When it comes to the classic Filmation television series, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, it’s not much of a stretch to find homoerotic subtext in its ham-fisted dialogue and hyper-masculine, brutish-ness. However, there are times in the sci-fi hero’s quest to fight the forces of evil with his “fabulous secret powers” that it seems to move beyond mere inadvertent sexual suggestion and right into “oh, that’s just gay” territory. Here are five of He-Man’s gayest moments.
1. “The Cosmic Comet”
In the very first episode of He-Man: MOTU, titled “The Cosmic Comet”, the evil Skeletor harnesses the power of a wandering comet that, ever since its mate was accidentally destroyed, has grown bitter and evil. Under the sorcerer’s control, the comet attempts to stop a self-deprecating old wizard called The Comet Keeper from rebuilding its destroyed lover by attacking him with genital-less, ‘roided out rock men. He-Man wrestles with the evil comet long enough for his friends to fill the new one with their love, defeating Skeletor and enabling the happy couple to once again travel the galaxy in harmony. And just when you think this storyline couldn’t be more of a head-scratcher, you discover that both of the comets are actually male.
2. “Quest for He-Man”
In the “Quest For He-Man”, our hero falls through a rainbow colored time corridor and into the environmentally devastated world of Trannis where he encounters Plundor the Spoiler. A lisping, rabbit-headed captain of industry with an unexplained penchant for polluting the seas and killing off his planet’s wildlife, Plundor is immediately enamored by the “powerful looking brute” and offers to make “great use of his muscles”. He-Man politely turns him down in a way that only he can: by straddling Plundor’s “liquid filled” rocket and riding it into the stratosphere. Literally.
3. Any appearance of Duncan, Man-at-Arms
Ok, this is example is pretty general, but we’re including the overall presence of Duncan, aka Man-At-Arms, the royal family’s master of weapons. A middle-aged man with bare midriff armor, a Seventies ‘stache and nothing better to do than go on long trips with Prince Adam and keep his secrets? The whole thing reeks of human growth hormone, a secret past and late night slap-and-tickle in the darkened corridors of Castle Grayskull.
4. “The Laughing Dragon”
In He-Man: MOTU’s sister series, She-Ra: Princess of Power, She-Ra, in an episode titled “The Laughing Dragon”, encounters a socially put upon Dragon named Sorrowful. With hopes of recruiting his help against the Horde army, the show’s token male, Bow tries to intimidate the tormented reptile into finding its courage. However, even the bullied beast can’t help but mock the archer, who has inexplicably chosen to wear a belted pink frock, with limp-wristed jabs at Bow’s masculinity. An anti-bullying episode, where even the bullied bullies someone else for being different? As you can see, Bow’s catty companion, Kowl is not impressed.
5. “Fisto’s Forest”
And lastly, I draw your attention to an episode called “Fisto’s Forest”. He-Man & Co. is called to help some forest people whose diminutive leader, the Elf Lord, has been imprisoned by a bushy bearded bully named Fisto. Fisto, whose name can’t help but bring to mind vats of aqueous cream and neoprene gloves, is killing off their crops by using his over-sized metal fist to create a blockage in the river. The whole situation is only made more vivid by Fisto’s choice to douse his opponents with a sticky white goo as a means to subdue them.
By Stanley Wells
The great actor Sir Ian McKellen, who is also well-known as a gay activist, was recently quoted in the press as saying that Shakespeare himself was probably gay. Invited to comment on this, I pointed out that there was nothing new in the idea, which for a long time has been frequently expressed especially because some of his sonnets are clearly addressed to a male. Nevertheless none are explicitly homoerotic in the manner of some of his contemporaries such as Christopher Marlowe, Richard Barnfield, and Michael Drayton, or for that matter of some modern poets such as W. H. Auden or Thom Gunn.
All those that are clearly addressed to or written about a young man, or “boy,” are among the first 126 to be printed in the 1609 volume. Yet Number 116, “Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediment ….,” one of the most famous love poems in the language, is frequently read at heterosexual weddings. And other poems in the first part of the sequence – such as Number 27 – could even be love poems addressed to the poet’s wife.
Shakespeare’s most idealized sonnets fall among those that are either clearly addressed to a male, or are non-specific in their addressee. His explicitly sexual sonnets, all concerned with a woman and all among the last 26 to be printed, suggest severe psychological tension in a man who has to acknowledge his heterosexuality but who finds something distasteful about it, at least in its current manifestation. An example is Number 147, which begins:
My love is as a fever, longing still,
For that which longer nurseth the disease,
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
Th’uncertain sickly appetite to please.
None of the poems that celebrate love between the poet (whether we think of him simply as an identity assumed by Shakespeare for professional purposes or as Shakespeare speaking in his own person) and a “lovely boy” is explicitly sexual in the manner of the frankest of the “dark lady” sonnets. But many of these poems would have had, and continue to have, a special appeal to homoerotic readers. They have also met with castigation from homophobic readers for this very reason, as the history of their reception over the centuries makes abundantly clear. And a number of the sonnets addressed to a male are deeply passionate if idealized love poems which one can easily imagine being addressed to a young man with whom the poet was having a physical as well as a spiritual relationship. Consider for example Number 108:
What’s in the brain that ink may character
Which hath not figured to thee my true spirit?
What’s new to speak, what now to register,
That may express my love or my dear merit?
Nothing, sweet boy; but yet like prayers divine
I must each day say o’er the very same,
Counting no old thing old, thou mine, I thine,
Even as when first I hallowed thy fair name.
So that eternal love in love’s fresh case
Weighs not the dust and injury of age,
Nor gives to necessary wrinkles place,
But makes antiquity for aye his page,
Finding the first conceit of love there bred
Where time and outward form would show
Skeletor Saves is a He-Man-themed art show (NOT an April Fool’s Day joke I assure you) taking place next Thursday, April 7, at HeadQuarters Studio (385 Broadway, New York, NY 10013). As oxymoronic as the concept is, it’s hard to fault the show’s goal which is to raise money for the Ali Forney Center in New York City, a shelter for homeless LGBT youth.
Some major names from the fashion world are contributing pieces, including Marc Jacobs and Helmut Lang, but most of the artwork appears to be culled straight from the math notebooks of bored high schoolers. Let’s hope that after this show, we can we finally put a stick in the “let’s-ask-a-bunch-of-random-artists-to-create-cheesy-artwork-based-on-a-lame-childhood-memory-that-nobody-in-their-right-mind-would-hang-in-their-home” trend.
I’ve collected some of my favorite pieces after the jump… and by favorite, I mean most homoerotic. It’s kinda NSFW, but if you really think about it, so was the original Filmation series:
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Post tags: He-Man, Homoerotic