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April 10, 2010

Are Blain and Mac from Predator Gay? (Spoilers Within)

For starters, I feel obliged to state that this post is written with the utmost respect to people of all races, creeds, sexual-orientations, genders, and planets. (Except for John Elway - Up yours John Elway!) I do not intend, through my pondering here, to pass judgment on any lifestyle, we're all equal in my book. Although, I do enjoy ladies, so if you're reading this ladies...Hi there.

If you're like me, you've seen Predator a few dozen times in your life. And if you're not, you should see it a few dozen times anyway. It's the perfect fusion of action and sci-fi, a muscle-bound cousin to John Carpenter's The Thing that mixes the appeal of Schwarzenegger with top notch effects, an adrenaline-pumping musical score, and a truly original monster. It also features a cast of incredibly macho characters, toplined by Carl Freaking Weathers, WWF Star and future politician Jesse 'The Body' Ventura, and Arnie's Commando co-star Bill Duke. But the more I've watched it, the more I've come to question the characters played by the Ventura and Duke, and their relationship within the movie.

We're introduced, briefly, to Mac and Blain, played respectively by Duke and Ventura, as soon as the helicopter transporting Schwarzenegger's team of "half-assed mountain boys" opens its doors the first time. Blain is Mr. Casual, with his blue jeans and MTV T-Shirt, while Mac is fully suited up. The two don't seem to have much of a connection, even in their next scene, where the helicopter is heading toward the team's final destination. Mac and Blain sit as far apart as possible, but always seem to be in the same shot through the camera's eyes. In this scene Blain makes a famous comment about being "a goddamn sexual tyrannosaurus", and after another team member makes a joke about Blain's comment, the camera shifts to Mac - who's quietly paying attention despite his distance from the conversation. The only interaction between the duo in these early scenes comes when Blain offers Mac some of his chewing tobacco, then smiles coyly after Mac refuses.

Despite being known as one of the "manliest" movies ever made, many have commented on the homosexual undertones of Predator. It is, after all, a movie about a bunch of sleeveless, sweaty dudes with big muscles in a jungle who often like to armwrestle mid air. But I've never really found anyone, shy of a few snickering imbeciles (for the record, I also am not opposed to snickering imbeciles, and occasionally embrace that same role), who has really looked at the blatant insistence in Jim and John Thomas' script that Mac and Blain are the most deeply connected members of the unit. It probably was youthful immaturity that led me to first think it, but I became convinced somewhere amidst my viewings of Predator that Blain and Mac just might be in a homosexual relationship.Some of it lies in the obvious stuff, like the extremely phallic image of Ventura's Blain turning himself into a human turret during the film's siege scene or the moment after Blain's unfortunate demise when Schwarzenegger's Dutch consoles Mac, who can't look him in the face while saying "He was...uh...my friend". Now we all know that men aren't supposed to show emotion or have close relationships with others, at least according to movies, so it's easy to assume that Mac's extremely emotional response is coming from a deep, personal relationship with Blain. Sure, Blain makes a derogatory comment about homosexuals early in the film, but that's a common defense mechanism.

Mac is also a distant character from his peers for most of the film, quietly shaving on the flight and saying few words to anyone. He has a couple of run-ins with Weathers' character, who represents the military authority, and at one point threatens to "bleed" the character secretly and leave him dead. This resistance to authority is obviously a sign that Mac thinks the character is a threat to him. While he does vocalize that he fears Weathers' Dillon is "ghosting" the team, maybe there's a deeper issue for Mac. Don't Ask, Don't Tell, perhaps?

We also get Mac's teary reaction to Blain's death, both by him taking a drink in tears before leaving a beaten flask that must have had some sentimental value on his friend's mutilated body. Later he does exclaim, only to god and the heavens, about how it was "just you and me, nobody else" when reminiscing about his time with Blain. This scene, in the past, had been the one that most led me to believe my hypothesis: That Mac and Blain were secret lovers. Watching the movie again today, with this theory as my prime point of reference....I'm not as convinced as I once was.As I alluded to above, movies like Predator train us to think that "real" men are big and tough and don't do anything but be awesome and tell jokes. As a teen, it was easy for me to think about what was going on with Mac and safely think "Dude, those dudes must have been gay!" because of the emotion shown. The movie does take baby steps to prove that theory wrong, as Mac refers to Blain, post-mortem, as "bro"...not exactly a term of romantic affection. But it was Mac's deep emotional reaction that really took center stage, and it's the kind of reaction that movies generally hold for romantic relationships.

Maybe there is a hidden romance in Predator. I had planned this post as a confirmation, sure I would find the hidden key to my theory while watching the movie again, but instead I see it simply as a question that could be asked but doesn't appear to have tangible evidence in its favor. The fact that those smirking imbeciles, like myself have at least made the comments about it says just as much about the ideals movies try to impart among us in society as it does about the characters' sexuality. For me, my look back into Predator still leaves me feeling like there might have been more to Mac and Blain's relationship. But it also makes me think more about the stereotypes that have been set forth for our youth - and as someone who works with teenagers today, I know they're still out there.Feel free to weigh in with your views on Predator's secret relationship in the comments below. Heck, one could make the case that the entire film is about gay characters who're being hunted by a monster whose face is a vagina with teeth...but that's a different story for a different day.

14 comments:

forestofthedead said...

I found your article to be well written and thought provoking and will give me something to think about when I see Predator again. I think you wrote this in a respectful manner and challenged stereotypes even queers like me have.
Thanks for writing this.

Drunketh said...

I've never really payed too close attention to this since I don't watch Predator too often... but I do tend to find things like this in a few movies now and then. Like watching a scene and then thinking to myself, "what the hell was that all about?"

Hey! Look Behind You! said...

I don't think I've seen the Predator in maybe 10 years. I need to change that.

And I'm late to the party, but I love your new banner!

Enbrethiliel said...

+JMJ+

I actually never thought this or knew that it was a popular interpretation! =P

But I also think that it's a shibboleth of our own time. If viewers from another century watched Predator (but don't ask me how that scenario would happen!), they'd likely think that Mac and Blaine were just really good buddies, of the Damon and Pythias or David and Jonathan variety. On the other hand, there are lots of interpretations today which state that those two pairs of friends were also gay! LOL! So I think it's just us. =)

Wardimus said...

Hi, im glad you brought this up, it shows im not the only one with the same theory. Predator has been my favourite film for 15-20 years now, in that time I have analysed it inside out. My conclusion is that Mac and Blaine are not gay but have built a very close relationship from serving in numerous wars/missions together. There are a few instances in the film pointing to the fact they served in Vietnam together, and from Mac's heartfelt speech over Blaine's dead body shows they were the only 2 survivors from a platoon of 32 men. This could be the reason why they are so close. A brotherly type of bond I think!

I can talk Predator all day, so feel free to E-mail me. Lol!

Anonymous said...

I presume the relationship is more about proven trust,saving each other's lives and watching each other's ass ,instead of f**king it...
This film dates from a time before every muscled, REAL man was stereotyped as "gay"....and a nerd was not presumed to be a billionaire owning a big softwre company or a mighty wizard flying around on a nymbus racebroom,or even a dwarf wearing a ring that rules over every army on this world... those are shown as the man of power by the standarts of today by the movie industry...
I still believe this image also has grown out the resent of all those nerdy-looking type of guys(which ,not to my surprise is now the look to have: skinny,clunsy, fragile, in touch with their emotions mommy's boys...)
I'm convinced that commenting this movie with the standarts of today, is pulling the original idea of the characters in this movie completely out of context...

John Campbell said...

Having been in the Armed forces, the closeness you feel for your buddies is very intense and the loss of someone you are close to and rely on can be devastating.
Particularly in a spec ops team, where fatalities are reasonably rare, an "invincibility syndrome" is common. The fist couple of casualties are particularly painful. Plus no one liked Hawkins ;)

Gunman-13 said...

Well,to whoever posted this thread...
Looking for stuff behind what's actually said and done; that's sooo feminin...aren't you?
Listen honey: this movie was made in an era when "being in touch with your feminin side" was still unexisting.thereby: I believe when the character "Blain' would've liked to "take" the others, he would just have said & done it!
But then we would've had a hardcore gay XXXXXXX film...which it isn't....
Believe me when in this movie those men don't mess around, they really don't....only perhaps in your unsatisfied, dirty mind.
So believe me when I say this move was before types like you took over Hollywood.
And the big guns...aren't they a symbol for...I hear you think?
My anwser: they're there TO GET THE JOB DONE.
Again honey; snap out of it,and if you wanna watch a softcore flik like you suggested this one is, just watch "Brokeback Mountain" a few times....

Syrin said...

So, since you recently linked to this, and because Netflix is sending me Predators today, I decided to watch the film again last night. Of course I couldn't help but keep this theory in mind as I watched.

I can understand how someone might come to the conclusion, but I agree with you now in that it doesn't really hold up.

It's something I have considered often, though not specifically with Predator. I think the main reason slash pairings exist for fans is because often times characters in adventure stories are put into situations very similar to war. Frodo & Sam, Kirk & Spock, etc. rely on each other in a way that most of us civilians simply don't understand. The constant life or death peril builds a bond between soldiers that is deeper than friendship. To some people's eyes (for whatever reason, frequently those of a teenager) that relationship can seem like a gay relationship.

Anonymous said...

I was watching Predator on AMC tonight and that was the second time the thought crossed my mind that Mack and Blain were perhaps gay. You brought up some good points, but I'm still not convinced and wish Shane Black would give an explanation. There are a lot of old Hollywood movies that have those "Are they or is that character gay?" moment, but were hidden because of the times. It goes to show how we are becoming much more aware of them because of the increasing acceptance of homosexuality in our society.

MrVampire said...

Recently in my own blog I posted something of an even more extreme interpertation. The entire Predator movie is in fact a gay coming out movie with the alien representing the soldiers supressed homosexual feelings. O_o

If you like you can read in detail here: http://a-six-demon-bag.blogspot.com.au/2012/11/predators-coming-out.html or not.

Scout said...

In the script it states that Mac and Blaine are the only two survivor's of a night long fire fight in Vietnan. Of 32 men they were the ones to walk away. Sorry to say as much as you wanted them to be gay they aren't. Battle buddies might be something you don't understand however coming from a two tour veteran its easy to understand how emotional a trooper can get over the loss of a fellow brother in arms. Just take the movie for what it is. A bad*** action flick from the eighties. Feel free to troll now

Anonymous said...

I googled this whilst watching it on tele (for the fifth or sixth time) and this time was the only time I thought there was a gay relationship. It was the "he was my, uh, friend" comment. However later he says "bye bro" and that removed that feeling for me, I wouldn't (as a straight guy) call my girlfriend my 'sis' - that's just plain wierd.

johngoner said...

For a few years I thought it was an odd comment to make and joked to myself that it implied a gay relationship. Today, I watched it for the umpteenth time and saw something I kept missing because I was so focused on the words. Look at Arnold/Dutch's reaction to hearing that. He's a soldier with similar experiences and it catches him as so odd his eyes pop open and he turns. Maybe their relationship wasn't sexual, but it was more than what Dutch had expected.