Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Judging, Judging, Judging

Lately I have been feeling out of step with mainstream culture. Yeah, I know being gay and of mixed ancestry means I am always already out of step with U.S. mainstream culture. Still, some elements in popular culture seem overvalued. Yet, other things that I think are dandy receive almost no attention. Do I need to rehash the Futurama cancellation horror? Other examples? I might have a few:

    Overrated: CSI: Las Vegas, New York, Miami, Little Rock, or wherever. When I visit my childhood home, my parents have an obsession with these shows. Don’t get me wrong, I can be a sucker for the hour-long drama (keep reading). These incarnations, though, just don’t do it for me. I am no forensic scientist, but their methods always struck me as implausible. One episode, in particular, had them solve the crime by enhancing a digital picture to show the reflection in somebody's eyeball. If this was a possibility, how come when I use Photoshop to magnify my images, I just end up with a pixilated mess? Unless that digital camera had 200,000mpi, it just seemed unlikely.

    Underrated: Quincy, ME. Back in the seventies, our television shows didn’t even put on a pretense of good science. Instead, it depended on gruff character actors to keep us engaged. Quincy got the job done and usually pushed some lefty, though simple, political message (hey, television audience, Quincy says that racism is bad -- oh, and stay in school -- oh, and don't do drugs -- oh, and live on a boat). Plus, he had his friend Sam to watch his back.

    Overrated: Snow White – So what if is she was the “fairest of them all?” Snow White seemed like a terrible bore to me. That whistling-while-you-work thing would drive me nuts. Plus, why didn’t she have breasts? I could hardly be accused of being a “boob-man,” but her total lack of cleavage strikes me as a bit, well, creepy. Was she supposed to be prepubescent? If so, doesn’t that make both the magic mirror and Prince Charming pedophiles?

    Underrated: Evil Queen – She came up as second most fair in all the land. I am here to tell you, that ain’t bad. Okay, so Evil Queen might have been a little blood thirsty. I have been to plenty of gay clubs, though, where queens have done much worse than ordering the woodsman to cut out prettier folk’s hearts. So, let’s not cast stones at Evil Queen. Plus, Evil Queen could run down castle steps while wearing some ultra-hip high heels. I dare you to even try that!

    Overrated: Jordan from Crossing Jordan. My shallowness resulted in me watching episodes of Crossing Jordan when dreamy Jerry O’Connell guest starred. You would be astounded at the crap I will watch on the off-chance that some hunky actor will remove his shirt. I know, it shows a shallow character flaw. Leave me alone – I live in a really small town.

    Jill Hennsey’s Jordan, though, just never seemed to be able to pull of the vibe the show wanted. I mean, the idea of a rock’n’roll coroner sounds appealing. But, it’s not like Joan Jett is carving up cadavers (which I would watch, fyi).

    Underrated: Clair from Law & Order. Why, oh, why did Jill Hennessy leave Law and Order? Why, oh, why did the producers murder her character, thus preventing her from ever returning? This was the golden age of hour-long crime dramas, people. Plus, Clair had that certain something that made the show special. Was it the Jacqueline Kennedy style suites? Was it the page-boy haircut? Was it the sexual tension with Jack McCoy? Was it the sexual tension with Anita Van Buren? Whatever the case, Clair offered the full package. Secretly, I want to be Clair – but that is another entry entirely.

    Overrated: Gay Marriage – Oh, sure, it starts with him giving you a ring and promising to always make you his priority in life. It turns out, though, that what he really meant to say was that he would be committed to you only until he grew bored, restless, and/or met people he thought were more interesting than you. Oops, am I leaking bitterness again? Give me a break, I am still “in process.”

    Underrated: Gay Single-hood – For the past year, I endured things ranging from callous indifference, forgotten anniversaries, to just plain silly statements about him having “evolved” beyond me. Boy, in comparison to all that nonsense, gay single-hood looks great!

    It’s not that I am happy about the situation or agree that it was the right decision (which I am not and I don’t – some histrionic blog entries attest to that). Whatever the case, I am starting to look forward to building a new life after I finish mourning. It will take time for the pain to clear even after we finally sell the house and go our separate ways. Now, though, I eagerly await being free. Given my heavy-duty belief in cosmic karma, I am also working hard not to wish him harm (hard work indeed!). Instead, I want to reach a point where I can wish him only peace and an answer to his unsolvable longings and discontentment (an answer, I hope, found far, far, far away from me). Like Alanis, I want to get to a stage where I also can thank India.

    Overrated: Tax Cuts – When did our nation become filled with such greedy bastards? For the amount of money we all make, Republican tax cuts don’t help us much. What could I buy with Bush’s big 2001 tax cut? Delivery Pizza? It’s just not worth it.

    Underrated: Public Services – Call me a crazy liberal, but I like having free roads, post offices, and decent public schools. I would be in love with also having universal health care, federal utilities, and greater pensions for all Americans. What do we need to make these dreams come true? Less war, more taxes. That’s not exactly a winning campaign slogan, though.

    Overrated: G.I Joe Usually I am sucker for a man in uniform, but I think Joe sends kids the wrong message. His only ambition seems to involve killing – at least in-between wardrobe changes. At times, his gun appeared bigger than Joe’s whole body. I am not Freudian, but it seems like Joe might be compensating for something.

    Underrated: Big Jim – Created as a peaceful alternative to Joe, Big Jim had a brief moment of fame in the seventies. Responding to the decade that shunned violence, Jim didn’t own guns. Rather, he devoted his time to camping and showering with his friends. He also seemed to go to the gym quite a bit. I don’t like to gossip, but Big Jim and Big Jack often slept together in the big camper.

    Overrated: Madonna’s Confessions on a Dance Floor – Okay, we gay folk are falling over ourselves in honor of Madonna’s latest album. Don’t get me wrong, “Hung Up” keeps me going on the treadmill. But, is it really as good as we want it to be? Or do we simply find relief that Confessions on a Dance Floor is not the totally unlistenable American Life?

    Underrated: Madonna’s Erotica – After the whole Vogue craze, Madonna would never please everbody. In this case, she found much critical derision for Erotica. In retrospect, though, the album had its moments. How many albums can you name with songs dedicated to S&M? Likewise, “Deeper and Deeper” always seemed underrated as a song. Or maybe I am just partial to the video with Madonna in a big, permed bubble-do getting in a pillow fight.

    Overrated: The Wizard of Oz: The Film. I know, I need to turn in my gay card. I just haven’t been able to work up any enthusiasm for this film since I was six. Yeah, there is the witch, but she is no Evil Queen from Snow White. Yeah, there are the flying monkeys, but they kinda creeped me out. Yeah, Judy Garland eases on down the road (or was that somebody else?). Now, it just bores me.

    Underrated: The Wizard of Oz: The Book. Many historians argue that the book, unlike the film or sequel novels, actually appeared as a satiric critique of now antiquated monetary debates in the late-nineteenth-century U.S. You see, it was all about whether the U.S. should base its national currency strictly on gold or a combination of gold and silver. In the book, unlike the movie, Dorothy has silver slippers (not ruby) as she skips along the golden brick road. You see where we are going? She meets the tin woodsmen, who represented the inhumanity of the industrial revolution that turned men and women into extensions of machines. The Democrat's Presidential Candidate for 1896, William Jennings Bryan, made a guest appearance as the cowardly lion and -- wait -- Did you just fall asleep reading my blog? Man, why does that keep happening to me?

    Overrated: Barbara Streisand It’s another reason why they are going to make me turn in my gay card. The Babes thing, though, just leaves me stumped. Maybe I don’t get it because she’s from a previous generation of gay men. Or maybe my tastes lack the proper camp aesthetic. While I appreciate her lefty ways politically, her voice grates on my nerves like the Bee-Gees. I also find it peculiar that she keeps releasing Christmas albums.

    Underrated: Dolly Parton My ex does deserve credit for breaking down my knee-jerk reaction to country music. Previously, I tended to ignore and disparage all things country. Now, though, I understand that country music is really white people’s jazz. Dolly leads the pack, in my mind. We will ignore her recent dreadful album of covers. Instead, think about her coat of many colors, working from 9-to-5, or making plans for checking out, Dolly has tremendous talent as a writer and a performer (did Babes ever actually write a song?). Dolly always seems to have a warm spot for us gay men. It might be because we keep dressing like her, I don’t know.

    Overrated: George Pérez’s Wonder Woman – This borders on sacrilege for some die-hard Wonder Woman fans (no, I am not the only one - there are at least two others). I understand that Pérez actually got people reading Wonder Woman again after some hard times for the Amazon Princess. His emphasis on Greek mythology also had its moments. For me, though, Pérez pushed Wonder Woman off track. She got a bad perm and her breasts eventually grew as big as her head. She just didn’t have the campy fun of yore.

    Underrated: William Moulton Marston’s (aka Charles Moulton's) Wonder Woman. Did somebody say campy fun? Real-life inventor of the lie-detector William Moulton Marston had some pretty darn quirky ideas about gender and sex. In his spare time, he loved, loved, loved being tied up by two women (think golden lariats). He also fantasized desperately wanted envisioned that women would soon rule the world. Combine these two ideas, and you have the trippy first issues of Wonder Woman.

    Overrated: Gay Academics Gay Academics can prattle ceaselessly over arcane subjects (like the difference between the film and book versions of The Wizard of Oz). They often take themselves way too seriously, proclaiming to be the “Center of Gravitas,” or some such nonsense. Pfft – what do they know about anything?

    Underrated: Gay Porn Stars – Be honest, which would you rather be doing now: Reading this blog or watching porn (straight or gay)? You are likely at work (where we all do our blog reading), so the latter is not really a possibility. Let’s face it, Gay Porn Stars are infinitely more interesting than Gay Academics, at least in the short term. I know I have learned much more watching thirty minutes of porn than entire semesters of some classes. Plus, Gay Porn Stars are almost never as pale as Gay Academics (we border on the translucent).


Adam said...

I dont agree with much of this post but I love it anyway! :) Great post.

Thesaurus Rex said...

Gay porn stars make me queasy most of the time. I feel somehow inadequate as a man for not having six-pack abs or even trying to. My ex was big on porn, though, so perhaps I am just angry and bitter.

Dorian said...

Regarding CSI, the Las Vegas version I find usually watchable. But then, I have a crush on William Petersen.

I adore Dolly Parton, and I cannot stand Barbara Streisand or Madonna.

I like Perez's Wonder Woman, Marston's Wonder Woman and Rucka's Wonder Woman.

I quite like gay academics, in general. And gay porn stars. Blake Harper is one of my favorites. But then, most of the hairy-chested, bearded ones are my favorites.
Zak Spears holds a special place in my heart.

Roger Owen Green said...

The Church of Klugman will love you. Actually, I liked Quincy. I've seen exactly one CSI, the month after my child was born; it was about parents doing in their child because they feared he/she had some dreadful disease he/she didn't have. Or something like that. No thanks.

Paul the Spud said...

Please don't rehash the Futurama cancellation. It's still too painful.

I'm with you 10000% on Babs. I freaking hate Streisand.

I tend not to be big on (haw) gay porn stars, unless they happen to have a really good sense of humor about themselves.

Case in point: Jeff Stryker. He appeared in a bonus track on the DVD for Zombie 4: After Death.

"What?" you say, "Stryker was in a terrible Italian zombie movie in the 80's?" Oh yes, my tender lumplings, and it's all that and a bag of chips. He's interviewed in the bonus track about the whole thing, and he has an incredible sense of humor about the film, how it collided with his "porn life," and just everything in general. He still looks good, and can actually say things beyond "You like that, don'tcha."

I loves me some Jeff Stryker.

GayProf said...

Adam: Yeah, I know you are committed to your pro-Snow White, anti-Evil-Queen agenda. That’s cool. ;-) I am still glad you liked the post.

T. Rex: If this is your response to watching porn, you aren’t watching it right. Or, maybe you have an inclination to films with a bit more, shall we say, bear content?

Dorian: Oooh, Zak Spears. Good Choice – Also love (obviously) Blake Harper and I still miss Thomas Lloyd. Terrible movies, but wow, what a good lucking guy! Like the hair, too – I don’t fully understand the shaving trend.

ROG: Yeah, I didn’t mention, but CSI can also be a serious downer.

Paul: Gay Porn Stars have a sense of humor! Yet another reason why they should outrank Gay Academics.

Lyle said...

I adore Dolly Parton, and I cannot stand Barbara Streisand or Madonna.

Same here. Madonna is occasionally interesting ("Don't tell me" is one of the more interesting bits of electronica) but I don't get the gay following... and I've really got to check out Dolly's new disc because I've always loved "Those were the Days."

Gay porn stars are interesting for a little while but too many don't seem to get much more interesting than that six pack. Give me someone who can keep an interesting conversation going.

Then again, maybe I'd find gay porn stars more interesting if the people behind the scenes didn't see racial diversity as a niche interest.

...though you guys have me tempted to upgrade my sidebar to follow the guy obsession thing.

Wayne said...

I am so with you on the Evil Queen. As a child I wanted goody-two shoes, squeaky clean Snow White to stay in that glass coffin for good.

dan said...

Oh, I doon't know about the gay academics thing. I'm not one. But I'm a pimp of them at times.

Love the blog. I think you're write about Frank L. Baum and Dolly. Porn stars are boring to me though. And i think the Oz movie in full form in a theater beats the crap out of the tv version we were all raised in.
Enjoy East Texas. I escaped from Texas years ago (tho often return to visit the family in Dallas (rhymes with "malice" conveniently enough) I much prefer New Mexico.

Jack said...

CSI -I watch them if they have a hot guy in them somewhere...

Snow White & Friends - the prince has no basket...

Crossing Jordan - see CSI comment...

Gay Marriage - see CSI comment

Skipping to Barbara - Send in your card baby - Well maybe you will have to prove it some other way :)

I like Dolly TOO! she rocks

Gay Porn Stars - See CSI Comment - only I get what I really want - man flesh - same reason I watch football at the parents - Butt!