The darling of the gay film festival circuit last year, Tom Gustafson's Were the World Mine is a gay-themed, musical "re-imagining" of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. To say I hated this movie and completely don't understand how so many people, gay men in particular, find this wildly offensive, stupifyingly clichéd and transparent film to be interesting in any capacity would be a complete understatement. Just like every other film about a gay high schooler, the main character, Timothy (Tanner Cohen), plays a misunderstood loner in a private all-boys school who is harassed daily by most of the jocks. And I say most because, of course, there's the one über-attractive jock, Jonathon (Nathaniel David Becker), who doesn't pick on him that the main character automatically falls in love with (as we are shown in the main character's imaginary brief musical interlude where this character sings this high-pitched love ballad to him, sprawled out on top of a desk, wearing an open button down shirt with his twinky chest showing while a bunch of the other jocks do this excessively stylized ballet dance around him). Timothy also has an absent, unaccepting father and a mother who practically hates her son's homosexuality because it meant she had to leave her husband and go out and work (yeah, I don't know either), but he, of course, has his couple close friends that act as his surrogate family. Anything surprising or new yet? Didn't think so.
Timothy's eccentric, Mrs. Darbus-esque English teacher is putting on the annual school play--a Taymore-inspired musical version of A Midsummer Night's Dream--which requires the participation of everyone in the class (boy, that sounds eerily reminscent of that kickass Gossip Girl episode where everyone had to act in the school's production of The Age of Innocence). Timothy gets the lead (shocking, I know), but finds it difficult to get the part just right, especially with all of the jock kids making fun of him in that not-so-subtle way that only happens in the movies. So, somehow, while practicing his lines one night, Timothy comes up with this magical potion that, when squirted in someone's face through this flower (kind of like in a porn when the guy shoots his load on someone else's face...although I wouldn't know about such things) turns the person gay and makes them fall immediately in love with the first person of the same sex they see. And, of course, since they are gay, they don't merely walk over to their desired love; oh no, that would be too easy and not gay enough. Instead, they have to glide over like a bunch of overeager ballerinas and start making out hardcore. Cut to the next scene where, in the background, instead of practicing the jocks are flitting about in a circle doing ballet moves in point shoes. Yes, I realize that this a movie with fantasy elements, but why is it that Gustafson feels the need to perpetuate the stereotype that because you're gay, you are artsy, can do ballet, must make out with someone within five minutes of meeting someone hot and are clingy and emotionally needy (there's a minor subplot where the macho, homophobic gym teacher gets sprayed with the potion and falls for the principal and ends up on his front porch, hoping he'll let him in and crying and blubbering like a rotten two year old). If you take out the musical numbers (which I must admit aren't too horrendous just overly theatrical and "pretty" for my taste), I really wouldn't have been surprised to hear that this film was made by one of the major studios with its backwards take on homosexuality, obvious story clichés, ridiculous wish fulfillment fantasy and ending I saw coming from a mile away. I wish I could say I'm surprised this is popular with so many of the "AfterElton" gays, but, then again, these are the same people who regularly think Latter Days and Big Eden are two of our community's greatest films. D