Friday, October 22, 2010

Ticked Off Trannies

After unexpectedly getting a night off due to anemic ticket sales, I suddenly realized I would have an opportunity to check out what turned out to be a controversial entry in to last year's Tribeca Film Festival. Ticked Off Trannies With Knives, after initially receiving some positive support from more "mainstream" gay media groups like GLAAD, suddenly found itself the focus of a lot of negative notices after a group of actual "trannies" found the title alone to be offensive.

There ensued much wailing and gnashing of teeth, as much of the LGBT press on both coasts took sides. Ultimately, while the protesters failed to get the film pulled from Tribeca, The New York Times ended up censoring the title, and Ticked Off T****ies was listed on movie clocks and some press coverage.

I really wanted to see the film myself before I made up my mind, a craaaaaazy concept in this day and age I know, but I ended up working through most of the screenings. So when I saw a notice that it had returned to the major markets this week, I looked for a chance to see what the fuss was about.

The theater is on 12th street in between the East and West Village, very near NYU, and this was a Thursday night. While I didn't expect the screening to be sold out, I did think there would be some like-minded people, this is NYC, that would be there. If nothing else, I assume there are people that literally go to everything.

So imagine my surprise when I arrived at the theater about 10 minutes before showtime and I was the only person in the entire place. Still thinking there would be at least a smattering of people wandering in I took out a magazine and my crackberry and started reading and cleaning out my email. The movie started and I settled in, quite comfortably with no one to block my view or take up my armrest.

After seeing the film, I confess I don't agree that it was exploitative, nor do I think it promotes or encourages violence towards transsexuals. I also know that I've met many many trans women that support themselves performing in gay clubs as well as stripping or exotic dancing. I understand many trans people have everyday "normal" jobs, but this film wasn't about them, and these people, the ones in the film, do actually exist. I suspect all the protest was as much about an opportunity to get some press for people with a larger agenda as much as it was actual outrage over the actual content of the movie.

In any case, the movie really needed another screenwriter more than it needed to be more politically correct. The acting was OK and some of the line readings rang true, but most of those seemed like they might have been improvised, which is more a testament to the actors than the director. But there was a beginning a middle and an end, which I was always taught is the most important requirement for a story, it's just that the middle got quite a bit messy and really would have benefited from another edit. Or two. Overall, I've spent $11 on much worse.

As the credits rolled and before the lights went up I took a look behind me to see who had come in last-minute. It was then that I realized that I had just experienced a first. I was the only one there. My first private screening. Just me in a 150 seat theater. I wonder if they would have actually shown the film if I hadn't bought that one ticket?

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