Back in the early 1970s, there was a new genre of film, called Blaxploitation. Remember it? The movie would be set in the ghetto and all the characters would be hit men, drug dealers, pimps or narcs. One may recall the films Foxy Brown and Blacula. And who could forget Blackenstein? Try as we might.
In the late 70s, there was a film called I spit on Your Grave, in the Rape and Revenge genre, trying to situate women's rights the same way Blaxploitation did for African-American rights. I Spit on your Grave is apparently being remade, so I suppose I shouldn't be surprised about Ticked Off Trannies with Knives.
Synopsis of I Spit on your Grave 2010:
The story of a woman who is brutally attacked, raped, and left for dead in the wilderness. She survives to hunt down her assailants and methodically, graphically takes her vengeance. Based on the 1978 film.
Because it was said that the original I Spit on your Grave glorified violence against women, Ireland, Norway, Iceland, and West Germany banned that movie, as did Canada, initially.
The message drawn from I Spit on your Grave is that the answer to violence against women is violence against men.
The program notes:
When a group of transgender women are violently beaten and left for dead, the violated vixens turn deadly divas in this hilariously campy homage to the exploitation films of the '70s and '80s ("Transploitation," anyone?). Loaded with bodacious bods and extreme violence, this revenge fantasy proves that it takes more than balls to get even.
Hilariously campy for transwomen to be raped and beaten? Alrighty then.
It's simple enough. I don't believe we need a Transploitation genre. We probably don't need movies made about transsexual women by a gay man who refuses to listen to our concerns and then says the movie is really about drag queens, but uses a derogatory word towards transpeople in the title. And we most certainly don't need men thinking that sex with transwomen begins with rape and ends with a baseball bat. We have enough trouble with men thinking that if they are attracted to one of us, that would make them gay (which it doesn't) and that it would be , so we must be punished for this sin.
"fag," "faggot," "dyke," "homo," "sodomite," "queen," "she-male," "he-she," "it," "tranny" and similar epithets.
The criteria for using these derogatory terms should be the same as those applied to hate words for other groups: they should not be used except in a direct quote that reveals the bias of the person quoted. So that such words are not given credibility in the media, it is preferred that reporters say, "The person used a derogatory word for a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person."
It is also problematic for me personally to portray what are supposed to be transwomen as drag queens. I have friends who are drag queens. Very few of them identify as transwomen. And almost no transwomen choose names such as Emma Grashun or Rachel Slurr. That's a drag thing. It does not help transsexual women to have people think of us as drag queens...essentially as men doing a performance. From the out-takes and the trailer that I have seen, this movie seems to totally okay with the image of transwomen not living as women, but as performing the role. It should go without saying that, unlike what is indicated in the poster, tranwomen do not perform fellatio on knives dripping with blood. At least none of my friends are into that.
Neither is the phrase "IT TAKES BALLS TO GET REVENGE" in the least bit appreciated. And that's not because I don't have a sense of humor, but rather because it is not funny.
In a time in which there is too little positive portrayal of transpeople in the media, I'm also not comfortable with the portrayal of us as viciously and wantonly vengeful. I cannot see any way in which that advances our cause.
GLAAD (action page) claims it reached out to writer/director Israel Luna with no positive result. GLAAD urges us to contact the Tribeca Film Festival and ask that the movie be withdrawn.
Vice-President of Communications - Tribeca Film Festival
David Kwok Director of Programming - Tribeca Film Festival email@example.com (212) 941-2420
Kimberly Kress Senior VP, Rubenstein Communications (212) 843-9394 firstname.lastname@example.org
Film & Programming (212) 941-2305
There is even a facebook group:
Humour can be used to challenge and subvert, but this movie fails on both counts. In a society where trans people struggle to be accepted and have their lives viewed as equally valuable, this film does them no service at all. Instead, it perpetuates negative and harmful stereotypes.
If you object to tranwomen objecting to this film, here's an FAQ for you.