Thursday, March 27, 2014

Trans-Gender...Simulation More Acceptable Than the Real?

Right around the time that the Oscars wrapped up this year I saw a lot of articles popping up from different news sources from different kinds of communities after Jared Leto won an Oscar for his portrayal of a trans-gender person in the movie “Dallas Buyers Club.” In the movie he was a boisterous, flamboyantly portrayed trans-gender prostitute with lots of flashy make-up and in some people’s opinions an over-done performance. Jared Leto is not a trans-gender person, he is an actor that pretended to be trans for the sole purpose of the movie. A huge question circulating is why not just use a real trans-gender person? This is the controversy and I think it is very interesting to think of that. Why didn’t the producers of this movie do exactly that? Why not cast a trans-gender actor/actress? Would that have been too controversial to all the transphobic people, or the people who accept it but “don’t want to see it” or were they simply trying to capitalize on the stereotype?

I think the line between real and not real is really interesting when it comes to people’s perception of the trans community. There is a lot of hate and a lot of love revolving around this community, I find myself understanding the trans community’s upset with Leto’s personification of a trans person. They very well could have casted an actual trans person for the role. I feel like Jared Leto pretending to be trans discredits actual trans people and could cast them in the light that they are not good enough to fill a role of who they are, instead Leto dressed up to look like a stereotype that has been formed around a community instead of putting someone who doesn’t need to pretend and could shed light on the trans community in a way that is not just a stereotype.  Why not cast some of these beautiful trans people who include a model that appeared on “America’s Next Top Model” and a prominent director in Hollywood? Does real have no credibility? Is the simulation better than the original?


1 comment:

  1. This leads to so many interesting questions about what "acting" in general IS. The Puritan anti-theatricalists in the late 16th century used to be afraid that acting on stage could lead to a change in an actor's real life (for example, if a man played a woman on stage, could that lead to a compromised gender in his offstage life?). Is there a continuing fear about the power of representation in the way we sometimes demand that representations match the real? How do we balance our political activism in favor of diversifying the performing arts against a progressive desire to allow for the stage and screen to be uncoupled? While my politics certainly do get irked when I see the stats about people of color, women, LGBT folks, acting on stage and screen, I also wonder whether there isn't a conservative strain to the idea that roles and the real should somehow be aligned. I am also, of course, skeptical that there is a REAL at all. Are genders and sexualities so firmly affixed as to be guaranteed/reified into stable real truths? If I play a role well, are there possible ways in which those roles DO become real? How does all of this relate (for example) to Judith Butler going off to Yale to play at being a lesbian (I know you remember that reading, right!?). Great questions to ponder!


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