turned beat red. 
The cliche is "beet red."

He buries his face into his hands momentarily, then clasps them together in a sarcastically peaceful manner.
Changed tense there, and what is a "sarcastically peaceful manner"?



"And really, Doc, with all due respect, it really has been long enough...so, what the hell do ya got?"
Wait, I thought that the Sheriff didn't want to hear it, but now he wants to?
"Well, Tom, I am pretty sure it was an animal. I can't be sure without more testing, but there was most certainly saliva present on both of the boys.
Saliva was present?  That's how you tell that an animal bit them?  How about big gaping bite wounds?









But I love the line: There was most certainly saliva present on both of the boys.  I'm going to try to work that into conversations as often as possible.

Somehow it managed to land perennial gay-vague villain Malcolm McDowell, star of A Clockwork Orange and Caligula, as "Dr. Marcus."  He must be related to the producer.  Or the producer's GED teacher.

Sep 1, 2014

Here's Johnny: The Gay Snark of the Tonight Show

One night when I was 10 or 11 years old, I woke up to the sound of the tv in the other room.  I looked at the clock by my bedside -- 11:30!  What could my parents be watching?  There was nothing on tv that late but an emptiness of test patterns and static snow.

I walked out into the living room.  On the tv set, I saw a guy sitting behind a little desk, talking to a row of people in chairs.

"What are you doing up?  Did you have a bad dream?" Mom asked.

"I heard noise.  What are you watching?"

"The Tonight Show."

The people were just sitting around.

"But what is it? What's it about?"  TV shows were always about something: detectives, witches, spies, seven stranded castaways.



"It's not about anything.  It's a talk show."

"You mean....people just sit around talking?  That's dumb!"

"That's why it's on late at night," Dad said. "It's not for kids. Now get back to bed."

A few years later, when I was a teenager, I could stay up until midnight if I wanted to, but I was always in bed or had other things to do.

A few years after that, when I lived in West Hollywood, I could stay up until 1:00 am if I wanted, but I was always in bed or had other things to do.

So to this day I have seen only one episode of  The Tonight Show.  Johnny Carson was supposed to be interviewing a literature scholar who believed that Shakespeare didn't write the plays attributed to him, so I waited through an hour and twenty minutes of boring interviews to hear his five-minute spiel.

To be fair, it wasn't all boring interviews.  There were musical guests, and sometimes Johnny performed in comedic sketches like "Carnak the Magnificent."

Gay content was minimal.  Johnny Carson (1925-2005) had a trim physique and a bulge (always hidden behind that desk).  But he displayed a rather snarky twist on the rampant homophobia of the 1960s and 1970s.



His ongoing "sissy jokes" against singer Wayne Newton ended only when Newton burst into his office and asked "Which of your children have I killed..to deserve such treatment"?  (Equating being gay to killing a child?  Really?).

But in real life Carson had gay friends, including gay icon Truman Capote.

In those days gay people often put up with snark.