I’ve been waiting for a while to see Ticked-Off Asterisks With Knives (which is now being billed as “The Movie GLAAD Doesn’t Want You To See” – oh, please … like that’s going to lure people to the theater).
I’ve followed the fray online, but did not want to jump in with an opinion until I had actually seen the film.
Now that I have seen it, I still don’t want to jump in, because the truth is that it’s hard to form an opinion when it’s not me being portrayed up there on the screen.
And the other truth is that I’m not sure who is being portrayed up there on the screen.
The trans women characters in this film are not like any trans women I know, and I know quite a few. But even though I have probably met a few hundred trans women over the years, that is still a small percentage of the trans women out there, so I can’t possibly make the generalization that “trans women don’t act like this.”
And many of the trans women I’ve met have been online, at conferences, and in the process of brief introductions. That doesn’t really give me a flavor for who these women are as people. I only have a sense of that with the women I know well, who are usually Colorado women, not New York or San Francisco women, and I would say that regional differences have some influence on persona.
So while the characters in the film (some of which are played by trans women) don’t ring true to me, there are no doubt quite a few reasons for this that have to do with my locale, my nighttime activities (which rarely involve nightclubs), and so on.
Regardless, Ticked-Off Asterisks With Knives didn’t offend me so much as it kind of left me cold.
I don’t like blood, gore, and violence, even if it is obviously over-the-top theatrics, so I had to look away several times. There was some odd racist banter and racially charged undertones (and overtones) that seemed stuck in for who-knows-what reason.
I got lost at times, I got bored at times, and although I did think the women were pretty fabulous and their dressing-room-and-bar banter was humorous, it wasn’t enough to endear the film to me.
I’m not sure that the film glorified violence against trans women, and I don’t know whether or not it will result in more violence toward trans women. The “bad guys” are so smarmy, slimy, and dumb that I can’t imagine anyone walking out of the theater thinking, “I want to be like them.”
I also don’t know that the film, as director Israel Luna has claimed, is empowering to trans women. You certainly want the bad guys to get it in the end – and they do get it in the end (for those who haven’t seen the film, that is a pun).
But with regard to any trans woman who knows someone who has, in real life, been brutally beaten or killed, and any trans woman who lives in daily fear that this kind of thing could easily happen to her, I can understand the potential for a range of emotions after seeing the film, from feeling vindicated to feeling hurt, disgusted, and used.
For me, when the whole thing was over, I just felt relieved that it was over – until the credits rolled.
On the particular screener that I was given, during the credits, the people behind the scenes come out and dance on a stage – mostly in their blue jeans and T-shirts and sweatshirts, looking like they probably looked the whole time the film was being made. The camera people, the costume people, the sound people, the special effects people – all of them just come out dancing and clapping and smiling and laughing as their names come up on the screen.
And suddenly, I was offended. All but one or two of these dancing, laughing behind-the-scenes people who are apparently so thrilled about making this film appear to be non-trans. Even if several of them are trans, my guess is that the majority are not.
So here is a group of primarily non-trans people happily celebrating this film that they made about trans people – this violent film, this stereotypical film, this film that did not particularly offend or hurt me (until right then), but that has offended and hurt a lot of other people. These non-trans people are celebrating their film about the “other” and taking their bows, as if they were terribly cool for having made this t****y film.
For some reason, at a real gut level, I found that highly offensive and highly condescending. And at that moment, I became one ticked off asterisk.
See it if you must – and, as the website says, it’s just in time for Halloween(?).
What do readers think?
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