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!