Even during the first decades of the twentieth century, when industrialization, urbanization, and universal higher education extended adolescence through the teen years and even longer Handlin, ; Kett, ; Palladinoheterosexual desire was by no means necessary or even common among adolescent boys in mass culture.
Though the sex-phobia of the Victorian era was fading gradually in the wake of progressive sex manuals, Freudian psychoanalysis, and burlesque, the marriage bed was still considered a curse, a Radio prank my son is a heterosexual family of civilization, along with real estate, automobiles, liver pills, and lending libraries. Husbands throughout the popular culture of the s and s hated their wives, hated the marriage bed, longed for the escape of poker or bowling with male friends, and longed for the wild Tom Sawyer freedom of their Radio prank my son is a heterosexual family. Thus, Jack Armstrong the All-American Boy treated sidekicks Betty and Buddy with equal regard, and in his movie serial, he rescued Princess Alura Claire James from any number of cliffhangers without finding her particularly alluring.
Tim Tyler had a sidekick named Spud in the comics and Lazarre at the movies, but never a girlfriend. But why should they select marital partners at all?
But in the s, heterosexual practice was still presumed a duty, onerous but necessary, insufficient to compel the new generation into becoming husbands and wives. They needed a monster to chase them into the wedding chapel.
By the start of World War II, male heteronormativity had become securely ensconced as normal and natural. Heterosexual desire was inscribed within the very concept of desire itself Sedgwick,while homoerotic desire was vilified as, at best, artificial, infantile, and false, and more often as evidence of psychopathology.
Jackie Cooper recalls gay rumors centering on his friendship with Wallace Beery As Benshoff notes He was Protestant, white, middle class, and a small-town resident, written in opposition to the Roman Catholic, nonwhite, working-class, urban boy of gangster melodramas.
And, for perhaps the first time in media history, he was wild about girls. At first it was antithetical to masculinity, a flight into the feminine to be remedied through intimate same-sex bonds. Even though everyone knows him, because he lives in your house, or next door, or somewhere in your memory, no one has yet been able to define the typical teenage American boy.
All you can say is that he exists in the person of Henry Aldrich.
Although he is interested in girls to the point of absurdity, his girl-craziness is constantly portrayed as a feminizing threat. Nelson John Howardoffers a somewhat more kindly characterization: Though Barbara Betty Field bribes him with cake, he refuses to escort her to the big dance. Why must Bill demonstrate his heterosexual interest so obsessively? What precisely have they been up to?
Henry has been sneaking out for a series of secret rendezvous with gas station attendant Ed Calkins Rod Cameron againwho continuously insists that he tell no one about their relationship. There is even a subtle reference to same-sex practice: McCloskey, is getting fresh.
Something always happens when Henry starts looking like that. In the first scene, he is talking to Elise in the back yard while Dizzy and the others watch from an upstairs window. I know what I want. But he is riffing on the old, unmanly Henry.
He also wants a kiss, since heterosexual performance will now accentuate his boy scout achievements. As they begin the kiss off-cameraDizzy and Mr. Aldrich peer through binoculars. Aldrich, but now they both desire its validation.
It is no longer a deterrent to all-American masculinity; indeed, it is required. Henry goes on to rescue his young charge Peter from a literal cliffhanger at the Tri-State Boy Scout Camperol a week-long wilderness competitionand in the last scene he marches off to victory beneath a superimposed Stars and Stripes.
Jackie played barefoot, red-cheeked high schoolers content with intimate bonds with other boys, and Marcia Mae Jones a new girl in town, usually a sophisticated New Yorker, who set her sights on him. Yet she was never quite able to make a boyfriend of him, and indeed the films seem unsure whether all-American boys kiss girls or refuse to kiss girls, whether adolescent masculinity is best evoked by jitterbugging at the school gym or lounging around the old swimming hole with the fellas.
He does not seem particularly drawn to either; instead, he brawl-bonds with bratty military school cadet Kenneth Bradley Metcalfe.
When they investigate a haunted house, Kenneth is captured by the escaped convicts holding up there, and tied up in the basement. Billy mounts a daring rescue, and is shot in the attempt. Later, as the doctor treats him, Kenneth sits in the drawing room, sobbing. He is the first allowed into the bedroom; he apologizes for their earlier brawls and presses a disputed watch into his hand. Pige notes the affection and angrily pushes between them, offering Billy a substitute for his Radio prank my son is a heterosexual family bond.
It is her masculinity that attracts the
Radio prank my son is a heterosexual family Steve Jackie Moran ; she helps him stand up to the bullying Harry Marvin Stephensand then invites him to the box social.
It is a much more emotionally intense scene than any that transpire between Chris and his new girlfriend Betty Marcia. Marcia dominates the relationship, brassily inviting Jackie out on dates and insisting that she be allowed access to the all-boy swimming hole. They wash dishes together, Jackie in a flowered apron.
As the youngest child, Andy had the fewest lines, but audiences responded to his zestful overacting and puppy-love adoration for Polly Benedict, and he signed on for more episodes. Andy Hardy saturated the media for fifteen years, with comic books, sheet music, records, games, and toys. But he is not watching carefully: Levy comes closer to the point His older sister has trouble with men, dating a succession of cads, scoundrels, and drunks. His father, no mere faceless font of wisdom, falls prey to con-artists and get-rich-quick schemes.
Every girl he encounters wants to kiss him. He is mobbed at a school dance.
They drive to their house on the wrong side of the tracks, where we meet the opera-singing Kathryn Kathryn Graysonthe private secretary of the title, and tall, goodlooking Harry Todd Karns.
Instead, we see parallel stories of same-sex courtships. We see the Judge and Steven riding cozily in a convertible; they are caught in the rain and seek refuge in a garage, and must change out of their wet clothes into mechanic uniforms.
Later he hops a speeding train to talk Andy out of leaving town. At the end of the movie, Harry gets a decidedly feminine-coded job as a window dresser in a department store, so he gets to stay in town too.
One is emblematic of old-style s masculinity, and the other of the new. High school graduate Andy moves to New York to find a job, and takes a room at the City House for Boys, where young men lounge around in their undershirts, eyeing each other lasciviously. He rejects the kiddie crush of Betsy Booth Judy Garland and the salacious advances of the gold-digging Miss Hicks Patricia Dane for a plot involving a relationship with Jimmy Frobisher Ray McDonalda flamboyantly feminine young man from the provinces who came to New York to become a dancer.