Monday, April 18, 2005

Those terrifying Trolls and Trannies

I’m crabby today, so take this all with a grain of salt.

I just saw Zus & Zo, the Dutch movie from a few years ago. Basically , the plot centers around three sisters who are trying to stop their brother from getting married and inherit the hotel where they frolicked as children. The movie focuses on their estrangement from each other and their brother, who we learn is heartbroken, and really wants to be a woman. He gets his fiancĂ©e pregnant, and then his gorgeous boyfriend comes back to save the day, and loves him enough to support him through the operation. The sisters see the light,too. Screw the hotel, it’s important that you want to be a woman. And sure, your gay boyfriend will be supportive of you going from an attractive man to a spectacularly unattractive woman! Yea! And you’ll get a baby in the process. Huh? What was this movie about? Maybe the Dutch are just more supportive. They certainly speak more languages. Great performance by Halina Reijn as the bride-to-be, though, and just attractive award to Pieter Embrechts, who is a composer in real life as well (!). I was impressed by certain moments, but overall it was way too pat, almost rivaling the barfalicious rainbow happy ending of The Object of My Affection, a perfectly wonderful book ruined by a pandering, offensive screenplay by Wendy Wasserstein (who however much she says she likes gay men, doesn’t really seem to in her writing). But don’t get me started on that movie, or we’ll be here all day.

Speaking of people disliking the gays, no one seems to be better at that than ourselves. I was watching “You’ll get over it”, the French entry into the young golden boy coming out movie sweepstakes, and noticed a theme: the gay bar, and out gay men, as sites of evil. In the French film, the boy has been sleeping with an out gay man, and lies to everyone to be with him—I believe one of the lines is “Don’t you realize the risks I take to be here?!”. Later in the film, he meets the out man for a night on the town, but every gay man in the bar they go to treats him like a pack of dogs finding a steak covered in meat sauce. He runs away terrified. It got me thinking about all of the gay films where the young, tender gay goes to a bar to find himself either spurned or chased after by older unattractive men with glints in their eyes like the proverbial troll under the bridge. And who is making these films? Gay men. Who else is interested? Now, I’m not saying bars are the best place for people to be, or incredibly supportive. BUT, if we continue chafing at the representation of ourselves as corrupters who prey on youth, shouldn’t we look at the ways in which we are reinforcing that stereotype ourselves? I mean, isn’t there a happy medium? Why is the young out gay man, with whom this other young man has been sleeping, made to be the ultimate corruptor? And was it necessary to have everyone try to grope the boy, so he runs away screaming into the night? Please.
That said, it's still French, and therefore a little deeper and more interesting than American movies of the same genre. Even though the title translation is unfortunate.
I was thinking about Beautiful Thing, (which is in the top 5 of my favorite gay films) where the pub is slightly terrifying to the boys (which is true to any young person's first visit to a foreign, slightly titillating, and decidedly adult place), but then becomes the place they can be themselves. In my experience of gay rites of passage, that seems a little more apt. Bars aren’t the only place for people to be by any means, but we need to look at how we demonize ourselves when we create sites like the one in the French film. I’m sure Queer as Folk has something like this, too, from what I remember, but I can see it easier in a soap like that.

Speaking of soap, I’ll get off my soap box now. As soon as I watch Everybody’s Famous, I’ll be sure to get back to you on that and Look at Me, which I liked a lot. They both have slightly heavy girls singing and dealing with their relationships with their fathers. Fun.

I’ll go and drink some soothing green tea or something.