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Women Gender’s in the Film “Boys Don’t Cry”
This is an analytical essay about the film “Boys Don’t Cry’’. The film “Boys Don’t Cry’’ was produced in 1999. It was inspired by real events based on the life of Brandon Teena. In a brief summary, the main character in the film is Brandon who is a transgender that was born a female. At one point, he engages in a fight with his friends that make him relocate to Nebraska. While in Nebraska, Brandon introduces himself as a male to all his new friends and falls in love with a girl, Lana. Shortly, Lana discovers that Brandon is transgender, but she does not give up on loving him. Unfortunately, Brandon is arrested for the crimes he committed back at home. The circumstances that transpire while he is in the police custody make his friends discover that physically he is a female. They become enraged, capture him, beat him up, rape him, and shoot him to death. This film explores the issues of the race, gender, and sexuality, thus striving to show the biased society of the modern United States that advocates the equality and tolerance still more in word than in deed.
Interesting perspectives on sexuality are utilized in “Boys Don’t Cry.’’ One can assume that the film communicates the idea that the biological determinism of the human sexuality is misleading. John and Tom decide to rape Brandon when stripping his clothes and ensuring that he has female organs. To them, Brandon is a woman, but Brandon feels himself a man. Similarly, Sheriff Laux blames Brandon for the rape saying that he was raped because of misleading people about his sex. However, Brandon considers himself a man, which is his true gender that defines his sexuality. In the modern society of equality and free choice, individuals should not rely on biological determinants of their sexuality; hence, people should be allowed to behave according to their identity.
Next, the film communicates that the American society has admitted the phenomenon of homosexuality as such and is ready to welcome homosexuals. During their first sexual encounter, Lana discovers that Brandon is a transgender but she does not cut off the contact. She continues to love him; it is a good indication that the society has started to accept homosexuality. Nevertheless, at the moment, the homosexual community appears to be the most tolerant. During the interview, Lady Gaga becomes angry when being asked about her sexuality. She answers, “She loves the gay community because they don’t ask her questions like that’’ (Gray-Rosendale et al. 221).
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Importantly, the film shows that some members of the American society are still keen on enforcing heterosexuality on others. In the eyes of perpetrators, the rape of Brandon by his friends is a punishment for his abandoning of the own heterosexuality. In this violent and barbaric way, they communicate to Brandon that sex should involve people of opposite sexes.
Furthermore, this film suggests that sexuality is affected by one’s culture. It is true that the Western world praises traditional sexual relationship between a man and a woman. Sex between people of the same gender has not been wholly accepted yet. Therefore, the actions of Brandon’s friends can be considered from a different perspective. In this regard, they decided to torture and rape him as a way of showing their disapproval of his sexuality that is not traditional.
The film “Boys Don’t Cry’’ highlights several gender-related aspects in the contemporary society. First of all, the spread of misogyny is clearly shown. The viewer sees the unfair treatment of the female gender when Brandon goes to report the rape to the police. Despite the offense severity, Sheriff Laux shows little interest in the crime but focuses on Brandon’s sex. Similarly, Laux’ hatred towards women is seen when he blames Brandon for being raped; he states that he was raped for misleading the society about his gender; thus, it was his guilt. In the same manner, in “Whiteness and the Politics of “Post-Racial’’ America,” Gray-Rosendale et al. affirm that misogyny is still present in the contemporary U.S. society. In this article, the authors explain why Lady Gaga is concerned with the fact that there are double gender standards in the music industry today. She claims that the media is so hard on women but tolerant to men by describing the “media’s acceptance of males who grab their crotches and sing about f**king girls yet question woken who play similar behavior’’ (Gray-Rosendale et al. 221).
Secondly, the film communicates the message that one’s gender is still believed by the majority to be based solely on the biological sex of an individual. This idea can explain the reason as to why Tom and John fail to recognize Brandon as a male. Similarly, Tom and John are unable to tell Brandon’s gender until they force him to remove his clothes.
Thirdly, there is a clear contrast between men and women in the film based on their personality. On the one hand, men are shown to be aggressive; on the other hand, women are shown to be soft and loving. The aggressiveness of the male is emphasized by the actions of Tom and John torturing their friend, raping him, and shooting him to death. In her turn, to show the soft and loving nature of women, upon discovering that Brandon is a transgender, Lana remains supportive and even pleads with his friends to spare his life.
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Fourthly, the film shows that the contemporary society started to reject the traditionally defined and dominating masculinity. Having run away from his hometown and settled in Nebraska, Brandon is able to win the affection of many girls. In fact, he manages to steal Lana from one of his friends despite being a transgender. Hence, girls could be interested in him because of seeing him as a loving and peaceful man as compared to other traditionally aggressive males. Consequently, the society in the movie rejects the traditional masculinity and prefers a form of masculinity that is unique in nature.
Finally, the film considers the dominance of the male over the female gender. This aspect is captured in a scene where Lana and Brandon are having sex. Their positions during this act speak volume. It can be clearly seen that Brandon, being the “man’’ decides to be on the top of Lana, thus dominating and conquering her. The message of this scene is that men want to dominate everything by being in charge.
The contemporary society seems to be biased towards people of color. Some critics argue that the film “Boys Don’t Cry’’ could have intentionally excluded the black people. There is no doubt that this film was based on real-life events but the question is why it occurred in a purely White community. The purpose of the film was to attract the attention of the society to the evil done to Brandon, who was only trying to explore and follow his sexual identity. It is appalling the film fails to involve the case of Philip DeVine, who had an almost similar to Brandon’s fate. Hence, it can be speculated that the filmmaker could have seen DeVine as the culprit and not the sacrifice. This incident can be said to be perpetuating the myth that the blacks are troublemakers or criminals.
In such a manner, the film seems to limit the phenomenon of transgenderism to the white race. It is evident that the settings of the events are small towns in the Midwestern US. Having excluded the case of Devine from the whole film, it is difficult to associate a transgender with the black or any other race. Additionally, the film fails to show that intolerance towards untraditional sexuality is the problem of all races. The whites have always been hailed for being tolerant and respectful of the rights of others. However, this film draws a different perspective; it shows that the society expects and forces people to belong to the defined by nature gender; those that fail to adhere are severely punished. In this film, Tom and John decide to torture and rape Brandon upon discovering that he is a transgender. Similarly, Gray-Rosendale et al. (220) write that women of color, such as Lil Kim and Foxy Brow that have tried to act like Lady Gaga have been lambasted as sexual licentious. It is said that Lady Gaga’s whiteness is what makes the society be more understanding towards her actions. Hence, the modern society is biased towards homosexuals and harsh towards people of color.
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In conclusion, the film “Boys Don’t Cry’’ communicates different messages/perspectives on the issues of the race, sexuality, and gender. Considering the race, it is clear that the modern society is understanding towards the white people but very harsh towards people of color; hence, it is the reason as to why Lady Gaga’s actions are not interpreted as sexually immoral by the majority. Concerning the gender, the film emphasizes the traditional perspective, according to which, men are aggressive, while women are soft and loving. Equally, the film reveals that misogyny is widespread in the American society. On the other hand, the contemporary society seems to be gradually refuting the notion that one’s gender is determined biologically only. However, the male gender is shown as to be dominant over the female gender. Finally, the film also gives an interesting perspective on the issue of sexuality. The modern society seems to be coming to the reality that heterosexuality is not the only sexual orientation. Still, there are people that are unwilling to accept this fact and are ready to enforce heterosexuality on others. Also, the film shows how sexuality is impacted by culture. Even though the film was produced almost 20 years ago, the American reality for homosexuals and transgender had changed a bit only.