A Queer Notion

Month: January, 2014

Critical Approach: There Are No Ads On Elysium

Secretary of Defense Delacourt, Elysium's power-hungry though ultimately ineffective secondary villain, would shoot down aircrafts for less than a condescending advert.

Secretary of Defense Delacourt, Elysium’s power-hungry though ultimately ineffective secondary villain, would shoot down aircrafts for less than a condescending advert.

I am simply trying to cope with the unsurprisingly jarring experience of holiday air travel as I scroll through the movie options on the seat-back before me. I find explosion-filled, dystopian sci-fi movies relaxing, so I end up choosing Elysium. The first ad of the interminable sort that populate pre-flights/pre-movies aboard “economy” flights begins, though thankfully as the advert-actors chatter away, I’m offered a “skip” button in the middle of the screen.

My finger hits the screen, in perfect timing with a voice in my earphones that sneers, “Wouldn’t it be nice to have control?”

The skip button is fake, the ad’s a trick, the control referring to whatever car feature, from whichever car company, is being hocked off on poor, shell-shocked travelers. I take off my earphones in disgust and scowl out the window at the de-icer, waiting for the ads to finish so I can watch my damn movie.

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Looking: Naval Destroyer

Just when I thought I was going to get some work done today, next week’s episode of Looking was released early.

In this exciting new episode we explore Patrick’s career as a video game level designer! It’s quite sad how truly excited I am for this episode. The “gay guy video game developer” premise was what made me sure I would give the series a try. This episode starts at a wrap party for the video game Naval Destroyer, which Patrick’s studio has been working on.

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“They keep telling us to expand our demographic, and then they force us to make a game where you can’t even play as a female,” Patrick says. “And I’m a guy, and I always play as a female, and before you say it, it’s not because I’m gay.”

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Looking: Thank you for being a friend

Perhaps I’m making this judgment early, but I think my dream of what Looking could be is coming true. I think the show has something new to say, while striking a balance between wry, sarcastic, signature gay-humour and dark, quiet moments.

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Certainly I’m not the first person to jump to conclusions prematurely. An artist who I really admire posted on Facebook asking if the first episode of Looking was worth a watch, and he received dozens of comments calling the show, in various iterations, garbage, usually preceded or followed by, “I haven’t even seen the show yet, but…” A decent metaphor for the gay community: making assumptions and judgments based on surface appearance. I’m not saying people can’t disagree with me on the numerous things I really like about the show. What I find maddening is when people don’t even give something a chance. I mean, come on… I watched almost a whole season of RuPaul’s Drag Race before deciding that it’s cons outweighed it’s pros.

But I digress. Episode two: Looking.

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Looking: quietly subverting stereotypical gay narrative?

For starters, I actually liked the first episode of Looking. I was prepared to hate it, since the little media I saw reviewing the show painted it as dismally gay-retrograde, but the first episode was surprisingly sophisticated, especially for television.

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Then again, I think the character of Patrick (Jonathan Groff) was written for queer guys like me; cynical, slightly condescending, awkward, maybe shy, sensitive, though with an adopted thick skin. There was one scene where Patrick was walking down the San Francisco street, on his way to a date. He stops to fix his hair in a window, and then goes on his way, and has this small, distracted scowl. That was such a wonderful moment.

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