Thursday, May 16, 2013

"The Adonis Factor": Lookism in the gay male community

Netflix offers the 2010 documentary by Christopher Hines about lookism in the male gay community, “The Adonis Factor”.
The 69-minute film, comprising interviews of men in San Francisco, Palm Springs, West Hollywood, and Atlanta, seems to ramble around a bit, with a narrative style (with hip background music) that sounds like it came from a contestant for an “Apprentice” episode.
One problem with the experience of watching the film is practical.  Seeing a lot of men, shirtless, over tanned and often tattooed, with chest hair removed or often cropped, doesn’t do anything at all.  It’s much more interesting to look at images in Details or GQ where the men are clothed, with something left to the imagination following on what is shown.  Or, it’s interesting to watch a video or film made my and with someone you know, clothed most of the time, where you know what he does and what he is about.  But mere images after a while get tiresome.
The men are frank in their assessment of gay male “body fascism” – it can get quite “catty” when men who don’t look good enough are “turned away”.   (That happens to me once in a while, maybe once a year.) There is this fixation on an idea of worthiness for some particular station in life.  But we’ve fought wars over that.
There’s some discussion, toward the end, of cosmetic surgery and various products that hide aging, or perhaps sometimes reverse the effects of anti-HIV drugs, which don’t have the side effects now that they used to. 

There is some brief coverage of circuit parties, particularly the White Party in Palm Springs. (I discussed a more detailed documentary on circuit parties on Sept. 26, 2011 from TLA.  I wonder if the Black Party from the Saint in NYC is going to release {on Amazon or Netflix} a documentary about its events; I hope so, since cell phones and photography are prohibited at this expensive event -- and there are free mimic parties nearby when it is  held in March.)   
I once was shocked by the appearance of a friend, known to me from fighting “don’t ask don’t tell” in the Navy, at the 1999 gay pride festival in Washington DC. He had been trim, but no longer; his appearance shocked me.  Perhaps his  physical changes had been related to early protease inhibitors (they no longer have the side effects that they used to).  I lost my cool in the SLDN booth and said so. Later that summer he emailed me that he was not pleased at what I had said. The gay community was too infected with lookism, he wrote. 
The film is distributed by “Rogue Culture”.  I don’t know if this is related to “I am Rogue” pictures (associated with Universal and Relativity Media for some independent  (“Catflish”)and sci-fii or action film).  

Picture: No, I took that one, in Baltimore, of the Man of Steel (a wannabe Clark Kent).  I must say, that when "Smallville" ran, Tom Welling was "my type".  Lookism, again.

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