Tuesday, March 6, 2012

She Thinks She's Amusing

 So... Last night, I'm sitting in my room and doing a bit of writing.  The TV is on in the background and I've been ignoring it in my focus on writing.  There's screaming on the TV.  I look up from my writing, distracted by the sound.  I'm watching drag queens being attacked by bad guys in what appears to be a mockingly weird version of a B grade horror flick. 

Ticked-off Trannies With Knives, is a film by Israel Luna. It's a very strange "tribute" to exploitation films, bad horror movies, and cheezy comedies.  It's loaded with "snappy drag queen dialog" and exaggerated stereotypes across the board.  Think of it as Pink Flamingos (Waters) meets Kill Bill (Tarantino) meets Corman-grade horror.  I'm not sure what I think of it - it's so well done in its intentional crappiness.  And yet it's so horrible for, among other things, its misguided listing of the details of several murders of transgendered people during its opening credits.  That's something that could be interpreted as either a big and graphic political statement on the high murder rate of transgendered people OR as a horrible use of the details of murders against *actual* transgendered people for the purpose of inflating the "horror" content of the film.  (I should note that Luna removed the references to the murders of Angie Zapata and Jorge Mercado after protests were made about the use of that information in this film.)

I can't take my eyes off the movie.  For better or worse, I watch the whole thing. I can't decide, still, if it's horrible in good or bad ways.  Is it bad for the stereotypes of the people that it portrays or is it good for how brilliantly it does illustrate stereotypes within the container of the "bad horror flick" movie genre?  Is it bad for showing violence against transwomen or is it good for bringing further into the light the kind of violence that trans folks regularly experience?  Is it bad for taking advantage of trans actors in need of work or is it good for employing trans actors who are very real? 

The opening scenes showing the backstage goings on at a drag queen "cabaret" show and the dialog in the bar scene after is exactly the kind of whip-snapping, catty as all hell, funny, sad, and strange conversations I'd experienced when I lived and partied in San Francisco's Castro district.  Then, a long-haired hillbilly leads two wife-beater wearing Latinos in his murderous quest to seek revenge on Bubble Cliquot for her crime of having a penis.  But that's after the long-haired guy had slipped a roofie into her drink and he'd taken her somewhere else to rape her (thus how he discovered her penis, he tells us). Never fear - Bubble's friends (Emma Grashun, Rachel Slurr, Tipper Sommore, and Pinky La' Trimm) come to the rescue.  However, in what is actually *very* hard to watch, the first horror scene has them all getting the living daylights beaten out of them with a baseball bat.  Those who survive, live to fight another day and these drag queens certainly aren't going down without a fight.  They go to train with a martial arts master who works in lines like, "Damn right, it's better than yours.  I'd teach you but I'd have to charge." (a tribute to Kelis' song, "Milkshake").  Then the ladies get their revenge on their attackers in ways that include shoving a loaded handgun into the ass of the long-haired guy (ala .  Who, by the way, busted into a twisted and black monologue about how Bubbles couldn't kill him because he knew that she was actually attracted to him because she believed that she wasn't good enough for anything but the worst example of a human being who would do nothing but abuse her and who, "... would have killed [her] a long time ago" if he were the one there with the gun (which he'd removed from his ass at this point in the film). 

So, now I decide to do a little research.  First, I look up Israel Luna.  No big surprise - there's some controversy about him and his film.  Some people give it rave reviews for what they think it appears to be.  Other people are slamming the film and screaming at Luna for what they see as a clear mistreatment and misrepresentation of trans people on film.  I make a mental note to research him a bit more later as I want to find a little more on what *he* actually says of his film and himself (rather than just reading what *others* are saying about him).  I'll get back to him later.

Then I look up the film title, on Google.  *MY* Google Search box took "Ticked-off Trannies With Knives" and corrected, "Trannies" for "Transvestites".  My understanding is that "tranny" is often considered an offensive term and "transvestites" is somewhat better (though often misused to describe transgendered people).  I just find it interesting the cases in which Google will get PC and how it enforces such things in its products. 

Not surprisingly, I see the film generated a bit of a controversy in the LGBT community.  It was screened at the Tribeca Film Festival despite protests from transgendered folks and their allies.  GLAAD endorsed it, without ever having seen it, then revoked their endorsement after they'd seen it (per the demands of the trans community).  Transgendered activist bloggers were condemning the film.  Some condemned the film and then noted their outrage at the lack of response by the wider LGBT community as was seen after the Isaiah Washington and TR Knight kerfluffle on Grey's Anatomy.  There are some great writings out there on why this film should never have been made due to it's highly offensive nature.  I have a lot to continue reading on.

I definitely have to come back to this and do more reading as I've yet to come to a full decision on what I think of all this.  Something that I've had drilled into my head over the last year is that doing my due diligence on getting information about a thing is important before making a judgement and taking action.

Oh! So what was I writing about when this randomly appeared on my television, you might ask? 


She thinks she's funny.  I think that I'm still undecided on that subject as well. (However, I do have to admit that She's got a helluva knack for bringing certain issues to my attention.)

1 comment:

  1. Hi, there. Thanks for the review and your very mature approach of researching rather than listening to other people's opinions. Let me know what you find and how you feel after you've done your research.

    Just FYI, I wrote this film as a revenge fantasy with strong transgender women who work as entertainers pushed to the edge where they finally get revenge on their attackers. I meant it to be an empowering film for those of us who've had enough.

    israel luna - writer/director of TOTWK