Thursday, May 11, 2006

Totally '80s

Rediscovering He-Man. By Sam Anderson

Sam Anderson and I are almost the same age, to judge from his piece today on Slate. Like Sam, I was a HUGE He-Man fan in my early childhood; I can still remember the terrible Christmas morning when, having received two new action figures complete with swords, I watched as my brother had his new toy, the creature that Luke battles in Jabba's palace in Return of the Jedi, eat the sword of He-Man, thereby making it impossible to unite it with the sword of Skeletor and save Eternia. I shook that toy intermittently for the next year, hoping the sword would somehow pop back out. It never did.

Sam's piece today reveals that there was another reason I should have loved He-Man, though:
The best part about rewatching He-Man, after the initial nostalgia-burst, was tracking the show's hilarious accidental homo-eroticism—an aspect I missed completely as a first-grader. In the ever-growing lineup of "outed" classic superheroes, He-Man might be the easiest target of all. It's almost too easy: Prince Adam, He-Man's alter ego, is a ripped Nordic pageboy with blinding teeth and sharply waxed eyebrows who spends lazy afternoons pampering his timid pet cat; he wears lavender stretch pants, furry purple Ugg boots, and a sleeveless pink blouse that clings like saran wrap to his pecs. To become He-Man, Adam harnesses what he calls "fabulous secret powers": His clothes fall off, his voice drops a full octave, his skin turns from vanilla to nut brown, his giant sword starts gushing energy, and he adopts a name so absurdly masculine it's redundant. Next, he typically runs around seizing space-wands with glowing knobs and fabulously straddling giant rockets. He hangs out with people called Fisto and Ram Man, and they all exchange wink-wink nudge-nudge dialogue: "I'd like to hear more about this hooded seed-man of yours!" "I feel the bony finger of Skeletor!" "Your assistance is required on Snake Mountain!" Once you start thinking along these lines, it's impossible to stop.
If someone finds a way to work homoeroticism into Transformers--and I have no doubt someone can, or already has--I may have to rethink the whole born-that-way/made-that-way debate!

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