I caught up with with Bil Antoniou of the Bad Gay Movies podcast to talk about why we have a love/hate relationship with gay films.
When did you decide to start the podcast?
I came up with the idea about six years ago. I was listening to a lot of podcasts and really loved the format and the possibilities of it, but also knew that I wanted to do a show that had a specific focus and wasn’t just a general discussion about movies since.
It didn’t take long to come up with the subject matter of the show because I was already watching a lot of these movies and knew I could bring both humour and expertise to the subject.
It took me a while to have the guts to just go ahead and do it, then I had to learn some minimal skills of recording and posting, and then had to decide what the format would be. I couldn’t decide if it was to be a set panel or a revolving one of guests. After Dan and Mike said yes, and I saw how great we were together, I knew I wanted the three of us to be the anchors of the show and then I’d have guests whenever they weren’t available.
Now we’re celebrating our fifth anniversary! We’re about to record episode 90 and will incorporate celebrating that milestone into the episode, which will involve people listening to us eating cake.
How long does each podcast take to record and produce?
We record for about an hour, and then I spend about two hours editing. In the beginning, I’d put the episode on as is without cuts, but now that I have better knowledge of the software, I go in and edit things to make the show a bit smoother.
All that is the easy part though, the harder part is coordinating our three schedules to watch a movie and get together to talk about it every three weeks.
In years gone by there was always something a bit masochistic about gay films and gay film festivals — they weren’t great, but we felt obliged to support them as at least it was representation of some kind. Is there something a bit sacrilegious about making fun of bad gay movies?
Probably, but I believe we do it in a spirit of fun. We’ve had some directors write us and thank us, which is really exciting, and others have sent us some pretty upset notes, which we do take to heart. At the end of the day, I ask myself, am I shitting on something just to be mean, or do I really have a good reason for saying I think something isn’t good?
Mike and Dan and I love movies, and we’re all good at watching them, so we care about backing our opinions up with sound reasoning. But we’re also having a great time, and want people to have a good time listening to us, so we can get pretty catty too.
What inspired me to do the show was that I noticed when going to Inside Out — Toronto’s LGBTQ film festival — that so often my friends and I would go to a movie knowing it was going to be terrible, watched it and found it terrible and then went out and had a great time talking about how terrible it was — I just felt that there was something to all of that. None of us ever did it in the spirit of hatred, if the director had come with us after the screening we would have cheered him on.
I think the masochism is because, traditionally, queer people are rarely the focus of mainstream films — something that’s still the case. So we’ll put up with a very low bar of quality to see ourselves up there in an adventure or a romantic comedy where the gayness isn’t the central issue. I love movies like Brokeback Mountain, but I get why people want to see a breezy, contrived guilty pleasure that isn’t tragic Oscar bait, the kind of movies that usually go mainstream because of pedigree and not subject matter.
The need to see more representation probably leads to a lot of us being really polite when it comes to responding to movies at film festivals, and being critical can feel like punching down, but it’s not. These guys got to make a movie, and writing good dialogue doesn’t cost a lot of money! Maybe it could help these filmmakers to actually get detailed feedback from us bitches? Or maybe there’s a reason our show is subtitled ‘Those who can’t do, whine.’
What are some of your all-time favourite bad gay movies?
Most of them are painful, but Ben & Arthur — ”the gay version of The Room” — is a gift that keeps on giving because its lapses in logic and efforts to bewilder the mind make it great to watch with a crowd. Plus, I love that the director has been a really good sport about people criticising it and making fun of it.
Can’t Stop The Music is one I could watch every day. It’s so bonkers, but it’s not overlong and goes down pretty smooth. So far it’s the only one that the three of us actually watched together, which made it a lot more fun to do because we got tipsy while watching it.
Have any recent gay movies impressed you?
Oh definitely! I love Marco Berger’s films — ever since Plan B — and I recently saw his film Hawaii, which I also really liked. Love Simon, God’s Own Country, A Fantastic Woman, and BPM are all great. I was surprised at how much I liked King Cobra, and the daddy grandeur of Call Me By Your Name was simply delicious.
If we could get a re-make of a gay movie that had a lot of potential but didn’t quite deliver on it, which one would you choose?
Definitely our first movie, The Next Best Thing. You have Madonna and Rupert at their peak, with this very sexy and fun idea — which at the time felt a lot fresher. We’re supposed to believe that they need to get smash drunk and practically burn a house down before accidentally having sex. Then it’s a two-hour boring custody battle? Nonsense!
Is there any danger that you’ll ever run out of material for the podcast?
Sadly, no, not ever — not even if we only stick to what’s on Netflix. But I can also say that there’s enough out there for many episodes of a Good Gay Movies podcast, if anyone wants to do it.
Any up-coming movies that you’re particularly looking forward to?
The Happy Prince, and the miniseries where Hugh Grant gets it on with Ben Whishaw.