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Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives

9 Apr

Ticked-Off Trannies With Knives

TICKED-OFF TRANNIES WITH KNIVES is a “Transploitation” film by Israel Luna scheduled to play the Tribeca Film Festival, and pissing a lot of people off.

I finally saw this film that has many in the LGBT community, especially those in the T, up in arms. After the film, I participated in a very thoughtful discussion with (mostly) queer and gender non-conforming artists.

Generally, when a minority population has evolved its media-making enough to begin creating genre films – i.e. a Gay Romantic Comedy/Slasher/Action picture, that’s generally seen as a step forward in the growth of that minority’s representation on screen. So, it could be argued that TOTWK as a slasher/self-proclaimed “Transploitation” film is a step up that ladder. However, that rule really only applies when it’s the minority self-representing. From what I understand, Israel Luna is not a transgender person. His use of all the stereotypical tropes of transwomen as campy performers, as vengeful killers, using knives as phallic symbols, etc… only serve to perpetuate the dominant hegemonic view of transpeople as an exotic and terrifying “other.” Props to Mr. Luna for casting strong talented transwomen to actually play transwomen; Too bad they had such poor source material with which to work.

Mr. Luna also plays fast and loose with racial stereotypes in plot and language veiled as humor in the mouths of his performers. While racism was typical of the exploitation films of the 1970’s, Mr. Luna seems to be using “‘sploitation” as an excuse to get away with lapses in storytelling. Had this idea been done well, the social commentary and level of discourse generated by this film could have been on such a deeper and more meaningful level than “to ban or not to ban.”

The film is in dire need of an editor. Mr. Luna wrote, directed and edited the film himself and it shows. A second or third eye is desperately needed to trim the dialogue, make sense of the story and tame the wild jumps in tone. Much of the dialogue is witty and the violence disturbingly realistic. Billed as a revenge fantasy, the film spends a mere pittance of its 90 minutes on the actual revenge, which is partly why it feels unsatisfying as a fantasy.

I didn’t like the film, but I wholeheartedly support its right to exist and be screened at Tribeca and beyond, just as I support peoples’ right to boycott it. I do not, however, support censorship. Rescinding a film’s invitation to a festival is not acceptable – I did not agree with Frameline’s decision to revoke THE GENDERCATOR and I do not agree with GLAAD’s call to remove TICKED-OFF TRANNIES WITH KNIVES from The Tribeca Film Festival. I am thrilled to bits that people are talking! Media matters. See? Even if you hate a film and what it represents, it can open an important dialogue with people. If nothing else, the question has been asked: How do you want to be portrayed in the media?

Everyone is passionate about their own point of view, and advocates for it. Israel Luna wants people to see his film, so he gave it the best chance possible by packing a lot of controversy into the title and first trailer. Tribeca wants press for its festival, so it picked a film with a modicum of talent behind it and a lot of flashpoint potential. Magnet doesn’t want the world to see every transwoman as a victim or perpetrator of violence, so they’re picketing Tribeca. GLAAD doesn’t want to be caught on the wrong side of an aggrieved member of the LGBT community, so they’re calling for removal of the film from Tribeca. And we, as canny NYC filmgoers, don’t want to be deprived of a juicy screening opportunity, so we’re buying tickets to the festival. Me? I’m currently getting my Masters in Queer Media Advocacy at Gallatin and this kind of thing is right up my alley. I’m glad I saw it, even though it’s not my cup of tea. I do that – support my community by seeing films that aren’t targeted to me specifically. I’m of the mind that you make the media you want to see. Don’t like TOTWK? Make your own trans genre film. I’ll be the first in line to buy a ticket. Maybe your film will inspire someone else to make their own…

All right, now I’ve got to go write my paper for my Minorities in the Media class. ;-)

Clickage 12/20

20 Dec

Gay MP inundated with calls of support after Christmas card controversy

When Scott Brison, Nova Scotia’s Liberal MP, posed with his husband and dog in the Canadian wilderness for a photo that wound up as their Christmas card, he didn’t expect the initial bigoted backlash, or the larger, much warmer supportive embrace of his constituents. Good will towards men, indeed.

9th Circuit Ready for Trial Court Close-ups
Want your Prop 8 arguments live on TV? They could be coming to a TV near you very soon. Cameras have been authorized for certain district court proceedings in the 9th Circuit – that’d be in San Fran where Boies & Olson will be arguing the constitutionality of denying same sex marriage. THE trial of the (new) century!

Speaking of getting gaymarried, it’s one of the New York Times’ Buzzwords of 2009.

“gaymarry, gay-marry – To marry someone of the same sex. Also used hyperbolically to mean to form an unconventional relationship, as in, ‘I love my new cellphone so much I want to gay-marry it.'” Personally, I prefer a cellphone with full civil rights as part of the contract.