Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Prince of Persia: The Story of Jake's Pecs

Lego Prince of Persia
Jake Gyllenhaal
September 28, 2009 by Ted Casablanca

We seriously didn't think Jake Gyllenhaal's campy costume for the upcoming Disney flick Prince of Persia: The Story of Jake's Pecs could get more guffaw-worthy (despite the pretty damn doable bod itself, minus overdone Fabio trappings), but then we saw J.G.'s Lego action figure. Sorry, folks, we don't even get a pint-size superhero-esque action figure of chiseled Gyllen-hon to play with, but this supercute and totally harmless plastic children's toy instead? And it pretty much captures the doability—or lack thereof—of present-day Jakey perfectly.

Oh no?

Try as we might, we just can't drool over a guy who's become as vanilla as the soy latte we always catch him sipping alongside Reese. Manically manicured biceps 'n' abs in themselves don't make a real man, and neither does prancing around in a supersilly getup with an even more impractical piece of arm candy. We so know Gyllen-babe would rather jump back into indie film land and do his less pumped-up, more moody thing. He's so damn good at it, remember?

Is being a big, sweaty H'wood He-Man that important to ya, Jake? 'Cause this Lego figure almost pulls it off better than you have so far.

Please. For the sake of those three of us left who still swoon over ya, Jake, replace the gym and the GF with your true self. It was the hottest thing round there for a while.

Source: Ted Casablanca's The Awful Truth, Would You Do Jake Gyllenhaal With These Plastic Abs?

Friday, 18 September 2009

Confessions of a Late Bloomer

Neil Patrick Harris used to be an underage doctor on TV. Now he’s another Hollywood first: an out gay actor who can host award shows, play a womanizer, walk the red carpet with his boyfriend, and then get cast in movies as a straight dad. Neat trick.

Neil Patrick Harris
Coming out is its own kind of theatrical performance: It’s a reveal. For most of show-business history, it’s been more like an exposure — often in the aftermath of a scandal, as with George Michael. But then there was Ellen DeGeneres, whose famous "Yep, I’m Gay" on the cover of Time seemed to presage a new era of openness, an end to the double life. Instead, it hobbled her career until she returned, years later, as a talk-show host. That was twelve years ago, and each year there’s more give in the social fabric, with openly gay newscasters (Rachel Maddow), talk-show hosts (Rosie O’Donnell), singers (Michael Stipe), American Idols (Adam Lambert), comics (Mario Cantone), and actresses (Wanda Sykes, Sara Gilbert, Portia de Rossi, Cynthia Nixon). Even some long-closeted female stars have quietly shifted their status, including Lily Tomlin, Jodie Foster, and, most recently, Kelly McGillis.

Yet there’s one set of performers for whom coming out is still considered a career death sentence: male actors, particularly those who play romantic leads or star in action films. The few who are out — Alan Cumming, Nathan Lane, David Hyde Pierce, Ian McKellan — are seen as niche performers. Rupert Everett, once a contender for the first Gay Bond, has been relegated to the margins of the industry. When Grey’s Anatomy’s T. R. Knight came out, it underlined his lack of chemistry with his female co-stars. Meanwhile, a retinue of major stars hover in limbo, their relationships haunted by the suspicion that it’s all for show, their performances (onscreen or on talk shows) scrutinized for indicators of some hidden self. The assumption is that they have little choice, since the conventional wisdom hasn’t budged: An out male star can never be a leading man. Straight women won’t be able to fantasize about him; straight men won’t be able to relate.

Harris has violated all these expectations. He staged his own revelation beautifully, with a clear and upbeat statement for People magazine in 2006, an interview with Out, and a good-sport appearance on Howard Stern, in which he shot back "whatever you please, man" when asked whether he was a top or a bottom. The idea all along has been to acknowledge the fact of his sexuality, then change the subject to his talent. Still, there was a kind of alchemy involved. Maybe it was Harris’s easy style of masculinity, at once unthreatening and seductive. Maybe the timing was right, coming after he’d proved he was more than a Trivial Pursuit punch line. Or maybe he’d learned, from his own extended personal coming-out process, how to handle the expectations of a wider audience.

Harris is careful never to complain about stardom. He always adds a caveat explaining that he is very lucky, that he is grateful for every opportunity, that he has learned a lot. But if there’s a strain of early fame that feels like heavenly power — when you’re the most super-popular person in the room and everyone wants you to take them to bed — that’s clearly not what Neil Patrick Harris experienced at 16. Mention Doogie Howser, M.D., the diary-keeping prodigy he played on the show, and Harris’s whole body language changes. He grimaces, and an extra diagonal line on his forehead appears like an arrow pointing far away.

Back in those strange L.A. years, Harris says, he was preoccupied almost entirely by work. It was a distraction that allowed him not to think about dating. "There were gay adults in L.A., and that kind of made me panic a bit?" His voice rises uncertainly with the memory. "Made me a little sweaty in my palms — and uncomfortable. That was just kind of the elephant in the room. Or not the elephant in the room, but the ringing in my ears: that that was some sort of horrible inevitability. And I tried many different angles to head in a different direction. Dating different girls, being the funny, witty guy at the party, to avoid being the sexual being. I wasn’t thought of in a sexual way, which is easy when you have big ears and the neck and are called Doogie all the time. So I just never really contemplated physicalizing any kind of sexual ideas until much, much later."

Source: New York Magazine, High-Wire Act

Saturday, 5 September 2009

What If G.I. Joe Were Gay?

G.I. Joe is like watching fireworks with a blindfold on: it's deafening and you feel under attack. The story makes no sense — why does the Eiffel Tower topple over after being covered in sparkling slime? And worst of all: Sienna Miller and Channing Tatum, a charismatic guy whom The New York Times once compared to Marlon Brando, have the chemistry of two ice cubes. As my mind wandered, I started to imagine ways for the director to have reinvented the franchise for the 21st century. What if the G in G.I. Joe didn't just stand for "government"? What if it also stood for "gay"?

To many G.I. Joe fans, who grew up collecting the action figures, this might be blasphemy. Who cares? The best summer action movies — The Bourne Identity, The Dark Knight — always come with tortured heroes who carry around deep secrets. Imagine the dramatic possibilities! For starters, we could ditch Sienna Miller, which would be a big improvement right from the start. Duke's (Tatum) new love interest would be a male soldier. The movie would even strike a note of social relevance, given that our troops still adhere to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (i.e., Duke couldn't blab about his love life to any of his friends).

Hollywood likes to cast gay characters in supporting roles, as background scenery, but they still don't anchor movies that often. You can understand the cold feet: the movie business is about selling tickets to teenage boys, and even BrĂ¼no tanked. This week, there was a storm of protest online when Robert Downey Jr. suggested his onscreen Sherlock Holmes — scheduled to hit theater screens on Christmas — might have had a gay fling with Watson (Jude Law). Gawker described the "full blown gay panic" from conservative film critic Michael Medved. "Who is going to watch Downey Jr. and Law make out?" he asked. "I don't think it would be appealing to women. Straight men don't want to see it."

Medved's off base — the Sherlock Holmes screenplay doesn't even feature a male kiss, and action heroes have been a little gay since the beginning of the genre. Look at Superman's revealing red tights. Or Batman's "friendship" with Robin. James Bond is such a good dresser, he might as well be gay (at one point, Rupert Everett even wanted to star as a gay James Bond). So maybe it's just a matter of time before we see our first openly gay action hero. At 2 a.m., I'd wasted enough of my time on G.I. Joe. But before I fled, I wanted to check in on an elderly woman who had come to see the movie alone. She looked shellshocked in the lobby, but it turned out that she was only crying tears of joy. Apparently, she couldn't wait for the sequel.

I started to back away, but it was so late that I didn't think it would hurt if I sprang my idea on her. What if, in the next movie, G.I. Joe were gay? Would she still buy a ticket? Her face lit up. "Absolutely!" she said. "Just because you're gay doesn't mean you're not powerful."

Source: Newsweek, What If G.I. Joe Were Gay?