Tuesday, January 18, 2011

SPEEDO BOYS, PART 1

This post on THE BEAT directed me to a sight I thought I'd never see: a post on THE HOODED UTILITARIAN which doesn't overstate the case for "queer theory," in this case as applied to a 1990s MARVEL SWIMSUIT SPECIAL. Author Richard Cook, after considering the possibilities that Marvel included the drawings of hot, buff guys either to placate the gay audience or to offset accusations of one-sided objectification, considers a third possibility:

the (mostly) straight, male artists wanted to draw pictures of idealized young men, and their (mostly) straight, male audience wanted to look at those pictures. There’s a homoerotic appeal, but it has less to do with a desire for men than the wish to become a desirable man. Superheroes are a fantasy of physical perfection, as straight men define perfection. But most nerdy guys fall far short of the ideal, being either too skinny or too fat. They’d rather be Nick Fury, a mountain of muscle and chest hair who casually smokes a cigar while the girls oogle his ass. Or they’d like to be Colossus, the embodiment of raw power (in leopard skin underwear). The juxtaposition of beefcake and cheesecake allowed the reader to shift from the fantasy of being the perfect male to the fantasy of acquiring the type of hottie that only perfect males can acquire.


This is actually a pretty well-reasoned (if non-theory-heavy) rebuttal of the usual "naked guys=gay appeal" knee-jerk position of queer theory. But you couldn't tell it from Heidi McDonald's writeup:

Just how gay were the old Marvel Swimsuit Specials?
Very, very gay, Richard Cook writes


Uh, if you say so, Heidi.

My finding that I agree with another writer on the Internet anywhere, much less on the HOODED UTILITARIAN, has therefore left me (temporarily) without more to say on the matter. However, by coincidence I've meaning to put Alex Vernon's ON TARZAN book under the inquisitorial lamplight once more. Therefore Part 2 of SPEEDO BOYS Vernon should give me loads of opportunities to make fun of the excesses of queer theory with particular relevance to the question of "the Male Gaze" and all that garbage.

More later.

2 comments:

Richard Bensam said...

So essentially, you've found the inverse corollary of "Someone is wrong on the Internet"?

Gene Phillips said...

And now, your post makes a whole two times this month alone!