Man 2 Man
I’m not quite sure what motivated Christopher Hines to tackle the evergreen subject of gay men and long-term romantic relationships. But he arrives in a queue crowded with books, magazine articles, and endless discussion by gay men themselves.
For years on Fire Island, I would suffer through gay men agonizing about why they weren’t in a relationship. I thought then and think now that a lot of this is just plain self-indugence, a theory Hines does nothing to dismiss, with his limited range of interviewees among (mostly) good-looking denizens of the gayborhoods of San Diego and Boston.
One of the talking heads in the misguided documentary "Man 2 Man" posits (there’s a hell of a lot of positing here, without much research or argument to back it up) that gay men are more introspective because they were forced to be so, having had to live interior lives into young adulthood.
Maybe. Maybe it’s the same reason why Greek tragedies were always about royal families -- because they’re the only people who have the leisure to worry about booshwah like "relationships," as opposed to, you know, "subsistence." Par for the course in this documentary is a statement -- like all such never, ever questioned -- by one of those bogus "relationship consultants" (back in the shtetl it was done quite efficiently by Rosie; see "Fiddler on the Roof") who charges "only" as much as $30,000. The people who use his service, you see, are attractive, successful and much too busy to bother with -- you know -- actually organically meeting people.
My biggest beef in a lazy documentary that takes a few totally ordinary people and analyzes to death the totally ordinary reasons why or why not the guys they are meeting online have or have not met up with their expectations is that Hines never presents the other side of the coin.
When I wrote my June 2011 Village Voice cover story "In Defense of Promiscuity," I cited people who believed that, as is reiterated endlessly in this film, many gay men seek the Donna Reed lifestyle (gay men are the new white bread). But I also cited scholars, observers and others, like the academic Michael Warner, who believe that marriage and monogamy are bogus, imposed from above and from without and being spoon fed to impressionable young men.
I do realize that, within the confines of a documentary, it is difficult to get too much into people’s lives. But is it too much to ask for a little rounding of some of the talking heads herein? As it is, every time one guy appeared, I thought, "Uh-oh, here comes The Deaf Guy Who Works Out A Lot." It’s actually condescending to say what the guy does for a living. I also really got sick of the same footage of "girlfriends" (not necessarily boyfriends; probably not, in fact) embracing at the pool, at parties, at ball games.
Many of Hines’ surmises -- which are all presented as solid, hard facts --are either silly, wrong or downright risible. I’ll just sight one shortsighted comment that "today, it’s easier to hook up than ever before." Um, no. In the ’70s, if you lived in New York or San Francisco, you just walked out to get the paper and had five hot guys propositioning you. Now you have to go through Grindr or a hook-up site and all of that endless chit-chat.
What people like Hinds don’t realize is that the Internet has made it harder to hook up. People would rather cruise than seal the deal; the hunt is more fun than the catch. He furthers the point when he cites a detailed sex ad from a ’70s newspaper with the preface that "no longer do we have to write ..." Actually, that ad sounded pretty much verbatim a lot of the profiles on hook-up Internet sites.
I suppose if you’ve just emerged from an unfortunate religious background or suddenly at an advanced age discovered that the woman you’ve been sleeping next to all these years isn’t giving you what you want and you’re thrust into the gay scene, you may get something out of this 60-minute sophomore thesis on Gay Relationships 201. Otherwise, it will probably be as much of a waste of your time as it was of mine.
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