Boys dont cry

In looking at this weeks readings in Boys Don’t Cry, I couldn’t help but be disappointed in the lack of progress that we’ve made in depicting trans identity on screen. The critiques and analysis of Swanks performance seem to resonate with movies like Dallas Buyers Club and The Danish Girl, perhaps even extending to films about cisgender queer people like the Imitation Game. I wonder what it is that makes people so eager to applaud straight or cis actors ability to “play gay,” as if these performances (let alone their reception) are not largely based in damaging and dangerous stereotypes about queer life. Seeing Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club, and to a certain extent even Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger in Brokeback Mountain, are not exactly watershed moments for queer representation on screen, instead reading more like the worst kind of pandering–it’s as if Hollywood tells us not that our stories are unimportant, but that we don’t deserve to tell them.

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