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The 'Daddy' of the Metrosexual, the Retrosexual, & spawner of the Spornosexual

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Tag: Roland Emmerich

Midway to Paradise (So Near, Yet So Far Away)

Mark Simpson finds Midway ‘dumb, numb and empty of cum

When I went to see Roland Emmerich’s teensploitation flick Midway this week I had low expectations. In fact, they were so low I almost ran aground on the way to the multiplex. Emmerich, the director-writer responsible for blockbusters such as Independence Day, Stargate, and The Day After Tomorrow, specialises in making movies as spectacularly awful as they are successful.

Why did I go? Because Emmerich’s films are aimed at teen boys – and I’m a classic case of arrested development. So is Emmerich, clearly – but I can only aspire to his level of adult cynicism, which has probably made him as wealthy as a war profiteer.

Midway, based on the pivotal 1942 Pacific naval engagement between the US and Japan which saw the destruction of much of the Japanese carrier fleet and the loss of their hopes of any kind of victory, manages to be even more stupidly awful than I expected.

But this time I doubt the stupid awfulness will be accompanied by stupid success. Not least because while the Battle of Midway may mean a lot to old queens like Emmerich – and me – raised on 1950s-60s Second World War movies, it probably doesn’t mean very much to the youths who are the film’s target market. The auditorium I saw it at one evening a few days after it opened was mostly empty – and I was somehow not the oldest person there.

Emmerich tries of course to ‘update’ things to get around this problem. So Midway is WWII re-run as a First-Person MMO Shooter – won by an excruciatingly cocky character called, I kid you not, ‘Dick Best’. Think Tom Cruise’s ‘Maverick’ (he’s often called a ‘cowboy’), but somehow much more annoying. Ed Skrein really knocks himself out in the role.

All the other men are droolingly in love with him and the size and heft of his virility – especially his handsome moustachioed boss played by that gay Brit actor who put Orlando Bloom out of work (Luke Evans).

After Dick sinks the Japanese Imperial Navy one of his fanboys announces, somewhat redundantly:

‘This war will be won by men who like dick best!’

(The ‘who’ may have been silent.)

What’s peculiar about Midway though is that for a film obsessed with dick and rammed with hot male talent, including professional manteaser Nick Jonas – and referencing Top Gun – how lacking in homoeroticism it is. Or any kind of eroticism, really – apart from, I suppose, the CGI explosions.

Midway isn’t just dumb, which would be entirely acceptable – it’s completely numb. Dumb, numb and totally devoid of cum. Even the homosociality is unconvincing and unfelt, which is quite an achievement in a movie set on board aircraft carriers filled with hundreds of young men. Perhaps this is because, paradoxically, the director likes dick best.

Jonas letting loose by far the most erotic moment in Midway

Emmerich is gay, and so may be inhibited on that front – lest he ‘let the side down’, especially in this age of gay respectability. It’s not impossible either that he’s a homo that just doesn’t get it – which is surprisingly common, I can assure you. But his biggest hits Stargate and Independence Day relied on cynically exploiting 1990s teen male homopanic and anal anxiety in a way that only a homo could.

In 2015 he apparently tried to atone for his sins with Stonewall, a flick celebrating the 1969 Stonewall ‘Uprising’ as its now called (why spoil a perfectly good bar riot?) – which I haven’t seen and have zero interest in seeing. It was panned by critics and activists and pilloried for its politics and lack of diversity. But what were people expecting from someone who makes movies about shit exploding while dudes high five?

As a side issue, Midway stars several Brit actors, as is often the way these days, playing Americans – including the lead, Ed Skrein. Oh, and waiting for it to start I saw a trailer for Knives Out, with Daniel Craig playing an American with a ripe southern accent.

Now, it’s fabulous that Brit actors are getting work, darling. But as a Brit watching Brit actors do American accents in Hollywood moovies, too often I find myself cringing like a limey. Skrein’s accent in Midway is like being keel-hauled by your ears. (He also seems to be doing something intensely irritating with his clean-cut-jutting All-American jaw.)

But apparently not to Americans, otherwise they wouldn’t keep getting cast. And you would think, wouldn’t you, that Americans are a better judge of an American accent than me. Is it perhaps prejudice on my part – because I see them as British, whereas Americans just assume they’re American? Or are as generous and open-hearted as I’m bitter and small-minded and so are happy to accept them and their goddamn stupidly awful accents as ‘American’?

Probably the latter.

Midway (2019 Movie) New Trailer – Ed Skrein, Mandy Moore, Nick Jonas, Woody Harrelson

Bottoms From Outer Space

Mark Simpson on those big scary rings at the movies

You might think me obsessed with men’s bottoms. And you’d be right. But if you want to know what a real bottom obsession looks like, one that makes my own heavy breathing look positively flirtatious, just visit the movies.

Take the Summer blockbuster Independence Day (written and directed by Roland Emmerich). Here’s a film so fixated on bumholes that it can’t see anything but bumholes. Bumholes so big and special-effected that they threaten to swallow up the whole world.

In this startlingly excremental (figuratively as well as literally) movie, American civilisation is dwarfed by vast, round alien arseholes which saucily position themselves over the biggest, proudest, pointiest buildings in New York, LA., Washington etc. After twenty-four hours of teasingly hovering above these phallic monuments, they open up their sphincters to dump a stream of shit-from-hell which first demolishes the skyscraper below and then engulfs, destroys and generally wreaks havoc on the nicely ordered American metropolis beneath it. That’s some bottom.

IndependenceDay-Animation1

In case we’ve missed the point, the gung-ho US pilots who attempt a counter-attack talk a great deal about how they can’t wait ‘to give it to those aliens up the ass!’ However, they fail to penetrate the aliens’ defences with their hot, hi-tech rockets – even the nuclear-tipped babies – because the cheeky Pushy Controlling Bottom aliens have a force-field hymen protecting them from such unwanted attentions.

Fortunately, wily Jeff Goldblum saves the day and mankind’s reputation as fuckers not to be fucked with, by craftily working out that what is needed to lower the aliens’ defences is a virus. Jeff infects one of the smaller alien vessels and thence the mother vessel by ‘docking’ with it, and soon the virus is transmitted to all the alien ships, whose force-fields/immune systems collapse.

This allows Randy Quaid, playing a kamikaze love-missile, to fly up the sphincter of an alien vessel opening to crap destruction on a city below, while shouting ‘ALIEN ASS-HOLES!! UP YOURS!!’, before exploding and destroying the alien ship, helpfully showing the rest of the Earth forces ‘Where the aliens’ weak-spot is.’ That is to say: in the same place as men’s.

You can’t get more botty-fixated than this. Except, that is, in 1994’s Sci-Fi blockbuster Stargate. This film, made by the same team as Independence Day, featured basically the same explosive anal ending, in which an alien desert despot is destroyed by an American bomb, sent shooting up the arsehole of his space-craft by Kurt Russell (who is much the same thing as Randy Quaid), shortly after Kurt has uttered the only expletive in this 15 Certificate movie – ‘FUCK YOU, ASS-HOLE!!’.

Stargate

Men’s bottoms are officially meant only to allow one-way traffic, any reminders that it can admit as well as expel tend to make men uneasy – unless they can be projected onto something hated. Stargate was a movie which begins with the discovery of a huge ‘ring’ in the Egyptian desert which turns out to be a ‘portal’ to other worlds – which is fine and dandy. But it is also a point of entry to our own – which isn’t. So commander Kurt and his men are dispatched to plug that hole good and proper and protect Earth Men’s virtue.

As film star Mel Gibson made clear in an infamous interview where he was asked about whether he worried that people might think he was a homosexual because he was an actor, the possibility of two-way traffic in the region of your own posterior must be denied. Pointing to his not uninviting arse he allegedly shouted: ‘This is for shitting; nothing else!’ All the same, it’s just a little odd that his hard, manly, hairy performance of Scottishness in Braveheart against the soft, smooth, nancy-boy English reached its climax in a scene where he was publicly disembowelled by the Sassenachs without so much as blinking.

Invasion, enslavement and defeat have long been seen as analogous to anal rape – a form of emasculation. Recent revelations about the sexual-humiliation practises of victorious troops in the Bosnian conflict on their male prisoners have only reinforced this idea. Perhaps this is why in Independence Day Randy Quaid, the man who finally ‘gives it to the aliens up the ass’ on behalf of all Earth men is an alcoholic ex-Vietnam vet who, we’re told, years ago was abducted by the aliens and subjected to ‘sexual experiments’.

The ending of Stargate also owed something to recent American history: A T-shirt popular with US forces during the Gulf War, depicted Saddam Hussein – that other scary despot the yanks liberated desert people from – bent over with an American missile up his butt and the legend beneath it reading: “WE’RE GONNA SADDAMIZE YA!’

The direct representation of male violation, like consenting male homosexuality itself, used to be a taboo; in the Seventies the play Romans in Britain was prosecuted for indecency because it featured a simulated male rape scene (defended, interestingly, as being ‘a metaphor for imperialism’). John Boorman’s film Deliverance (1972) was considered ‘controversial’ because it hinted rather heavily at male-male sexual assault. Nowadays, however, in the arsehole-anxious nineties, male rape scenes are practically de rigueur in mainstream movies, popping up (and being held down) in films such as Pulp Fiction (1994) and The Shawshank Redemption (1994), while, as we’ve seen, the theme of forced, vengeful posterior penetration has even become the stuff of science fiction movies ostensibly aimed at kids.

This might just have something to do with the rising visibility of homosexuality and the increasing fascination with male passivity – along with the inescapable fact that, no matter how many aliens the guys blow away at the movies (and in Stargate and Independence Day saving the world is strictly a guy thing) they still keep losing the sex war with the aliens they live with. Females.

So, without wanting to come over all Vito Russo, it’s probably no coincidence that the Stargate alien is played by Jaye Davidson who also played the ‘chick with a dick’ in The Crying Game (1992), is surrounded by muscular young men in leather, and flies about in a spaceship that likes to sit on pointy pyramids. Nor is it without significance that in Independence Day, Harvey Fierstein, playing as usual an extremely annoying gay constantly on the phone to his mother (“Oh, mother, it’s AWFUL, the aliens are getting MORE ATTENTION than ME!”) is the first character to be killed by the alien attack. Eliminating early on (but not early enough for my money) the only Earthling who willingly takes it up the ass.

Hollywood science fiction these days is not so much about man’s fear of invasion from outer space as that of the invasion of man’s inner space. As Kevin McCarthy shouts to the freeway traffic in the classic 50s sci-fi paranoia flick Invasion of the Body Snatchers – ‘THEY’RE HERE ALREADY!!’

Standing right behind you.

This essay  originally appeared in Attitude magazine, September, 1996 and is collected in ‘Sex Terror: Erotic Misadventures in Pop Culture