Friday 5 September 2014

Awkward Moments in Cinemas

Watching The Inbetweeners movie with my workmates was great – I’ve not laughed so hard in a long time.  Right up until the end.  For the final joke, Neil was set up on a date with a Ladyboy in Thailand.  “That’s just a bloke with tits.  S’pose I’ll have to stick to the top half.”  But it got funnier; during the end credits the boys were all seen enjoying a meal out with four Thai girls.  The big joke being the camera panning below the table to show each of the ladies wearing no pants and all to having a penis.  Brilliant.  Epic.  Cut back to look of horror on Neil’s face as he ‘realises’. 

Fuck me, really?  Why do I now have to deal with this awkwardness?  I was enjoying a really good movie with mates.  I don’t want to feel like I have to write a boring article following a stupid and otherwise hilarious movie.  But I do.  I do because no one else will and because otherwise no one will understand why I went to bed in tears tonight.  Because this isn’t alright.

I should have walked out.  Or otherwise made my disapproval known.  I didn’t.  Instead I pretended to chortle, like it was no big deal, just so that the people around me wouldn’t feel awkward or think that I was uptight.  I think I let myself down by doing that.  I’ve always maintained that to laugh at anything you must first be able to laugh at yourself.  Being the fun-sponge who everyone thinks they have to be politically correct around is no fun.  Just taking the humour of this movie as a single example of many; every subject of ridicule (and there are many) is given the option of being empathised with or understood.  They have a voice.  Whether that’s banter about being gay, about being divorced, about being overweight, about being a total knob.  Each time I laughed it wasn’t because it didn’t affect me, it was because the gay person was cool, or because the (barely) overweight person was gorgeous and loved, and the people acting like complete knobs were the main heros who we all identify with somehow.  And that’s the whole point, we are left able to identify with each person in turn and to laugh at the situation and the idiocy instead.  Ridicule is deflected onto the idiot delivering it and we laugh at them while their underlying good nature leaves us still loving them.  Banter works, however harsh it may seem, when everyone wins.  Otherwise it’s just bullying.  Hate bullying, love banter.

The four trans women at the end of this movie were alone in being there purely as objects, the single joke being to show their genitals and the look of utter revulsion and/or ridicule on the poor guy’s face.  End.

There was slightly less laughter amongst the audience to that joke – particularly amongst my workmates.   Just by being present, I had made the room an awkward place for people who didn't deserve to feel awkward (“Are we okay to laugh at this?”).  I and the millions who will watch this movie left knowing that it’s all knob gags and brilliantly, hilariously, cringe-worthy.  For every subject of ridicule, a knowing wink was made to put the joke firmly onto the boys being idiots.  Except.  Except for the ‘Ladyboys’.  The only perspective on that subject was the clear message I left with, for the millionth tiresome time.  That they (and by extension, I) are just blokes with tits.  That they’re revolting.  That I’m revolting.  I’m ridiculous and above all, unlovable.

In this particular ‘rock and a hard place’ where I find myself once again, I’m not supposed to be upset.  This isn’t anyone else’s problem and I’ve no real desire to make it anyone else’s problem.  There are bigger problems in the world.” “ Stop being so self-centered.” “You’ve got equality, what the hell are you complaining about now.” “ You’re just a fun-sponge.” These are the kinds of retorts one hears to boring activists banging on about their one little problem and ruining the fun for everyone else.

Shit like this is the reason I fear walking down the road to get milk.  I’m judged.  Shit like this is why I have and probably always will avoid close human contact.  I’m disgusting.  Fucking hell, shit like this is why I have felt alienated and alone all my fucking life.  And I’m not the only one.  Ask anyone who identifies as transgender and they’ll give a similar story.

Shit like this is why we still need to find a voice and a place in the world.  So that future generations can laugh with us, not at us.  Like we do with those lovable boys behaving like knobs.

N.B - I don't mean to insinuate that trans guys don't suffer this problem too - it wasn't in this example though and the media tend to focus jokes on trans women.  Please correct me if I'm wrong.


  1. this is the film makers fault Ayla. They need bringing to book. Like you, I often feel like this about what might seem to anyone else, a trivial matter. But rest assured that you are beautiful, and are loved. The very fact that your work mates felt uncomfortable with the scene shows that they care about your feelings.
    Sending you a big hug from me.
    Sophie. x

    1. I totally feel with you here, and have blogged about this "Just by being present, I had made the room an awkward place" thing. It isn't about being "accepted" by our friends, and it isn't even about being OK beautiful people (inside of course). It's about society understanding that 1% of all of us turns the gender binary exclusive idea on its head. Keep getting upset and keep writing.

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