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Sean William Scott

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

My Days These Days 

Mostly what I've been doing in the mornings to wake myself up is watch movies. Most recently I've been on a "gay history" theme, with Thom Fitzgerald's Physique Pictorial docu-drama Beefcake and the film version of The Celluloid Closet being the most recent examples. Beefcake is an interesting film, as it manages to capture the innocence and playfulness of the Physique mag era, while not shying away from the seedier underbelly of that world (drugs, hustling, pederasty, prostitution...). The Celluloid Closet is also excellent, though far dryer, and both the book and film are essential for anyone interested in film or film history. What struck me most upon the most recent viewing was not only how the film ends on the advent of the New Queer Cinema, thus concluding on a far more hopeful note than the book, but also how the film is already extremely dated. The New Queer Cinema gave way, unfotunately, to the commodification of gay film, much as the gay literature movement gave way to a neatly delineated section for "gay books" in bookstores containing mediocre novels and "humor" books which only exist to fill a marketing niche. Now that "gay films" are a section in the chain video stores and online services such as Netflix, only the most middle-of-the-road works get made, in order to service the needs of those chain buyers who want non-threatening images of middle-class white homosexuality (and the occasional inter-racial romantic drama) to fill those shelves.

Another film I watched recently and enjoyed a great deal was The Whole Wide World. I thought it was fascinating not only as a portrait of Robert Howard, played by Vincent D'Onofrio, but as an examination of how pride can sabotage a loving relationship. This would also be the second film starring Renee Zellweger that I've liked. The other being Down With Love, my favorite Doris Day/Rock Hudson movie (which stars neither).

Today I actually took time to venture out to the bookstore. I've been frustrated by bookstores recently. It's become too hard to find things I'm actually interested in as the holiday book season starts to crowd out the new arrival racks, and as the culture starts to shift towards a kind of overly earnest literature that does nothing for me. The last time I was in a bookstore I couldn't find anything at all I felt like reading, and only managed to find something because I happened to walk past a display of "Self-Help" books on which someone had misfiled a book about Jack Parsons. My grand observation on this most recent trip was that the trend in books on mythology these days seems to be to write them as novels. Granted, it does make them more accessible and readable for an audience unfamiliar with the phrasings of classical language, but part of me still finds it slightly silly to read passages like:
"Wait, my friend," Herakles said, grabbing Hylas by the arm. It was a strong grasp, and Hylas smiled at its familiarity.
"You didn't want me to wait last night, my lord," and Hylas' grin in the moonlight was like a cat's.

Which, I suppose, is still better than:
"Give it to me, Herc! Give it to me hard!" Hylas gasped as he straddled the demi-god.
Which is what I would fully expect to find in one of those by-the-numbers gay books I complained about earlier.

My rueful moment was spotting the movie tie-in edition of Brokeback Mountain. It's roughly the size of a mini-comic (for lack of a better comparison), with thick paper, huge margins, a large type-face, and something a little more than double-sized spacing of lines. And it's still only a few dozen pages long (I just looked it up, 64 pages to be precise). For ten dollars.
See, this kind of pricing in the "real world" is why I roll my eyes at complaints that $2.99 is "too much" for a 32 page comic.

A pet peeve of mine is stealth albums. For example, if the store I went to hadn't happened to have put up a display of recent and upcoming films with indie rock soundtracks, I would never have known that the sound-track to Thumbsucker is performed by the Polyphonic Spree. It would never have occurred to me to look for a new Spree album in the soundtracks section.

Oh, and I also bought comics today. But those have been more of an afterthought recently.


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