This could all be an exercise in how emotionally broken and busted up I am.
Or what have you.
But I watched some movie and now I want to talk about it.
Merry Christmas Eve, by the way!
Anyway. I’ve fallen into this avoidance trap. I don’t know why, but I’m doing anything in front of the TV to avoid watching Christmas movies. Maybe it’s because I watched Bad Moms Christmas last year and it put me off the whole genre? Nonetheless, this has manifested by me creating my own themes to binge.
One of these was gay themed movies. The two I want to discuss today both put me off watching them for one reason or another – fine, they both annoyed me – if that tells you how hard I was resisting Christmas themed movies.
How can a movie annoy me before I’ve even seen it, you ask?
Not surprisingly, it was the usual trigger for me: idiots.
When Bros came out and the first weekend earnings were reported, they lacked a certain luster. It made less than $5 million in its opening weekend. The writer and star blamed straight people for not seeing his rom-com because the main characters were gay.
Ballpark cocktail napkin math, there’s 20 million gay men in the US. Countless others who identify as queer, questioning, gender-fluid or trans. And then a handful of lesbians who sympathetically tolerate gay men.
Y’know what, that’s too complicated. The old rule of thumb (and by “old” I mean outdated) is that 10% of the population is gay. In America, that translates to around 35 million people. If just ten percent of that 10% <ahem> came out for opening weekend, that’s a $35 million opening weekend.
Bitch, your own people didn’t show up for you. Trust me, having written a couple of gay themed books, I understand the phenomenon. Don’t blame the straights, it’s your community.
So, yeah…that kinda put me off.
Conversely, the other gay themed movie is been awaiting was My Policeman. After the media hullaballoo surrounding star Harry Styles’ other movie release this year (Don’t Worry Darling) I was looking forward to something I could enjoy without experiencing a shitshow of humanity-baiting press beforehand. But the idiots came through and pissed me off again.
Several of the reviews went out of their way to mention Styles’ English accent sounded contrived and unbelievable.
Harry is from the United Kingdom.
What the hell is wrong with people?
After overcoming those frustrations – at least to the point that the idea of watching them bothered me less than the idea of viewing Christmas content – I made a weekend of it.
Are you ready for this? Gird your loins. No, on second thought, you little peeves put your loins out of your minds altogether. I’m sorry I mentioned it.
Months and months ago, I heard about this gay movie that was coming out this year called Bros. It was written by and starred Billy Eichner, who I am not a fan of – he’s just not my cup of personality tea. Conversely, it was directed by Nicholas Stoller who brought us okay titles like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Get Him to the Greek. It was also being produced by Judd Apatow.
So there was plenty of recognizable name power behind it. You gotta assume that if anyone could succeed at being a gay-centric rom-com into the mainstream, it was a crew like this.
I spent the time mentally playing Russian roulette. This wasn’t a movie, it seemed as it was a sentence.
Don’t get me wrong, I was only mentally playing Russian roulette, not literally, so it wasn’t that bad. But even weeks after watching it I’m still trying to figure out if I’m bending over backward to not hate it.
Here are me takeaways:
1) There’s some (singular) guy candy. The whole premise of the trailer is that nerdy gay Billy can’t grapple with the reality that hot co-star Luke MacFarlane could be into him. Ok, I feel that particular struggle. Anymore what used to be surprise at learning someone was attracted to me has turned into outright suspicion. Like when a good looking guy pays attention to me my response isn’t to be flattered, it “What do you want?”
2) Sadly, Luke’s character – as easy as he is to look at – has almost the entire patchwork of gay fucked up-ness in his quilt: your basic gym bunny of a commitment-phobe, hyper-sexualized, Homo. Even when the story opens him up a little by giving him a totally out of character secret dream to make him look vulnerable, it’s immediately thrown in the dirt and stomped on by throwing his gay-shame in our faces when his family visits the Big Apple for Christmas.
3) Stunt casting is alive! But maybe not well? Several out actors played roles in this film. That was nice to see – even if the community didn’t come out for the show, it supported the community of out entertainers in its casting. The winner for me was Amanda Bearse playing Luke’s character’s mother. The conservative mindset of the character explains some of Luke’s dis-ease with Billy meeting them, but it was her eventual understanding of how her narrow worldview impacted others that did it for me. It was nice to see Guillermo Diaz play a het dad instead of an unhinged killer. Jai Rodriquez playing Luke’s uber-masc brother pretty much made me realize casting members of the community was more important than casting people who could sell the characters they were playing. Debra Messing is a moderately bright spot in the film playing herself as an out of date star that basically has a meltdown during her scene over being famous for being a fruit fly.
4) The Gays can’t seem to evolve professionally. In the 70s and 80s, we were all basically hair burners and retail queens. Now we’re all drag queens or caricatures of people with no real depth or involved in something that serves our ungrateful and entitled community. Case in point, Billy’s character is a podcaster who is named to lead the blah-blah-blah LGBTQ center. But first he had to build it, which is a central theme in the movie. The closest we come to an actual profession is Luke’s character who is an attorney who does estate planning. To further the programming of The Gays and reinforce that we should not aspire to such respectable professions, he hates it.
5) For as much as we call ourselves a community, there’s truly no unity here. Again, The Gays didn’t go to the movie, but if they had, all they would have seen is the usual selfish infighting amongst the alphabetical factions.
6) The Gays are as self-unaware as ever. Bowen Yang (more stunt casting!) plays a billionaire media mogul who briefly comes into the orbit of this storyline. The scene ends with him dismissing the main characters by telling them he has to go to a Pride pool party and they are too “old” to go in the pool, so they have to leave. Now, I’m all for cleverly bitchy wit. I’m also one for accountability, too, and watching this scene play out made me cringe. Excluding people based on things that are out of their control like age or genes is just not ok. Yang is no underwear model, so I can’t imagine how he felt delivery such an ageist line. If he’s the typical ‘22 model of The Gays, I’m sure the point was entirely lost on him.
Honestly, this is pretty much how I felt about the whole movie. I couldn’t figure out if it was just basic or if it was trying to lampoon was passes for Gay Kulture these days but just wasn’t smart enough to pull it off.
That’s my main takeaway – confusion.
Honestly, props to those involved for taking a big swing on this. But that doesn’t change the fact that it’s a big miss for me. If you want to see a gay movie about a nerd and a stud falling in love with an out of date TV star having a meltdown…see 1999’s Trick. Tori Spelling was an amazing bit of stunt casting in this indy flick whose meltdown is truly a memorable moment. Plus, Coco Peru’s cameo alone is worth the ticket – rental, now – price, because…it does burn, Coco!
After bracing myself for Harry’s inability to pull of a convincing English accent, I settled into this little slice of life time capsule. Then again, after watching Bros, it was pretty easy to settle in with the expectations bar set pretty low.
This movie takes place in two different times in the three main characters’ lives, separated by 40-some odd years and splices the events of the two points together as the story unfolds.
I’m not going to try and do that here. Suffice to say, it ends up unfolding as a three-way tragedy.
The movie starts with an infirm old Patrick being delivered by medical transport to the home of childless couple Tom and Marion. He’s just recovered from a stroke and is here to convalesce. Marion is glad to have their old pal from decades earlier back in their lives, not to mention someone to take care of to give her days some purpose. Tom is not so happy about the arrival, spending his screen time walking the couple’s dog on the beach.
As the story hood between the past and present, we learn that Tom is a retired policeman who early in his career was a lone singleton in his precinct who was told that single officers don’t get promoted. Enter Marion who is a school teacher that is instantly smitten with the handsome young Tom – let’s face it, regardless of which side your bread is buttered on, Harry Styles is pretty easy to look at, weak-assed English accent be damned.
Tom introduces Marion to a young Patrick, who he claims to have met after an accident.
The three become friends. And it’s a friendship independent of the marriage. Marion and Patrick enjoy cultural outings together without Tom. Tom, for his part, enjoys his alone time with Patrick in…other ways.
Marion does what wives in the 50s-ish era did, ignored the signs about the true nature of Tom and Patrick’s relationship. On that note, maybe we understand a little more of Marion’s motivation behind inviting Patrick to their home to heal. Certainly, it’s easier to understand Tom’s absence in the house.
But it was nostalgic viewing for me. Even though my early relationships with men occurred in the late 80s and early 90s versus the 40s or 50s, the closet was still the room I spent the most time in. Beards – as the women in relationships of convenience were called – were still commonplace. A friend of mine who was a bank VP in the early 90s was told the same thing Tom was. Being a VP versus a beat cop, his response was more “Who the fuck cares?” versus pairing up, but it still happened.
Maybe nostalgia is the wrong word. Because the end result was that I was mad at the memory. The secret life gays were forced to live. The way women were treated as results. The emotional costs on both sides of the transaction.
Regardless, it was a far better depiction of this type of gay-straight love triangle than Threesome. But that probably went without saying – even if you never knew that movie existed…
What upset me most, though, about My Policeman was knowing that the current – or recent – generations of The Gays are oblivious to the trauma of the reality so many generations of their predecessors existed in. Their own culture. But it’s not their problem and certainly nowhere near as traumatic as their realities. Y’know, the one where no one gets their pronouns right and they don’t make enough on their OnlyFans to support their undeserved caviar tastes, leaving them no choice but to self-diagnose with anxiety and/or depression as a result. That’s tragedy.
So while I quite enjoyed watching the story of My Policeman unfold – as well as Harry’s too-infrequent naked ass – the movie left me angrier for what our culture has lost than anything else. That loss is history. Such an important piece of any culture and one of the reasons I spell the word with a K when I pair it with the word gay.
Still, as a counterbalance to my reaction to Bros, I feel like my emotional Geiger counter might not be as broken as I alluded to in my intro. I was still a bit intrigued by the fact that neither of these stories really had the emotional impact upon me their creators would have imagined.
I rewatched Top Gun: Maverick.
Sixteen minutes in and I am shedding tears the way I wish I could shed belly fat: fast and voluminously.
“What the fuck?!?” I asked Myrtle, who opened one eye at the question to let me know it was my problem and not worth rousing her from her nap.
If it would have just been that one instance of nostalgic tears, I could have written it off. But sixteen minutes later, there’s I was again, wiping my face – not my eyes, my face – with both hands.
Then fourteen minutes later.
And it really didn’t let up for the two-plus hours of the movie.
Top fucking Gun fucking Maverick. That’s the movie that provoked an emotional response from me?
Maybe I am more emotionally busted up than I want to let on.
On the other hand, maybe before I decide I should survey a bunch of naval aviators to see what their response was to TG:M. If they didn’t have a strong emotional reaction to the movie, maybe that’s my out: if you’re in the community, there’s a normalizing factor that familiarity breeds where you’re more witnessing the story versus becoming emotionally invested in it.
Oof. I should have stretched before that reach.