On January 31,2015 as part of the Reelout Film Festival in Kingston, I attended the film Lives Worth Living. I had never been to a film festival and did not know what to expect. I went into the Screening Room where there was a line up of people at the door, we walked into a small theater and a man came up to the front to provide a background on the short films we were going to be watching. Unlike the majority of the movies I watch which contain a heterosexual matrix, Lives Worth Living contained multiple gender identities and many sexualities that one may identify with. Lives Worth Living was a series of short films that displayed many issues in modern day society that contain cross-cultural relevance. The series of films were all extremely unique and each displayed a very different way of telling a story. The first was a tape recording where a narrator described the pain of losing her brother. The simple visuals allowed all the focus to be on the words and the pain displayed in the author’s voice. The second film was a beautiful silent film that displayed two men overcoming obstacles and seemingly impossible differences to fall in love. This was an incredible film that would most likely not get much media attention because the lead characters were sexual minorities.
My personal favorite film featured another sexual minority, an LGBTQ women struggling with anxiety who attempts to hide her anxiety because she thinks then she will have a better chance of the woman she loves loving her back. Most modern day popular movie are shown through a lens of androcentrism, with the movie being about how the overly sexualized female can gain the attention of the male. Everything is centered on the man and how the woman can please the man to win his attention. This movie is very much the opposite, with two female leads it adds an interesting dynamic where it is not about a female trying to please a man, but instead 2 females being honest and open with each other and forming a relationship based upon that. This movie is my favorite because there are so many places where the viewer can think deeper into the film. The main character struggles with anxiety, the anxiety is especially prevalent when she is in situations where others could judge her, the female lead character does not dress like a stereotypical female, but instead chooses to wear traditionally male clothing. Children are often raised with gender socialization; children are taught because they have a specific sex they should act a certain way. (Boundless, 2014) When children choose to go against societal pressures and dress how they choose to, they are often judged and ridiculed which can cause many stresses in their lives, often disorders such as anxiety can be developed as well, this could have been the cause of some of the women in the films anxiety.
In the media today, the main feature films are based on characters with heterosexual privilege. They are commonly white, upper class, physically attractive, heterosexual people, if there are people of color or of a lower socioeconomic status they are typically placed in highly stereotypical roles. In Lives Worth Living, the minorities that are typically marginalized in society and not displayed in the media were the featured roles. One short film was about Phantom Rude who was a transgender drag queen. The movie was a documentary on Phantom Rude’s life, the appeal in watching this movie is that for those of us who are bound by our white privilege in that we commonly view movies that pertain to our place in society, with actors who are similar to the majorities of society, there is often a high underrepresentation of minorities. Our white privilege blinds us to the needs of those around us, (MacIntosh, 1989) Watching Phantom Rude’s story provided the viewers a glimpse into the lives of those who are often cast out by society. Watching Phantom Rude’s story illustrates that so many people who are marginalized have incredible lives and stories that we never get to see.
The short film in Lives Worth Living all demonstrated different forms of intersectionality. In one film there was a girl who was struggling with anxiety and the fear of letting people know what she was struggling with. She was also struggling with society marginalizing her because she identified as LGBTQ. Both these issues are interlocking and both cause oppression. Telling people about her anxiety would not completely provide the freedom she is searching for, she must also find people who will support her and encourage her in her sexuality. Fixing one if the issues would still leave her facing oppression. The main character must find support for both of the struggles she is facing in order for the oppression to be resolved. Simply finding support for one of the forms of oppression would not solve the issue because the oppression would still be there. Phantom Rude also faces oppression because he is lower class as evident in that he is living out of a van, and also LGBTQ. Phantom Rude experiences oppression for being lower class and for being transgender. If one of these oppressions were to be alleviated, the problem would still be present as there would still be oppression based on the remaining circumstance that would still exist.
Overall Lives Worth Living was a very well done film. It highlighted people who were often marginalized by society however had incredible stories to tell. It brought to light issues that society likes to pass over such as oppression faced by LGBTQ, suicide, mental illness, and treatment of those living in poverty. Watching Lives Worth living was a very eye-opening experience that I would highly recommend.
“Gender Socialization – Boundless Open Textbook.” Boundless. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 Feb. 2015.
“Lives Worth Living Shorts Program.” Reelout. Reelout Arts Program Inc., n.d. Web. 9 Feb. 2015.
MacIntosh, Peggy. “White Privilege, Unpacking the Invisible Backpack” Web. 9 Feb. 2015.