I’m guessing I’m not the only one who started finding paid promotions for the new release movie “The Masked Saint” in my FB feed today. Intrigued by a couple of promo pics and aroused by the glimpses of the lead actor in tights and a mask, I started digging around. The most pertinent information determining my likelihood of seeing this movie in the theater (extremely low) comes from the interview I found of the lead actor/director/producer and Jeff Jarrett on Fox News. Just the fact that the interview was on Fox News sort of predisposed me to be highly skeptical, but learning that this is a “faith based” movie as the producer describes it, a “family movie” as Jeff Jarrett describes it, all about the overcoming of evil by good and the virtue of a devout family man and his good little wife is a buzz kill. However, I’ve enjoyed the wrestling bits and pieces from the trailer quite a bit.
What appears to be implied in the trailer and interviews is that the main character is a masked professional wrestler whose gimmick is being “The Masked Saint.” He pops a jaw breaker on an opponent as he drops to his knees and goes immediately into an attitude of prayer.
He’s a babyface behind a mask with an angel on his shoulder, even as he appears to open a can of whoop ass on an opponent, climbing to the middle ropes while trapping a lucky opponent who gets a close up view of the babyface’s bulge in his face as the hero breaks the rules by beating the fuck out of him in the corner.
Again, just by inference, what I’m reading in the trailer is that a diabolical promoter (played by Rowdy Roddy Piper) convinced the babyface that he’s got to lose to a big, towering bad ass muscle stud in black. Epic good versus evil, and in pro wrestling, evil has to win at least some of the time to keep the audience on the hook. Apparently the hot, lean stud agrees, takes some nasty bumps in the ensuing match, and then his evil opponent intentionally breaks the babyface’s leg. As an aside, I just need to say that if the Masked Saint invested as much work on his skinny legs as he obviously does on those mouthwatering, meaty pecs, this might have been avoided. Nevertheless…
Babyface masked wrestler leaves the business to become the pastor of a church. WTF? I know, I know. I’d be excusing myself from the theater about now to pick up some popcorn, check my email, play some Boggle on my phone. The wrestler-turned-pastor has to put his mask back on to go all vigilante on the “thugs” in his neighborhood. Fully clothed drama, drama, drama… wife looks adoringly into his eyes often, sure that her man is virtuous and will provide and protect her and their spawn. Heterosexual masculinity overemphasized as antidote to the inherent homoeroticism earlier of two fit, shirtless men grappling and grinding and squeezing and sweating all over each other until one of them conquers, subdues, and demonstrates his dominance by flexing in victory over top of his pinned prey. The promo pics on FB drive home the extremely conservative, gender normed, patriarchal and hypermasculine heterosexism of the narrative.
I’m guessing the babyface hero ends up returning to the ring to raise money for his parish. Something like that. Whatever. Apparently the climax is him, now unmasked, in a steel cage match fighting the same massive baddy who broke his femur. He gets pounded and humiliated, but now you can see the panic and horror on his unmasked face. If the story was that the musclehead heel makes this hunk with hot pecs his erotic plaything, making him suck his cock in the middle of the ring with his disillusioned fans and family screaming helplessly from outside the cage in horror, sure, I’d pay $12 bucks and tolerate a movie theater for that. But Jeff Jarrett spills the reveal that “good triumphs” in this climactic scene. The babyface hero with God behind him reigns victorious, and if the promo pics are to be believed, it’s because of his faith in God.
Yeah, I just can’t quite open wide enough to swallow so much terrible theology, even if I’d like to grind something hard and hot right where the “I” is on the Masked Saint’s tights. It does remind me what a brain fuck art can be, though. I see the trailer and promo pics and I read homoerotic text everywhere. The sexual tension between the big baddy and the babyface hero is blaring across my screen. I read a narrative of a pretty boy who scorns his beastly lover, takes it up the ass one last time before trying to play it straight to appease family and social norms, but can’t stay away, finds every excuse he can to climb back in the ring with the best fuck he’s ever had, pushing the truth on his mealy mouthed wife by forcing her to watch from outside the cage as his punishing ex crushes his hot, lithe body and gagging-for-it soul, returning the prettyboy to the place he’s only felt whole, only felt fully himself, rock hard and sucking on blinding pain as the bought and paid for jobberbitch to his soulmate’s sadistic pleasure.
Yeah, I’m about 99% confident that is not the story I’d see on the screen if I saw The Masked Saint in theaters. Because lots of viewers see professional wrestling as a morality play, reinforcing the images of masculinity and heterosexuality that reassure them that the gender inequality and terrified homophobia to which they cling is divinely sanctioned and ultimately unquestionable. On the other hand, I see professional wrestling for the homoeroticism of hot, nearly naked men desperate to feel, control, and possess each other’s bodies. We see what we bring to the media, and therefore, I think it is undeniably art that we’re talking about.
My quiet consolation in not getting to see the narrative that I picture playing out with the crumbs of The Masked Saint trailer playing before me is that of the Christian families who go to see it (and let’s be clear, when the producer says this is a “faith based” film, he’s saying it’s pandering to conservative Christians), the audience will be populated by kids, many of whom are thrilled that mom and (especially) dad want to share this feature with them because watching these guys pound and crush one another is deeply arousing.
That’s how pro wrestling worked its way into my fondest fantasies as a quietly closeted gay kid. It didn’t make me gay, just like this movie won’t make anyone gay. But some gay boys will find themselves incredibly enthused and provoked by this movie for reasons completely different than what their faith-based parents expect. And perhaps when they get home, for the first time, they’ll put their browser on “private” and google “Gay Wrestling,”and discover a whole new world inhabited by you and me.
So, thanks Masked Saint. Maybe I’ll get to enjoy your wrestling scenes on Netflix someday. In the mean time, stop skipping leg day, but keep pumping those sweet, meaty pecs of yours. And next time you find yourself staring up at a musclehead giant staring intently down at you for an uncomfortably long time, just fucking kiss him already. We all know you both want to.