Blog Post #2: Blades of Glory–Bro for the Gold!

 

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                                   Image Credit:  BLADES OF GLORY:  Suzanne Hanover

          Blades of Glory (2007) promotes intimate male friendship while parodying the politics and melodrama of figure skating.  The documentary style form that introduces Chazz Michael Michaels and Jimmy MacElroy directly parallels the expository videos which highlight athletes in the Olympics.  If the athlete bios aren’t obvious enough, filmmakers include grand trumpet theme music, joined circle motifs, real champions such as Scott Hamilton and Sasha Cohen, and medal ranking familiar to audiences around the globe to make the comparison crystal clear.

With skintight sequenced suits and glitter galore, figure skating is the most theatrical sport of the winter games, a point made all too clear by a fictionalized interviewee who when asked his thoughts regarding the male-male pair responds, “As if figure skating wasn’t gay enough already.”  The two-man team is viewed with initial contempt by Bible-thumpers to hotdog sellers.  After all, pairs skating traditionally involves opposite sex partners whose performance relies on implied romance, the man assuming the dominant role.  Essentially dancing on ice, the male duo is bound to be interpreted in homoerotic terms.

The film does not dance around the homoeroticism of the sport.  On the contrary, the comedy milks each queer moment for maximum laughs.  During tryouts, Chazz and Jimmy execute a number of tricks that mimic sexual positions from sixty-nine to scissoring.  Embracing intimacy, however, is precisely the key to their success.  The duo casts aside their pseudo-machismo  in favor of honest, close companionship.  True friends finally, the men achieve victory, winning gold in addition to the hearts of viewers who are fed up with the phoniness of catty couples like Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg who lie and cheat their way to the top.  Viewers also find refreshing the unabashed display of male bonding.

Critics who deem Blades of Glory homophobic need to realize that the film both celebrates and encourages male intimacy in sport and real life.  In fact, heterosexuality is presented grotesquely in the figure of Chazz.  Chazz, a sex addict, buries his repressed insecurity in female flesh, sleeping with most anyone—even considering his friend’s love interest a viable option.  Stranz and Fairchild, brother and sister, French-kiss at the movie’s end, revealing disturbing and disgusting incestuous desire.  Jimmy and Katie’s straight passion meanwhile is shown as juvenile and unexplored.  While the only explicitly gay character, Hector, does possess stalker tendencies, he is also responsible for discovering the loophole allowing Jimmy and Chazz to compete together.  Spawning Jimmy and Chazz’s road to redemption, Hector is the film’s hero who saves them from a destructive path of dead-end jobs, depression, and addiction.

Outside of the screen, males are not permitted to ice dance or figure skate together as partners in the OlympicsSystematic homophobia in Russia, host of the most recent winter games, as well as worldwide prejudice proves that progress must still be pursued.  If we all shed homophobic ideology, embracing intimacy’s spectrum, we will be winners in the game of life; the prize more priceless than any medal—bronze, silver, or gold.

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3 comments

  1. I enjoyed your ideas here. I strongly agree that the homoeroticism of figure skating, especially between two males, is demonstrated perfectly throughout Michaels’ and MacElroy’s routine. The idea that they only achieve success once they embrace their intimacy and become true friends was lost on me when watching the film and reflecting on it, so thank you for a fresh insight that helps me understand the plot further. Also, I completely agree that the film celebrates homosexuality instead of the other way around. The only way they could do that with the appreciation of the general public was to make it a comedy. The film, like you said, does not laugh at homosexuality. Rather, the comedy is centered on the absurdity of the moves Michaels and MacElroy do in their routine, and the blazing sexuality in those scenes.

  2. I largely agree with a lot of what Amethyst says in her post. I completely see eye to eye when she says this film is not homophobic. Like Amethysts I mention how this movie follows the absurd humor route and it not trying to be homophobic. believe this film is just trying to get easy laughs through a queer like setting. I thought it was very interesting that Amethyst mentioned the winter olympics in Russia. In her post, she reminded me that it’s illegal to be gay in Russia. This makes this film very topical and interesting to talk about right now. Has Vladmir Putin watched this film? I wonder what the Russia people think when they see this film? Overall, I think this blog post points out how this film is funny and entertaining while vividly demonstrating how it is not homophobic.

  3. I’d just like to say I really enjoyed reading your post because it was so well written and engaging. I too commented on how the camera focuses on the intimacies of the first skating sequence, but I failed to realize that they imitated sexual positions! It was a very obvious imitation and I wish I had seen it. I do also agree with your perspective on the incestuous Stranz and Fairchild, and I feel it was included to directly show that the heterosexual couple can be, and is, transgressive. The relationship between Jimmy and Katie is juvenile, and in fact, throughout the movie, the protagonists are infantilized, which I feel is problematic when male sexuality if explored. Jimmy and Chazz are treated like children and thus act like children, and that could mean that male intimacy is for the immature. Regardless, I would also support that progress must be pursued in order to shed homophobic ideology, because ice skating is a beautiful sport, and no one should feel ashamed on the intimacy it involves.

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