Friday, August 17, 2007

Boy Culture

Last night I had dinner with my parents before they flew back to South Carolina. They've never had Indian food before, so we went to Bombay on Market & Sanchez. They really weren't sure what to order, so they left it up to me. My father had fish masala, while we all shared aloo gobi, chana saag, aloo paratha, veggie pakoras, and rice pulao. Everything was pretty mild, but it still pretty hot for my parents. I was surprised that my mother thought it was spicy, until she told me that she really didn't eat much kimchi anymore.

As I was walking home after dinner, I happened to pass by the local video store. I haven't rented a movie in a long time, but I was in the mood and stopped inside. I saw a poster of Boy Culture and picked it up immediately. It usually takes me MUCH longer to decide on a movie. I'm the friend that will gather five or more titles in his hands while everyone else in the group will growl "PICK ONE!" I wasn't sure why I was so quick to pick "Boy Culture," as the only reference I had was a single article I read a while back. But as soon as I put the DVD in the player, I knew why.

The song "Do U Damage" started to play during the menu selection screen. That also happens to be the song that Allan Brocka, the creator of my new favorite TV show, Rick and Steve, has on his myspace page. I didn't consciously remember that Boy Culture was his movie, as I only skimmed his page (Firefox has a problem displaying some of the code he uses), but I must have seen a glimpse of it, because I've *never* zeroed in on a movie like that. Of course, after Rick and Steve, I definitely wanted to see more of Allan's work.

Boy Culture did not disappoint. I don't want to spoil too much (I know, whenever Mark and Johnny hear the word "spoiler" I come to mind), so I'll just give the basic premise and what really stood out for me.

The film follows a few weeks in the life of "X," a "hustler with a heart of gold." Yes, sounds cliché, but in this film, the character really works. X's moments of vulnerability really won me over. Part of that vulnerability stems from his attraction to his roommate, Andrew, a stable, charming, recently out gay guy who works at the local video store. He's everything that X isn't, and though X can pretty much have anyone he wants, the one guy he does want, Andrew, he can't have. And just as much as he wants Andrew, his other roommate, Joey, wants him. I'll be honest. I think love triangles are tired as hell. But despite the initial roll of my eyes due to the premise, this film pulled me in and totally exceeded my expectations.

For one, as the tweaker twink of the trio, Joey easily could've been a third wheel played only for laughs. But while the film certainly pokes fun at twinks, Joey still manages to be really endearing.

Then there's a beautiful moment when X catches Andrew taking a shower, and begins to muse on what he loves about his roommate.

"I love his presence, the fact that he reads bestsellers, that he wears clothes from a hamper, the way he can make anyone feel at ease..."

The most surprising thing about this whole monologue is that it's the first time in film that I've seen a white guy talking about his attraction to a black guy without referring to any stereotypes about black male sexual prowess. And though Andrew's ethnicity is referenced, his ensuing courtship (not a spoiler, really!) with X hits snags that have nothing to do with interracial relationships and everything to do with two people who are in very different points in their lives.

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