Sunday, 8 December 2013

Tropfest goes Troppo

(From me as an individual; not on behalf of any organisation I represent).

There are many perspectives to the debate about Tropfest winner (sic) "Bamboozled" ; I add mine as a person who among many other facets is transgender and an occasional stand-up/spoken word performer.

I run by the guideline when doing stand-up of “unless a person identifies as part of that group, they don’t make jokes about it.” As someone who is a person (emphasis) with many facets including transgender and performer, I can - and do - take the Michelle out of myself on those facets. I also used to sit and watch people who didn’t identify that way and who thought they had incredibly funny material about trans that I knew wasn’t funny at all. The good thing was - virtually no one else laughed at their material either.

As rightly noted by Will, “There’s Something About Miriam,” among many issues, was unacceptable  in that played on the emotive and false allegation that trans people are “deceivers” re intimacy. I ask people to note that recently, 20th November marked Transgender Day of Remembrance and 239 known transphobic murders around the world in the last 12 months. A visit to the official website notes many such brutal murders over the years are because the other person is enraged by the idea of alleged “deception” by the trans person (think Boys Don’t Cry). General violence rates in Australia against trans people can be up to 25% - 12 times that of the overall population.

In this light, I really question the artistic and so-called “comedic” merit of Bamboozled and its worthiness to win an award. I would think it is surely possible to critique reality TV in a way that involves humour without stereotyping groups or possibly putting groups at any greater risk than they already face.

If we are asking organisations such as the AFL to take social responsibility in areas such as transgender, I think we are entitled to ask Tropfest and filmmakers to do the same. Certainly, freedom of opinion and artistic expression are important in society. I think human life and human dignity matter even more – maybe most of all.

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