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New vid: multifandom, from Club Vivid 2011

This vid probably doesn't merit discussion, after all, it's just a dance vid for a dance-to-vids show at a con, but I have things to say about it! In fact, I may even try out the Critical Commons space with it, since it has big underlying themes and stuff. This final version differs quite a bit from the vid shown at Club Vivid and on the VVC discs because I didn't have access to the stuff I needed before the deadline. I also had to fix a bunch of clips from Twin Peaks and Kids in the Hall.

No You Girls
Artist: Franz Ferdinand
Fandom: Multi
File: Divx avi 35MB
Gender's such a drag.


Media included:
To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything, Julie Newmar
The Crying Game
Some Like It Hot
Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
Sweet November
Sorority Boys
She's the Man
Just One of the Guys
Sylvia Scarlett
Breakfast on Pluto
Kinky Boots
Shakespeare in Love
Twelfth Night
Once a Thief
Due South
Kids in the Hall
Hercules: The Legendary Journeys
Twin Peaks
Bosom Buddies
The Magnificent Seven (TV)

I have never had a strong sense of gender or sex identification, and it's always been largely a meaningless concept to me personally. It's wonderful to me that I live in an age that when people who do have one, and know that they're in the wrong body or living with the wrong gender ID, can actually change, because I think I've always felt that those things were fluid, or, for people like me, not even on the radar and not what should define a person.

But I've also always had a thing for people embracing other genders than the one they've grown up with, especially men in female drag, for whatever reason they're in it. I have been known to become just besotted with pretty drag queens, and will just stare at them for hours if given half a chance. I don't even know why, just that there's something about the one sex type in the trappings of the other sex type that just fascinates me. Especially since we are becoming less and less a binary-sex world, I guess, and I see more men embracing elements of drag just in day to day life.

When I first heard No You Girls, I fell madly in love with the song, and I knew I wanted to vid it right away. Every time I'd hear it on the radio, I'd be singing along loudly, and thinking of what I could do for a vid. At first I went the obvious route--a multifandom vid with all my favorite cool chicks. But how to segue into the boys? Thinking about the last part, when the song changes from an accusation about girls wielding their sexual powers on the poor boys to one about how badly boys treat girls, made me think of my fascination with men in drag, and I knew that had to be the vid. The girls were the boys, and the boys were the girls. As Abed would say, "Cool cool cool."

I wanted to make sure that I stuck largely to comedy or lighter dramas for the drag. At first I didn't want to use period roles, but I realized that especially for the "no you boys" section, I'd have to go period, since a pretty hefty majority of women dressed as men is in period pieces. It would not be good to use anything really serious for such a lightweight vid, so that actually disqualified a number of female as male stories. About the last thing I wanted to do was make light of someone's suffering.

A lot of people on LJ answered my request for more titles to work with, and I had a pretty good list to start with. It was funny how often I forgot that TV characters I liked had been in drag and that I had quite a lot to choose from. Initially I had wanted to avoid TV just so I wouldn't have to deal with bouncing aspect ratios, but in the end, TV won out.

As I began clipping, I realized that male to female drag seems to largely be centered on one of two themes: lifestyle/identification, or necessity. That is, the male is in drag because that is his lifestyle or identification and he chooses wearing traditionally female clothes and makeup for choice, or he is in typically female clothing because he's trying to accomplish something he can't otherwise. In the former, you have Priscilla, To Wong Foo, Flawless, Breakfast on Pluto, and so on, all men who prefer to be dressed as women and code as female. In the second category, you have Tootsie, Victor/Victoria (which is full of gender bending back and forth all over the place), Some Like It Hot, all stories where the guy puts on female drag because he has to in order to get something he wants or to accomplish something -- Dustin Hoffman needs an acting role, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon have to escape from killers. And pretty much all the TV shows I worked with have men in the second category -- they're ALL trying to accomplish something and wouldn't otherwise be dressed as coded female, except notably Twin Peaks and Kids in the Hall, which is on a completely different level from anything else and doesn't fit into ANY category.

I found this utterly fascinating. I mean, we all know that Hollywood sucks at recognizing the differences in gender identification, but working on this made me very crankily aware of how big a FAIL they're all wearing on their foreheads. The thing is, I love many of the things that I included in this vid (with a few exceptions, like Sorority Boys); Tootsie is one of my all-time favorite movies ever. But few of them show the deft touch of gender expectations that, say, Victor/Victoria did, and the ones that did usually have a non-American sensibility -- V/V, Pluto, etc. The TV shows were often just epic fail in this regard -- rewatching Bosom Buddies was such a dispiriting process, especially as they found more and more reasons to take Kip and Henry out of drag (think of the children!). The rare Miss Fraser or Dennis/Denise were almost enough to take the bad taste out of my mouth. I want to see that drag-wearing superspy heroine that Kitten dreams about in Breakfast on Pluto on my TV every week.

But here's where it got really interesting: when I started clipping the female to male parts, I found that almost all of the stories were necessity-based. Most of the films I couldn't really use because that's where the incredibly serious and painful subject matter of identification took place; as soon as you got into lighter drama or comedy, it was all necessity: Just One of the Guys, Joyce wants to write for the paper; She's the Man, she wants to play soccer; Lianne goes undercover in Once a Thief, and so on. To me, this is a fascinating thing -- are we so afraid of women seeming mannish that we have to make sure they step out of that role as quickly as possible? Do we not want them empowering themselves in male trappings except when they absolutely have to? It's just fascinating.

Anyway. It's rare when a vid turns out to be a social studies learning project, but this was an eye-opener. As a drag aficionado, I found it kind of educational to see how these things fell out categorically. I'd be interested to hear anyone else's comments, as well.

It takes a village: Many people loaned me media or helped on this, but I especially want to shout out to [profile] montana_harper for the amazing volume of stuff she loaned me, and [personal profile] mrs_laugh_track and [personal profile] belmanoir for the clips that went way above and beyond the call of duty; and once again, I have to thank [personal profile] marycrawford for her heroism in helping me navigate the waters of Hercules.

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Aug. 25th, 2011 09:59 pm (UTC)
Oh how fun! I've actually long wanted to see a fun vid of cross-dressing and gender-bending. When it's done on screen it can either be insightful or funny or touching or (unfortunately like Bosom Buddies) very distasteful. I've never heard the song before but I love it. I saw some clips that I've never seen before and a lot of old favorites - Victor/Victoria is a perennial favorite of mine. Lovely sense of timing, too.

I know you said you wanted to stick to lighter subjects for the vid (good choice), but have you ever seen Kill Your Darlings with Alexander Skarsgård as the 6'5", suicidal transvestite Geert? Very much a black comedy and Alex was actually quite convincing. Surprised the hell out of me!
Aug. 30th, 2011 06:49 pm (UTC)
Yay, I'm so glad you enjoyed it. There is so much source I didn't use; it ended up being a lot of "pick what's going to connect fannishly" and my personal favorites.

I have not seen Kill Your Darlings -- I saw a pic once, and wished I could see it, but I wasn't sure if it was available anywhere I could get hold of it. Because, yeah, Askars in drag? I"m so there.
Aug. 25th, 2011 11:26 pm (UTC)
I love it. Beautifully done, particularly the 'transition'. Going to dl and rewatch.
Aug. 30th, 2011 06:50 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It was one of the most interesting vids to make that I've ever done. (You know, I'm sudddenly seized with the desire to see what PW looks like in drag...)
Aug. 31st, 2011 02:10 am (UTC)
Paul would either really work in drag...or not work at all. That scene when he's imitating a woman's voice in Joy Ride? Every time I watch it I am like: you are one kinky darling, PW. I heartily approve.
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Aug. 30th, 2011 06:56 pm (UTC)
YES I totally agree. Terence Stamp is such a beautiful man that he's kind of on the border in Priscilla, and I think he was the only other one I really bought. So there's a huge suspension of disbelief when you get into the "straight guy falling for the guy in drag" stories; what I thought was interesting was the girls falling for the girls stories, because it almost seemed like what they were falling for in some of the stories was the feminine quality underneath the female trappings. So much stuff to study if one were inclined.

I actually think David Duchovny is way more attractive as a woman, even in bad hair and clothes. Which is saying a lot since I find him very attractive in general.

Weirdly, one of the most interesting relationships was in Sorority Boys, when the the girl falls for the guy as girl. That one made me happy and surprised me a lot, because that movie is pretty facile.
Aug. 26th, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
Love this song, and the vid is just *neat.* I love multifandom stuff like this, when it's tied together with a compelling theme.

I need to catch up on some of the source material, especially the one with Murphy--he's already ridiculously pretty, I imagine the transformation didn't take that much effort.
Aug. 30th, 2011 06:58 pm (UTC)
Yes, definitely check Breakfast on Pluto out -- but don't watch it if you're feeling fragile. It is not a happy movie, it has a pretty bittersweet ending, but it also has a brutal, brutal beating scene (weirdly, NOT connected to the gender issue), so you have to go into it not thinking it's a gender romp, which I did and boy, was I stunned.
Aug. 27th, 2011 04:05 pm (UTC)
This is a really good vid! Very interesting and I'm going to watch it some more after this. I like the idea of necessity versus identity, especially. The editing and the song choice are great, too. I would question your inclusion of Kitty and Dil, though. They're trans women, not male-identified people performing as female for whatever reason, and mixing them in like that felt like erasure of their womanhood. Maybe I'm missing something, but that just left a bad taste in my mouth.
Aug. 30th, 2011 07:03 pm (UTC)
I'm sorry it left a bad taste! Definitely not something I wanted to do -- I kind of looked at Kitty and Dil as being similar to Terence Stamp in Priscilla, and some of the others like Patrick Swayze's and Philip Seymour Hoffman's characters, where even though they were engaged in the drag performing world, they were living their lives as coded female, and that's how they thought of themselves. It was hard to get an exact balance of the necessity vs. identity that would work for everyone, though, obviously.
Sep. 15th, 2011 05:34 pm (UTC)
I finally got a chance to sit down and watch this and I really enjoyed it! I love how you ended it, especially. Very cool idea.
Sep. 19th, 2011 05:14 am (UTC)
Yay thank you!! I'm so glad you enjoyed it. <3!!!!
Oct. 11th, 2011 03:47 pm (UTC)
oh, i LOVE this!
Oct. 31st, 2011 07:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you!!!
Jun. 22nd, 2012 06:45 pm (UTC)
What a great fun vid! I enjoyed the diverse set of sources you used and that you included female-to-male drag (&c. with Victoria, of course) in addition to male-to-female.

I think you're right that the difference in attitudes towards men-as-women vs. women-as-men is all about power. Men preferring to dress as women are (from that POV) choosing to trivialize themselves, thus inherently comic, whereas women preferring to dress as men are trading up to the more serious gender, so their stories are more serious, whether treated sympathetically or hostilely.

I recently saw Coffee Prince (2007), which I thought had an interestingly unusual angle. The plot was in most ways quite traditional -- man meets boy, falls in love with boy, don't worry: boy is really girl. The interesting part is that the heroine was not in disguise; it was her normal way of dressing, acting, and speaking that caused half the people she met to assume she was male. The fact that she did not change how she comported herself after coming out to them as female caused some of the people who had liked her as a boy to turn on her.
Aug. 16th, 2012 08:38 pm (UTC)
I had a lot of people mention Coffee Prince to me when I was researching clips. If I'd had the chance to include more stuff, timing wise, I would definitely have added that to my list.

Thank you so much for your lovely comments and for watching the vid!
Aug. 25th, 2012 12:40 am (UTC)
This is such a fun and also interesting vid. Thank you for it.
Oct. 5th, 2012 06:58 am (UTC)
And thank you for letting me know you enjoyed it!!
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