Thursday, September 22, 2005

Nong Toom kicks Dobson around

Here's the deal: James Dobson had a post up on his site for a while that showed parents how to keep your child from becoming a homosexual "before it's too late." One tip was for dads to roughhouse with their boys and be concerned if other boys "tease them unmercifully and call them 'queer,' 'fag' and 'gay'" because that's not a sign of the bullies' bad parenting but yours.

After being up on the web for a while getting "teased unmercifully" -- by, well, queers, among others -- Dobson's Focus on the Family website decided it didn't like the roughhousing of the internet and pulled the page.

This is all old news, really, but necessary to understand how Dobson's failure as a child psychologist is proven once again by the movie Beautiful Boxer, coming to a theater you soon. It's the true story of Nong Toom, a thai kickboxer who, well, let's let Charles Taylor tell the story.
In the opening shot of Beautiful Boxer—which shows oil being massaged into a fighter's torso as he prepares for a match—the first-time director Ekachai Uekrongtham brings out what sports movies nearly always try to hide: the sexual appeal of the bodies they offer up as the objects of heroic admiration. We're watching an image of power and machismo—a fighter's sculpted chest—in a position traditionally associated with the female: recumbent, passive, an object for adoration. Nong Toom disliked the violence of Muay Thai (though he was so good at it, he managed to defeat most of his opponents with one swift kick) and fought mostly to earn money to support his parents. His trainer Pi Chart (pronounced pee-sha and played by Sorapong Chatree) sees a chance to make Toom stand out as a fighter by encouraging him to wear make-up in the ring. The press treats him as if he's the Thai Gorgeous George. They think it's a publicity stunt but don't know that Toom's transvestitism is a panacea, and an increasingly inadequate one, for his real desire to be a woman.
The skill of Nong Toom puts the lie to the antiquated idea that sexuality is necessarily tied to stereotypically masculine or feminine pursuits. Of course, thinking people figured out it was bullshit long ago. Sure, I still may make jokes implying the casts of Broadway shows and the duffers of the LPGA are 95% gay, but I don't think using that mindset to guide my parentng is a very good idea. Nor would it be in any way connected to reality. After all, if wanting to do "manly" things means that you're not gay then why do Republicans have to keep kicking all of these damn queers out of the military?

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