Monday, December 9, 2013

Bamboozled Was Terrible and is a Shameful Entry to Tropfest.

Bamboozled sucked and I could have done better. Lots of people could have done better. I've seen many student films better. It was also horribly deeply offensive.

Now if you haven't seen the offending film you should, or don't if you want to avoid it, but it helps you understand why I am annoyed better if you do:

It won Tropfest. The prestigious and massive short film festival Tropfest that requires your film be specific to it's yearly changing keyword. No really... that... thing.

This year's was: change. And Matt Hardie cleverly took this theme and made a film about a female to male sex change who meets an ex-boyfriend whom they spend a night bonding and catching up with... and getting wasted. Then they wake up next to each other. See that has great potential as an idea. It could have gone this great progressive way where Pete goes through a change of his own... one of acceptance and realising that hey, he might be bisexual (not gay because he has a history of dating women and getting with a guy does not erase his previous heterosexual behaviour so this film gets "biphobic" tacked onto it's already long list of -phobic's - but no one seems to have mentioned that) and so we see the theme of change going even deeper into both a social message and actual character development (of which there is basically none in this film. The development is: surprise! I'm actually a giant dick!).

To redeem itself Pete could've rebutted their snide jeers with "so what?" and then it would've been so much better. That would have fixed it right up and made the point clear! It could have been actually good! It would have defended being gay instead of laughing at it and so the joke is entirely on the cruel and vicious camera crew but instead they end with horrible taunts and humiliating footage of his exposed body, zooming into his butt as if to say "hahah you had a DICK up there! Isn't that gross?" They might as well have kicked down his door and yelled "HA YOU'RE A FAGGOT!" at him for 30 seconds before cutting to black. The lack of slur does not remove the offensiveness.

It treats transgender issues as a punchline. "Ha, they're different so let's turn it into a joke. This highly sensitive issue about important life changes isn't actually important, it's all just split decisions, jokes, and exploited for the sake of petty revenge." There are no good characters. Pete is... just a random dude... Harry is a manipulative cunt, and Helen is a massive spiteful bitch who held a grudge for 11 years just to intoxicate her ex to the point where, yes, Harry just raped Pete (he was too inebriated to legally give consent)... then they humiliate him on camera and laugh at him.

"Hahahaha you're a faggot who just got date raped what a funny thing!"

That's it. That's the joke...

Apply palm to face and groan slowly and softly until pain and anger subsides.

Now the director has defended the film (of course he has) by saying this:

“I’m copping it hard from some people. I guess that just going to happen with such a controversial subject matter. But I’m not homophobic and I don’t think the movie is homophobic or transphobic. People are completely missing the point... The main character decides to sleep with the transgender person because he loves that person for who they are. But it’s not even a transgender character… it’s someone playing a trick on him. It’s more a comment on media and the extremes to which reality TV could go… It’s satirising.”

But... it's bad satire. You didn't do your job properly.

How many times have we heard the words "I'm not homophobic" in defense of something clearly homophobic? It gets mentioned so often. I don't want to hear it. If anything it makes you look like a worse person.


Apologise and learn from your behaviour so you don't do it again.

That's it. That's how you be a good person. You cannot say "this isn't actually offensive" as you are dismissing the people you are offending, and in this case it's the already oppressed and silenced queer community. The queer communities voices are far more valid on a piece of media that poorly represents them than a bunch of annoying straight people going "why can't we just laugh at you? Why are you getting so offended?" The film is all about change... negative change... backwards. As in the fact that it won is a sign of a society regressing backwards. In the times of the massive step forward of Gay Marriage being legalised in the ACT we still have incredibly offensive media being awarded for being offensive.

See, intention doesn't really matter when judging a film. I think Matt Hardie would love it to count as it is his only defense "I didn't mean that! I meant the opposite of that!" but it doesn't. If you cannot get your point across then you simply have failed to do it effectively which means you are a bad storyteller. If you didn't have that bit of defensive explanation to guide you through the film it would've been harder to see the meaning behind it and thus the film doesn't stand alone as a firm piece of work. There's no clear indication of what he is trying to say present in the film itself. "The main character decides to sleep with the transgender person because he loves that person for who they are." 1) No they were raped 2) They were clearly uncomfortable about this situation when they woke up, moving away when touched, looking confused and distraught like "did that really just happen?" 3) Then he gets accosted for this supposed "true love." The film never defends Pete, only the offended audience defends him, which leaves plenty of room for someone to see it and have it reaffirm their homophobic attitudes. The film technically doesn't say anything to the contrary that it is anything but funny to laugh at gay people so it suits whatever opinion you want to put on it. If you choose to see it as an attack on the homophobic media then you can read it like that (if you ignore all the points I'm trying to make) but the unfortunate reality is people think this sort of poor treatment of gay people is funny so being presented with a situation where they can laugh at that only reinforces their homophobia. Whatever progressive intent it supposedly has fails to actually come through as it is offensive to progressive people and reinforces negativity in non-progressive people.

Then there's the comment "it's not even a transgender character... it's someone playing a trick on him." YES. THAT'S THE POINT. You turned transgender identities into a PUNCHLINE! An idea that can be easily manipulated for the sake of petty revenge! At no point do I see any shred of respect towards transgender individuals. The fact that they weren't one to begin doesn't mean that everything up until the point that was revealed wasn't a bad representation of them.

As for satire it is indistinguishable from the negative media it aims to satirise. The issue is it does not come off as parody, it does not come off as witty or intelligent, it just comes off as offensive and hurtful. It just adds to the already cemented idea that it's OK to laugh at people for being gay. There are no negative consequences to the camera crews actions, we're encouraged to laugh along with them because see get it? That's the joke. It's funny. Laugh. I said laugh damn it! *Waves award in your face mockingly* It's not a piece of genius to take playground taunts and put it in a film. Satire is about making fun of the majority and it hasn't managed to do that at all. Parody requires more than just the imitation of the thing it is parodying (I admit it does really mimic those hidden camera prank shows) it needs more self-reflexivity and irony put into it. It's poorly done and even if it really is satire it's ill advised and mean spirited satire. The thing is the audience gets it... just Matt Hardie doesn't.

It may attack the media but it does it at the expense of the queer community and it doesn't even get it's point across effectively.

The only way this really has helped empower the marginalised queer community is to give them something specific to be vocal about... and then shut down by a wall of apathy and disinterest. Take a look at the youtube comments and you will find a bunch of dismissive comments telling people to calm down and stop caring. It's funny after all:

"Hahaha minorities being laughed at is funny! Gosh, representation sure means jack shit huh?" Admittedly there are quite a few people agreeing with me that it is offensive trash but there is this unfortunate mix of "this is horrible" and "it's just a film!" as if somehow that means anything? Yes. It is an offensive film. We know this.

No matter what your intention is it still comes across as trying to laugh at queer identities. To argue it is satire once again reinforces the fact that you are bad at satire because you shouldn't have to explain the joke to people for them to get it.

Even if it were a well intentioned film with an actually non-offensive plot it's execution has utterly destroyed that and makes it a bad film.

...but it was a bad film to begin with so why did it win? Seriously though let's ignore the fact that it is incredibly offensive. It's not particularly interesting. Two old friends randomly encounter each other and have a night out to catch up. Not that original. If student films weren't so obsessed with suicide and drug overdoses after opening shots of an alarm clock and a montage of the main character getting dressed then they'd be making those types of films by the bucket load. The two wake up next to each other the next morning. Not even remotely anything but a cliche. The classic punchline of a night out drinking montage. There's no depth to the cliche story that is only distinguished from others like it by the (offensive) transgender revenge plotline. There's no character development, or even characters worthwhile paying attention to. Even the non-offensive jokes weren't that funny. It was shot moderately OK. There is literally nothing particularly special about this film... it's just... a short film... 

It was at best an OK film that flips off it's audience and tells them to laugh. Laugh, you terrible human beings, laugh at the giant homo.

The judges apparently thought it was the best damn transphobic/homophobic rape joke they've ever seen! $10,000 to you, Matt Hardie!

So considering this is the competition I can expect I guess next year I will enter Tropfest... because hey, how hard could it be right? I don't even need to treat my characters like people who have dignity and sure as hell don't need depth to get in either!

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