Many readers will recall a movie by director Israel Luna which did its level best to characterize the trans community poorly and capitalize on the deaths of Angie Zapata and others by making reference to the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) in its trailer. I’d rather not perpetuate the title of the movie to give it any more traction among curious moviegoers, so I’ll call it Piece of Shit So-Called Film (PoSSCF) instead of its title. If anyone would like to know what the fuss is about, here is a review Becky Juro, so you can find out all without having to sit through PoSSCF or waste any money on it. She waited to see the movie in full before commenting, wanting to give it the fairest assessment possible and arrived at:
The transgender community’s reaction to this film is understandable. This low-budget hackfest employs just about every tired transgender stereotype out there and doesn’t even do a decent job of mocking itself as you’d expect a film like this to do. Despite the mostly generic hairstyles and clothes that are presumably supposed to reflect the styles of the early 70’s, the queens are seen in a late-model convertible that couldn’t have been built more than than a few years ago. This film fails even the most basic tests of consistency and good writing.
[PoSSCF] is so bad on so many different levels that it’s even schlock when compared to other schlock. It’s almost like Israel Luna set out to do an early John Waters film (right down to the Divine-like “mama queen”) but just didn’t have the chops to pull it off. The hate crime element, while perhaps well-intentioned, seems like an afterthought, just an excuse for the drag queens to comically kick some ass rather than an attempt at any sort of truly serious statement about hate crimes. This aspect of the film comes through clearly even when watching the trailer so it’s not surprising that many transpeople and allies find it disparaging and offensive.
[PoSSCF] tries to succeed as a comedy while making a statement about something as deadly serious and unfunny as anti-transgender hate crimes, and therefore fails miserably at both.
When the film first came out and then played the Tribeca Film Festival, many in the LGB community complained that it was GLAAD and trans people who were kicking up a ruckus over nothing.
On Friday, Fangoria reported that PoSSCF had capitalized so well on the controversy that it had been picked up by Breaking Glass Pictures for a limited theatrical release on freaky-deaky Halloween, and then come out on DVD shortly afterward.
“Since it has a mixture of horror and LGBT themes, plus mainstream comedic appeal, it plays to the demographics of all of our film labels.”
Yay, we’re described as horror and comedy all in one. If it sounds like I’m taking the film and its hype a little too personally, keep in mind that in the beginning, Luna really did characterize the movie as being an embodiment of our frustration with discrimination and was supposed to be an empowering event for us. To do that, a portrayal would have to be representative and genuine. They’ve also trotted out the film’s cast to declare that transsexuals like PoSSCF too and don’t find it offensive, but the end result is more an illustration of how people will often define themselves with whatever words they’re given and are told are appropriate, even if those words marginalize and insult them, than anything else.
Well, Luna and co. have obviously enjoyed the publicity from the controversy, because they’re itching for more. After terrorizing audiences with tranny boogeymen on Halloween, they’re rushing it to DVD in a very uncharacteristically short time. Why? As Kelli Busey points out, this will coincide with the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Although Luna previously apologized for his exploitation of Angie Zapata, Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado and others who were murdered as a result of transphobic violence and removed them from the film trailer, they’re being careful to capitalize on the anger once again by rushing out Piece of Shit So-Called Film in time to make controversy once again.
GLAAD’s response included a quote from Maria Zapata, Angie’s mother:
“This week we found out that there was a film that used Angie’s name – and the circumstances around her murder – as a way to promote what is supposed to be a funny film. There is nothing funny about Angie’s murder and we are deeply offended that someone would use Angie’s name and memory to promote the film….”
And after that, they rub salt in the wound. Thanks for the kind happy thoughts of empowerment, Exploitative Faggots With Cameras. (and if you’re troubled why I’d use a word like that, it requires knowing PoSSCF’s actual title)