Have you ever watched a movie . . . .
Wait for it, guys. That was not the question.
Have you ever watched a movie, specifically one of those action-type ones, and it mainly features a bunch of tough, muscley, man’s-man type men? Maybe it has a bunch of really hot, scantily clad women strutting around, but they all look and act more or less the same, and the ones that can actually pass for characters really don’t have a whole lot of character development or relevance, and only exist to act as catalysts for all the shit the men get into, or as pretty prizes after said men accomplish something?
You have! That’s great. Now let’s backtrack a little.
My friend L and I, some evening when I didn’t feel like staring blankly at my computer screen or letting L study, went to see . . . . the . . . fourth Fast and Furious movie-not Japan, the one after-because we were feelin’ some hot-girl-car-Vin-Diesel action.
Now, before you even ask, I will probably never review that movie here. I remember almost nothing about it beyond the underground car chase and Vin Diesel’s uber-white T-shirt. I can watch a movie like that exactly once, and even that night, it pretty much bored the shit outta me.
Now L and I-analytical beings that we tend to be- were sitting there, and I’m not sure which one of us noticed, but there was this strangeness going on. There were, as with all of the Fast and Furious movies, many, many beautiful women, but are they relevant? Could they be removed and, although the movie might a little less resemble a music video, the main storyline could bounce along relatively unscathed? This was the spark, and after seeing that otherwise very dismissible movie, I began noticing instances of this in other movies.
Now, you can, to some extent, blame this on the general sexism of fiction, because you’d be hard-pressed to find a decent female protagonist anywhere while drowning in the sea of male badasses in every genre you can think of (except maybe romance, but there is almost nothing interesting about anything pertaining to romance). But not all of it, because if you remove or ignore the boring waste-of-space characters-male and female alike-you’re going to find yourself confronted with this . . . almost embarrassingly intense, charged relationship between at least two of the male characters that now has nothing to hide behind.
Let’s begin with The Fast and the Furious, the first movie in the series, because I saw it the other day on one of the movie channels, and because I can’t believe I paid money for any of the others, so unless they too pop up somewhere on TV and there is absolutely nothing else on, including reruns of Star Trek: Next Gen on BBC, there is no way I’ll ever watch them again voluntarily. And lemme just say, this viewing was worse than the maybe-three other times I’d seen it because I was actually paying attention this time and the dialogue was horrible.
So, if you saw these movies for at least one of the same reasons I did-Vin Diesel, Michelle Rodriguez, Jordanna Brewster-you probably know the gist of the story. Vin Diesel plays the strong-but-silent, streetwise, angsty car prodigy Dominic Torretto or ‘Dom’ (seriously?) antagonist. I don’t remember the name of the other actor-I’ve only ever seen him in these movies-or his character, but we’re going to call him ‘Jailbait’ because that’s what he looks like to me. He’s our protagonist, some sort of law who’s undercover trying to figure out who’s been stealing electronics from trucks while they’re on route to their destinations.
Now, I am all for Michelle Rodriguez, and I’m particularly fond of Jordanna Brewster after seeing her in this little lesbian flick called D.E.B.S., but you could remove them, and all of the other hot, scantily clad, relatively-empty-of-characterization women out of this movie, and not only would it continue to make total sense from a general plot perspective, it still has a romantic story angle built right in. Let’s dismiss these two lovely ladies for a second, and pretend that one of our leading males-we’ll go with Vin Diesel’s character, Dom, because I always like a sexy, high-powered anti hero no matter what the gender-is now a female. And no one gets to say a thing about that, because if it was Angelina Jolie, looking like she did in Gone in Sixty Seconds, wearing one of Dom’s skintight wife beaters, not a single one of you would complain.
Hold that picture in you mind and consider for a second. If you were writing a movie, and you had such a pair, behaving as Dom and Jailbait did, but Dom being a sexy female, something would be up, right? Jailbait starts the movie off scoping out Dom’s place of business, pretending to be flirting with Dom’s sister Mia-who we’re ignoring, which is decidedly stalkerish, but without her there, he probably wouldn’t be able to hide the fact that he is constantly checking out the back of Dom’s beefy neck or locking eyes with him for much longer than necessary when he gets up for a beer.
Image number two: Dom has a sort of second in command-a character who is really too stupid to deserve a name, so we’re gonna call him Jealous Fuck-who spends most of this movie either being pissed off at Jailbait because sister Mia likes him, or being pissed off at Jailbait because Dom likes him. Jealous Fuck only ever really does anything when Jailbait is around and interacting favorably with either of these characters, and despite the unrequited romance angle between him and Mia, he never goes up to Dom and is like ‘White boy be mackin on your sister’. He goes up to Dom and is like ‘Dude, why do you like this guy? You don’t know him.” Dom doesn’t know Jailbait; beyond a particularly white knight moment where Jailbait saves Dom from the cops, Jailbait has done nothing at all in particular to get Dom’s attention other than pulling up in a sexy car and awkwardly trying to chat him up about it. But Dom definitely likes him, and pretty much welcomes him into the family with open arms, exactly as someone with a crush might do.
And let’s talk about cars for a second, since we’re on the subject. Cars = sex. When you advertise something, you’re hoping to isolate a need/want the customer has, and the best way to do this is to appeal to one of three primal instincts: the need for food, the need for safety, or the need for sex. Cars have been related to all sorts of things-power, freedom, self-expression, comfort-but they are often seen as signifying masculinity, namely male sexuality. In some places, having a nice ride is the same as literally shouting ‘Hey! I am a nice ride!’ and this whole movie is men ‘nice riding’ all over the place.
Anyway, so amidst the nice riding and attending to said nice rides-because some Asian guy who, if we ignore a single line indicating otherwise, may very well be one of Dom’s scorned exes, shoots Jailbait’s lost car all to hell-we have these two characters getting to know each other. I could go through all of it in unscrupulous detail, but my favorite scene-or short series of scenes-is when Dom and Jailbait go on a lunch date together by the beach. Absolutely any time a scene like this happens between two characters of different genders, and at least one of them hasn’t already been established as gay or family, this is a romantic set up. At one point, we have the juxtaposition of Dom and Jailbait set next to some rich asshole and his bleach-blond girlfriend that leads to a drag race. Remember what I said about cars? Rich Fuck just can’t wait to show off the prowess of his vehicle in front of his girl, and guess what? Jailbait looks at Dom, who is sitting in the passenger seat just like Bleach-Blond, and then proceeds to prove himself by leaving Rich Fuck in the dust.
Now, we can ignore that scene in reality. It is made tame by Jailbait taking Mia out on a date, spliced with Dom having sex with his girl on a car, except that, oddly enough, Jailbait spends the entire date grilling Mia about Dom and doing absolutely nothing romantic; he doesn’t even kiss her. And Dom and his girl, lettie, might be having sex, but despite being two gorgeous movie stars, I can count the number of sex scenes I’ve witnessed with this little chemistry on one hand. There is actually nothing believable about Dom and Lettie other than they are both hot. The two talk to each other about as little as Jealous Fuck and Mia talk, and at one point, Lettie literally forces Dom to go have sex with her, and he still has to stop and remind Jailbait that he now owns him. And that ownership is brought up quite a bit, enough that no one can really ignore that we have this strong/silent character going around with the name ‘Dom’. Looking at this pair, we all know who tops.
And speaking of chemistry, there’s none between Mia and Jailbait either. Jailbait seems more interesting in getting close to Dom, and Mia, frankly, seems more interested in pissing Jealous Fuck off. And maybe Jailbait gets mad when another cop accuses him of being attracted to Mia, he still spends a lot more time trying to convince everyone of Dom’s innocence, not because he can really debate the evidence to the contrary, but because he just really wants Dom to be a good guy. He’s a cop, after all. He can’t be with a criminal.
I could also wax poetic about that moment when they drag race after a long car/bike chase with that rival gang, looking at each other in a glittering haze because they’ve finally found their soul mates-a perspective that is not at all negated by any of the movies, even when they both settle down-but do you see where I’m going with this?
The title of my no doubt sporadically updated series for this site, is going to be FFG, ‘Fast and Furious Gay’, in honor of not only the movie that led to this revelation, but how bitchslap-obvious this sort of thing is when one is not being misdirected. Whenever I get around to it, I will be posting my assessment of homosexual undertones in various movies, mainly those who are pretending so very hard to be the straightest, manliest things you’ve ever seen. And I hope that you, as I, will come to the conclusion that they might as well come out of the closet.