The Gays, directed by T.S. Slaughter and starring Chris Tanner (Bob Gay-Paris) and Frank Holliday (Rod Gay), is about the nuclear gay family, their interactions with each other and the complex dilemma of their existence. I say dilemma because the members of the gay household are in constant pressure to fulfill their own meaningful paths and simultaneously avoid complicating the lives of others around them. While The Gays is dark comedy, the issues that Slaughter investigates are nothing close to a comedic expression. At first glance, T.S. Slaughter throws a series of random images, sequences blended to one another following the narrative of one of the two sons raised by the gay parents Bob (transvestite) and Rod Gay. The very idea of seeing miniature dildos and chains dangling above a baby’s crib shocked me, in fact, I was repulsed. At the beginning, I thought the film was overtly standing apart from the rest of the typical gay dramas (Brokeback Mountain , A Single Man ) and it was doing so brilliantly. A Single Man (2009) was an exquisitely artistic film that explored the sensuality and the colorful expressions of arousal, but it failed to adequately assess the true societal tragedy encompassing George’s (Colin Firth) world. In a sense, films like Brokeback Mountain and A Single Man focus on the micro-tendencies of gay relationships, i.e. the single or mutual exchange of interactions between at least two people.
The Gays is focused more on the macro-tendencies of “gay culture”, the expulsion of the ideal nuclear family, and attempts to redefine the ideas about gay families and how they raise their children—the focus isn’t just on The Gays, but about every gay family. If the characters weren’t so overt, it would appear like a documentary. Some angles appear as though Slaughter deployed hidden cameras, others with a shaky camera and odd angles that give a distinct realism and a sharp documentarian edge to the humor. Sequences are filmed erratically to keep your focus and the language is vulgar to amplify the film’s dark comedy and satire. Cinematographically, The Gays does not appear uniquely memorable, because it relies heavily on the simplification of camera placement, panning and light movement tracking to allow you to follow the dialogue, where it is the central focus. Slaughter uses a simplistic handheld technique to focus your attention in the dialogue, perhaps it was deliberate. T.S. Slaughter wants to draw attention to the absurdity of the ideas surrounding the nuclear family and how these ideas (visually) do not translate into a gay family household. He uses stereotypical depictions or ideas others have formed about the notions of gay relations and their interactions with each other. He juxtaposes two parents, one who is a transvestite (Bob Gay-Paris) and outwardly “identifiable” as gay and the other parent (Rod Gay) whose appearance is more identifiable with the heterosexual male.
This dark comedy wants to answer some critical questions, but the answers are deliberately absurd to force the viewer to reflect on the absurdity of it all:
- Is it possible for a man to give birth? How would he do it? What would it look like?
- Would gay parents raise adopted children (if not born) to be gay? How would they do that?
- How would gay parents discipline their children?
- What kind of education would gay families give to their children?
- Can a gay family celebrate Christmas?
In Slaughter’s own words, the film is deliberately meant to be political in nature:
We feel the current political climate provides the perfect moment for a film like THE GAYS to appear on the scene. With the recent fall of DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) and the defeat of California's Proposition 8 (more like Proposition Str8!), both of which had sought to legislate gay marriage rights out of existence, and with the IRS sorting out all kinds of previously denied benefits for married gays and lesbians, we find ourselves in a new post-gay-marriage-struggle utopia. Or do we?
The Gays is a thrill, hilarious, critical, insightful and inspirational film. It is rated R and not recommended for teenagers. There is some nudity involved and very vulgar language. It’s also not recommended to heavily religious people because I don’t think they would like to hear what The Gays had said about Gabriel! Unless you want to shock your super religious grandmother….
The Gays (2014) Trailer
The Gays (2014) Gallery
Keywords: The Gays, T.S. Slaughter, Frank Holliday, Chris Tanner, gay cinema, gender cinema, masculinity in film, gay movies