Unstreamable is a weekly column that finds films and TV shows you can't watch on major streaming services in the United States. This week: Tila Tequila invents the intellectual dark web in A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, a wealthy man's son is kidnapped in Ransom, a helicopter almost crashes into the World Trade Center in The Hot Rock, and a woman gets the hottest phone sex call of all time in The Telephone Book.
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United States, 2007-2008, Lots of minutes, Created by Riley McCormick, SallyAnn Salsano
How do we begin to talk about Ms. Tila Tequila? The MySpace star-cum-"bisexual" "icon"-cum-Adolf Hitler supporter is a chaotic, bad, horny memory that many millennial queers indelibly remember but would love to forget. Her bisexual dating show, A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, which ran for two seasons on MTV, is definitely her biggest cultural offering. It managed to earn the lofty accolade of being MTV's second highest-rated series premiere of 2007, and was also, somehow, billed as pioneering representation for lesbian and bisexual women.
Stacks of sociology papers can be written about Tequila and her impact on pop culture (I recommend reading Audrea Lim's piece on Tequila and the alt-right's Asian fetish), but the element of Shot at Love that seems most important is its treatment of bisexuality. Tequila and her MTV producers dupe teams of guidos and queer women into thinking they're the only ones competing for her love. Then, in a first episode twist, the groups meet each other and realize there are two genders competing. You will not be surprised by which gender she settles for.
The show wrongly frames bisexuality as a neverending debate between which gender a person loves more, but it also kicks off a string of generation-defining reality TV shows from producer SallyAnn Salsano, who would go on to make Jersey Shore and its many spinoff series.
I hear Tequila is selling vapes now. CHASE BURNS
United States, 1996, 121 min, Dir. Ron Howard
But I bring all this up because that perspective makes Tom Mullen (Gibson) look even more like a conservative straight man's wet fuckin' dream: an obscenely wealthy millionaire whose precious and innocent son is kidnapped and ransomed by Some Bad Guys. Not trusting the federal government to get his kid back (because of course), Mullen bypasses them entirely by going on television announcing that he's turning the kidnappers' ransom into a bounty. It's a pretty by-the-numbers affair, but only reinforces my belief that Gibson is a nauseatingly boring hack. It should also be noted that Ransom is one of the highest grossing films not available to stream in the U.S. JASMYNE KEIMIG
United States, 1972, 101 min, Dir. Peter Yates
Two things to note here: Sleater-Kinney named their fourth studio album—and a song—after this movie (that's #1), which has a remarkable helicopter scene where Robert Redford and George Segal and some other guys almost fly straight into an unfinished World Trade Center (that's #2). The movie is just fine beyond those two things, but those two things are strong enough to justify the recommendation.
This early '70s heist flick notably features the guys I just mentioned, along with Zero Mostel, as they try to steal a gem—a hot rock, if you will—from the Brooklyn Museum. They want to sell this gem back to the African nation it originally came from—but morality isn't the motivating factor here. Feeling the wind on their blonde locks as they rush past the cops just makes them horny.
Something about the sound design of this film, as well as many films from the '70s, bugs me. It's like they tried to get groovy ambiance but just got a lot of white noise. But who really cares, because The Hot Rock's helicopter scene around the World Trade Center makes it worth it. That footage should be saved in the National Film Registry or something. CHASE BURNS
United States, 1971, 80 min, Dir. Nelson Lyon
The Telephone Book is smut of the highest order. Every frame is perverted, twisted fun. I felt giddy the entire time watching it, like I was flipping through a Playboy for the first time. Though there's no full penetration, Telephone Book is, without a doubt, a pretty porny (or "porn chic" as producer Merv Bloch says) affair. The film is centered around Alice (Sarah Kennedy), a perpetually horny woman who receives Thee Most Obscene And Hottest sex phone call from an unknown caller. Determined to bang him in real life, she pours through the telephone book, encountering pervy stranger after stranger, looking for the peen that matches the mysterious voice.
It's a sexy romp that constantly breaks the fourth wall and includes dreamy, hilarious side plots to get lost into. Telephone Book was a critical and financial failure when it first came out, but lived on as an underseen cult film (that apparently inspired Last Tango in Paris) until distributor Vinegar Syndrome restored and rereleased it in 2013. In the producer's commentary, Bloch said that, despite their best efforts, the film received an "X" rating in large part due to Len Glasser's very explicit (and explosive) cartoon sequence that closes the movie—you must see it. JASMYNE KEIMIG