FLICKS

F#*@BOIS: No fuckbois here; just semi-porn without the money shot

Let’s stop all the pretending that this movie is supposed to be anything else (i.e. that it’s “intelligent”; that it tackles true-to-life issues facing society/the youth in particular, and particularly with the ubiquity of tech; and so on). If you stop the pretense, you’d enjoy this. If you demand for more, then you’d be left wanting more.

Gays, gather: This flick was made to titillate you.

Let’s stop all the pretending that this movie is supposed to be anything else (i.e. that it’s “intelligent”; that it tackles true-to-life issues facing society/the youth in particular, and particularly with the ubiquity of tech; and so on). If you stop the pretense, you’d enjoy this. If you demand for more, then you’d be left wanting more.

That, I suppose, is the best way to summarize F#*@BOIS, Eduardo Roy Jr.’s entry in Cinemalaya 2019.

WHAT IT’S ABOUT

Ace (Royce Cabrera) and Miko (Kokoy de Santos) – who want to become famous actors; and are for now regular beauty pageant contestants/beauconeros – are social media “famous”, with thousands of followers. We follow them when one of Ace’s fans, a former mayor (Ricky Davao), meet again with the two of them after threatening that he will spread their sex video if they don’t do his bidding.

WHY WATCH IT

We’ve had somewhat similar flicks in the past (even if contexts are changed).

Lino Brocka’s Macho Dancer easily comes to mind. NOT that the characters in F#*@BOIS are go-go boys; but they’re in the same field, “selling” flesh to get what they want/need. When interviewed, Roy himself said that he doesn’t mind if – in the long run – his film ages; he’s in this to “document” what’s hip/happening in this time and age (and this is perhaps why this won’t become part of the permanent collection at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City).

Also worth mentioning are Jose Javier Reyes’ Toro: Live Show, and Mel Chionglo’s Sibak: Midnight Dancers.

I’d argue that like those mentioned (or exactly because of them), F#*@BOIS attracts the attention.

Here, we have good looking, cisgender, able-bodied and young boys – the epitome of what’s desirable in the homosexualized gaze/in the gay community.

That they can somewhat act is a bonus – e.g. Cabrera’s terse acting; and de Santos’ weepy take on the role. We also get a playful Davao – e.g. “Come to mommy!”

That they keep getting naked, parading and (then) fucking ought to be pluses for a lot.

WHY AVOID IT

But this film doesn’t have the grimy appeal/intelligence of the likes Macho Dancer, Sibak: Midnight Dancers and Toro: Live Show.

This is a “shiny” flick, certain to attract its own following because of what it dangles in front of them (i.e. naked Cabrera and de Santos, with quick shots of some dicks here and there, and with pretend sucking and fucking, just to be sure you stay in your seat). But my issue goes beyond the eye-candies…

Seeming ignorance with terminology; thus representation of it.

Too apparent, the filmmaker did NOT seem to even want to tell us about fuckbois; instead, it is as if the term is used MAINLY FOR MARKETING PURPOSES. It’s a catchy word, but it’s a loaded word. And here, we get the word, not the baggage it carries.

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Using a tool many fuckbois now use (i.e. Internet – DUH, and that’s said with sarcasm), it doesn’t take one long to research what this word really stands for – e.g.:

Fuckboys can be easily identified because they are “always doing fuck shit. Just the dumbest, weirdest, lamest possible shit ever…You know, the cops pull you over and ask if anyone has marijuana in the car. That one friend who says, ‘Yes officer I do,’ he’s the fuckboy in that situation.”

Now, this is worth highlighting: Fuckboi – the term used in the film – has also been floating around online since 2014; but…

“Fuckboi (or fuccboi) is not simply a stylized version of fuckboy, although some people do use it that way. Fuckboi has a specific meaning related to fashion. He is someone who wears high-end clothing and wishes to be associated with fashion culture, without actually being a part of that culture. This is a guy who buys articles of clothing just for the logo.”

There are variations – e.g. prison usage of fuckboy (meaning: gay for pay). So that this word – first used in the 2002 song “Boy Boy” by rapper Cam’ron to mean a guy who is a “weak loser, who sucks, who isn’t conventionally masculine, or who ‘ain’t shit’” – may have been “evolving”, but its core meaning has remained largely the same – i.e.:

“A fuckboy is someone who doesn’t respect women, is a player who won’t commit, and is basic in his clothing choices and personality. Maybe he’s also a misogynist.”

NOTE THAT THESE – AS THEY APPLY TO THE FILM’S CHARACTERS – ARE NOT TACKLED IN THIS FILM.

What we have, instead, are guys more akin to “influencers” (those with “access to a large audience and can persuade others by virtue of their authenticity and reach”).

But I suppose “Influencers” (or “beauconeros”) won’t make people buy seats in the moviehouses, more than “fuckbois” would…

No fuckbois narrative here.

As mentioned, we see some scenes of what fuckbois MAY DO – e.g. interacting with their followers, recording and then posting just about everything online, and so on. But then… they ceased being fuckbois.

And so if you want to have a better glimpse at the fuckboi culture/mentality/practices/and so on, you’re watching the wrong movie. This one DOES NOT HAVE ANY INTEREST in going deeper into any of these.

Underdeveloped characters.

We’re supposed to “identify” with the main characters because… a politician is abusing them. But who are these kids, anyway? Why are they where they are? One kid keeps saying something about his “mother”; and yet – at 17 – what in hell is he doing not living with his mother? How did they end up with their “mother”/handler (Mimi Juareza); and what’s in it for her in their arrangement? Is she just as much of an “abuser”? And so on…

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All these are swept under the rug by the filmmaker; coated by the nudity and the dicks and the fucking…

Forced conflict… just so we get to have more nudity and dicks and fucking.

Don’t get me wrong: I am all for porn (so long as they are made legally, and with consent of those involved in it). But when grabbing porn, you know what you’re gonna get – e.g. in gay porn, these guys befitting your fancy (twink, daddy, bear, and so on) pretending to make a chat (following some lame script) before getting naked to do the act that culminates in the money shot (to time it with the viewer’s, of course).

F#*@BOIS pretends it’s not that; that at its heart, it has a “story” to tell, one that is worth telling. And this is what makes this film… falter.

Telling “stories” in sexy (and yes, pornographic) flicks isn’t entirely new. Off my head, I can think of Michael Lucas’ La Dolce Vita and even – I’d argue – Belami’s American in Prague. Count Gerard Damiano’s The Devil in Miss Jones there, too. Heck, even Caligula by Tinto Brass, Bob Guccione and Giancarlo Lui could be mentioned here.

But these films did not try to “hide” what they are; which F#*@BOIS is doing via the Cinemalaya sheen…

Weak story.

In a gist, it’s: boys want fame; boys met a powerful man that financed (for a while) their way of life (until something better comes along); boys want out; boys kill the financier; boys get chased.

In between, we see weak “push points” that are too obviously only there so the filmmaker can continue the nudity/cock-showing/fucking onscreen – e.g. the main characters were blackmailed by the politician that their sex video will be shared online, and yet THEY DID NOT EVEN THINK OF TAKING HIS PIC/VIDEO WHILE THEY WERE FUCKING WITH HIM since he had more to lose as a public figure. This is idiotic; and you know you’re just being manipulated to stay longer in your seat for more of the same…

Gay-for-pay flicks aren’t rare – e.g. American Gigolo launched Richard Gere; and indies like My Own Private Idaho and Mysterious Skin continue to reverberate. Locally, we have classics (like Brocka’s) and those we know only existed to make us fancy the male form (and how they elope) while getting our cash (Coco Martin even made a name in this industry before gaining immortality in Ang Probinsyano). Well… F#*@BOIS belongs to the latter category.

Telling too many tales just to deem “intelligent”.

One of the biggest criticisms I encountered re Filipino film is that tendency to want to shove everything/as many stories in the storyline. And this one is no exemption – e.g.:
“Dangers” of tech – check
Sex scandals – check
Abuse of the underage – check
Gay relationships – check
Drug use – check
Closeted powerful gay men (and their proclivities) – check
Male beauty pageants – check
Murder/manslaughter – check
Election cheating – check
And so on and so forth…

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The film wanted to cover all these, as if mimicking/updating Brocka’s Macho Dancer. But this ain’t a Brocka flick; and so we’re just left with something that wants so badly to be one…

Here’s a point to remember here: When you want to be everything for everyone you end up becoming nothing for anyone. Well… perhaps at least in this flick’s case, there are those titillated who’d still stay glued in their seats.

Inconsistencies.

When you have an older former mayor (Davao) who seemed more tech-savvy and knew more about how social media worked (e.g. shaming) than the young whose lives supposedly revolved around the same tech, then you know this storyline’s gonna be… lacking.

This is titillation – pure and simple.

And so Ace (Cabrera) and Miko (de Santos) did something horrible; and they want to cover this up. But notice that so many in the audience were more keen to see their butts and penises, apparent in the (gay and trans) shrieking every time these are shown. That they are bloodied and all because they committed a crime don’t matter; but their butts and dicks apparently do…

This is how ANY director would have known that: “Oh no, no one’s paying attention to our story; they just want to see the butts and dicks!”

The advertising.

You know how Kris Aquino gets criticized because she keeps promoting those that hire her to do commercials in her films? And this is even when the stories don’t merit the too-apparent name-mentioning in the narrative? Well, you get this here, too. It’s jarring; it’s cheap; and it tells you that – yes – we received money to make this film for you, so this better earn some buck back…

Aside from Roy, others involved in the flick included:
Cinematography: Albert Banzon
Production Design: Carmela Danao
Editing: Carlo Francisco Manatad
Original Music Score: Andrew Florentino
Sound: Immanuel Verona

IN THE END

Let me end by reiterating my earlier point…

That if you are into male beauty contests, and the mostly buff – and young – beauconeros joining this circuit, you’d like this.

If you salivate over young gay men who you can have when you pay for them to have sex with you, this is for you.

If you’re into gay Asian porn (or the Asian male form, for that matter), you’d like this.

Related to the above, if you’re into lots of nudity, this is for you.

If you’re into gay sex (preferably with hetero-identifying men; and forced/rapey-like sex because you want to feel more dominant than they are, even if it’s only because you’re paying them to have sex with you), you’d like this.

If you liked Crisaldo Pablo’s earlier films not because of the stories they were trying to tell but because it allowed you to see naked men parading and emulating sex, this is for you, too.

But if you want a good story, with the nudity and sex only incidental to the film to push forward the narrative (think Malena or Irréversible), then this isn’t for you.

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