Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Close but no cigar (and cigars are NMF, too, for that matter)

Two items that beautifully illustrate/complicate what I mean by the "Not My Fetish" category among the list of blogpost tags/labels to the right over there:


Thanks to an item in tonight's news, I learned about Pierre the Penguin who has lost much of his feathers and has been outfitted with a neoprene replacement suit. This recent post notwithstanding, I am not particularly into the sight of animals in outfits that would look great if they were worn by balding adult human males, and yet I still visited this page of penguincams (no sightings of Burgess Meredith or Danny deVito, btw) and even watched this brief CNN clip of Pierre in his fetish gear.


I've had a link to this now-defunct blog from a now-defunct art project bookmarked as "bloggable" for half a year or more and it took Pierre up there to remind me of it. I can't remember where I heard about this thing, but I assume it too was NPR-related. (Hell, maybe I should ditch the whole Batman/Cop focus of this blog and just write down all my favorite NPR items; that would surely entice a larger readership, anyway.)

This should be clear, but to spell it out, I love leather gloves on men's hands--my own, or almost anyone else's--and spandexy/lyrcraish ones on superheroes' hands, and I have even been known to lust after empty pairs of them hanging on a store rack, but when they are lying in the street, not so much.

(Here is a still-lively site that elaborates on and even markets the same basic concept as above. Handsome design, but still not my fetish.)

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Why So Serious, indeed

I guess I'm way out of the bat-loop, because when the Anonymous Donor and Gray Fox each alerted me within a day of each other that I should check out the premiere episode of the new animated series online, I didn't know what they were talking about. Both friends said the same thing about the show: that it was pretty good, pretty funny, and pretty hot.

Being more of an Old Media sort, I waited to see Batman: The Brave and the Bold on tv (took me a while to figure out that new episodes air every Friday night on the Cartoon Network), and the first episode I caught all the way through was the one guest-starring Plastic Man. Only later did I see the one they'd sent me the link for, which features Blue Beetle. (Each ep also features a surprise cameo, and I'll leave you to discover those for yourself.)

Turns out my pals are right on all counts. After the now-legendary Batman: The Animated Series kiddified itself in its final seasons, only to be followed by the somewhat less interesting Batman Beyond and the MUCH less interesting The Batman, I'd pretty much given up on animated versions of my favorite fictional character, but lo and behold, this one is something completely different. It's not nearly as serious as B:TAS, but neither is it as a child-centric as that show's successors. Gray Fox referred to it as "campy," but that's not quite the word I'd use--"smartass" is more like it. The tone is nothing like the '66 live-action series; it's closer to the recent Teen Titans show (not that I've watched that more than once, mind you) and almost as much a genre spoof as The Venture Brothers, which is why it's a perfect fit for Cartoon Network's patented postmodern blend of kid-friendly action/attitude and parent-friendly nostalgia/parody.

The primary joke in the two episodes I've seen thus far is that Batman's partners are neither brave nor bold, at least not until they learn the sorts of valuable lessons one picks up from an apprenticeship with the master. The Blue Beetle episode--the first of the series--is as self-reflexive as they come, opening (after a prologue and the catchy, stylized theme song) with two teenage Bat-fans watching their hero on tv and engaging in a round of the ever-popular "If Superman and Batman got in a fight, which one would win?" debate. As for that prologue, it's a deathtrap-fetishist's delight, featuring two beltless captives in the clutches of the latest incarnation of the Clock King. Both episodes I've seen so far cut right to the chase, or rather to the kind of cliffhanger scenario that my six-year-old self had to wait 25 minutes to see Adam West and Burt Ward encounter. No more! The pace here is fast, the jokes actually make me laugh out loud, and the artwork evokes the burly, husky Bat of the comics of the late 40s through the early 60s. (There's a higher degree of sci-fi content than I prefer in my bat-stories--lots of flying around in outer space and whatnot--but it works, it works.)

Given how somber the Christopher Nolan-era Batfilms are (and, for that matter, the last two James Bond flicks), I find it intriguing that the Powers That Be at Warner Bros would allow the folks behind the very latest incarnation of the Dark Knight to lighten up so much. I'm all for a balance in tone--I'm no fan of the spoofy/over-the-top approach of the Clooney/Schumacher movie (or Moonraker in Bond-land), but the ultra-seriousness of the Bale/Nolan movies (and even more so Quantum of Solace) doesn't do much more for me, either. What the '66 series did so very well was function on (at least) two levels simultaneously, and The Brave and the Bold shows promising signs of creating its own unique stance in that department. Can't wait to see more.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

You animal!

I was intrigued by the film Zoo from the moment I heard about it. Way back in the taboo-shattering mid-70s, my late mother contended that bestiality was going to be the last taboo. (That should tell you a lot about her.) I should point out right away that neither she nor I was "into" sex with animals, to use the parlance of the day, except as an intriguing topic of conversation on a long car trip. In the intervening years I have of course come out, first as a gay man, and then--to a far smaller public--as a man with several powerful fetishes, and I've often found it interesting to learn more about sexual attractions I don't share, both because they help to shed light on sexuality in general and because I feel a certain empathy for other people with minority tastes.

That said, Zoo isn't really the movie I was expecting at all. It's not a wide-ranging documentary about "zoophilia" in general so much as a true-crime examination of a specific case. Granted, it avoids the snickering tone of other chronicles of the saga of "Mr. Hands", but it doesn't really shed much light on the phenomenon of people who identify really closely with their pets and other animals. (Stylistically, it's a blatant ripoff of Errol Morris's aesthetic, and I could never quite get past that.) As far as parallels with other fetishes, the only one that really struck me was the huge role that the internet has played in bringing people together. Hard to imagine the circle that gathered around Mr. Hands forming without it--just as I can't really fathom meeting (virtually, at least) as many people into masks, gloves, and lycra-clad superheroes as I have without the aid of Yahoo groups, sites like GearFetish, and this very blog.

Beyond that one commonality, I'm on the outside looking in. (The Hub was there with me for about 30 minutes, but lost interest after that.)

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Catch-up, continued: The (mostly) Bat Edition

More stuff that's been clogging the batcomputer waiting for me to mention it here. I've got plenty, on all sorts of topics, so here's a bunch that's specifically bat-centric (with one exception) ...

•Let's begin by watching the single hottest sequence from the whole of the legendary Animated Series (thanks as always, Anonymous Donor!):

•Hot off the press (at least more so than any of the following items), reports of a real-life Batman in the U.K.

•In the interest of balance, however, behold a naughty real-life Captain America. (Fans of unmasking and/or heroes in handcuffs will want to catch the video footage from jail of the bad good-guy being booked.)

Arkham After Midnight: Riddle Me Deadly, an interesting fan film experiment combining found bat-footage from various sources to create a faux silent film. One Arkham inmate after another finds a parallel from silent classics, and the result suggests that Batman has a lot more in common with German Expressionism and surrealism (among other things) than you might guess; it's also considerably meatier--and more ominous--than the actual bat-serials it samples.

•A now-old (Batman Begins-era) but still functional guide to "How the Batsuit Works," in the tradition of those techno-fetishistic geek guides to the blueprints of the Enterprise, Millenium Falcon, etc. Only difference is, this one's something I've been fetishizing myself for four decades and counting.

•In a related vein, a catalog of "the Great Batman Equipment Archive."

•From 2005, the answer to the question all America has asked at least once: "Is Batman Nuts?"

•Bat-bloggery from ...
Again with the Comics
I Found All Six (Slylock Fox in da house!)
Blockade Boy (RIP)

•More YouTube fun to wrap up this installment:

Saturday, December 06, 2008

"Our past belongs to us; we can change it if we want."

So says Mia Farrow's character at a critical moment in Be Kind Rewind. (Spoiler alert: It arrives two thirds of the way into the movie, and there's no way to make the point I want to make without revealing at least a little of the final third, so you may want to skip the rest of this post if you enjoy surprises.)

As a big fan of Michel Gondry's earlier films and music videos, I'd been meaning to see this 2008 feature during its brief run in theaters, despite the mediocre-to-bad reviews I'd read, but I never quite got around to it until now. I fully understand the poor reception, even from fellow lovers of Eternal Sunshine and The Science of Sleep (for the record, I even love Human Nature, which nobody seems to like). Throughout its first two acts, I kept thinking Rewind was his worst film, marred by a farfetched/downright silly premise and a gratingly generic performance by Jack Black. (The best thing on the DVD is not the movie, but an accompanying short, "Passaic Mosaic," which makes a beautiful if unspoken case for BWR as the missing link between Gondry's surreal features and his otherwise utterly uncharacteristic documentary/concert film, Dave Chapelle's Block Party.)

If you're familiar with Rewind, here's the high-concept part you know: Black's character becomes magnetized and erases all the stock in the last shop in Passaic, NJ (if not America) that still rents VHS tapes, which leads him and clerk Mos Def to shoot amateur remakes of each one. (This practice is called "sweding" in the movie, but they're basically fanfilms.) A wacky enough idea, I suppose, and the best bits are in the official trailer. But it all seemed beneath the talents of Gondry, one of the most imaginative writer/directors around. It also begs two questions: What about DVDs? and Isn't this whole thing a massive violation of copyright? Question #1 is dismissed in five seconds, but the second one proves a doozy. To make matters worse, our heroes learn that one of the major subthemes of the story has been completely fabricated. Fortunately, there's an entire third act not really hinted at in the trailer.

That's when things get interesting--and Gondryesque. Farrow's character states the premise pretty directly in the line above. What began as two guys covering up an accident evolves into a communitywide art project. I'll spare you further details, but it's interesting that the major studio's lawyers are the bad guys (way to stick it to the Man, New Line!) and that the entire film is a defense of fans' rights to retell and extend their favorite corporate fictions. I'd suggest, in the spirit of sweding, that you could even tweak Farrow's line to read "Our fantasies belong to us; we can refine them however we like." There's an intriguing invitation in the final credits directing us to the official website to see the "sweded" films excerpted in the movie, but that site has disappeared and there's no trace of them on the one that remains to plug the DVD. (I kinda wonder if maybe actual copyright lawyers made them go away.) However, you can see a few examples on this YouTube channel.

And if those aren't enough, check out this handy list of Sweded films made for a contest including a parody of Batman Begins featuring a rather fetching Bruce Wayne/Bat.