Bruno began the recitation with a discussion of Aileen Wuornos, a serial killer/prostitute who murdered seven of her clients. He showed us a clip of the documentary that was made about her life, and we discussed how this representation of her differed than the one presented in Monster with Charlize Theron. Broomfield’s film (Aileen Wuornos: The Selling of a Serial Killer) painted a picture of female masculinity that prompted his audience to empathize with her more than the media wanted us to. Because lesbianism was significantly more accepted in 2003 when Monster was released, it delves deeper into the issues that Wuornos faced as a person, rather than blanketing her crime as ‘lesbian.’ We looked at how both Broomfield’s documentary and Monster related to Boys Don’t Cry, mainly in the vein of comparing how the killers/victims were portrayed in the media at the times of their respective incidents.
The concept of reel life versus real life was discussed in detail, and we decided that although Brandon Teena’s character may seem ‘too good’ to our generation, at the time that the film was made, his legacy was that of a villain (even though he was clearly victimized). The heteronormativity of Lana’s character was also debated, as there is a division of opinion on her sexuality (or on if her sexuality even matters). The fact that Lana is still alive and can comment on the film was of interest because it adds an alternative voice to the argument of the film’s absolute truth. It was agreed that elements of the film (such as Brandon’s angelic personality) were exaggerated, but that they almost needed to be in order for the film to have the impact that it did.
We then moved on to a discussion of heteronormativity in the film in general, and decided that it shifted gender roles in such a way that Brandon, who in normal society would be considered queer, set the standard for normality in this particular context. The other characters, mainly the straight men, were marginalized as terribly violent and therefore began to feel queer to an audience who would normally identify with them.
Bruno then directed the discussion to the film Sex, Lies, and Videotape, and how it transformed the face of indie cinema in the United States. We talked about what makes up an independent film, and agreed that money is the main difference between the margin and the mainstream. Also, if a film speaks to a niche audience, it is more likely to be considered indie, rather than its mass-produced studio counterpart. The freedom that indie filmmakers have is also a preferable mode of cultural education to some directors, including Andy Warhol.
Seung-Hee presented on King’s chapter, outlining alternative visions to Hollywood. Her powerpoint delved very deeply into the article, and touched on the LA School, blaxploitation, conventionality, and the commercialization of indie cinema that has happened in recent years. Christina then took over and presented on Cooper’s article, which dealt with the ‘real’ story of Brandon Teena and how Boys Don’t Cry affected media in the late 90s (around the time that Ellen came out, and AIDS entered into a mainstream cultural discussion). And that’s about it!