I am very excited for the upcoming DC movie, Birds of Prey: And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. I’ve been a huge fan of the character since Batman: The Animated Series. I remember during DC’s The New 52 launch that they announced the ending of Harley Quinn and the Joker’s breakup. In my opinion that break up was the best thing that could have ever happened to her character. Harley Quinn is a play on the word harlequin, a person who serves to entertain others. Her character has always been submissive and loyal to the Joker. Her character has also been heavily sexualized. Which is why I am extra excited to see a film about her that is not under the male gaze.
So what’s the difference between the male gaze and the female gaze? The male gaze depicts women from a male, heterosexual perspective. Often these depictions of women are objectifying because filmmakers will represent women solely as sexual objects. Laura Mulvey, feminist film theorist invented the term the male gaze and compares it to scopophilia. The male gaze denies a woman’s agency by dehumanizing her for their own sexual fantasy and pleasure. As a response to the male gaze, Mulvey creates the female gaze. The female gaze represents the perspective of the female viewer or filmmaker. There’s three different aspects to the female gaze: The individual filming, The characters within the film, and the spectator.
Suicide Squad directed and written by David Ayer shows Harley Quinn under the male gaze.
Harley Quinn has long pigtails and her bangs frame her face. It is also perfectly dyed. Her lipstick is smudged at the end of her lips to appear like she’s been beaten. Harley Quinn also wears a dog collar that has “Puddin,” around her neck because that is what she called the Joker. Her shirt says, “Daddy’s Lil Monster,” meaning she belongs to someone. Her shirt is ripped in specific places like underneath her boobs, belly button, and her shirt exposes her midriff. She also wears booty shorts that expose the majority of her legs.
Birds of Prey directed by Cathy Yan and written by Christina Hodson shows Harley Quinn under the female gaze. Harley Quinn’s hair is short and even though she still has pigtails they’re short enough where they can’t be pulled on. Her bangs are also choppy and her hair isn’t perfectly dyed. It’s messy and more realistic. Her iconic bright red lips aren’t smudged to look like someone punched her. She no longer wears the dog collar or t-shirt to represent that she belongs to someone. It looks like she isn’t wearing a padded bra and there is nothing that accentuates her breasts. She isn’t wearing her “harlequin” colors that she is known for. She wears a pink top, red suspenders, and a rainbow jacket. The vibrancy of all of those colors distract the viewer from her body. As a female spectator that outfit just looks like it is a ton of fun to wear. It definitely shows she is living her best post-breakup, “Truth Hurts” life.
How do you guys feel about this film rebirth of Harley Quinn? Please share your opinions. Thanks for reading!
I always debate on whether or not I should make posts about my personal life. As much as I enjoy and love writing about movies and tv shows, I also love shouting into the void also known as the internet.
However, I was recently inspired by Shanna Malcolm’s recent video. I honestly recommend it if you’re in a bit of a funk because it is pretty relatable.
My birthday is officially coming up and I will be twenty-four years old. Maybe it’s the timing of becoming a year older, but recently I’ve been in a slump. To give some perspective I finished my BA in English Literature almost a year ago. I finished at the end of the fall semester and I did not feel this huge weight off my shoulders. I’m very much someone who is a late bloomer and I constantly feel like I’m running to try to catch up with my peers. Except I’m out of breath, my knees hurt, and I could use some water. I wasn’t in the best mental space and I was honestly pretty depressed after finishing school. I had some mishaps and had to retake a few courses because I was transfer student. It honestly felt like I was never going to finish school. I was so depressed during my last semester that I didn’t make any plans in terms of possibly going to graduate school because it didn’t seem like an option for me. The original plan was to get a job, save up, and then consider getting an MLS in library and information science. However, months went by and it was really difficult for me to find a job. I was so desperate for a job that I would take anything that I was given.
The first job was okay. I was hired to teach ESL and I was honestly pretty excited. (Even though it was only part-time.) Originally I was told I would teach mostly adult learners and maybe a few children. It was a long hiring process that took about a month until I actually started working. They assigned me to teach two children which wasn’t ideal for me. I only received training to teach adult learners and in all honestly I’m not great with kids. I lose patience easily with them and if I knew beforehand that I would be teaching kids I probably would’ve denied the job. During my time there I was only given one class to teach an adult learner. I wasn’t sure why. I received positive feedback from my observation and I thought I was doing okay teaching the material. I had this horrible gut feeling that as soon as the two children were done with their English lessons they would never call me back. That’s exactly what happened. I had no choice, but to look for another job.
I found the next one rather quickly, but oh boy. I was excited because it was a full-time job. Lord knows I needed the money. However, The original job description did not match what the actual job was like in real life. I knew not-so deep down that I really did not like this job. The description said it was a general office job so one would assume that meant having clerical duties like filing, answering phone calls, and data entry. It was for a small e-commerce business and the actual job was just 8 hours of prepping and packaging items. It was an easy job, but also one that was terribly boring. There was no way to “move up” in the company because it was only one other person working there who did the same thing that I did. I was looking for other work while at this job and often made excuses to leave to go to other job interviews. However, I decided to quit before landing another job. I felt that pesky depression kicking in and oh man did I not care about this job. I knew I would not be able to apply those skills somewhere else. Even though I was getting paid, it genuinely felt like a waste of time.
I was able to get a remote copywriting job, but it is on a “as needed basis,” meaning there’s limited duration period of employment.
I do know a lot of successful people around my age. They have great jobs in a field they studied and you really have to fight off that, “Why can’t that be me?” voice in your head. It’s difficult to watch others succeed knowing that everything you have been trying to accomplish has failed. For the past year, my life has been a constant cycle of planning, attempting said plan, and failing. Sometimes it’s really difficult to fight off any of the negative voices in your head. Sometimes things workout for the best for people and for reasons unknown they don’t for others. Although I feel a bit embarrassed of myself and lack of accomplishments, the best thing to do is move on. As for now, I’m going back to the drawing board. Looking at different certificate programs I could possibly do and of course continue to look for work. It’s important to remember the positives in your life when you’re going through a slump. I have a wonderful family, boyfriend, a home, and an adorable dog. I have the opportunity to reinvent myself and figure out a new path. Please share your own journeys of failure and if you’re happy you went through some slumpy times. Thanks for reading.
Hello all! I apologize for my recent absence, but there will be a separate post about that. Continuing with some spooky content, I wanted to research and dip my toe in demonology. I recently watched the film, Hereditary and absolutely loved it, but I wasn’t too familiar with the mythology.
Lesser Key of Solomon is a 17th century spell book on demonology. It is divided into five different books, which include: Ars Goetia, Ars TheurgiaGoetia, Ars Paulina, Ars Almadel, and Ars Notaria. “Ars,” is a latin term that signifies art and “Goetia” is the practice of conjuring demons. In the Ars Goetia, Seventy-Two demons are summoned by four kings, each representing a cardinal direction. King Paimon is associated with the west. King Paimon is known as one of Lucifer’s devoted and obedient followers. According to Crowley/Mather’s edition of Lesser Key of Solomon, he is the ruler of 200 spirits, is a master of art and science, has a great voice, and a band of spirits follow him while playing musical instruments like trumpets and symbols. He also rides a camel. Seems like a pretty cool dude if you forget the whole demon aspect. According to Abraham von Worms’ The Book of Abramelin: A New Translation, Paimon has some powers. His powers include: knowing of all things of the past and future, he creates visions, acquire and dismiss spirits, flight, and being able to reanimate the dead.
So what does this mean? Well nothing, I’m just curious about the demonology. Slightly kidding. The cult in Hereditary worships Paimon and summoning him is a part of their tradition. Not sure why they can’t just eat apple pie on Thanksgiving, but who am I to judge other people’s traditions? The grandmother’s attempt to give Paimon a host does not begin with Peter or Charlie. Earlier in the film, When Annie visits the grief counseling meeting, she mentions how her schizophrenic brother hated their mother as he believed their mother was trying to “put people into him”. This whole trying to find the perfect body for Paimon goes way back. Paimon was always looking for a vulnerable male host, but Annie’s brother eventually commits suicide. Annie did not let her mother around Peter when he was young, but decides to allow her mother to interact with Charlie. In the film, we see an embroidered welcome mat with the name Charles. Annie reveals that her mom interfered with Charlie’s upbringing. Constantly hovering over her and even wanting to breastfeed Charlie. It is possible that the grandmother conjured Paimon to possess Charlie’s body from birth. Throughout the film, Charlie comes across as more than a little weird. There’s a difference between being the kid who picks worms from the dirt and being the kid who decapitates a bird. (The difference is being possessed by Paimon.) Maybe Charlie never had the opportunity to be herself and was possessed since birth. The director of the film Ari Aster confirmed that Charlie’s death was “designed by the cult”. Her death has an emotional and stressful impact on her family. Making Peter into the perfect vulnerable male host for Paimon.
Now what’s the big metaphorical point of Paimon? Couldn’t Ari Aster pick any demon? Well yes, but it would be less fun. There’s element of fear knowing that Paimon is only one of four kings of hell. Besides Lucifer himself, more evil exists and that’s always discomforting to hear. Annie has suffered immensely throughout her life. She had to deal with her family’s history of mental illness, her own mental illness, and death. Peter has to live with the guilt of killing his younger sister and creating chaos within his home. We see his own mental health deteriorate. The cult looks to King Paimon for peace and salvation which is probably what Annie and Peter needed. The mental illness in their family was really being masked by a demon. Similarly how some mental illnesses can be genetic, in the case of Annie Graham demon possession was hereditary.
The last shot of Angela still haunts me to this day. Please note, if you haven’t seen Sleepaway Camp and would like to this post will contain major spoilers! Also note that this post will mention details revolving around gore, so please don’t read if you are triggered by it.
The first time I ever watched Sleepaway Camp I was sitting in my brother’s bedroom. We would always show each other any new horror movies we saw. For the first 80 minutes of the movie I enjoyed it a lot. It was like any other 80’s campy horror movie. Nothing out of the ordinary and it was an enjoyable film to watch. The film is about two kids, Angela and Ricky who go to camp. Angela comes across as shy and many kids at the camp bully her because of her quiet nature. Of course, there is a murderer on the loose who kills the staff and campers. Throughout the film you see flashback of Peter, Angela’s brother and Angela as young kids. Peter, Angela, and their dads, John Baker and Lenny are on a boating trip. They’re all having fun and joking around. Angela and Peter decide to overturn the boat as a prank. While trying to swim to shore, a camp counselor hits John and one of his children and they die. It’s assumed that Peter is the one that dies, since Angela is alive and at camp with Ricky. Ricky’s mom is Angela’s aunt and takes custody of her. Towards the end of the film, the camp counselors search for the missing camp goers. They find Angela by herself on the beach. Angela reveals her naked body, covered in blood, and she drops a severed head. That’s not all though! There is a full body shot of Angela standing, revealing her biological male parts. It is then revealed that the real Angela died in the accident. Angela’s aunt always wanted to have a daughter. She replaces Peter’s name with Angela and raises Peter as a girl. While everyone at the camp puts two and two together, Angela stands there covered in blood and growling.
When I first watched this at fifteen, I thought it was the greatest plot twist ever. It was so creepy and there are so many factors that worked so well together. It is a bit of psychological effect. We perceived Angela as a girl so when we see a feminine face with a male body it messes with viewer. The film portrays Angela as a wild animal. She stands there covered with blood and growls.
There are layers to why I think that this film is sorta, well transphobic. Let’s begin with Angela’s aunt. I think it’s common for people who are against the LGBT+ community will blame the person’s parents or guardians for “making” them gay, lesbian, etc. Angela’s aunt takes away Peter’s gender identity. It was never an option for Peter to grow up as a boy because he was never given a chance to do so. It is forced upon Peter to change and become Angela. This isn’t true about gender or sexuality. No one is forced into their preferred identity or sexuality. Since Peter was never allowed to be himself, he developed this intense rage and hatred towards the world. It depicts this violent image of a repressed individual.
In the film you can hear someone say, “My God, she’s a boy” in the background. The ending is invasive and the audience becomes a part of this scopophilic gaze at a trans body. Not only do we see that Angela is the murderer, but we also see how her identity does not match her biological body. The viewers invade Angela’s privacy, but at the same time it’s hard to look away. Her body is being objectified through this scopophilic lens. Like most people, we probably don’t want anyone knowing what our bodies and genitalia look like. Why is it okay to want to know what a trans body looks like? Her monstrous behavior also adds to the objectification of her body. She stands there with her eyes and mouth wide opened, covered in someone else’s blood, and growls. The scene continues to add to the stigma that trans bodies are grotesque or that they’re “freaks”, which is a pretty transphobic thing to imply.
These are just my thoughts, please feel free to share your own. Hope you guys are having a happy start to my favorite and spookiest month.
Listen, I love fall. I love waking up to a chilly morning. I slip on a pair of socks, make some hot tea or coffee. I get to make and eat a hot breakfast. Apple cider donuts are in season. Maybe it’s because I’m a libra or my love of Halloween and horror movies, but fall is my favorite season. Why do I find so much comfort in a season that symbolizes dying?
Apoptosis is the death of the cells that occurs in multicellular organisms. “Apo” the prefix coming from Greek meaning from and “ptosis” meaning falling. Apoptosis is a form of programmed cell death, which means that it is this biological process in which there is a death of a cell. As humans we share this process with plants. Adult humans lose about 50 to 70 billion cells due to apoptosis. However, trees have a completely different process compared to us. Chlorophyll is what give leaves their green color. Chlorophyll absorbs the sunlight, carbon dioxide, and water then transforms them in carbohydrates. During the fall, daylight and temperature decreases causing the chlorophyll to break down. Which is how leaves get their yellow, orange, and red colors. Temperature, light, and water can affect the intensity of these colors. Trees shed their leaves as a means of survival. The trees prepare themselves for the winter and shedding their leaves so they can reduce wind resistance during the winter. This is how they save energy to bloom again in the spring. If leaves do not fall then the whole tree would die. Kind of like our bodies, dying cells need to be replaced. Any disruption to this process can lead to health problems, cancer, and death.
I think part of the reason why I love fall so much is that there is this romanticization of death. As humans, experiencing the death of a loved one, hearing about people dying on the news, and being aware of your own state of mortality is not a fun or happy process. I do not want to downplay the mental, emotional, or physical distress that some people have gone through. Death is just a part of life and it is terrifying to think about. However, it is necessary and it’s just one of those things we have to accept. It’s not so much that everything is dying, but how autumn prepares itself for survival. It is a beautiful and grim cycle, but the leaves are always going to bloom again.
I was not allowed to wear makeup growing up. My mom always told me how wearing makeup ages you, it’s not good for my youthful skin, and how once I’m eighteen I can do whatever the hell I want to my face. This was annoying as a former failed goth and former emo kid. I remember walking to CVS after school, buying the worst black eyeliner pencil one could ever imagine, sneaking into the bathroom before class would start, and running home so I could wash it off before my mom got home. I would always just use soap and water to try to get rid of my emo evidence. I would end up looking like a raccoon and my mom would find out anyway. In high school there were the rare occasions and my mom would give me permission to slap some eyeliner and red lipstick on my face. Finally my eighteenth birthday came. I saved up some money plus received some money for my birthday and bought a lot of makeup. This is probably around the time beauty gurus became more popular on Youtube. I never had any loyalty to any Youtuber or brand. I would just see an eyeshadow palette that I liked and if I had enough money I would buy it. In all honestly I learned how to do makeup by watching RuPaul’s Drag Race. I was and am inspired by a lot of drag queens. In all honesty, I’m really happy my mom didn’t let me wear makeup as a kid. I wasn’t wearing makeup because I felt insecure about acne scars, how short my eyelashes are, or to make myself look more appealing. I was and still continue to wear makeup because I think it’s fun. I like wearing bright, bold colors. I love experimenting with makeup and different styles or aesthetics. I think it is partially because I only wear makeup once a week. I don’t view it as a chore or a part of my morning routine. I wear it when I want, how I want to, and damn straight I’m going to slap purple glitter on my eyelids.
However, as someone who does like makeup, I understand the toxic side of the makeup industry. The makeup industry profits off of insecurities. Yes, makeup can be worn by any gender, but it does profit off the insecurities of young girls and women. There is a constant pressure for women to constantly look appealing, presentable, and polished. It’s also how you do your makeup. You have to appear as though you’re not wearing makeup, but also cover up any blemishes, redness, wrinkles, under eye circles, etc.
Different women feel differently about makeup. I would never spend the extra twenty to thirty minutes of makeup in the morning before work, because that means I lose twenty to thirty minutes of sleep. Some women feel better about their appearance and more confident after they apply their makeup. I don’t want to shame or come off as a bully to women who prefer wearing makeup on a daily basis or feel the need to wear makeup everyday. However, from my own interactions there are two women I know who do feel the need to wear makeup everyday. Both have stated as older women they find it necessary to wear makeup to conceal their problem areas. They claim that they no longer have their youthful skin and need to wear it in order to feel confident. Personally, I don’t ever want to feel like makeup is necessary and I don’t want to feel like I have to achieve “youthful” skin as I get older. Online and in the social media world, there is constant preaching about how “You’re beautiful no matter what”. I just want to destroy that mentality. I don’t want to view blemishes, under eye circles, wrinkles, stretch marks, or cellulite as beautiful. I don’t want to view them as ugly. They are just things on our skin and body. I want to think about them the same way I think about my elbow. I never think about my elbow nor do I know anyone who does.
Going along with destroying the idea of beauty and being beautiful, I really don’t like Instagram or beauty gurus. Yes it’s great that Youtube or Instagram is this accessible platform where you can watch makeup tutorials, learn about different makeup products, and so on. I’m only just tired of seeing the same contour, highlighted, and smoky eyeshadow face. Makeup should be fun and creative. Which is why I think I like watching a variety of different people apply different styles of makeup vs. seeing what is trendy. I also don’t like how it’s expected to be a pro at applying makeup. If someone applies their contour messy, maybe they’re learning and practicing. I probably just spend way too much time on the internet, but it really does bother me when I scroll through comments and it’s all criticisms about how bad someone’s makeup looks.
Finally, my last and probably most important point is how I feel about beauty gurus and their young viewers. I grew up in a pre-beauty guru world. I don’t really care about their drama, but what I do care about is the young kids watching them. I honestly can’t imagine growing up nowadays. With Youtube, Instagram, and other social media sites there is so much emphasis on appearance and building a brand. Maybe kids are more aware, but it would just affect my self esteem. I just remember looking at Hayley Williams and Amy Lee and thinking, “Why don’t I look like that?” It’s because you’re twelve and not a woman in their twenties. Again, there’s this added pressure of trying to attain beauty standards that are just not possible for kids. On top of these beauty standards, makeup is also being target towards children. A very long time ago, I went to the mall and James Charles was there because he came out with an eyeshadow palette. The line began at one end at the mall and ended on the other side of the mall. I just remember thinking, “There is no one on that line that’s older than seventeen.” Except for maybe their mom or dad. Again, maybe kids are more aware nowadays. They’re not using makeup to cover up any insecurities they might think they have, but there is just something icky and deceiving about it. I have just always thought about it like, “You’re beautiful just the way you are, but also purchase my makeup”. This also isn’t a personal dig at James Charles, he was just at the mall on that particular day. It could’ve been any other beauty guru and I would’ve had the same thoughts.
I love makeup, I really do. I know we can’t ever really escape from beauty standards. I just think it’s important to talk about the good and the bad of makeup and beauty culture. Do you guys have any strong opinions, positive or negative? Let me know in the comments!
This is coming from someone who has watched the series twice. As much as I love Euphoria, there are also many things I find problematic about it. One of my favorite parts of the show are definitely the visuals and costume designs. Euphoria uses a lot of bold colors and I like how Levinson plays with lighting. In an interview with Vulture, Levinson explains the Euphoria world as “an emotional reality”. The combination of the set design, lighting, wardrobe, use of colors creates this not-so-realistic type of setting. It emulates and romanticizes what it’s like being a teenager and living in a suburban neighborhood. One of my favorite episodes and the episode I believe shows this alternative emotional reality is when Jules goes back to the city and visits her friend. The colors in specific scenes are so bold and vibrant. It shows how Jules really wanted to escape her troubles at home. After taking some drugs, she has a bad trip and her problems only intensify. The background is very dark, but the light is on Jules’ face so you can see her facial expressions while experiencing happiness while hanging out with her friends to having a breakdown in the middle of the club. Her pink eye makeup also compliments the blue hues of the scene.
I also like how they portray Rue’s drug addiction, depression, and anxiety. I don’t believe the show romanticizes Rue’s mental health problems. It is genuinely sad, annoying, and frustrating to watch her character’s actions. As someone who deals with anxiety, I loved and teared up towards the end of the series. When Rue and Jules decide to leave town, it is obvious that Rue is going through so much mentally. Unlike Jules, it is not easy for her to hop on a train and leave town. All Rue wanted throughout the series was to move into a small apartment in the city with Jules. When Rue gets the opportunity to leave, she realizes how toxic being with Jules is for her. As Jules gives her the same high that drugs did. It could also be that Rue is not ready to “come out” and express her sexuality. Unlike Jules, she does not seem comfortable when it comes to talking about intimacy and sex.
What bothers me about the show? A whole lot. One of the biggest problems I have with teen drama shows is the amount of sex and the emphasis of sex that exists within teen drama shows. Growing up and watching teen drama shows, I just assumed that sex was something every single teenager was doing. Maybe I hung out with the nerdy crowd, but I personally never experienced that amount of sex or things of sexual nature happen to me or people around me. As an adult, the idea of sexualizing teenagers is gross. I know these actors are of legal age and aren’t actual teens, but it’s the idea of sexualizing minors is still disgusting. I never really understood why these teen drama shows have to take place during high school. I feel like Euphoria could’ve easily taken place during college and it would’ve had the same impact. It’s also the fact that this show is obviously marketed towards teenagers. I understand it is the edgy teen show, but this isn’t a show I would want a fourteen year old watching. A lot these characters experience a lot of trauma and they show all the trauma these characters experience. I don’t want to say the show has “adult themes”. I understand that plenty of teenagers are experiencing or have experienced similar situations to the characters on the show. Again, maybe I’m just being an old fart, but I just really dislike the amount of penises, sex, and moans I had to watch throughout the show.
Speaking of sexual nature of the show, I really did not like Kat’s storyline. Before I continue to rant, I just want to say I have zero problems with Barbie Ferreira or the fat acceptance. What I do have is a problem of finding confidence with her body through sex work. Especially since her character is in high school. Again, I know porn, cam sites, and nudes have been normalized. Again I find it extremely uncomfortable about how easily accessible it is to minors. The truth is I personally don’t think teenagers have the emotional maturity to watch all the different types of porn that exist. Again, there’s many different ways to gain body confidence, and I’m just angry the show took the sex route.
But, I’ll probably end up watching season 2. What do you guys think of the show? Leave a comment and share your opinions and thoughts!
As someone who is and identifies as a cisgender heterosexual woman, I’m not sure if I should be writing about this. In my last post, I wrote about how some LGBT+ actors experience a double standard. Many of them often only get roles that portray an LGBT+ character, but rarely receive roles to play cisgender or heteronormative roles. I’ve been thinking about what I wrote about and it’s not that I think playing a heteronormative character should be the ultimate goal for an LGBT+ actor. I believe there is an unequal amount of opportunity in Hollywood and mainstream media. Cis actors will play trans characters and will be congratulated. Why not have a trans actor play a cisgender role? Or at least exist in heteronormative spaces.
However, what is heteronormativity and why is this the ultimate goal to assimilate to it? Heteronormativity and Queerness are social constructions. Heteronormativity assumes that heterosexuality is the default. The social norm is to get married, buy a home, and have a family. “Queerness” does not dictate sexuality or gender. LGBT+ individuals did not fall under the heteronormative umbrella, they created their own culture, queer spaces, and family. Since heteronormativity was seen as the default, LGBT+ continuously fought (and continue to fight) for their rights to be treated as equals. They should be allowed to want the same things and should have the same things as heteronormative people. However, as of right now there are 28 countries who have legalized gay marriage. For some members of the LGBT+ community have assimilated to a heteronormative culture. They’re married, they live in a home, and their own families. Maybe it is generational, but as someone who is supposed to fit under the heteronormative narrative, none of it seems appealing to me. Marriage and having a family is not something I ever envision for myself. I know the same goes for other heterosexual people. I believe that culturally we’re at a point that heteronormativity is being less idealized. The heteronormative lifestyle just feels very constricting to me. It is too structured and I think that is why I find myself moving away from it. That’s not to say it is every LGBT+ person’s goal to assimilate to a heteronormative lifestyle. I believe the goal is just for everyone to exist with each other in a way we all feel comfortable, regardless of these social constructions that were built. They still exist and will probably will always continue to exist, but as individuals were allowed to change and remove any norms that no longer seem to fit with our culture. Please feel free to leave a comment and tell me your thoughts.
*I would like to note that, I understands members of the LGBT+ community continue to face injustice, prejudice, and there is still a lot of hate that is targeted towards people simply because of how they identify or who they love.*
Hollywood has a long history of whitewashing actors and characters. They also have a long history of keeping LGBT+ people in the closet. Although there has been a recent boom of seeing POC, LGBT+, or people a part of both communities on screen, I think we can do better. Billy Porter, Indya Moore, MJ Rodriguez, and Hunter Schafer have all been vocal about the specific types of roles that exists for POC or LGBT+ actors. Gay men, specifically gay black men usually have to play characters that are sassy, fabulous, and oh-so very flamboyant. The same exists for trans women as we usually only see them in roles where their character is a sex worker. None of those are bad qualities, but it is just an archetypal character that portrays a community of people based on a few stereotypes. I’m sure many of you are familiar with the Scarlett Johansson controversy in which she was casted to play an Asian character. Many people believed the film should have casted an Asian actor to play the role. Now we have the infamous quote from ScarJo herself, “I Should Be Able to Play Any Person, Tree, or Animal”. You can read more about that here. She did not choose her words correctly, but she does have a point. Actors are trained so they can play a variety of roles. The problem is Hollywood does not have a even playing field and excludes different communities from playing specific roles in TV and film. In The Hollywood Reporter’s Drama Actors Roundtable, Billy Porter explains his experience as a gay, black actor:
“You know it’s a double layer. The layer of actually being a person of color in this industry and then the other layer being a queen. Nobody can see you as anything else. If flamboyantly dot dot dot wasn’t in the description of the character, no one would see me, ever, for anything”. You can watch the clip here.
In this interview with MTV, Indya Moore and MJ Rodriguez discuss how cis actors can portray trans people, but rarely do we see trans actors portray cis people. MJ explains, “If this is a way to challenge yourself as an actor then I think you should let us challenge and play some cis roles. We’ve been asking about it for a very long time. It’s something we have always been able to do because we understand the experience of a woman.”
Hunter Schaffer, star of HBO’s Euphoria also talks about this double standard, but realizes her privilege as a “passing” trans woman. Unlike Billy Porter’s or Indya Moore’s character on Pose, Schafer’s character on Euphoria does not completely follow the archetype of a trans woman. In this interview with MTV, Schafer states:
It was really cool to witness a young trans girl, realizing that she does not have to be attached to this certain route of receiving affirmation. . .Jules’ arc is also something that I haven’t really on TV before in the way that we’ve done it on Euphoria”.
I agree with Schafer’s statement. Euphoria’s deception of Jules does not rely on her being trans, but one of a teenage girl trying to figure out her sexuality and overcome typical growing pains. Maybe this is the first step to see a more inclusive form of Hollywood. I’m hoping that shows like Pose, aren’t just a trend and viewers will be able to see more storylines of LGBT+, POC characters and allow them to be human. Often we see gay characters being objectified into accessories for their straight counterpart or as a sassy “queen”. Trans characters are also sexualized and media tends to focus on their physical bodies more than the actual characters. Hopefully with shows like Pose and Euphoria it will open some doors for LGBT+ actors and one day we will be able to see LGBT actors play cis or heteronormative roles.