Rated R. This is an extremely intense and vulnerable film. It's not easy to watch throughout. The movie deals with sexual violence, including rape. There's also pretty graphic imagery with consensual sex as well. The language is peppered with language throughout. There is a murder involving a child. Sexual situations are rarely implied, showing nudity and the sexual act itself. It's a pretty well-deserved R.
DIRECTOR: Kimberly Peirce
It's officially lockdown in our house and most of the world. I stepped outside to get the mail and I swear it felt like the zombie apocalypse. I know that things are still happening out there, but we're just trying to do our part. I'm prefacing all this 1) for a sense of continuity and 2) because I'm a bit of a coward. Boys Don't Cry might be the most challenging thing that I write about for a while. I basically know that whatever I write, no one is going to be happy with it. I have infamously not fit into a category. I've always wondered if I'm alone in this. To half of my friends, I am far too progressive and liberal. I think of myself often as a pro-life democrat. Instantly, I lost a lot of my readership. To the other half, I am far too progressive. How dare things be questioned? I would claim allegiance with moderates, but moderates all have different tastes in things. I like that about us. It means that we took each issue and have a stance that isn't just a party line. But that also means that this entire thing that I'm going to write is going to be hippie-dippy to some and transphobic to others. I can't win, so I'm just not going to publicize that I am writing it.
In 1999, I should not have watched this movie. I was just going into high school and I would have gotten the worst possible interpretation from this movie. That actually might be the bravest thing about this movie, making it in the Wild West days of prideful political incorrectness. I always hate old me. I like me in the moment, but old me is always terrible. I can just imagine what horrible things that I would have thought about this movie. It's so overtly sexual and I was 16. Gah, I just feel gross thinking about it. Also, I think I was weirded out by anything that would be classified as LGBTQ+ because no one really took it seriously. I'm giving points to Peirce and company for fighting an establishment that wasn't really ready for a film like this. This, even if it wasn't or is my cause right now, is revoutionary. It's insane to think that this film came out then, let alone now. It's not like we've solved society's problem with that which is different, but we're at least closer to that world than in 1999.
This is me toeing a line. When I have my students write persuasive arguments, I want them to argue one side hard. This isn't persuasive and there's way more nuance to this movie than I can just go absolute with. Boys Don't Cry is an important film that is really problematic. I know that I'm questioning that is considered crucial to a lot of people's lives. People's lives are better because of this movie. But I'm watching it for the first time in 2020. This movie wasn't precious to me, so I have to be able to respond to what I'm watching. There are things that are stepping on rights that might not be what the movie is shooting for. The movie is a biography of Brandon Teena, whose tale is extremely tragic. There's no excuse for the things that happened to her happening to anybody. I already want to bail out of the following argument and I feel gross for bringing it up. Brandon Teena was a transgender male at a time when that was unheard of. It was this moment where we couldn't have a conversation about it without snickering or treating transgender people as something akin to J. Edgar Hoover. But Brandon is a troubling character.
I can't imagine how hard it is to be someone who is transgender. It seems like a hard world to live in during this society, let alone the '90s. But Brandon is also someone who is more interested in seduction than love. He claims that he is the greatest boyfriend that ever existed and that his significant others absolutely adore him. Why, then, is he not with those people? A lot of what Brandon's life is based on lies, and not objectively great lies. I am completely sympathetic that this lie is a difficult one to tell. Brandon, the real Brandon, probably fell hard for a lot of people who probably rejected him because of the truth of the situation. But Brandon is also offering a false bill of sale. I talked about this moment in Touch of Evil..
Film is great. It can challenge us. It can entertain us. It can puzzle us. It can awaken us.
Mr. H has watched an upsetting amount of movies. They bring him a level of joy that few things have achieved.