Earlier this week, a review by The New Yorker’s Anthony Lane of the Pixar film “Incredibles 2” caught the attention of the internet.
The reason was a paragraph near the end of the article that painted a theoretical picture of two parents taking their children to watch the film only to find the mother comparing Ms. Incredible to Anastasia from “Fifty Shades of Grey” and the father catapulting his popcorn in a state of throbbing cinematic appreciation.
The review itself went under review. “Holy inappropriateness, Batman,” said one. “Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” said another. Lane was being “gross and leer-y” and “just wildin the fuck out.”
I, on the other hand, could only think of an old friend of mine, Will Wiesenfeld, who, for as long as I can remember, has badly wanted to have sex with Mr. Incredible, i.e. Bob Parr. This is not a joke. Will really, really loves him some Bob Parr.
Wiesenfeld is a professional electronic musician mostly known by his stage name, Baths. He’s very good; Pitchfork loves him. My editor, Tommy Craggs, did not care about any of that. He wanted to know more about my friend who’d like to boink an animated superhero dad. He asked me to talk to Will. So I did. It turns out that Wiesenfeld’s desire to sleep with the man with perhaps the largest chest-to-hip ratio in the cartoon universe is actually just one part of a larger story about coming to terms with his sexuality through cartoons as a teenager ― and becoming something of a connoisseur of the form as an adult.
Here is our conversation, edited a bit for clarity.
Will Wiesenfeld: Hey dude!
HuffPost: What’s up, dog?
Not much. How’s it going?
It’s chilling. I can’t believe I’m interviewing you about this.
I know [laughs].
So you want to fuck Bob Parr. When did that start? When did you first get into Bob Parr?
How long ago did “The Incredibles” come out?
I must have been 15. I wasn’t out. I would have just found out that I was gay, so probably not yet. I don’t know.
When did cartoons become a thing for you in terms of your own sexuality?
That was right away. Basically I found out I was gay because of porn, straight-up porn. I just realized that was going on and I had the realization, and I think through looking for that stuff and then always being a fan of Japanese stuff, I came across porny art and muscular art of characters, and so it started off not [with] American cartoons, but Japanese stuff and people’s original characters and buff men. And that would have been a year after I found out I was gay, so probably 16.
Why do you think you had that attraction to anime or cartoon characters?
I can tell you almost exactly. Everything about porn ― at least what I was finding ― was intense and kind of aggressive. There’s nothing really loving about it. It was just sex, obviously, and very intense and very upfront.
And almost immediately the first images I saw of this sort of stuff ― of drawn characters and erotic illustrations and stuff ― it was all softer, even though it was really muscular men. A lot of it was really domestic. There were comics that I found that were just couples at home, or illustrations of dudes doing it in an apartment, outside of a pornographic context, just because they were dating or whatever.
And all of that was brand new to me. Just the idea of gayness as normalcy. That was the thing that allowed me to come out after that point. I knew I was gay before finding out about this stuff, but then I was comfortable coming out realizing that there was a route to gayness and queerness that was chill.
And now is it more just a funny thing than anything else?
It’s not actually much of a funny thing. There are funny things that come up. There are illustrations that are insane, where it’s like, “Oh, my God, look at this.” But it’s a super deep hobby of mine. I collect art. I have a running collection of manga in my house and a bunch of illustrations. I’ve paid for commissions of characters and stuff like that. It’s very real and it’s very deep. And I’m into it in a way that’s well beyond a joke thing, you know? I’m truly down with it.
You’ve done a Bob Parr illustration, I know. Have you done other ones besides that?
Yeah, or I paid for a commission of it.
I commissioned this other character from this series called “Legend of Korra,” which is also an American cartoon. His name is Bolin, and I’m super, super into him. I’ve paid for commissions of him in the past. I actually have one that’s pending right now that somebody is doing [laughs].
With Bob Parr, what is it about him that attracts you to him?
It’s a huge mix of things. Physically, he’s exactly my type. Big 40-, 50-something-year-old dudes who are muscular but kind of friendly and approachable ― that’s my shit. So that, combined with all the stuff in “The Incredibles” ― him being a good dad, meaning that it translates to him being a responsible person and, I don’t know, safe? Those things, they’re great. And they are a huge turn-on. And he’s straight, obviously, but you can find comics and illustrations and fan art that people have done that skew it into a fun gay thing, and there’s plenty of it with Mr. Incredible.
I think people would probably think of an attraction to a cartoon character as mostly a physical thing. It’s interesting that what he’s like as a father figure and person wraps up into it.
I think that’s a thing with a lot of the characters that I’m really into. Bolin also is the same way. He’s much younger, but he’s carefree and positive and all that stuff. I don’t have a thing for villains usually, sometimes I do, but it’s usually a physical thing. But I’ll obsess over a character if they’re almost role model-y. I’m realizing it now in my brain that a lot of my favorite characters are the role model of the series that they’re a part of, or the most rounded and the most mature. ’Cause I think that it’s this weird motivator for myself to try and see myself in that.
What do you mean? You want to become that kind of person as you age, or you hope to be that kind of person right now?
Yeah, exactly, something like that. Just inspiration to live honestly, the way that I’m doing, and stay positive. And a big part of it is keeping in shape, ’cause all of these stupid cartoons are buff as hell [laughs]. Just looking at it for too long, it sort of works its way into your brain to try and keep doing that.
So you’re saying that by looking at buff dad cartoon characters, you yourself go, “I gotta hit the gym as well” or something?
Absolutely, it’s fair to put it like that.
What are some of the other top characters for you?
Looking around my room, there’s this character Shiro, who’s one of the main characters from the new “Voltron” series on Netflix. He’s literally the dad of the group, and he’s buff and mild-mannered and he’s just super hot. And then there’s this character Daichi, from this show “Haikyuu.” It’s a whole series about volleyball. It’s a sports anime and it’s way, way, way better than it should be. It’s the most exciting, most intense series I’ve watched in forever. He’s the captain of the volleyball team that the show follows. He’s not the lead character, but he’s the one that’s in charge of that team.
A big note: It’s problematic because his character is 17, and in the first season of that show “Legend of Korra,” that character that I mentioned, Bolin, is 16, and I had no idea watching it. I thought he was 24 or 25. When I found out way later on that in the first season he’s 16 years old, I felt so gross.
Then, yeah, later on in the series I think he’s much older. He ages as the show progresses. I’m attracted to Daichi and Bolin because they act older and more mature than their peers on top of the fact that they’re super buff. All these hundreds of artists out there making fan art of them feel the same way.
There exists this whole deep fandom in Japan of every single one of these characters. There’s this thing called doujin, or doujinshi, and it’s like “fan comic,” and it usually translates to being porny most of the time. But there are doujin that are not and are just narratives that people make up.
But they’re fan comics, and there’s a huge market for it, and there’s conventions. The same way you have, I guess, Comic-Con or Anime Expo in the States. There’s huge, huge conventions in Japan where all these different artists sell all this stuff and the market for it is much, much bigger and much more widespread. And so, when I found out about this show “Haikyuu,” I was like, is there any art of this dude that I’m into? And it was insane how much of it there was. There’s so much, and most of it is not actually sexual. It’ll just be a romance novel or a romance movie or something like that. The plot will just be them being attracted to each other and not knowing what to do with it and at times navigating high school and being on a volleyball team at the same time ― that sort of shit. There are comics that are just full plots of that without sex being involved.
Does the character have to be human or can it also be an animal or something like that for you to be attracted to it?
I think I’m cool with anthropomorphic stuff. I’m basically a fan of buffness, so it’s usually, if I see something where the character is buff and they’re also an animal, I’m like, that’s cool. I can get into it or whatever. But I don’t seek it out, and I kind of don’t obsess over it the way that I typically do with human characters. But lately there is ― you know “Zelda”? The new “Zelda” game?
There is a bird-man in that game that is all of these things that I’m talking about with these mentor characters that I get really into. He’s this big, buff bird that helps you on your adventures, and he’s like a good dad and is fair and relaxed, and it hits all the benchmarks for me. And, for whatever reason, they gave him really beautiful eyes in the game. They give them all this eye makeup and intense ― I don’t know how to describe it. You should just Google the word “Kass,” K-A-S-S, in Zelda.
Yeah, and “Zelda,” and you’ll just see this handsome ―
Oh, I do see it!
It makes sense, you know what I mean? Me talking about all the other things I just talked about ― it’s like, “Oh, yeah, this makes sense.”
I feel bad for asking you earlier if it’s just a funny thing, when now that I think about it, it’s obviously something more serious.
Don’t even worry about it. I’ve been involved in the hobby of it for so long that I don’t think there’s any question that somebody could pose that could offend me.
What did you think of “Incredibles 2”? I forgot to ask.
I liked it a lot. I think Bob Parr was hotter than ever, and I was very, very down with that. But as an actual movie, I think it suffered from pacing issues.