Exploitation Without a Balancing Representation

I do not like censorship.  This leaves me with ambivalent feelings regarding the latest brouhaha over what is probably a campy low budget exploitation movie, “Ticked Off Trannies With Knives”.

There are an awful lot of really stupid waste of time and money films out there.  Most seem filmed on another planet I call, “The World Without Women”.  Much of movie land is Guyville where the stupid and the violent reigns supreme.

Because I haven’t seen the film being discussed I have no real way of knowing if it falls in the campy queer cinema of say John Waters and Andy Warhol or in the dumb and violent arena of Guyville.

On a positive note I have heard the film defended as having actual sisters in the roles of the “Ticked off Trannies” .  This would generally cause me to rank it several steps higher than the most well intentioned  trans themed films that use a cis-sexual/gender actor or actress in drag face to play the role of the transsexual or transgender person.

I loved the film “The Crying Game” precisely because they cast Jaye Davidson as female lead.  I gave TransAmerica a lower mark because for all its sensitivity and its including sisters in the supporting cast it had a cis-sexual/gender actress as the lead.  One who played us in mildly offensive stereotypes.

So often it seems that the only places where transsexual and transgender people actually appear as real people in the world of film and video are in documentaries where we get to simply be ourselves.

Candis Cayne has been in several films and regularly appears on television.  Yet I rarely hear her work spoken of.  Then there are the queens like Hedda Lettuce who have appeared in shows on Logo.  While I know that the respectable transgender communities often seem composed of  straight CDs who sometimess look down upon the drag queens.  Drag queens are nonetheless one of the transcommunities and as such they should also be represented fairly.

There has been an effort on the part of some to compare “Ticked off Trannies….” with the Blacksploitation films of the 1970s yet those films were balanced with serious works with major Black actors such as Sidney Poitier.  Where is the equivalency with serious non documentary films with transsexual/transgender roles filled by actors and actresses who are actually transsexual or transgender?

Time and context become important.  If this film were simply a stupid and violent film that was balanced out it would be one thing…  But it isn’t.

However I am of the opinion that rather than going for censorship that we use it as an opportunity to educate.

When “Different For Girls” showed at the LA Gay and Lesbian Film Festival a number of years ago I went’ and stayed for the question and answer session with the director.  I asked the important question of, “Why did you have a straight male actor in drag face playing the part of a transsexual woman?  Don’t you see that doing this is as offensive to us as having a white actor play in blackface or having a white actor in yellowface playing the role of an Asian?

Film festivals are filled with film people as well as those who write about film.  It might be better to attend the film than protest from outside.  Then stick around and ask hard questions.

Posted in Film. 6 Comments »

Please distribute this email about the protest next Tuesday, and join the “Protest Transphobia In Media” Facebook page:

Please distribute this email about the protest next Tuesday, and join
the “Protest Transphobia In Media” Facebook page:


Tuesday March 30th 6:30 – 8pm in front of Tribeca Cinemas. Please bring candles
to honor Angie Zapata and Jorge Mercado
Tribeca Cinemas
54 Varick Street
New York, NY 10013
(at Laight Street, one block below Canal Street)

Protest Info page:

Info about movie: