Matching Outfits for Him and Him: the Blush Manifesto by studentnumber24601
[Reviews - 9] Printer

- Text Size +

(Note: originally written for Ship Manifesto)


Matching Outfits For Him and Him: The Blink/Mush Manifesto


At it's heart, the movie Newsies is about relationships. It's said several times by crew members and the actors themselves if you're obsessive enough to watch all of the commentary and special features, and believe me, I'm far beyond that level of obsession. And so, in a movie about relationships‚which also happens to be a musical where the whole cast sings, dances, and can't stop making physical contact with one another every three seconds, and is also ninety-nine percent male--it's not surprising to discover that it's also extremely slashy, and most of the boys come off, well, a little gay.

My favorite relationship is Kid Blink/Mush, generally referred to as "Blush" by those in the fandom.

The movie itself is based (very, very loosely) on the 1899 newsboys strike, and is mostly concerned with the characters of Jack and David. Through the course of the movie, the boys go on strike, get beaten up, triumph, get beaten up again, momentarily falter, build to a dramatic finale, and win. Through the process, there's lots of happy signing, angsty singing, amazing dancing, terrible dancing, and some really, really fun numbers. The cast is huge, which makes everything look even more impressive. But the movie belongs firmly to Jack and David, which means that most of the rest of the cast were hired as singers and dancers, and are, essentially, a giant chorus. Some of these characters have a little more presence and personality than others, though, and this group includes my darlings, Kid Blink and Mush. (By the way, he's usually just called Blink; every now and then someone calls him Kid, and it took me numerous viewings to realize they both referred to the same guy.)

It's hard to get a lot of real personality analysis from the movie‚the characters only have a handful of lines each, but Blink and Mush are among the easiest of the supporting cast to pick out, are in almost every scene, and more importantly, are constantly all over each other.

Blink (played by Trey Parker‚not the South Park guy, a different Trey Parker), from what I get out of the movie, is something of a happy-go-lucky puppy dog. I call him a puppy because he seems to be very, very loyal to his friends (especially Jack, who he at one point takes a nightstick to the face to protect), and very energetic and impulsive. And the shaggy blond hair kind of makes him look like a golden retriever, too. He's easy to pick out because of his eyepatch.

Blink doesn't seem to think much before he acts, and at one point clearly is about to start a fight with a cripple until he's stopped. But you get the feeling he doesn't mean it to be personal; he just doesn't think a whole lot. He's a ball of energy, and clearly Trey Parker was hired as a singer/dancer and not an actor, because he's utterly unable to stay in character for longer than three seconds, which makes for some interesting background footage if you watch closely.

(Not to mention the fact that, the more times you watch Blink during the rally, the more of a flamer he appears to be. I didn't notice it at first, but between his hanging off the balcony, gesturing, and blowing kisses at the crowd... Well. Did they even have flamers in 1899?)

Mush (Aaron Lohr) compliments Blink nicely. He's a bit more cautions and less exuberant, but Mush (who has a fewer actual lines, and thus is harder to analyze) seems to be a pretty nice, if not too bright, guy. And he's certainly attractive‚he has a baby face and was only in his mid-teens at the time, but his body is, uh, not your typical fifteen-year-old's. Thinking about it makes me feel like a dirty old woman, but there's a reason Mush is best known among fangirls for having amazing abs.

Put together, Mush and Blink seem to balance each other out. Mush keeps Blink grounded; Blink gives Mush excitement. And not only do they work as a couple in terms of personality, but the movie goes out of its way to make it clear that Mush and Blink just can not keep their hands to themselves. The two of them are together in nearly every shot, and seem to have no concept of personal space. There are probably at least a dozen points in the movie where, if you watch them in the background, they touch, hug, and dance together.

Though the examples are ample, there are two that get singled out as the major Blink/Mush moments in the movie. The first one is the (infamous) shared glass, and the second I've taken to referring as, "omgtummypat!!!11one," because it sends me into all sorts of shmoopy shipper glee.

The glass sharing happens after the number King of New York, when the newsies are all toasting to their reporter friend, standing around a table. As the glasses are being passed around, Blink (who is standing on a chair or table in the back) hands his to Mush, then reaches for another one, but there aren't any more. He looks over at Mush (who is half-hidden, unfortunately), cracks up, and they share the glass, complete with yummy hand touching.

Obviously, this is a goof up that no one noticed, and the laughter is probably Trey Parker breaking character. But I have a theory about that‚that it doesn't matter if he's in character or not, because Blink and Mush were, ultimately, meant to be together in the movie; the fact that Trey Park seems to have enjoyed Aaron Lohr's company so much is only a bonus that makes it more real. This comes largely from a quite by the movie's stunt coordinator, Mike Vendrell, who commented on one of the DVD extras that, "This film is really a relationship film... As far as the way it was cast, their personalities fit the way they were cast so each person started binding to the person who is their sidekick or their friend, in the film."

In other words, it was great that they became friends‚because their characters were supposed to be together. Ha!

The second moment, which literally reduces me to a squealing, is the tummy pat. Near the end of the movie, the boys are all standing around, waiting to see if help will show up. (Interestingly, Blink and Mush have changed clothes several times throughout the flick; by the end, they are, essentially, wearing matching outfits‚Mush's is in blue and Blink's in pink, but otherwise they're nearly almost identical. Awww. Theirloveissotailoredtofit.) Mush is standing off by himself, looking depressed, and Blink casually strolls by in front of him‚and then stops and pats Mush's tummy.

Now, look. I know that there are people who are huggy and touchy-feely with their friends, even friends of the same gender; I am one of them. But there seems to me to be a difference between a handshake, a pat on the back, or hugging someone as a greeting, and being so comfortable with someone that you can touch his stomach in a more-than-friendly manner and he doesn't even notice, and no one else thinks it's out of the ordinary. Mush is used to Blink touching him and has no sense that maybe Blink should refrain from doing so in public. Blink is so used to touching Mush that he doesn't seem to think that it might be a bit odd for a boy to casually pat another boy on the stomach. And no one else even blinks. They must be used to it, considering how much Blink and Mush touch through the course of the movie.

So, in the end, their personalities (what little they have‚but don't worry, the fandom provides the rest) and their physical contact puts a shipper like me in shmoop heaven. The impressions I get from them in the movie is that they are a very happy, functional (possibly codependent) couple, and my own fluff tendencies tend to make them, well, a little bit saccharine. I am not, however, the only one.

I first the fandom a bit over two years ago. I'd seen the movie approximately a hundred times as a kid, as it was one of my favorites; I then forgot about it for about eight years, until my sister got me the DVD as a gag gift. I watched it... And then watched it again... and again, and forced all of my friends to watch it, and dragged some of them into the fandom as well. Blush was the first couple I noticed and the first one I wrote, and still the one I write the most often. They are and always will be my OTP. They work well together, but can angst with the best of them when the writer chooses, but are also easy to write as about the happiest, most functional, ridiculously adorable couple in the world. Good writers have done both, and needless to say, I have boatloads of fic recs.

The pairing itself isn't one of the most popular in the fandom, but is generally accepted. Most people who write a lot of slash write it once or twice, but there are only a few people who really write it on a regular basis. Also, one odd quirk of the Newsies fandom is that probably more than half of the slash is written in the modern day, despite the fact that canon takes place in 1899. No one has a real, rational explanation for this (though it has been discussed), but it's something to be aware of when perusing.

Now, the actual recs!

The first major Blush fic was written by the fabulous Mondie, and is called Pretend. Mondie is one of the high queens of Blink/Mush, and the best known Blush shipper, and despite her habit of almost never finishing fics (Pretend is a rare exception), her other work is also worth checking out. (Most notably the perpetually unfinished Anything But That.)

The two other Blush epics that anyone who ships the pairing should check out are It Just Won't Quit by Misprint and Vaudeville! by Hilby. Neither one is finished, which is highly frustrating, but both are beautifully crafted. In the first, Mush is stuck in love with his best friend, and nearly going insane over it; the tension between them and Mush's angsty agony is painfully well written. The second is considered by many to be the best slash fic in the fandom, but Hilby seems to have disappeared, which means it's become something of a hidden gem. It's the story of what happens after Jack's untimely death drives Blink and Mush apart, and features Blink as an erotic dancer in a gay vaudeville night club. It's one of the only fics I've read that literally makes me choke up. Also good is Save The Last Dance For Me by The Second Batgirl, which is also unfinished.

Blush oneshots are much easier to find, luckily. A few of my favorites:
Now Playing by The Second Batgirl
Adventures in House-Sitting by Sita
A Miracle Every Way, The Old Melody and Technical Assistance by Poison Ivory
Best Friends Forever by Charlie Bird
Strawberry by Mondie
And I absolutely must recommend Shoeless by Arlene, even though it's not actually slash. It's still a story about Blink and Mush and is too wonderful to skip.

Finally, for those who're into it, there's also some NC-17 for the pairing. If C Is For Cookie... and Baseball Traditions by The Second Batgirl are great, as is The Song Sings Itself by Shimmerwings.

By the way, in case anyone missed it from the URL, The Refuge is something of a one-stop shop for Newsies slash. I'm rather proud of it. *preens*

In summary, Blush is adorable. And that's all I've got.