The Gayness

“At one point during the preordained throwdown between the two colossi who stride through Fast Five, Dwayne Johnson rips off his bulletproof vest with the practiced economy of a 17th-century courtesan flinging off her corset,” writes N.Y. Times critic Manohla Dargis. “His character, a professional tough guy bluntly named Hobbs, has just found his fugitive bad twin, Dom, the gnomic guru of the Fast and Furious franchise, played by Vin Diesel.

“They are the fast and, yes, the furious. Yet as these giants grasp each other’s bulging muscles, their bald heads rearing in the frame with tumescent vigor, it’s easy to imagine that they’d like some alone time. They don’t get it, largely because the earth might spin off its axis if they did, though also because the director Justin Lin, having come of cinematic age in the maximalist era of Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay, cleaves to the principle of more.

“About the only silence you hear in this movie, amid the crunch of metal and the hard rain of shattering glass, is the one between Dom’s ears.”

61 thoughts on “The Gayness

  1. Tyrion on said:

    Hmm…now I may have to see it!

  2. They have TWO up close stare-offs drenched in sweat. It’s one too many to not think the heat was unintentional. GET IT, VIN.

  3. dargis always GETS these movies for what they are…sounds like testosterone filled idiocy with lots of shiny things blowing up and flipping — what’s not to enjoy?

  4. Two muscular men fighting and the first thing that pops into people’s minds are gay thoughts. Says a lot about them than the movie.

  5. Manohla Dargis must love professional wrestling.

    I’m still curious to see this but that last bit – “principle of more” – makes me nervous, like “Act III of A-Team” nervous.

  6. Two muscular men fighting and the first thing that pops into people’s minds are gay thoughts. Says a lot about them than the movie.

    Do you remember Van Damme’s ass? His movies were the only gay things I could watch with the men in my family. He was the best thing about growning up gay in that era. Gay subtext is always there when there’s more than one male character and for action movies where men express themselves through violence that requires them to be topless — there you go.

  7. Gee, what a NOVEL OBSERVATION. HOW UNIQUE, what INCISIVE WRITING on Dargis’ behalf to pick up on the alleged homoeroticism in two guys so much as sharing the same 2.35:1 frame.

    Take that faghaggery over to Television Without Pity where it belongs, because the sell-by date is about as old as a tired TOP GUN riff. Who pays ANY OF THESE FUCKING MEDIOCRITIES to write shit like that? Aren’t most of you guys BIG TIME LIBERALS, all worried about corporate assholes and the poor people and wealth redistribution?

    How do you reconcile those personal politics with accepting monies to WRITE REVIEWS OF MOVIES, which hasn’t been an artform since like 1979?

    When Dargis or whatever big gun gets canned by THE EVIL NEWSPAPER INDUSTRY NEXT and David Poland is doing some DEATH WATCH like a hack movie critic getting fired is somehow on par with trains racing to death camps, someone should bear in mind MANOHLA DARGIS gets paid probably well over six figures to write DOGSHIT like this that any camp hen or flamer on Defamer or TMZ could’ve whipped up in twenty minutes.

    LET’S GET DOWN TO WHAT I REALLY HAVE ALWAYS WANTED TO KNOW BUT NO ONE EVER COMMENTS ON IT:

    Is Dargis a lesbian?

  8. What do you expect from a franchise that is basically Point Break With Cars? Point Break’s man-love is peerless, but Fast and the Furious movies come close.

  9. I wrote about this back in early 2010 when the same ‘tee-hee, they”re SO GAY!’ crap was being tossed around for Sherlock Holmes, but it bears repeating.

    It has always bothered me to no end how pundits and critics go nuts with the ‘hidden gay subtext’ thing anytime a movie or TV show presents two men as being friends in any way. Be it Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watston, Frodo and Sam, Bert and Ernie, or Batman and Robin, anytime two male characters have a strong bond or genuine friendship, it surely must be some kind of secret ‘gay thing’. Sure, some of it is just frat-boy humor, but the serious discussion that takes place around the notion is frankly damaging to society as a whole. At its core, this kind of discourse basically teaching males (specifically young men) that showing any type of friendships and/or emotion towards another male makes you ‘gay’.

    Now, with Fast Five, even the fact that the two main characters are mortal enemies doesn’t change the dynamic. It’s two guys sharing screen time in an intense situation, so obviously they are closeted gays. Apparently, in pop culture, unless two men are actively having sex with females all the time and/or making disparaging homophobic references, they are obviously gay.

    Scott Mendelson

  10. Scott — well said. It’s ridiculous. I have a friend who couldn’t watch LORD OF THE RINGS because he couldn’t handle the “gay” relationship between Frodo and Sam. Meanwhile that friendship is one of the most beautiful things about Tolkien’s novel, let alone the movies.

    This whole thing about men being unable to show any emotions, any tenderness — it’s what fucks men up and leads them down destructive paths…like war.

  11. Yes its a tired routine, alright. Maybe we should all start doing it for chick flicks too. Like OMG Kate Hudson and Anne Hathaway in Bride Wars…they were totally doing it, right?

  12. Very well said, Scott.

    Kevin Macdonald’s The Eagle was a recent example. Not sure I read a single review which didn’t mention ‘homoerotic tension’ between Channing Tatum and Jamie Bell. The whole master/slave (mmm…) turned friends dynamic especially seemed to get to critics.

    Bit sad even a New York Times critic isn’t above it.

  13. Dargis sounds like she’s trying to come up with something (anything) to make herself interested in writing about this thing. So she rings up the homoerotic angle… yeah, it’s probably true, but it’s also a crushingly lazy critical observation.

    What’s more bothersome is that she seems to be actively channeling Anthony Lane in this piece… cutesy adjectives piling up on themselves and and prose way-too-proud-of-itself… not flowery, but definitely smelling of overripe air freshener.

    Dargis’ writing, at its best, has been funny and insightful while effortlessly connecting the pop-culture dots in each of her movie-going experiences. Hope this is just a bump in the road.

  14. I know many things should be bothering me about this movie; for example, how the laws of physics don’t apply here, how annoying that asian dude sounds and acts… But I don’t know why I’m fixating on the Rock/Diesel mano a mano fight and how Diesel gets the better of him even though the Rock is bigger, heavier, just as athletic, and has wrestling experience.

  15. Of course the difference between Point Break and The Fast and the Furious films is that Point Break had a director that knew how to shoot action.

  16. @dkaye: The friendship in Tolkien’s book is beautiful, but not in the movies, especially when you have that hack Jackson come up with the ridiculous scene of Sam leave Frodo and start to make his way home in ROTK… pathetic.

  17. Every markj post ever:

    can’t shoot action… better in 1986… aliens… cameron… hate abrams… hack… hack pack… things were better when i was 14… hack… can’t shoot action… better in 1986.

    You don’t like movies.

    You like your childhood.

  18. “Every markj post ever: can’t shoot action… better in 1986… aliens… cameron… hate abrams… hack… hack pack… things were better when i was 14… hack… can’t shoot action… better in 1986.”

    But he still has a point.

  19. Jeez, fellas, calm down. All she said was that it was “easy to imagine” that they’d like some alone time. She didn’t reel off several paragraphs of gay non-fan fiction. Funny that y’all missed the funnier aside about Johnson’s character’s name. And no, Lex, Ms. Dargis is not.

  20. “But he still has a point.”

    No, he doesn’t. Times change. It’s a different era, and you can move on or stay stuck in the past, I don’t care. But when guys 35 and up complain about SHAKY CAM and YOU CAN’T TELL WHAT’S GOING ON, what they’re saying is they’re analog remnants of a bygone era. This is the post-cell phone, ticker-on-the-news-channel, satellite radio, plugged in, Facebook INFORMATION OVERLOAD era. Kids today can keep up with that shit. It’s not a failing of the filmmaking or the style itself– Humans evolve, and they process information faster in 2011 than they did in MarkJ’s John McTiernan-James Cameron heyday. Shit, I’m sure there were old-fuck critics still pining for John Sturges and John Ford and complaining about Mann, Cameron and Spielberg in the ’80s.

    it’s not realistic to expect action to be shot like a 1994 Kevin Reynolds movie anymore. It just makes you sound— if not OLD, at least it makes you sound like your brain can’t process information quickly enough for the times. It’s a failing of your inability to adjust to the ADHD overload era. Get with the times or get left behind at the hitching post in turn of the century frontier land.

    Just like people don’t talk a mile a minute like Osgood Perkins in SCARFACE: SHAME OF A NATION anymore, so we don’t have lightning patter and billows of cigarette smoke anymore… Times change, people change, the way info is absorbed changes… Get with it. Quick cutting isn’t going anywhere. You’re just getting old.

  21. Hamm Slamwich, how about ‘engorged‘?

    When Thor opens the usual suspects will feel duty bound to point out that Asgard resembles Studio 54 and that the gaudy production design, musclebound men and macho posturing is all ‘a bit camp’.

    The rise of accusations of campness and tittering over steaming male torsos has risen steadily since the early 80s. It seems to me no mere coincidence that since then it has also become de rigueur for male stars in action based roles to have the style of over developed, 3% body fat, physiques that are unattainable to 99% of the population. Seriously, apart from OCD gym bunnies, proprietors of protein shake stores, male underwear models and a certain subset of gay culture these people don’t really exist outside of Hollywood action movies. I personally know nobody who actually looks like that and whilst plenty of guys of my acquaintance go to the gym or jog or cycle or whatever, in a bid to stay trim, none of them really wish or could hope to look like that.

    So we mock it. It’s a defence mechanism, fuelled by the insecurity that most women – though they vocally claim otherwise – desire the ‘ripped to the bone’ look none of us will ever realistically sport. Perhaps the only group of people who openly express an admiration that look is gay men. And even then a significant proportion of gay men also claim to find that look pretty ridiculous and unattractive.

    Teenage boys – the kind who’ve not yet seen a live action vagina – aren’t worried about homosexual subtext in these films and they are who these films are aimed at. They may be quavering over their own sexuality at that age but they see disco tits and a pulsating six-pack as either an attainable ambition, something to aspire to, or something to admire in a fairly uninflected fashion. They see it on screen and it works for the character, producing just the sort of fashion they’d love to emulate. These guys can literally walk through brick wall and get flustered over by exclusively hot chicks. What’s not to like.

    Then real life, alcohol, too many take-aways eaten working late at dull desk jobs, creeps up on everyone and the ripped physique becomes and impossible dream – these Hollywood dudes spend $$$$$, 5hrs a day working out and live like fucking monks to maintain it.

    So we take them down with the easiest diss’ there is. “GAY”.

    It’s not clever but it works. Sad but true.

    It’ll go away when Hollywood has the imagination to not populate every last fucking film aimed at 15-25yr olds with spritzed pituitary cases.

  22. 1) I’m over 35. I can follow the action sequences just fine. I actually find the confusion more realistic. And some of those old action films look like Discovery docos now. Caught ‘Temple Of Doom’ a few nights ago, which gets a B+ for story, but its climactic action sequence looks extremely dated and I actually flipped channels during it, caught some news, then came back to find them STILL in that mine car.

    2) The Rennaissence managed to carve out a fair few hot male torsos – no protein shakes and nordictracks required. Hot men are hot men. I like looking at them and have no interest in them sexually. It has been ever thus.

  23. Lex — you’re aware that Top Gun is showing this Sat and next Mon on the big screen, right? Check listings for AMC theaters and you should find it. I’ve got my tix for tomorrow at 12:30pm.

    Fuck Fast Five.

    MAVERICK & GOOSE POWER

  24. I can follow the action sequences just fine. I actually find the confusion more realistic.”

    Couldn’t have said it any better myself. The incessant whinning about “shaky-cam” and fast/hyper editing techniques is SO OLD & TIRED.

  25. Lex,

    I admire your humor, tenacity and stamina (Jesus, you’re prolific!) but Manhole-a is right. She may be using a lazy, tired argument, but it’s also the correct one. When you see two men in their 40′s with bronzed, hairless, tattooed bodies that can barely move due to the amount of chafing from their biceps and thighs rubbing together, you can only draw one conclusion: gay porn stars about to fuck.

    “I have a friend who couldn’t watch LORD OF THE RINGS because he couldn’t handle the “gay” relationship between Frodo and Sam.”

    You’re right dkaye. You’re friend is way off the mark here. Everyone knows that Merry and Pippin are the real gay couple in LORD OF THE RINGS.

    “But when guys 35 and up complain about SHAKY CAM and YOU CAN’T TELL WHAT’S GOING ON, what they’re saying is they’re analog remnants of a bygone era.”

    Actually, Lex, what they’re really saying is they remember a time when directors actually took the time to shoot enough masters and coverage to make an action sequence coherent and suspenseful. They remember a time when car chases possessed logic and real-world physics that would preclude two muscle cars from being able to haul a 20,000 lbs. safe down the streets of Rio at speeds of up to 70mph. And they also probably remember a time when best storytelling in an action movie wasn’t the 2nd unit helicopter shots.

  26. Of course the difference between Point Break and The Fast and the Furious films is that Point Break had a director that knew how to shoot action.

  27. @dkaye: The friendship in Tolkien’s book is beautiful, but not in the movies, especially when you have that hack Jackson come up with the ridiculous scene of Sam leave Frodo and start to make his way home in ROTK… pathetic.

  28. “Couldn’t have said it any better myself. The incessant whinning about “shaky-cam” and fast/hyper editing techniques is SO OLD & TIRED.”

    But not NEARLY as old & tired as “shaky-cam” and fast/hyper editing. Or bad blue-grey night-time-while-it’s raining “action” scenes that look like the advanced level of a PS3 game.

    It’s lazy.

    Y’all would probably love to get your hands on the village attack scene from “Apocalypse Now” so you could add some bitchin’ CGI, in-your-face explosions and robots and things-flying-RIGHT-AT-THE-SCREEN!!!

  29. I just heard someone from the Washington Post insist that movies these days are shot to be viewed on cell phones, so there have to be lots of close-ups. That sounds disturbingly plausible, and suddenly it seems like a really stupid idea to seek out an IMAX showing.

  30. LexG: Just curious – Did you ever see “Wild in the Streets” or “Logan’s Run?” Because you’re starting to sound like a character from one or both of them.

    BTW: I’m with Darghis. I would only change one word – “hidden.”

  31. Was it Terrence Stamp’s movie star titular character in “Toby Dammit” who explained the secret of his appeal: “I’m masculine enough to satisfy the men and feminine enough to satisfy the women?”

  32. Stray thought, but am I the only one that thinks a homoerotic undercurrent is a GOOD and INTERESTING addition to on-screen character dynamics like the ones mentioned above? Some of you seem particularly squeamish about two dudes going at it like that.

    Fast Five is gay. Gay gay gay. And that’s probably the best part about it.

  33. ^Agreed.

    Hell, if Top Gun didn’t have that ’80s bizarrely over-the-top, cocaine meets testosterone-fueled feel to it, it probably wouldn’t even be worth watching.

    I don’t have the slightest idea why Maverick doesn’t show any sexual interest in “Charlie” (lol) until she dresses like a DUDE and he ravages her in that elevator (due props to Tarantino/Avary, naturally, although it’s hardly subtle), but that’s pretty much far and away the most fascinating part of that flick for me (I’d like to give the screenwriters credit for this being a conscious choice on their part — they wrote the similarly deadpan hilarious Anaconda — but I just dunno).

    Just as an aside: don’t ever Google Kelly McGillis hoping for Cougar-style glory. Looking at her now, it’s damn near IMPOSSIBLE to believe she’s even within 5 years of Cruise’s age. There’s no rational explanation except that she accidentally touched the Holy Grail sometime around the turn of the century.

  34. If you’re going to see Fast Five, see it in IMAX if you can. I can’t imagine how it looks on a cell phone, but it does look and feel like a big picture. Loved the film, despite disliking the previous four, and my only regret is not having screened it in IMAX.

  35. mizerock wrote:

    I just heard someone from the Washington Post insist that movies these days are shot to be viewed on cell phones, so there have to be lots of close-ups.

    I believe it–having seen this new trend in films as diverse as HARRY POTTER FINALE PART ONE and CEDAR RAPIDS.

  36. Its hard to say whats funnier here: the hyper defensive GODDAMMIT THAT’S NOT GAY posts, or the fact that they were issued for a movie that is well aware of its gay subtext (to the point that its nearly text) that has a glass closet actor starring in it.

    There was a united colors of Benetton analysis posted for this series awhile ago. The fact that the movie has gay in its rainbow of racial identities is a good thing.

  37. LFF – pundits/critics do the same crap for male/female friendships too. Witness the idiots falling over themselves to hype the ‘sexy/romantic’ dance scene between Harry and Hermione in the last Harry Potter film, even as its obvious that its two platonic friends just trying to keep each other sane in a time of war.

    Does anyone know where I can find the Washington Post bit about films being shot for cell phones? Not hours after reading said comment, I saw Dylan Dog: Dead of Night and HOLY CRAP, the entire film is shot in uber closeup. It’s a stunningly bad film, but it’s also visually hideous to boot, and pretty good evidence of mizerock’s comment. Would like to mention it in my review if I can find the article, thanks.

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