Precious Bodily Fluids

’10’: Homoerotiphobia

Out of affinity for Blake Edwards, Julie Andrews, and Dumb & Dumber, finally saw ’10’. The earlier post of D&D attempted to make the case that that film relies heavily on homoerotic elements for its comedy and narrative flow. A great many of the jokes assume a punchline that unwitting homosexual desire is inherently humorous. This includes the jokes that take place within Harry & Lloyd’s apartment toward the film’s beginning. In their apartment, there happens to be a poster on the wall of Bo Derek running on the beach in a swimsuit. This fact remained forgotten until well into the viewing of ’10’, as it was becoming more and more evident how this film does something very similar to D&D. Instead of latent homoerotic tendencies in its main character, however, ’10’ features a character that is confused with both homoerotic and homophobic feelings. The homosexual element may never explicitly come up in D&D, but it does come up in ’10’, particularly in the best friend of Dudley Moore’s character George, an openly gay man with a boytoy. George makes derogatory remarks about his friend, particularly his homosexuality, as George wrestles with his own supposed “mid-life crisis.”

The main symptoms of his crisis are boredom with his girlfriend and inexplicable lust after a “virginal” bride he follows to her wedding ceremony and honeymoon. Interestingly, George’s girlfriend’s name is “Sam” (played by Julie Andrews), rather a male name, and she carries herself in a more “masculine” way than most of the women in the film. Her hair is short, she is confident, and she’s taller than George. That George makes fun of his long-time friend’s homosexuality at the same time when he becomes disenchanted with Sam and longs for a woman defined by femininity indicates that things weren’t always this way. At one point he was content with Sam and stable in his friendship with a gay man. The narrative cycle brings us back full circle in traditional comedic form, with George returning to Sam after inexplicably declining his dream woman’s offer to fulfill said dreams. While this could certainly be taken as a moralistic lesson, and that may be present, the gay element is a little too present to be ignored. Even George’s collision with the cops outside of the chapel contains homosexual imagery, crashing headfirst into a cop car with two dudes inside. It isn’t the first time he has a run-in with two male police officers, and in the later scene they physically frisk him when it seems quite unnecessary.

George and his hedonistic neighbor have a peeping tom deal worked out, in which they penetrate one another’s yards and homes with long, narrow (yep) telescopes. Sure, there are scantily clad women in the yards, but the two men are explicitly obsessed with one another much more than with the gals. George’s conversation with the psychiatrist reveals without a doubt that George’s crisis reflects a preoccupation with men more than with women. In fact, George’s entire pursuit of the dream woman is punctuated by intimate encounters with men. His first step is to track down her father, a dentist. This results in a close examination of George’s teeth; the shots of this scene are close-ups, framing George in uncomfortable proximity with Jenny’s father. When he checks into his hotel in Mexico, a man guides him into his room and tries chatting with him near the bed. George’s closest acquaintance after settling in is the bartender (Brian Dennehy). They lean in close and talk about life and all their demons. George even commits the odd deed of risking his life in a sailboat in order to save the life of Jenny’s new husband, a strapping lad wearing only some small swim trunks while asleep on a surf board as George jumps in and embraces him, bringing him to safety. This all seems less a case of reading into convenient coincidences and more a case of a film that exposes a phobia behind a prejudice. If a mid-life crisis is an impulsive pursuit of something that one does not need and cannot fully pinpoint born out of sheer boredom in one’s 50s, then George’s crisis illustrates that the heterosexual fantasy is unnecessary and ultimately will only bring him back to a place of comfort and contentment in which he surrounds himself with masculinity and varying degrees of homoeroticism.

This entry was published on July 18, 2010 at 8:46 pm. It’s filed under 1970s Cinema, American film and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

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