The Big Tease
The Big Tease
reviewed by Greta Christina
Well, there's not much to it, really. Not much to it as a gay movie, and not much to it as a movie movie. A mock-umentary about a gay hairdresser from Scotland who travels to L.A. to compete in the big international hairdressing competition . . . you know, there's really not much more to be said about it than that. It's a light, silly, just-for-fun bit of fluff, firmly entrenched in the "scrappy lovable underdog wins the big game at the end of the movie" genre. (Don't think 21st Century Queer Cinema -- think Mighty Ducks.) It does have a definite self-consciousness and self-mockery about the fact that it's a Big Game At The End movie, which may or may not be a good thing, depending on whether you've gotten sick of the whole self-conscious, self-referential thing yet or not. You might even call it a parody of Big Game At The End movies, a self-conscious exploration of the pleasures and limitations of the genre, taking a gay hairdressing angle to ridicule the genre's macho mythology. Or you could just sit back and enjoy it for the fluffy escapist entertainment that it is. As fluffy escapist entertainment goes, it's not bad, and I definitely enjoyed myself; although I think I would have enjoyed myself a lot more if it hadn't been quite so predictably locked into the Big Game thing. (The villain is especially disappointing: I personally think villains are more interesting when they have some humanity, some three-dimensionality, and the villain in The Big Tease has all the humanity and three-dimensionality of the Wicked Witch of the West.)
But it is nice, I have to say, to see a movie with a gay main character who isn't completely or even mostly defined by his gayness. And it's extremely nice to see a movie with a gay main character that isn't preachy, or messagey, or warm-and-fuzzy, or deeply serious and significant, or even particularly meaningful in any way. I think it's a sign of progress that gay characters can now be the center of light, shallow, pointlessly fluffy, just-plain-fun entertainment for the masses. An odd kind of progress, to be sure, but definitely progress.
Copyright 2000 Greta Christina. Originally published in San Francisco Frontiers.