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Monday, May 05, 2008

DVD Watch: OK, That Was Gay

This is just kind of a non-sequitur. I don't mean gay as in I'm some kind of closeted forumfeeder who thinks that "gay" should be a slur or that we just watched a lot of follies - I mean we happened to rent a couple of things with very strong lesbian undertones.

First up was Hex, which is a BBC TV show about the supernatural going-ons at a private university built on some hallowed witching ground or something. The occasional comparison to Buffy has been made here, but I really got to say that's something of a stretch. Buffy was brilliant, don't get me wrong, but it was still pretty formulaic in general and fell often to the "monster of the week" pattern. Hex builds up more like a drama as it digs up aspects of the main character's life and how it pertains to her creepy gothic surroundings.

All of this would actually get kinda boring as it takes a few episodes just to start rolling into anything resembling conflict - so the writers tossed in a smartass lesbian roomie subplot to spice things up. This was a good idea, because honestly one disc into the show and it's still the most interesting part of the whole thing. Hex shows promise in a slow and mildly suspenseful kind of way - and the twist in the first few episodes (won't spoil it here) really helps keep the attention.

Next was Tipping The Velvet - which honestly must stand as about the only lesbian epic I can think of off the top of my head. It's a three part BBC mini-series (so clocks in at around 180 minutes I think) based on the novel of the same name and follows the life and times of one Nancy Astley and her coming out in Victorian England. And by coming out - I don't mean as a debutante or anything, I mean even the title is a reference to a lesbian act and the BBC don't hold much back in their portayal of the book. The movie feels a little lopsided - there's some really strong performances but that's occasionally offset by overt symbolism which feels a little too film school for me.

All of this brings me to a point though - this is all BBC material. I can't imagine an American network handling either of these shows (except on cable). I'm not familiar with how they aired, but I think Hex aired pretty much like Buffy did and the show goes way beyond the simplistic handling of Willow's relationships in the first few episodes.

It's just another example of American puritanism. Because everything this month has to be brought back to GTA - it occurs to me as I write this that the most often noted act in the franchise deals with hookers. Mind you this is a game in which you can burn old ladies alive in glee - but think of the prostitutes seems to be the watchphrase.

Course the outrage seems a bit less this time. Maybe as games push these little moral envelopes, we'll get some better television eventually...


Greg Tannahill said...

Hex and Tipping The Velvet are all very forthright and in-your-face and wonderfully experimental. But... they're not very GOOD, are they? I'm frankly amazed Hex makes it into a second season after the confused rubbish at the end of the first. And Tipping the Velvet - I'm just not sure how lesbians in corsets can be BAD and yet somehow they manage it...

Josh said...

If Hex gets *worse* than we might have dodged a bullet, as The Tudors arrived instead of it in the mail.

It's like there are three writers, one worried about Thelma's lesbianism, one worried about Cassie's love life and the other that occasionally remembers this is supposed to all be about witches or some stuff.

My assumption was that it was still build up, but if that's not true we'll probably drop it from the q.

As for Velvet - it's such a mishmash. The writing is pretty good (although a bit too assembled for a three parter) and the acting is overall strong ... but I think the director and editor just stepped all over it. If had I one more flash to an oyster by the end of the movie, I just might have screamed.

I mean once you spray a girl in gold and show her off with an enormous dildo - "subtle symbolism" is going to look bad anyway, and doing it repeatedly just looks amatuer.