LGBT Movies: Issues 101 with Kelly Clarkson!

Before Trolls World Tour, From Justin to Kelly and American Idol, Kelly Clarkson had a cameo in 2002’s Issues 101. This zero-budget sex farce follows a gay college student who hooks up with a closeted frat boy and his out brother. Soft-core hijinks ensue. After a while the sex stops for a subplot about a student council election.  Without eye candy we’re left with amateur acting and corny dialogue.

I watched this film on Amazon for my article about LGBT siblings in media. The film has since been pulled from circulation. I couldn’t let this timeless classic be forgotten so I’ve decided to write a spoiler filled recap. Trigger warning for scenes of campus “hazing.”

Scene One: Recruitment

Joe and the “straight” brother. Just your typical college sophomores.

FRAT GUY: Join our frat.
JOE (A transfer student): I’m gay. And 35. Is that going to be a problem?
FRAT GUY: Nope. We’re woke.  

Scene Two: Hazing

“It’s bad enough that this disgusting filth was on TV at all, but it’s inexcusable that it was on reasonably early in the evening.”

Barbara Calvert, New Zealand Broadcast Standards Authority

(Two frat leaders are paddling a near-naked pledge.)
“STRAIGHT” BROTHER: New pledges have to [bleep] me. No homo.
JOE: Sure.
(He does.)
JOE: So… want to date?
“STRAIGHT” BROTHER: I’m not gay. I have a girlfriend.
JOE: Does this film acknowledge that your hazing antics involve sexual assault?
“STRAIGHT” BROTHER: No. It just thinks they’re hot.  

Scene Three: Frat Party

Kelly Clarkson can’t hear you.

“[I]t was a fluke that Kelly did the film. We were looking for actresses who didn’t mind being in a gay-themed film, and Kelly’s generous spirit fit perfectly in our 90-minute project.”

John Lincoln III, Writer, Director and Co-Producer of Issues 101

BAND: Frat brat! He’s a frat brat!
MALE EXTRA: It’s not. But I appreciate your acting choice. Want to hook up?
(“Straight” Brother drags Joe to a back room, throws him on a pool table and power [bleep]’s for him. Someone secretly films them.)
JOE: Is Kelly Clarkson going to walk in on us?
“STRAIGHT” BROTHER: No. She doesn’t have any more scenes in this movie.
JOE: Can we still put her name on the DVD cover?

Scene Four: Family Visit

Joe meets the gay brother midway through the film.

“STRAIGHT” BROTHER: Meet my gay brother. He’s gay.
GAY BROTHER: Hey, gurl, hey. Wanna date?
JOE: Sure! Let’s have a dating montage. (They do.)
GAY BROTHER: Are we going to have sex?
JOE: Yes, but off-screen. This film’s pretending it’s not porn anymore.
“STRAIGHT” BROTHER: I’m not jealous! Because I’m not gay! (Cries.)
BAND: Are you somewhere loving another? Are you somewhere having some fun?
“STRAIGHT” BROTHER: Is this a musical now?

Scene Five: Student Council

JOE: I want to run for student council president.
RIVAL CANDIDATE: No one will vote for you. There’s a video of you banging a dude.
BIGOTED FRAT BRO: We don’t want gay dudes in the frat house!
WOKE FRAT BROS: Oh please. We’ve been “hazing” each other for years. We’re not fooling anybody.  

Scene Six: Love Wins

We end with two happy couples. Sort of.

GAY BROTHER: You cheated on me? With who!
JOE: I can’t tell you. He’s not out yet.
GAY BROTHER: Then I’m leaving you.
“STRAIGHT” BROTHER: Stop. It was me. It was before he met you.
GAY BROTHER: So, you’re gay? Bi?
“STRAIGHT” BROTHER: I’m straight, with issues.
(Everyone laughs.)
“STRAIGHT” BROTHER’S GIRLFRIEND: Sorry I’m late guys. What did I miss?
(The Band plays a rousing reprise of “Frat Brat” as the credits roll.)


He’s a Frat Brat

The only worksafe image from the “hazing” scene.

Ted Trent, whose website is selling the video, says the movie has no content that’s pornographic or any more explicitly sexual than an episode of ”Queer as Folk.”

Entertainment Weekly, 2003

Aristophanes wrote Lysistrata for the Athenian theater in 411 BCE. The title heroine proposes a sex strike to stop a war. The women agree and the men go bonkers. Future sex farces would follow this basic rule: everybody wants it and nobody gets it. Issues 101 flips that. Everybody has sex in the first half of the film, then loses interest. The film becomes about something else entirely.

Hazing used to be a dirty joke. Now people take it seriously. This film does not. There are only four people in the “hazing” scene so it’s unclear how much of the frat is involved. Is the “Straight” brother doing this in secret or has the entire house been servicing him? Part of the comedy comes from how poorly his character hides his desires. Dennis W. Rittenhouse Jr. is cute in the role but this is his only credit on imdb. He was no Kelly Clarkson.

They know who you’re here to see.

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