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In a post a while back (Pattern) I mentioned the first several major releases of M. Night Shyamalan and how boys were central to their story. Then I mentioned the absence of boys in his later work, and the much weaker audience response.

Well, very soon there will be a new Shyamalan movie. The Last Airbender. Guess who the central character is. An extremely powerful, very playful, immature, adorable, heroic 12-year-old boy!  Or 112-year-old boy, depending on how you count it…

The movie is based on Avatar: the Last Airbender which aired on Nickelodeon. Three seasons of around 20 half-hour episodes. I recently discovered the series (through the movie trailer, actually) and watched it twice through in a row! It is VERY good, whether you be adult or child; boylover, gay or straight; male or female. I recommend you go watch the show!

Sadly, I do not have high hopes that returning a boy to the central role of Shyamalan’s movie will prove to be an omen of high quality. Unless the trailer is just very cheesily cut, it doesn’t look like it will ever move beyond cliché YA flick. Such a shame…

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The Boys (once again, not actually children) are gay.  OK.  Established.  Their best friend, Grace, sometimes gets annoyed with them because quite frequently when they’re talking about someone, or they pass an attractive male stranger on the street, they’ll immediately say, “he’s gay.”  It angers Grace, so she usually responds, “not every man is gay.”

That’s true.  Not every man is gay.  Know what else is true?  Not every man is a boylover.  But some are.  Enough are that it’s very likely that most people know one personally.  But more than that, it’s almost guaranteed that some famous people are.  Especially when you think that, often people who are in some way different make the best artists.  They’re insane, or have some deep trauma or a substance addiction.  Or they’re socially repressed because of their sexuality.

The stereotype of homosexuals in the arts, especially music, theatre and dance, didn’t come out of nowhere.  There are more gay people in those arts than in most other professional fields.  Quite likely because it gives them a more socially acceptable way to be self-expressive.  It will be interesting to see if increased societal acceptance of homosexuality will result in fewer gay performers, or if there is something else about the sexual orientation that leads them to the arts anyway.

But if the above theory is correct, and homosexuals go into the arts to escape a repressive society, then the arts would also attract boylovers.  It attracted me, anyway.  I am a musician because I am a boylover.  But I think I’ve expressed that before.  (Inspiration)  On the other hand, boylovers tend to like to stay out of sight, and on a stage doesn’t exactly fit that pattern.

But that’s not the point.  The point is, I just watched Unbreakable.  I’d seen it once before right when it came out, but I left it needed rewatching.

Just like The Boys, I can’t help guessing about others.  Are they like me?  There are certain things I do, interests I have, patterns I follow, that I do because of my sexuality and that give me away to those who know me.  It’s why The King and MFotF found me out.  I like boy performers, obviously.  Movies with them, choirs, dancers.  So when I see that pattern in others, I always wonder.

Consider this.  Wide Awake.  Stars Joseph Cross, 12 years old at time of release.  Sixth Sense.  Pivots around Haley Joel Osment (beloved boy of many boylovers), 11 years old at time of release.  Unbreakable.  Spencer Treat Clark, 13 years old at time of release, is a central character (and gives a very moving and endearing performance, I might add).  Signs.  Rory Culkin, 13 years old at time of release.  (A very young looking 13.)

Now as the King would tell me, this isn’t proof of anything, and I’m not trying to suggest anything.  It’s just a pattern.  One that strikes me.  It’s also a pattern that breaks down when you continue down the list of M. Night Shyamalan’s film credits.  On the other hand, something else breaks down with his most recent three movies.  Quality.  His newer movies have not been as well received as those with major boy characters.  And I don’t think that’s just because the movie going public started to learn his tricks.  The movies just aren’t as good.  Maybe, just maybe, Mr. Shyamalan has less emotionally invested in the newer movies.

So, the point is I don’t want to be like The Boys.  I don’t want to say every time I see someone pick up a Libera CD, “Oh, he must be a boylover.”  I want to believe that people can be interested, even passionately so, in boychoirs without being boylovers.  Same for boy actors, dancers, etc.  Because if it isn’t true, then:

  1. I truly am telegraphing my sexuality to the world, and all the world has to do is wise up and I’m outed.
  2. If the world wises up, these wonderful artists will lose their outlet, their audience, their venues.
  3. What a sad, pitiful species is man if the only thing that can get us to appreciate art is sex.

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Today I watched Jet Li’s Fearless.  I think it was a very good movie.  The acting was not to western taste, meaning it wasn’t naturalist, but the story told was a good and interesting one and it was well told.

While on my cruise I laid out a plan of action if you will remember.  Upon returning from the cruise I set about following it, but have since become lax.  I need to recommit myself to it, even if I change the goals.  I think the uneasy feeling I’ve been having is related to once again lacking direction and purpose.  So, here i go again, outlining what I hope to do and accomplish.

-Become a mentor.  Really nothing I can do but wait on this one.
-Contact Virtuoso to encourage his Venus and Adonis project.  Even unpaid, I need to get back into music for the love of it.
-Reduce my spending, increase my responsibility, both financial and personal.
-Find a job to replace the Restaurant that doesn’t subvert my soul.

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***Warning!***  This post contains possible spoilers for the movie The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.  If you have not seen that movie and would maybe like to, consider not reading this post.  Or read until I mark the section about the movie.  Or better yet, go rent it.  Right Now.  Or if it’s still in theaters, go see it, right now.  Then come back and read the whole post.

At choir rehearsal tonight, 20f2 and The Russian stayed for the whole two hours.  And 2of2 sat right in front of me.  God! it was nice.  He is so cute.  His face is wonderful.  Always smiling, round cheeks (but not fat), bright eyes…  He was having a good time the whole time, too.  As always, I’m happy to see boys having fun with music.  When I wasn’t singing (which was too often.  I still don’t have my voice back.  Grr.) I could hear him.  Changing his voice may be, but it is still as cute as the rest of him.

And Italino’s back!  He also sat right in front of me, one row farther forward.  He spent a lot of the night twisted in his seat letting me see his profile and his eyes.  Such dark, exquisite eyes.  I hope the looks he gave me today were not in response to the horrible sounds coming from my mouth.

***Possible Spoilers Begin NOW!  Avert your eyes!***

Before rehearsal, I went and saw The Boy in the Striped Pajamas.  I’m not sure I can talk about it.  It was a great movie, beautiful most of the way through, but…  I saw it coming when it started building up to it, but as a whole it caught me off guard.  I think I finally found what would make me willing to kill.  The soldiers that dropped the gas into the chamber, as well as those who ordered it, oversaw it, herded them into the chamber.  How could one be party to that?  Regardless of the propaganda one has been fed all one’s life, how can one gas children to death?  Even fearing for one’s own life…  Them, I would be willing to kill.

I still wouldn’t have fought in WWII though.  Not only were most of the soldiers on the front innocent of these crimes, but the Allies didn’t even know what was going on.  I wouldn’t have known about the Holocaust until the war was over, and so wouldn’t have been willing to kill to to stop it.

Happy thoughts, eh?

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I just rewatched Dear Frankie.  I’d guess it’s the fourth or fifth time I’ve watched it, but it’s been a while since the last time.  I wish I could come up with words to truly describe how the movie makes me feel.  But the emotion is too raw, too primal, too pure to be accurately intellectualized.  I’ll try my best though.

In some ways the movie seems perfect to me.  Perfectly told, for one.  It follows my old acting teacher’s plot model.  Stasis-conflict-stasis.  It starts with Lizzie, Lizzie’s mother, and Frankie moving yet again, continuing to live in limbo.  Suspended fear.  With the discovery that Frankie’s fictional father’s ship is about to arrive in the town they just moved to, Lizzie suddenly has to produce the man.

With the introduction of the stranger hired to be Frankie’s father, things start to change.  Well, they started to change with the epiphany earlier.  The introduction is the change.

I don’t feel like continuing the plot analysis.  It’s not what I started for anyway.  Watch the movie.  It’s good.

More than being a perfectly crafted story that ties up all its loose ends while still leaving delicious questions, it feels like a perfect picture of boylove.  It’s odd since the stranger isn’t a boylover, but in a way that adds to the perfection.  It’s a story of a man and a boy who are unrelated and don’t know each other, yet still the man comes to love the boy.  Adding even more to the story’s relevance, the relationship is born out of a lie.  Beauty out of ugliness.

I think that the…not really emotion, but…it’s a word used in the sims…motives!  The motive that…motivates is need.  Both for the movie and for boylove.  Needing, being needed, and needing to be needed.  Frankie needs a father.  He has love.  His mother, grandmother and even neighbor love him.  So does the girl in his class.  But they’re all female.  Frankie has been exchanging letters with his “father” for years, and is partially satisfied in that, but he needs to connect with him in a more real, concrete way.  He probably doesn’t even realize this need until he faces the possibility of it being denied.  Of the ship coming in but not being visited by his father.

Just like the classical love story has a damsel in distress and a hero to save the day, a boylove story has a boy in need and a man to fulfill it.  A boylover responds to that hunger for love.  We need to be needed.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Gerard Butler, the Stranger, is needed.  Or rather, Frankie has a need.  Lizzie recognizes his need and so employs a man to fulfill it.  The Stranger also recognizes the need ans so reluctantly agrees to participate in the duplicitous arrangement.  The offer of money doesn’t hurt either.

Up to this point it’s a story about a mother struggling to give her son what he needs.  It tugs at the heartstrings of boylovers (and probably mothers, and I’d hope everyone else as well) but it doesn’t really become a boylove story until the Stranger and Frankie meet.  Frankie’s need has been building up the whole time, and when it becomes greatest as his “father” stands before him and he perceives that it’s safe – it won’t be snatched away.  It isn’t a dream or a trick – he rushes forward and throws his arms around him.

At that point, the Stranger stands in shock, hands held out in the air away from the small body clinging to him, and I sit in front of the screen in agony, the words “just touch him” screaming through my mind, physically tense with the desire to act.  To fill that need.

Finally the Stranger comes to grips, truly, with the boy’s need and with the fact that he is needed.  And he commits to it, placing his hands on the boy’s back gently giving him that physical gesture of love.  The tension drains from my body and I smile, fulfilled myself seeing the boy’s need fulfilled.

The Stranger is no longer just standing in for written words.  He has started to fill the boy’s need, and having tasted that ecstasy, has started to need it himself.

That’s when it becomes a boylover story.  When the stranger finds himself needing to be needed.  It is subtle at first, but becomes more obvious at the end of that first day.  The Stranger sees in Frankie that one day isn’t enough.  Frankie still needs more of him, so he sets himself against the wishes of Lizzie and her mother.  That’s dangerous.  he’s fulfilled his agreement, he’s going to get his money, but he chooses to fight to continue fulfilling Frankie’s need.  Maybe that doesn’t yet show his own need.   One could argue that he doesn’t plant the idea of one more day for himself (and he doesn’t really.  He does it for Frankie) but his own need could certainly add to the motivation to defy the rules.  At the very least it shows he is willing to fight for Frankie’s need at cost to himself, and that shows love.  Not just showing love to the boy, but loving the boy in himself.

His own need becomes strongest and clearest right at the end, when he asks to say goodbye.  Frankie has had two great days with his “father” and is now asleep.  If he’d woken up the next morning to the story, “you fell asleep and your father carried you home but had to go back to the ship,” he’d have accepted that without much sorrow.  In a way, that would have been the poetic thing to do.  Not to mention the parental thing.  Let the exhausted boy sleep.

But the Stranger doesn’t.  He asks if he can say goodbye.  That’s his own need.  He doesn’t do it for Frankie.  The Stranger needs the boy’s love.  He needs to be needed.  He wants to see the boy’s longing for him, and for Frankie to see his own longing.

That’s boylove.  Needing to be needed.  Dear Frankie tells a story of that need and tells it perfectly, making me feel happy/sad, hot/cold, excited/depressed, energetic/lazy.

I’m not needed.  Maybe that is the ever unknowable longing that seeing boys makes me feel.  Or part of it, anyway.  Maybe I have, in trying to understand how the movie works, identified my own elusive need.  I need to be needed.  But I’m not.  Not like that.  There are plenty of boys out there who have great need.  Even great need for nothing but love.  And I am very able and willing to meet that need.  But they don’t need me.  Not yet.  But I am now on the road to changing that.  And that gives me hope that has taken the edge off the depression that usually follows a movie like this.

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