Sunday, January 22, 2012

Post Modern Theory and Naked Boys

The other night, Partner and I were on the couch, and as usual there was nothing on TV.  I don't know if this is a just a French thing, but after a while, French television....just sucks.  We were looking around the stations, and we hit the northern reaches of our viewing, Mangas and they were showing of nothing of interest.  So I was about to give up when I though, why not try Pink TV.

Pink TV is the gay station here.  Now, before you get all excited and think that you're going to get to see RuPaul's Drag Race or Beautiful People.  The channel is only on for two hours.  It comes on at 10 pm, and usually it runs this English series, Metrosexuality.  There's a lot of it I don't understand and it generally scares the crap out of me.  Oh, and also, it switches over to gay porn at midnight, an then it's 12 euros for access.  They show you all the previews of what's coming on, and then make you pay to actually watch it.  So I wasn't expecting much.

I was pleasantly surprised though.  As it turns out, they were showing Contracorriente.  It was a movie I had heard about a while ago, and it was absolutely beautiful.  I really enjoyed it, but assumed that I'd need to record it.  Normally Partner is not one for the gay movies.  I asked him though if he wanted to keep watching, and surprisingly, he said yes.  We kept watching.

I actually really enjoyed it, but I'm a soft sell.  You put two gay guys in a film and nine times out of ten I'll watch.  Promise me skin, and I'll most likely recommend it to all my friends.  I was a big time fan of Latter Days and I absolutely loved Brokeback Mountain.  Like I said though, I'm a soft sell.  It hit midnight, and the TV cut out.  At that point, we pulled ourselves off the couch and went outside to clear our heads a bit.  As we were waking up a bit, I asked him what he thought of it.  He said that he liked it.

After recovering from my initial shock, I asked him what he liked about it.  He liked the story because everything wasn't wrapped up neatly.  Most gay movies always progress in the same way.  Two guys meet, usually at a bar.  There's one character who is more out than the other, usually because of his family, but sometimes because of his own insecurities or religious obligations.  They build a relationship over the course of the movie and the less out/or closeted guy has to make a choice: be honest with himself and the world and come out or stay closeted and miserable.  Inevitably, the closet case comes out and they live happily ever after.

There are two movies that we have both seen that we can agree are great gay movies.  I already mentioned Contracorriente and we both watched A Beautiful Thing separately, but both loved it so much that we had to have it on DVD.   I think it was great because it all kind of came together, but there was still enough to leave to your imagination.  They both have one character more conflicted than the other, but I think what makes them better is that it's not just a simple straightforward path like in other movies.  It shows you things might be very sad and difficult, but when it comes down to it, it's love that will lead you through it.

The first type of gay movies I always think of as the AIDS crisis movie.  It usually stars a self centered, egocentric lead.  Usually it starts by showing his promiscuity and his group of friends who are all slowly coupling up and not so subtly spewing the moral of the film: "Enjoy life now (because you, someone you know, or everyone you know will die of AIDS as that's the price of admission for being gay.) The two best examples I can think of are "Jeffrey" and "The Broken Hearts Club".  These movies also tend to feature straight guys playing gay; Michael T. Weiss (Jared from The Pretender) and Dean Cain (Superman from Lois and Clark,) especially hunky guys that gay men are pretty much programmed to find attractive.

*None of this is to criticize these movies but just to make a point.  AIDS and HIV are serious illnesses and this is not to make light of the topic whatsoever.  Furthermore, these movies tend to show a period of time that was scary and horrific for a lot of people.  I couldn't even imagine what people went through watching friends die.  I don't know how people made it through.*

The next is my personal favorite: Gay Best Friend as Father.  The first two movies I can think of that fall into this category are The Object of my Affection with Paul Rudd (who we've been told is totally cute and we need to lust after) and Jennifer Aniston (who either would be or was already dating Brad Pitt when we were supposed to believe that she was your average woman unlucky in love) and The Next Best Thing  starring Rupert Everett (who I think was out of the closet at the time and woo hoo for a gay leading man!) and Madonna (yeah, who was this targeted for?).  *Just as a side note, I actually went with my girlfriend at the time to see this.*  These movies follow the same path.  The female lead is having a troublesome relationship or is tired of the line of assholes she's dated.  Her cure for this moment of sadness:  hang out with her gay best friend.  Of course, she realizes that he'd be perfect if he just liked girls!  They get drunk one night and (don't understand how you can be gay and this happens) they have sex.  The woman ends up pregnant and in creeps that moral: children need a mother and a father and having a child out of wedlock is just a mistake. *They kindly gloss over all the gay couples and single parent households out there, not to mention the huge variety of families there are the world over.*  All the moralizing comes to a head, the father takes his responsibility and the normal order is restored, all parties satisfied.

Now the largest category that exists: Gay Rebellious Love story.  It's a very simple formula.  Take two guys, usually one closeted, and the other not or at least not as much, they fall in love and much like the aids crisis movie, the closet case has to choose.  The first examples that come to mind are Brokeback Mountain (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, I mean come on!) and Latter Days (Wes Ramsey/Owen from Days of our Lives or Sam from Guiding Light and Steve Sandvoss).  I used to really enjoy these movies when I first came out because it always meant cute young guys.  (Although to be perfectly honest, I've never seen a mainstream gay movie that didn't mean cute guys.)

Where we really were interested, and I still am, is whether or not there are more mainstream romantic comedies like what straight people have.  I feel like one could try and classify Adam and Steve (that movie that they run on Logo all the time with Malcolm Gets and Craig Chester) but that really couldn't be too mainstream.  Is it just impossible to tell the story?  Has mainstream media lied to me about this being a post-sexual society?  Are there examples of which I am just unaware?

Also, if there are movies you believe break the stereotypes, I'd love to hear about them.  I take any and all recommendations seriously!


  1. I could take or leave most of those above movies. I never enjoyed 'Adam & Steve" - but mostly bc I never liked Malcom Getz.

    My go-to movie is 'Big Eden'. I love the players. I love the town folk. I love the storyline. Pike ain't too bad either.

    1. I loved Big Eden. I think it was one of the first gay movies I ever saw. I think I saw it on DirecTV before I moved for college. I loved how accepting the town was. And yes, I did kind of love Pike, in all his long haired glory!

  2. The movie Weekend is very good. The relationship between the two men is complex and fuelled by too much drugs/alcohol however their interplay/dialogue is brilliant. The characters are also very realistic and very attractive in a natural sort of way (especially the Welsh actor).
    For a total comedic romp, I live British films like Love and Other Disasters. There are lots of coming out movies but the German film Summersturm is good. The movie Shelter is a beautifully filmed romantic movie although the ending is a bit Hollywood. The French film Ma Mere is totally twisted. I also like films about gay parenting like the Swedish film Patrick 1.5 or the Quebecois film C.R.A.Z.Y. I also like Israeli films like Walk on Water or Jossi and Yagger (although it is tragic).

    1. I am definitely waiting for Weekend to come out. Ever since I started hearing about it, I knew I would have to see it. I also just saw the preview for Love and other Disasters and now I have to see it. I do tend to really love British senses of humor. I'll have to check out the rest. Thanks for the recommendations!

    2. Latter Days, Beautiful Thing, several others you mention -- love them all. Do you know Urbania? Dan Futterman in a gritty NYC, totally at loose ends from the loss (by urban violence, not AIDS) of his lover. Do you know Trick? Sweet movie about two gay boys in a pick up situation who spend the entire night looking for a place they can have sex and by morning have begun to fall in love. There's also the French film, The Adventures of Felix. I don't think any of the above are purveyors of the usual stereotypes.

      Just found you today and will be back!

    3. I have seen Trick, and it was pretty cute. It ends up being a pretty cute/sweet movie. I actually saw most of Totally Fucked Up last night. It's pretty practical to have access for the short amount of time I do, to Pink TV. I may have to see if I can find The Adventures of Felix here. I'm unfamiliar with Urbania, so I'll have to look around for it.

  3. I also like the Irish movie Cowboys and Angels which is a great story about friendship where one of the main characters is gay.

  4. I also like the UK film Oh Happy Day. Probably because it attempts to balance tough subjects like parenting, race, career etc. all within the context of a gay romantic comedy.

    1. Oh Happy Day was very strange but pretty good. I think I'm a sucker for a binational romance.

  5. Hey there,
    I just wanted to say that your blog is great and love the movie suggestions... I will check some of them out.
    Looking forward to following the blog regularly.
    Have a great day.

    1. Always glad to know the blog is enjoyed! I look forward to seeing you around. If you have any recommendations of your own, don't be shy!

  6.'ve categorized them pretty well, I have to admit.
    I generally hate gay movies...."Jeffery" and "The Broken Hearts Club" I remember rolling my eyes at so much I thought they'd come out of my head.

    I do remember kind of liking "Touch of Pink"....not sure where it fits in the category however.

    1. Most of the gay movies I saw in my life when I was just coming out so anything with a gay character I automatically loved. The categorization I have done now comes from hindsight which, as we all know, tends to be 20/20. Repressed white boy from small midwest town usually causes that though.

      I'll have to see what I can find about Touch of Pink. I am unfamiliar with it. Thanks for discussing!

  7. I like your list a bunch. I liked but did not love Brokback Mountain. It was actually an A+ film, but I wanted to be transported by it & have it change me forever. My fault for putting such a burden on such a well told tale.

    I never get tired of Beautiful Thing

    I also appreciate:
    Mambo Italiano
    My Own Private Idaho
    My Beautiful Laundrette
    The Adventure of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert
    Torch Song Trilogy
    Longtime Companion
    Were The World Mine

    I give an unqualified A to:
    A Single Man
    I Love You Phillip Morris

    I give an A+ to:
    Angels In America
    Big Eden

    I dig you blog, young man!

    1. Mambo Italiano was pretty good. Of course, I have a thing for Italian guys, so that's a personal thing. I saw the majority of My Own Private Idaho, but never seen it the whole way though, it's the same for Priscilla. I think there are too many movies I've seen the end of or the beginnings of too many gay movies.

      I'm always glad to know that people enjoy what I post. I try to be interesting, but well, who knows.

  8. I can't say I liked Mambo Italiano. It looked to me like a very bad sit-com (both writers also wrote one of the most famous French Canadian sit-com). They were playing the "international" card for doing it in english and putting a lot of money out to have a major Hollywood actor for one of the leading role. And it worked. The movie wouldn't have made it as big as it did, had it been an entirely "home production".

    And I've just seen C.R.A.Z.Y. which left me quite perplexed. Maybe it strikes too close to home! the boy could be me! I felt most of the time like watching an average after-school special.

    This said, I think they are good movies worth watching. I guess I'm just tired of "gay" movies, especially those dealing with the topic of coming-out or AIDS. I know though how important they all are. But it's just me! It's so great that you, young lads, have the opportunity to explore a wide variety of movies tackling everything about homosexuality in many different forms and styles, something I didn't have when I was 25.

    I'd like to direct your attention to a nice little movie made in 2002. It's called "Lawless Heart". In this one, we witness the journey of a group of people trying to deal with the passing of one of the pillars of their community who happened to be gay.

    The interesting thing about this cute, funny and sometimes witty little movie, set in a small seashore town in England, is that it is told three times from three different points of view: the first third of the movie is told from the point of view of the brother of the deceased, then we started all over again but this time from the perspective of the brother-in-law and then from the gay lover/partner of the deceased. It's a very interesting concept that I thought worked pretty well at enhancing an otherwise not-so-great story.

    I hope that all is well for you.

  9. Everything's fine here, no question about that. I'll have to check out Lawless Heart. I love movies where we get to see multiple perspectives like that.

    I do think that there's been a glut of movies about coming out or AIDS, but I think quite a bit of that is because of how interesting the subject is.

    Every story is interesting though. You just have to find a way to make it interesting.

    Hope you're well too! Bonne continuation!

  10. Another one you might like is called "All Over the Guy." It was very clever, while dealing with the theme of commitment.

  11. I remember seeing the end of it. I thought it was pretty good. Thanks for reminding me!

  12. Tamayn I think we've seen all these(those in your list and the comments) except Contracorriente. I'll put it on the list. We aren't too hard on GLBTQ films. Some people seem to delight in tearing them apart. For us seeing the affection and connection between GLBTQ people is so important. Skin is also nice, though not necessary. We tend to like GLBTQ films made outside the US best, though that test isn't universal either.

    1. Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to seem like this is an indictment or take down of the gay film industry. I just really find that movies made by gay people, or at least for gay people, tend to not venture outside of the preconceived notions we have as to what a gay movie is. I will still laugh at any of these movies, or cry when it hits me just right. I dunno, there's a good chance I'm just whingeing. I do that sometimes.

  13. Happy Oscar day certainly have a buzz going here!
    Wow, you are followed by Stephen Rutledge and Will (desingerman?).....Blobby, and others.....gush gush...

    Anyway, for what it is worth, I am a huge film fan....and I don't think anyone mentioned a couple of oldies...

    "The Sum of Us" adapted from a play...sweet and pretty honest..we have to remember when films came out and what was possible for mass marketing.

    Also, "Dorian Blues" is a another with some pretty good laughs in it...and some real moments.
    How about "The House at the End of the World" for breaking stereotypes.

    I am a bad person to type about film because I have about a thousand favorite films...and growing every day. Maybe we can have a film fest here sometimes.

    Great Post!

    1. I'll have to check out the recommendations. I actually had to look it up but I remember seeing it on Logo a long time ago. Colin Farrell is so cute in this!I'm always on the lookout for a gay movie that breaks stereotypes.

      I know neither how nor why people follow me, but I'm honored that they do!