Sunday, November 21, 2004

the bisexual Alexander

The old riddle goes:

Q: In Greece, how do they separate the men from the boys?
A: With a crowbar.

If you visit the very beautiful campus of the University of Virginia down in Charlottesville, VA, you'll see a statue of Homer (the poet, not Simpson) with his, uh, boy. This elicits snickers from some UVA students. It doesn't help matters that a nearby dormitory is named Balz. Walking through Jefferson's campus (yes, it's a TJ original), you might end up with the unconscious impression that most Greek men, from Homer on down, are a little light in the loafers.

Of course, Greeks aren't any different from other world populations in terms of the genetic distribution of homosexual propensities. In fact, when you add nurture (i.e., culture) to the equation, the entire issue of sexual orientation becomes complex. I think that, as a rule of thumb, most folks clearly fall into the "conventional" categories of homosexual and heterosexual. But this doesn't account for everyone.

Ask any bisexual.

As Robert Pirsig pointed out in his 70s classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, there's always that damn, category-straddling platypus who comes along and fouls up the taxonomy. Bisexuality, at this point, isn't an unknown phenomenon, but it still makes some people scratch their heads. It's a biological/sociological platypus.

Oliver Stone's new film, "Alexander," apparently suggests that the great conqueror batted for both teams, and today's Greeks aren't happy about the imputation (see here-- link via Drudge).

The movie's got more potential problems than the issue of The Great's sexuality, though: it looks like "Alexander" is going to suck some major donkey dong. I watched the preview trailers for "Alexander" and "laughed and laughed," as the Maximum Leader would say. Colin Farrell, whom I like as an actor, is the wrong guy to play the title role, being both too old and too goofy-looking with that bleached coiffe. Angelina Jolie, whom I usually consider a fantastic actress, looks and sounds ridiculous here. Val Kilmer, who should know better, seems to be doing a Popeye impersonation. The movie, which is being marketed as the next "Troy" (haw haw-- the music is by 80s-era milquetoast synth legend Vangelis, perhaps best known for his "Chariots of Fire" and "Blade Runner" soundtracks), shouldn't be taken too seriously.

The evidence for Alexander's bisexuality isn't beyond dispute, and certainly isn't beyond interpretation. Check out this Wikipedia article on the subject, before it gets Wiki-edited into unrecognizability.

"Alexander" will be coming to Korea soon; the posters have been up in Seoul for a while. I'm wondering whether the film will be edited/censored. Back in the mid-90s, I caught a showing of the late-70s classic "Midnight Express," a movie that apparently features a gay sex scene. I say "apparently" because, when I saw it, the scene was quite obviously chopped out. It was standard policy back then to snip out anything controversial in terms of politics and sexuality. I'm curious as to how much Korean sensibilities have changed since the mid-90s, given the number of Korean art-house flicks that have appeared in recent years.

Korean culture doesn't quite know how to handle homosexuality; as the Party Pooper pointed out a while ago, there's plenty of gayosity in Korean pop culture, but no one here calls it gay. The Mangina Syndrome is very much in evidence. Will South Korean theaters (or the SK government; it's hard to tell where one entity ends and the other begins these days) snip out all references to Alexander's ass-love?

Stay tuned.


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