Yes, Another Teen Movie
2004-11-28 - 11:04 a.m.
So, my trip to Austin was jam-packed and fun-filled. I got to see Miss Ginger Leigh and the gang, Anarchaspud and some of my Rhizome peeps (Mr and Ms Turkey will soon be Mr and Mrs Turkey! Yay!), Pearljammer, my Fag Hag, as well as much of the family. In some ways, it made for an exhausting trip. I didn't get a full eight hours of sleep at any point, and I was usually running around somewhere or cooking something or trying to track people down.
So on the fifth day, The Notorious RRZ rested, with the help of The Notorious DAD's pay-per-view. It gave me a chance to stay at home, read some theory and criticism, and eat some leftover turkey and stuffing (the gravy this year? Best. Gravy. Ever.). I got to watch Kill Bill 1&2 (please see last entry), Once Upon a Time in Mexico (a highly underrated film, in my opinion, but then again, I'm a MexiCan, not a MexiCan't), The Return of the King (I stand by my statement that it is nowhere near as good as the other two LOTR movies), Le Divorce (a much better movie than book--who knew Kate Hudson would actually improve something?), and three movies that sent me flashing back to high school with the force of an entire sheet of acid.
Saved!, Mean Girls, and Camp.
I had never seen any of these movies before, even though I had intended to see them all in the theaters. Saved! was the first one of the trilogy. For those who haven't seen it, Jena Malone is a leading student at a Christian school who, after finding out that her boyfriend thinks he's gay, asks herself "What would Jesus do?" and comes up with "Fuck the shit out of him." Actually, she figures that she can cure him and winds up pregnant; he winds up at a home for those the Christian right has deemed freak shows, although with a very hot roommate. While I didn't go to a Christian school, I went to a school in Texas full of devout Christians, and while I was hardly an outcast I did feel extremely different, so I was thrilled to see the social mores of such a group get the treatment they get in this movie. Also, it made me respect the Hell out of Mandy Moore for taking a part that could easily alienate a number of her fans (the over-the-top bigot for Jesus) and playing it to the hilt. I applaud her for that.
For me, though, my favorite characters in the movie were neither of the gay boys nor the love-to-hate-her Hilary Fay played by Mandy Moore, but the outcast couple played by Eva Amurri (Susan Sarandon's daughter) and Macaulay Culkin. They were the freaks of the school, and reminded me a lot of me and my peeps. And the best line, of course, was when Jena asked Eva why she was going out with Mac, to which she replied, "He gets me, and I get him." Dudes, I was jealous. Seriously. I spent way too much time in high school waiting around for someone to get me (as it proved later, a lot of guys might have gotten me if they'd admitted to themselves and the world a few things about themselves, but that's multiple previous entries), and I will be turning 25 in January without having had much luck. Granted, after a few years of knowing me some people have started to get me, but I'd love to hang with someone who's a better guesser.
Then came Mean Girls, which might be the most accurate representation of my high school life that has ever been filmed, not least because I WAS IN IT! Seriously, there was a big, tall, fat gay guy! I was all "HOLY SHIT! THAT'S ME!!!" And his best friend was TOTALLY Shkbob, my best friend to this day. Funnily enough, while I looked like the BTFG guy, Shkbob looked nothing like the girl in the movie, BUT people who have never met Shkbob OR seen Mean Girls assume she looks like the girl who is her equivalent in Mean Girls. Weird. But yes, SO. FRIGGIN. ACCURATE. I was amazed. Tina Fey deserves an Oscar for writing that movie. Of course, while Lindsay Lohan gets a guy, and the Shkbob-equivalent gets a guy (who was similar enough to some of Shkbob's own boyfriends and crushes to be SPOOKY), BTFG guy? Doesn't. Single as they come. Or rather, don't come, because he's not getting laid. Now, granted, I didn't have a high-school boyfriend, but I did have one outside of high-school. Sure, he was older than I was and dumb as toast, but I was getting some. Why couldn't BTFG guy get some? Tina, couldn't you have thrown BTFG guys everywhere a bone, so to speak, and found a guy for BTFG guy?
Finally, there was Camp, which I actually didn't like that much. The acting was TERRIBLE. There was barely anything resembling a plot. Also, it kinda got me jealous, because there was never a summer camp when I was around that let boys dress in drag. However, I never looked into theater camps, which is where the movie is set. There were, however, good moments. There was that moment when the "sports counselor" says "Do you want to play some softball this summer?" and a kid, incredulous, says, "No!" There was the moment when one of the directors at the camp said, "These kids are freaks, and the more we try to make them normal the more isolated and lonely they're gonna feel." And best of all there was the moment when the fat girl whose parents wired her jaw shut got to sing her heart out in front of them. I was sobbing on my couch. I realize that I can never have children because I will embarrass the Hell out of them if they are in any way talented. They will not be able to hear their own voices on the videotape of their performance because all they will hear is me crying. The movie was worth watching just for that moment.
However, what annoyed me about the movie is that in a film which remarks that straight boys at a theater camp are seen less frequently than the Loch Ness Monster, no boys kissed. Yes, they were teenagers, but I wasn't asking them to do a Boys Gone Wild video. Boys can kiss. They showed a gay guy experimenting with heterosexuality, but when the straight guy finally offered himself for the pleasure of a gay boy, THE GAY BOY SAID NO!!! I wanted to step into the movie and say, "Dude, he's hot, he's naked, and he is offering himself to you. There are no questions in moments like these. You sort out the psychotic disorders that drove him to sleep with someone he isn't attracted to IN THE MORNING. You're seventeen! If a straight guy wants to fool around, you throw him on the ground and show him the advantages of having worked with the equipment all your life. Work with me here!" But no, the gay boy didn't get any from a hot guy. The hot guy, however, not only cheated on his girlfriend with TWO other women but wound up with the local fag hag after his girlfriend dumped him, proving once again that fag hags know how to get theirs. Trust.
Anyways, it was amazing to watch these movies, because I felt like they were getting closer to portraying me and my friends the way we were in high school. I can't think of any other movies that have gotten it as right as Saved! and Mean Girls. Granted, a lot of dramatic shit happened that never happens in real life, but that's why these are movies. It made me want to go out and buy both of those movies, which I plan to do after finishing this entry.
However, it did hammer another message home: gay youth still have a long way to go. I know that seems obvious and facile, but when I returned to my high school a year after graduating as the first out person ever in my conservative central Texas private school, I met two freshmen boys who were openly bisexual (at least one has since affirmed that he is totally gay), and who seemed to be getting along well. I was really jealous of them. I can't think of what it would have been like to be openly gay even as a Junior (I came out my Senior year). Hell, I might have convinced one of the closet cases to come out with me, or maybe just come on me (Whatever, some of them were very hot). I thought that things were suddenly so much easier, and the more I heard about queer student unions in high schools, the more I wished I'd been born a few years later.
Watching these movies, I realized the limits. Gay youth aren't seen as being sexual. It's still the same as Clueless--gay boys make great best friends, but they aren't going to get the guy in the end). Or if they are, then they will have to be very handsome, masculine men who will not make out in front of the audience. Gay boys who are overly feminine or overweight or even slightly of color don't stand half a chance. I think this is a big problem. I think that it's really vital that people see movies in which they are both subjects and objects of desire, particularly as a teen. Instead, they get movies where the worst things you can be is fat and differently gendered.
Wow, I wonder why this hit home with me? Couldn't say . . .
On a more positive note, the "freaks" comment in Camp, along with the other two movies, made me come to terms with a fact about myself that I've known for a long time, but had some trouble accepting. I don't do normal. I don't get along with normal people. I really need the people around me to be total freak shows. A mere handful of my friends have escaped having psychological disorders, and the number will surely go down as we get older. That used to scare me, but the more I think about it the more I realize that I'd rather have these completely mental people around me that I love than sane, rational people who blend in. Blending, unless ice and alcohol are involved, is boring. In high school, all the people I loved were people who didn't fit in. In college, I was part of an experimental theatre company. After college, I worked with anarchists and hung out with musicians. At no point was I ever tempted to hang out with normal people. I will always love the freak shows, and the freaks among the freak shows, the ones who don't quite conform with their fellow non-conformists.
I find normal attractive, though. I've always been drawn to relatively normal guys, provided they have brains, a warm personality, and charisma. There's this part of me that wants PTA meetings and mini-vans and a house in the suburbs. The problem is that if I ever got it, I would hate it. So I'm starting to wonder if there's a point to wanting it anymore.
So, anyway, I'm gonna finish an e-mail to Tina Sparkle, go buy Saved! and Mean Girls, and spend the day reading. I'll actually spend most of the next two weeks working hard, so don't be shocked if entries are sparse in the next two weeks. Next semester, though, I'm going to try to connect with queer theater people here and anarchists throughout the Bay Area. My fellow first years are a bunch of freak shows, to be sure, but I need to expand my circle. I need to find my own personal Berzerkeley.
And remind myself that, no matter what the movies say, big, fat, tall, feminine, Latino gay guys do get their mens. It's just that the things they do with them can't be shown in normal movie theaters.
ADDENDUM: All good energies go out to Tori Amos for the loss of her brother in a car accident this weekend. I met her Dad once--he was a kind, gentle man--and can imagine the heartbreak he must feel at losing his child, and the feelings his wife must have as well. All the love to them.4 comments so far The End - 2005-02-11
Let's Go on With the Show - 2005-01-30
The Curse, and This Bee's a Keeper - 2005-02-01
Sisters Lolita and Matronic Explain It All for You - 2005-01-31
Cowboys and Medievalists - 2005-01-30