Killer Condom ★★★

As an out gay man, I haven't seen many gay films. There are any number of reasons why. If I assumed most of them were going to end in tragedy or, in their search for poetic realism, conveniently disappointing romantic, emotional circumstances, I would prefer to skip the melodrama. If I assumed most of them were like Killer Condom, I might think they lacked depth but the fact is that we need to get our happy from somewhere. I usually turn to horror or music or absurd acerbic satirical comedy or a myriad of fantasy-adventure excursions for my happy. Or a high risk roll of the Twitter dice that 1 in 6 consecutive posts in my feed will - instead of being yet more video of racist asshole cops physically beating / killing black people without cause, or videos of Muslim or Puerto Rican or Mexican citizens (or visitors) being told to "Go Back" Somewhere by racist asshole whites, MAGA jags, and/or our own elected officials, or screencaps railing against the latest "unbelievable" new thing sexist asshole males Ian Miles Cheong or Jordan Peterson said on social media, or yet another racist white asshole calling the racist (typically white) asshole cops on a black person being in public (you'd better believe the reason half the people are calling, specifically, over blacks selling things is because they want to deny black people any form of additional income / personal gains to keep the systemically racist capitalist status quo in check) - be either a cute animal vid, a pic of a piece of striking artwork, or beautiful nature photo.

As a matter of fact, it sort of seems as though for many years now I've intentionally avoided films outright dealing with stories about gay men. Greater access to more horror films on streaming, cheaper bulk-shipping options on sites like Amazon.com could very well be reasons why. Actually committing to buying Disney films on DVD (though nearly every single live action film is in 1.33:1 full frame and doesn't look great). And the few gay media of my most formative gay years (the 20's) that stuck with me were a right sorry collection indeed. So much so that the Will storylines on the Will & Grace DVD's I didn't intentionally skip were the ones where he was the most miserable. Because he always resented his absurd amount of privilege because he just couldn't get over thinking he was always the smartest person in the room. Who can relate to that? How do you build relationships from that? No, Will was much more an expert on being toxic in relationships. And we're supposed to believe it was his mother, Blythe Danner, who screwed him up like that. A guy as screwed up as Will? Try Ann Coulter. If she were Will's mother, I could be persuaded to reconsider. A wise woman once said films which choose romance as their central conflict usually suffer for it. Add the many tortures gay couples have to endure which straights don't (unless they're inter-racial), as well as the tendency for a lot of capital-minded figures in independent queer cinema to push the style of escapist humor toward flaccid masc-camp / parody, the result is even more self-defeating.

But. That's just my view of a "genre" based entirely on what filtered through the mainstream media; particularly Viacom. Who, naturally, owned Mtv, Vh1, Nickelodeon, and if I'm not mistaken Logo. And they pushed pretty damn hard to look like the cool mid-to-late 40-something in the room. I'm quite sure that, eventually, gay/lesbian or bi stories worked their way into every last show on Mtv. Including Daria. Which by that point, stuffed I believe in between seasons 4 and 5, meant it was going to be written as filler. Inclusiveness is filler? Brilliant marketing, guys. A+. In terms of content, and deploying of message, and based on the backbone of what I "grew up with," it might be fair to call Germany's Killer Condom the most satisfying, forward cis gay male-centered narrative I have yet encountered. Now... is that saying something? Probably not. But, if the creative team behind this film are more than 93% straight (and I don't mean on the Kinsey scale), it's more than worth pointing out the lengths to which they go to "embrace" gayness. I of all people was taken aback. Especially for an exploitation - sex comedy - grimy-as-fuck mid-90's international art horror film. Yes, this is all of those things. So, it's maybe as mature as early Kevin Smith, Tarantino - hence where I question its queer credentials - which: now, that's not saying much. Except that, were I to detail this thing "play by play," I might say that it made all the best decisions (given said maturity level) regarding how to show lead gay, very masc detective Luigi Macaroni being unapologetically, capital-O Out and the process of his fellow officers and even superiors "learn"ing to accept it.

Which is to say: they have no choice. This is likely an entirely cis, masc luxury, suggesting things might have played out differently were Macaroni or his ex-partner "Bob" femme and not able to physically lift anyone giving them a hard time off the literal ground where they stand while demanding equal treatment / respect. But, let's also be honest about the fact that while queer masculinity begs to be portrayed as compassionate, emotionally open, and nurturing (same as straight masculinity), caricaturing masculinity as "badass" and overconcerned with being imperiously heroic is the norm in any genre, most stories we're collectively meant to be familiar with. It doesn't take a masculine man to write a masculine man, be he ideal or stereotype. But writing femme requires perspective. Hence, where Killer Condom hits a gigantic brick wall of intolerance. Then proceeds to begin trying to make love to it. Whether portraying her as a genderqueer drag club performer or a romantically spurned man who decides to adopt the identity of a trans woman to attempt to seduce-out another man's mommy issues and "bring him back," Babette is a whole buffet of friggin' problematic. Babette claims Luigi "made" her trans and simultaneously sadly begs and violently demands Luigi get back together with her. By aggressively stalking him in public, blocking elevator doors, and bursting into his apartment, attacking him in the shower, putting a knife to his throat, and forcing him against obvious threat into agreeing to have sex with her.

With a character profile like that, writer ignorance dominates any late stage pushes for tolerant treatment from het men. After all, in a film where the queer characters don't question their identities, how do you regard a character who clearly didn't begin drag-performing out of spite after a breakup stealing the identity of a trans woman for the purpose of warming up a cold, distant ex-lover? Not to mention Babette has also become a sex worker after retiring as a cop. In a movie titled, Killer Condom. In which the condoms are giggling, high-pitch humming, cartoon squeaking (not rusty bed-sex squeaking) characters, ala- the gopher in Caddyshack. (I shit you not.) There's more, but it mainly consists of "Bob" talking about his balls and in a very gruff voice like The Birdcage's idea of a man in drag (as played by Robin Williams, because I think Nathan Lane's work was a little more sensitive to the femme community) and appealing to his former cop peers/friends to be called Babette even though "he" regards the intolerance "he" faces as homophobia rather than sexism or a phobia of gender bending / identifying as more than one gender - again, in a script which really smells like it was written by straight men. Where the mad scientist villain is a woman. And Luigi tells us his mother would not take him telling her he was gay well at all. And pretty much every woman in the film is reduced to screaming, having fake blood splattered on them, running around, or almost being raped in a slate of slapstick jokes. Which are the one element here which feels genuinely Troma. Not being very Troma is something a lot of people would take as a compliment. But that compliment would have meant a lot more if this hadn't tried to write women at all. (More room for Billy and Luigi's chemistry.)

Or put them on their sleazy, stupid poster for a film with a much greater ratio of male nudity to female nudity. It's a good gay movie made in an irreverent time, resulting in disrespecting a large group of queer people as a whole and women as a gender.

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