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Monday, September 3, 2012

Episode 31: Bruce Jenner Realness

This week, Rhea and Destiny kick off the Ultimate Parker Project (see episode 28) and watch the 1985 Chuck Norris explosion-fest, Invasion USA! The film tells the story of Matt Hunter, a one-man army who takes on a motley crew of Communists led by the evil Rostov after they invade our beloved Florida. The Badland ladies also read a fan email, talk about LGBTQ romance in films, plea for the retirement of a certain joke, and feel incredulous.

Direct Download

Spoiler Alert for the following:
Invasion USA

Corrections: Talk Talk never had an album titled Talk Talk. Jason Statham has done a couple of Guy Ritchie films.

Relevant Links:
Invasion USA (the whole movie!)
Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (Crackle link)
Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry trailer
NPR First Listen: Cat Power's Sun
Review of Dan Deacon's America album (Pitchfork)
Geek and Sundry
Fallen London

Fucking Books:
Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azerrad
Avengers Vol. 2 by Brian Michael Bendis
Codename: Sailor V by Naoko Takeuchi (vol. 1)
Vol. 2 (same author)

Fan email from past guest, Matt Marko:

Hey Badland Girls,

I'm sending you this email because while I often listen, normally I just complain to you both on twitter about your shows and this time my problem is a little more complicated and formal. Also, a certain someone suggested that I write in about it instead of just talking her ear off, because it'd give you all something to cover. So here I am, and here's my disclaimer: this isn't meant to be critical or accusatory, since it was just stuff I was thinking about while I was listening to the episode from Aug 26. 

In that episode, Rhea was talking about "The Little Mermaid" and about how it was originally about HCA's would-be gay lover and Rhea said "I wish it had been about that, because that'd be much more interesting" or words to that effect. And this after the question was asked about a gay couple in Teen Wolf just minutes before. It got me wondering: at what point does the inclusion of gay characters automatically make something a curiosity, and is that a good thing? 

I think it's great to have LGBTQ people and relationships represented in the media, don't get me wrong. It's not done enough, and it's often done so poorly, that when it is done well it deserves mention and championing. But I also see a lot of fandom feelings and general opinion among my peer group that turns the mere fact of homosexuality into a sort of interest point, the reason to visit something all on its own. It's rare, yes, but that behavior turns it into something exotic, a thing to stand around and rubberneck about because of its scarcity in a heteronormative entertainment culture. And while that's very human, I feel like that rush creates a sort of fascination, sometimes bordering on fetishization, that's very othering to these LGBTQ relationships. I don't see how two people of the same gender being in a relationship is inherently more interesting than people of different genders, outside of the fact that culturally we see them less often. While that's a problem, I feel like assigning an interest imperative beyond that helps contribute to this sense of distance that perpetuates the cycle that banishes those relationships to 'special interest'. People being human and having human emotions should never be a special interest.

I'm not alone in this. British director Andrew Haigh, whose 2011 gay romance Weekend was one of the better movies about relationships to come out in recent memory, has been outspoken about these things. He likens gay cinema, and gay media, to a sort of perpetuating creative dead end, where people make entertainment on the cheap and often poorly to make a buck off of audiences starved to see themselves on screen. It perpetuates this idea that LGBTQ stories aren't for 'normal' people, because they're not given the same sort of consideration and budget as straight movies, or they're treated with this fascination by people who are into them that puts people who might be looking in from the outside off about their seeming exclusionary exotic-ness, dimly understood by people who aren't confronted with it regularly. He implied, though perhaps didn't explicitly state, that he wanted to make a movie that would be about people first and about gayness second, that it should be interesting divested of the gender identities involved, and that the gay 'issue' was just a part of the background. Not the fulcrum, not a point of fascination to stand around and revel in, but just a fact of normal life. I can link a critique that covers these ideas here, written far better than I could: http://www.criterion.com/current/posts/2426-weekend-the-space-between-two-people

Anyway, that's about all I have to say. It's lengthy and less an opinion as it is something I was thinking about, but I figure that maybe you both have thoughts, and it'd be worth talking about as part of your 'here's some internet/culture things worth considering' piece. Keep kicking ass.