LGBTQI & BIPOC Representation In Media
Wow hi, guys… these couple of weeks have been busy with midterms however I’m glad we are discussing the nature of this week's assigned films. These five films were a lot to watch emotionally. The five films assigned were Mysterious Skin, Boys Don’t Cry, Moonlight, Call Me By Your Name, and Brokeback Mountain. The focus of all of these films was LGBTQI & BIPOC representation. I believe that the media world needs more representation of the LGBTQI & BIPOC culture and these films opened the gates to the vulnerability of this topic. Being a part of the LGBTQI I could relate on some level to the struggles that each character in these five movies went through. Their struggles were portrayed purposely to shine a light on people of this culture and the struggles they face in different environments. As well as what people can do differently in a positive light to protect people such as Brandon in Boys Don’t Cry. Out of all the films that we had to watch the one that had emotionally stuck with me was Boys Don’t Cry. It was just such a raw film that had me glued to the screen from beginning to end. Let’s dive deeper into this convo, shall we? I believe that there is such a thing as the “Queer” visual style that includes cinematography, mise-en-scene, and editing that could be read through their visual style. Each movie had a different way of presenting this for example in Call Me By My Name the director Luca Guadagnino uses light and dark colors, the beauty of Italy in the summertime, and nature to narrate the story between Elio and Oliver. According to the website Networks.h, “Many queer filmmakers working outside of that system, have been producing work that not only offers more nuanced, complex characters and stories, but that also often looks completely different, as though these stories simply could not be told, not these characters represented, in the visual language of Hollywood” (Queering the Camera Eye). The style that Call Me By My Name and these other films had didn’t come close to Hollywood’s generic stories. The stories told by these “Queer” filmmakers are authentic and carry such a powerful sense of emotion it almost leaves you speechless. In the film Call Me By My Name the ending scene to me was so powerfully and displays the “Queer” Visual style so powerfully. In the scene, 1hr:59m:00s-2hr:02m:10s Elio played by the heartthrob Timothee Chalamet and his father played by Michael Stuhlbarg sat down on the couch in the father's study to talk. The camera was leveled with both Elio and his father as they sat closely on the couch. The room was a shade darker than the rest of the movie to represent the seriousness of this conversation and the script was beautifully done. Elio’s father starts to casually say that the relationship between Elio and Oliver was wonderful indicating that he knew what had happened between them in the summer. It gets deeper as his father turns his body completely facing Elio and takes off his glasses he says, “You had a beautiful friendship. Maybe more than a friendship. And I envy you. In my place, most parents would hope the whole thing goes away, to pray that their sons land on their feet. But I am not such a parent. In your place, if there is pain, nurse it. And if there is a flame, don’t snuff it out. Don’t be brutal with it. We rip out so much of ourselves to be cured of things faster, that we go bankrupt by the age of thirty and have less to offer each time we start with someone new. But to make yourself feel nothing so as not to feel anything ― what a waste!” This scene made me cry while watching it at 3 am and I’m not one to cry very easily. The cinematography, the script, the way everything was done in this scene was brilliant and I think represented the “Queer” style perfectly. Even in the year 2021, there is still not a lot of “Queer” representation.
The first film starring a homosexual character was Love Simon and that was released in 2018. There are not many scenes in cinema that display the moment between parents and their child when they come out or have a conversation about sexuality. I also find it interesting that every movie focuses on LGBTQI+ representation however, each movie is drastically different and portrays the Queer Style differently. For instance, In the film Moonlight (2018) Chiron’s character has many struggles starting from when he was little to when he was older. The one struggle that has always been constant in his life is his sexuality and being called slurs such as “faggot”. Young Chiron then starts to question himself, in the scene, 00hr:33m:20s-00hr:34m:54s, Chiron asks Juan “what is a faggot” and Juan explains to him that it's a derogatory term used to make gay people feel bad. Chiron goes on to ask if he is one and Juan says no but even if you were you will figure it out later in life and don’t let anyone call you a “faggot”. This scene is so important to the “Queer” visual style because the demographic the movie is set in makes it seem like being “queer” is not accepted at all yet, there are people like Juan who do accept it and care for Chiron. The scene also was set up to be a close, serious, intimate scene. Chiron and Juan were sitting close together and facing one another. I admired this scene a lot because I didn’t know what Juan’s initial reaction was going to be at first. It could have gone a completely different way however, Juan reassured Chiron that whatever he identifies as he will be there for him. According to Time, “The life of Chiron is delicately revealed by cinematographer James Laxton who portrays him a distinct pallet of blown-out color photographs that set his life in a faded part of Miami where screenwriter and director Barry Jenkins was raised. With shots burned by lens flares and bold camerawork viewers are reminded that being personal at every level can help a story resonate with an audience” (Moonlight: Behind the Making of the Oscar-Nominated Movie). That’s what “Queer” visual style is meant to do, its meant to leave a sense of connection with the audience. A story they can relate to and look up to. All the movies we watched for this week do have the same thing of coming out or the struggles of being in the LBGTQI+ community.
As I mentioned earlier the film Boys Don’t Cry shook me to my core. Especially the ending. It was the type of movie that had me yelling at the screen or wishing that Brandon or someone would get back at John and Tom for what they did to him. On the topic of intersecting in the “Queer” visual style, Brandon's character is a trans male and experiences body dysphoria and gender identity. Brandon has to conform to heterosexual stereotypes to fit in and represent a male as much as possible. He wears a binder, boy underwear and shoves a sock in his pants to represent a bulge. In the scene, 31m:20s-32m:35s, Brandon comes out of the shower and is getting dressed. He puts on men's underwear and lays a binder, a dildo, and a sock bulge on the bed. He puts the sock bulge in his pants and makes sure it looks similar in size to an average man's bulge. He then wraps the binder tightly around his chest until his boobs are compressed where he looks like he has a flat chest. This scene displayed how Brandon felt and looked like an average man by making sure he had a bulge in his pants, wear men's underwear, and resemble a flat chest of a man. The expectations of masculinity were amplified for Brandon to fit in and be safe from hate crimes. According to an article by the New York Times, the director Kimberly Piece commented, “I loved that Brandon shaped himself into his fantasy of himself as a boy and lived as a man and loved women,” Peirce said, “so I always understood that about him-- the courage, the audacity, the invention, the humor, the naïveté to live so authentically and boldly as he wanted” (Bendix, Trish). That’s the beauty of “Queer” films to see how the characters despite their struggles still are their true selves.
Another example would be how race intersects for instance the movie Moonlight (2018) is a black film that represents the hardships of being black and “Queer”. Chiron’s character was bullied for being a gay man and this comes back to haunt him when he grows up because the only touch he ever felt was from Kevin and he constantly searches for that same feeling until they meet again. In the scene, 1hr:00m:27s-1hr:1m:55s Chiron is targeted and bullied on school grounds and Tyrone and his friends tell Kevin to “get his faggot ass”.
I do believe a queer film has the power to use queer aesthetics to shape and influence the perceptions and emotions of its audience and in some ways, it can queer an audience. I also believe movies that represent this culture can bring awareness, educate and maybe give empathy to people who don’t fully accept this culture. In the film BrokeBack mountain, Ennis and Jack are two cowboys who can only express their love for one another in the mountain tops of Brokeback Mountain. Jack is more willing to break society's stigmas but Ennis isn’t and his love for Jack is put on the back burner because of his responsibility to provide for his family. In each of these movies “Queer,” people are constantly put down and bullied for being who they truly are. In the scene, 1hr:11m:32s-hr:12m:30s, Ennis opens up to Jack about why he can’t live the life that Jack dreams about with him because when he was little his dad took him to see the body of an older man who was killed for being who he wanted to be. Ennis explains how these two older men were living on a Ranch and were the joke of the town. He is even convinced that his father might have done it, however, since he saw that when he was little he has been paranoid about the chances of being caught and killed for living his life freely. This scene made me heartbroken because Ennis was terrified since he was little to be anything different than straight and it impacts him to his adult life.
In the film Call Me By Your Name nature I believe emphasizes the beauty of a homosexual relationship and romanticizes falling in love in the summertime. It almost doesn’t even feel like it’s between two men it just feels like two individuals that fall in love. I feel if I were a straight person and watched this film it would open my eyes to the beauty of a homosexual relationship and the culture. In the scene, 00hr:55m:23s-00hr:57m:25s, Oliver and Elio are laying in the hot, dry, green gas, soaking in the sunlight. Elio says he loves everything about the moment they are in and Oliver asks, “us you mean?” and Elio responds with, “eh it’s not bad”. Oliver turns over and kisses Elio. This was their first intimate physical touch since Oliver had come to study with Elio’s father. The hot summer sun and the peaceful feeling it gave Oliver and Elio played a role in the start of their relationship. Throughout the rest of the movie, nature was everywhere. Out of all of these movies, I really can’t say I enjoyed one over the other. All of them were what I thought uniquely represented the LGBTQI+ community and brought awareness to the culture. Being that I am lesbian and am apart of this community it’s always nice to see the representation and learn from others' experiences even if they are fictional characters. And as always be who you want to be because as Elio’s father said In Call Me By Your Name, “our hearts and our bodies are given to us only once. And before you know it, your heart is worn out, and as for your body, there comes a point when no one looks at it, much less wants to come near it”. I also included a picture of me at Pride a few years ago for anyone who wants to go who hasn’t I recommend.
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