Knight at the Movies ARCHIVES
Without a Paddle
8-25-04 Knight at the Movies column
By Richard Knight, Jr.

The more things change the more they stay the same.  Case in point: earlier this summer I found myself at a
packed sports bar covering an air guitar contest.  As the male contestants rocked away, the emcee started in with
the gay innuendos which were quickly picked up by the guys onstage.  Soon the crowd was laughing and cheering
on the two contestants, who simulated hugging and kissing.  When the emcee suggested the two contestants retire
to the dressing room for some “heavy man on man action” the room shook with laughter.  Everyone knew it was a
joke, right?  Everyone except this touchy old queen who’s been known to enjoy a little heavy man on man action in
his day, that is.

In a summer filled with movies overtly and quietly gay we now have one designed for the crowd above, the anti-
Without A Paddle.  But political correctness aside, the reason to skip it is because it’s not stupid enough
to be funny (like
Dude, Where’s My Car? for example) or funny enough to overlook sexual insensitivity.  It’s just
stupid – and felt like the little bags of poop that are dropped on the villains heads during one “hilarious” scene.

But back to the anti-gay scene, the movie’s supposed comedic pinnacle.  The three male 20-something leads,
longtime friends, are lost in the woods dressed only in their underwear (convenient, eh?).  It’s the middle of the
night and in the midst of a freezing rain, the friends are crouched under an outcropping.  “Our only chance is to
huddle our bodies together for warmth,” one dude says.  “I for one choose death,” says the second as the laughter
in the audience kicked in.  

Resigned to either squeeze together or die of hypothermia, the dudes tentatively reach for each other as R. Kelly’s
“Bump ‘N Grind” plays on the soundtrack.  By the time the three are packed together like sardines, the theatre
audience was hysterical.  But wait, there’s more!  To cap off the scene, the little dude starts talking about a girl he
has the hots for and before you can say “Viagra” he’s got a hard on that – HORRORS – touches his best dude-
pal!!!  It’s just too much for the three dudes-stooges, who break apart, seriously grossed out and seriously
screaming, man.  This was also too much for the audience who howled their heads off.

Okay, so why did this “huddle together” scene in this dim-witted little nothing of a movie piss me off so much?  It’s
not like it’s not the last in a long list of other straight guys forced to touch each other scenes in lots of other dumb
jock pictures.  Is it because it brought back that moment in the jock bar when I was the one without a paddle?  
Could be.  Or is it perhaps that although gay visibility no longer seems to be an issue, the new “openness” is
causing a not so subtle cultural divide of Tsunami proportions?  Getting closer.

Culturally, gay seems to be good (read: $$$) with endless examples of out television actors, musicians, writers
and stage performers openly doing their thing without a peep from the right.  But movies are still, I think, the great
cultural American barometer and it’s still okay to make movies that show guys terrified of being touched – even
accidentally – by other guys.  
Dodgeball, Anchorman and a slew of other “dude” parody comedies this summer at
least had the progressiveness to leave the jokes about the “girlie men” on the cutting room floor.  But
Without A
not only makes this anti-gay scene the supposed comedic high point of this twaddle, it’s included in the
trailer so even the kiddies and the homophobes at home can laugh along.  Hilarious!

Perhaps I just need to lighten up and let stuff like this go like I did that night at the jock bar I mentioned above.  I’d
been having a good time until the gay jokes kicked in, after all.  Once the moment passed and the contest winner
declared I found the guy who’d phoned me up with the story idea in the first place.  I knew he’d be embarrassed
for me about the gay slurs, wouldn’t have taken them seriously and we said goodnight without mentioning them.  
This young man is 26 and I’ve known him all his life.  I’m going to send him this column as he’s always asking me
for movie recommendations – and movies to avoid.  I’ll suggest, naturally, that he and his friends cross
Without A
off their lists – cause his uncle is a touchy old queen who sometimes gets easily offended – and not just by
lousy movies.
A license to gay bash tarted up as a comedy