EDIT 04/24/2010 - I have since seen the actual film and am utterly horrified by much of it. But i stand by my opinion that we can use it to our advantage as a tool to teach people what NOT to believe about us. Therefore i'll leave this blog entry as is, with this added note that i think isreal luna is a fucking hateful little moron and needs his ass kicked.
Yesterday, on Twitter, my friend Autumn Sandeem from the always effervescent blog Pam's House Blend brought a movie trailer that she found horrifying and offensive to my attention. Video below.
Now, I love Autumn and she is a very smart cookie, but I look at this movie trailer and think something completely different than she does. Autumn's complaints are as follows.
- The film looks to be exploitative and trashy
- It potrays Trans Stereotypes
- It trivializes real trans violence
- Using real trans murder victims in the marketing is offensive
Now a lot of my trans sisters have openly admitted to being awed by my ability to stay positive about my hope for the world regarding trans issues when we still get so much shit just for being us, but I watched this trailer and I saw something completely different, and I'd like to take this time to explain to all my trans sisters why I think this movie is a good thing and should be supported and celebrated actively, not shunned and villified.
First of all, yes it's trashy and exploitative. It's an Homage to trashy sexploitation revenge movies from the 70's. It bloody SAYS so. But that's a good thing. Because the audience for cheesy trash like this is generally made up of cis folks who otherwise wouldn't pay much attention to trans issues. Seriously, do you know how many men realized how evil rape really is after watching I Spit On Your Grave? This is EXACTLY the kind of subversive message movie that changes minds. People who watch this movie will subtly be persuaded as they watch it how wrong transphobic violence is.
As for using the names of real trans murder victims in the trailer. This too is a GOOD thing. Why? Because at least half of the people watching this who aren't Trans are going to be curious about those names. Some guy for example who's never really been exposed to news about Transphobic violence, will see Angie Zapata's name and get curious. So he's going to go and Google her and read about an innocent vibrant young woman who was brutally murdered by a bigoted asshole who targeted her just for being different. He's going to read statements from her mother and siblings tearfully lamenting what that asshole stole from them.
He's going to learn about a real flesh and blood three dimensional young woman whose loss has hurt people and he's going to be horrified and he'll learn to be more sensitive to trans people.
That is a GOOD thing.
I'd also like to point out, however trashy this movie is going to be, the trailer makes it a point to call the acts it draws from, and the attack in the movie that sets up the revenge plot, HATE-CRIMES. It's not whitewashing it. It's not for a moment suggesting we deserve it. It never comes CLOSE to saying "These people are freaks and it's okay to hurt them".
No this trailer is saying "These women are going to go get revenge on some hateful douchebags who hurt them just because they were different".
Another point I'd like to bring up is that while, yes, most of the ladies starring in this movie look like drag queens, there's still diversity here. There's a fat one, there are a few different races among them, and a few of them just look like plain average women. The one who got hospitalized and comatose for example, NOWHERE in the trailer, even once she dresses to kill so to sopeak, does she ever look like any "tranny" stereotype. She always just looks like a woman, period.
I DO understand why some of my sisters hsave a problem with this movie, but I honestly think they're looking at this all wrong. This movie is a HUGE opportunity, if we react to it right.
Instead of screaming "TRASH! STEREOTYPES! EXPLOITATION!", which will just make a lot of people tune us out, here's what we all SHOULD be doing.
Support this movie. Get it played as often as possible to as many audiences as you can reach. And BOOKEND the movie. Explain what this movie gets right about us and then close with a Q & A. This movie WILL make people more curious about our real lives, and it WILL make a lot of people more open to seeing us as worthwhile and deserving of respect.
The truth is, the loud hateful bullies are NOT as numerous as you think. You just see more of them because they ARE loud. Most cis people don't hate us, they just don't understand us, and no one is educating them about us in a way that they can relate to. This movie will open that door for a LOT of people, and instead of screaming about how the door itself is decorated, we should be the concierge, showing people through that door and helping them to a comfortable table.
This is a situation we can use to our benefit. Kneejerk reactions to the trashy stuff won't help any of us in the long run.
For now let's just help as many people as we can through that door. You can complain about the paintjob later.