TRUE STORY: Over a decade or so before Hedwig and the Angry Inch came out, I was having nightmares about John Cameron Mitchell. Specifically, the image that haunted my dreams was this:
I found this terrifying because I was 11 years old, and 11 year-olds are stupid.
Back in the days when The Simpsons was a sketch on the Tracy Ullman show, FOX was that weird UHF channel you sometimes had to balance your rabbit ears precariously in order to pick up. People remember sitcoms like Married With Children, but few people remember that after 10pm it was all cheezy horror movies all night. The first time I saw films like The Gate and My Bloody Valentine, it was by staying up after the rest of the family went to bed and tuning in FOX. And a few years before I was old enough for my parents to let me see the actual Nightmare On Elm Street movies, I was obsessed with the tv spinoff Freddy’s Nightmares. Again, this is because I was 11, and 11 year olds are stupid.
Even for the time, these were not good special effects.
This is the episode I’m talking about, which first aired on Oct 16, 1988:
This episode introduces the character Bryan Ross, a young man preparing to escape his small town hell and his father’s fast food legacy by going to college. And of course he’s a strapping heterosexual dude, as evidenced by his drive-thru window fantasies of Whitesnake music video extras:
“Oh man, I am soo straight… I’m so gonna have dude sex with your lady junk. So straight.”
And his other drive-thru fantasies of getting shot in the face by burly dudes in leather wait what-
His dad arrives to let him know he has to work all night, which causes him to cancel a date with his totally convincing girlfriend that, for some reason, he can’t kiss without flinching:
All this character development or whatever finally builds up to the arrival of Freddy Kreuger to fuck shit all up, because the show is named after him. It was kind of a payoff moment in each episode, since they couldn’t actually show violence. So the big initial reveal comes and it’s this:
Do not adjust your television set. That really is Freddy Kreuger, sassily emerging from a vat of french fry grease. Like, for real actually. Seriously. They thought this was such an amazing idea, they actually use the image in the commercial bumpers for the rest of the episode.
All items on menu are cooked in low-fat nightmare fuel, rather than oil.
So anyway, deep-fried and smelling disturbingly similar to the kitchen of a Chik-Fil-A, Freddy proceeds to wreak havok with Bryan’s psyche.
WARNING: From here on out, it’s all spoilers for a 25 year old television show. If you wanna watch this episode, there’s currently a version uploaded on Youtube here.
So cool, shut the fuck up and let’s move on.
The fucked-upness goes into overdrive as we explore the intricacies of Bryan Ross’s identity. We see that his father’s temper is, literally, explosive:
“Um dad, you want some help?” “No, son, I just had THE BEST IDEA EVER.”
And his mother is, literally, frigid:
Subtlety wasn’t really a hallmark of this show.
In fact, just earlier when Bryan confronts his mom over her emotional distance, she first turns into a June Cleaver stereotype and then makes out with him:
also known as the “Eddiehaskell Complex”
And if you haven’t properly achieved Freudgasm yet, after emasculating him and siding with his parents over his desires for self-agency, his girlfriend does this:
Ok, come on. They pull this EXACT trick in Hedwig.
And to continue beating a dead horse, by the end, this happens too because whatever:
“Get it? The gun is your penis and something something super-ego and FUCK IT YOU’RE DEAD”
I feel the need to take a moment here and point out that the entire plot of this episode actually breaks Elm Street canon mythos in a big way, even for a series that pretty much pulls new powers for Freddy out of their ass every single movie. As far as I know, this is the only instance where Freddy indirectly “kills” someone through the actions of someone else (the guy on the motorcycle shot Bryan in the face). If you think about it, Freddy didn’t really do anything to contribute to Bryan’s death at all besides latch onto his disintegrating ego as he passed away, much like one of the devouring angels from Jacob’s Ladder. Total dick move on his part.
THINGS THAT MADE ME GAY is a tongue-in-cheek series about suspiciously or snarkily inferred homoerotic content in shows and other media from the 80s/early 90s told through the approximated viewpoint of my younger self. This post is also listed under STUFF THAT SCARED ME AS A KID because yeah.