"BOYS DON'T CRY."
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Examines issues raised in the 1999 movie.... More...
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Examines issues raised in the 1999 movie. Diverse social problems depicted in the film that requiem social, legal and political support. Plot of the film, based on the true story of a young woman with a sexual identity crisis who passes for a man. Her rape and murder. Problem of homophobia and hate crimes in society.
This paper is an examination of some of the issues raised by Kimberly Peirce's 1999 movie, Boys Don't Cry, and possible political organizing strategies that might be effective in dealing with them. This devastating film, based on a true story, suggests a number of common social problems that require social, legal, and political support to confront. Teena Ray Brandon was a 21-year-old from Lincoln, Nebraska, who struggled throughout her brief life with a self-identified sexual identity crisis. Born female, she never felt comfortable as a girl, and she began dressing as and passing for a man. Using the name of Brandon Teena, she befriended a group of bored, lower-class young people with too much time on their hands. She eventually fell in love with one of the group, Lana, a lost, hard-drinking teenager who found the drifter's sensitivity appea
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Teena Ray Brandon was a 21-year-old from Lincoln, Nebraska, whostruggled throughout her brief life with a self-identified sexual identitycrisis. As society in general has come to recognize that rape is a crime ofviolence, reporting and confronting it have become easier. Supplying other kinds of recreational activity is also important. Teena Brandon's story, while not a common one,nevertheless suggests more universal concerns. Communities should be ableto demonstrate easily the monetary savings of preventive therapy overincarceration. For those who remain, theprospects are increasingly bleak. Works CitedNational Organization for Women. When the story broke, alocal high school was rehearsing a production of The Laramie Project, aplay about the murder of Matthew Sheperd, another gay teen who was killedin Wyoming as a result of homophobic rage. Several media campaigns already exist to spread information abouthomosexuality, but resistance to its dissemination sometimes prevent itfrom being shared in many of the places, such as the public schoolclassroom, where it might be most effective. Inclusion in freeor reduced-price bus trips to larger venues could be offered as a prize foryoung people who demonstrate motivation by staying out of trouble andcontributing to the community through volunteer work. The only adult role model inthe group is Lana's mother, and the film's first glimpse of her finds herpassed out drunk on the living room couch. If Boys Don't Cry hadbeen able to include in its story just one person who had found aproductive, interesting life in the middle of such despair, it might havehelped the movie and its audiences by showing that life in Nebraska,Wyoming, Colorado, and other rural areas can be both bearable andrewarding. When she was thrown in jail, Lana'sfriends began to figure out the truth and, once she was released, attackedher and forced her to admit her true gender. Yet, Brandon still suffers considerably as a result of being raped.She is ashamed, believes that she brought the act on, and is reluctant totalk about what happened with anyone, either authority figures or friends.Because hers was a particularly unusual case, she is less likely to elicitsympathy from those around her, especially those who see her fully dressed,passing as a boy. Born female, she never felt comfortable as a girl, and she begandressing as and passing for a man. The kindest treatment she receives is from the nurseexamining her, who sees a frightened, nearly naked female shivering on theexamination table, and from Lana, who sees the soul in the person she lovesrather than the body housing that soul. Fox Searchlight: 1999. Theirjobs are all mind-numbingly boring, a choice between the monotony of thefactory and the smoke-filled bar, and their lives, if they stay where theywere born, offer no choices and no future. The student production drewconsiderable attention outside their school to the production, whicheffectively dramatized the varying reactions of townspeople to Sheperd'sdeath and to gays in general. It is probable that such programs do not exist, ashers is not a common problem. Technology has made more entertainmentactivities available, but they are almost all individual, sedentaryexperiences, such as video games and on-line programs. These could include circuses, music programs, theatercompanies, etc., to include more distant locations as part of their regulartouring schedule, providing entertainment programs to isolated areas on amore regular basis. Any strategy that attempts to deal with homophobiamust confront the underlying ignorance that fuels such hatred first. If programs donot already exist to deal with the complexities raised by such a case, theymust be established. Films suchas Boys Don't Cry, which use real-life events to humanize gay charactersand show the devastating consequences that homophobia can have onindividual lives can be extremely effective. Opponentsargue that trying to legislate thoughts and motivations amounts to asuppression of free speech and is too difficult to prove, but, by raisingvisibility in cases where homophobia was obviously an issue, the courts canhelp increase public revulsion for such crimes. According to the National Organization forWomen, the vast majority of victims of anti-lesbian/gay violence "possiblymore than 8 %" never report the incident, often due to fear of being"outed." An organizing strategy to deal with homophobia could include legal,educational, social, and other strategies to confront and lessen publicfear and hatred about homosexuality. The challenge is to find activities that bring people togetherphysically in locations where people live far apart by choice. Teenage runaways, underagedrinking, juvenile crime, rape, social isolation, homophobia, and otherproblems continue to plague society and make life difficult. In Los Angeles in 2 2, a murder similar to the Teena Brandon caseagain drew national attention to the problem. She eventually fell in love with one of the group, Lana, alost, hard-drinking teenager who found the drifter's sensitivity appealingand was touched by Brandon's attentions. Forcommunities that cannot provide economic or population support for fixedestablishments such as the roller skating rink Brandon visits in Lincoln, apossible solution might be some form of traveling entertainment makingregular visits to less-populated areas but providing leisure activities ona regular schedule. More widespreadacceptance of homosexuality is vitally important to keeping gay and lesbianteenagers from feeling even more isolated from their peers than straightteens going through adolescence and from seeking suicide as an answer totheir isolation. Many cases are the result of boredom; individuals act out theirinitial impulses because they simply have nothing better to do and nounderstanding of how they might be able to better channel their energies. Recent population statistics suggest that those who can leave therural stretches of America are doing so. An effective overall strategy wouldfirst examine the prevalence of the problem and then seek a diversity ofways to deal with it. As with the problem of reducing homophobia, mass media can help.Enlisting critical celebrities to tout the idea of volunteerism is abeginning. Brandon's killer showed obvious signs of anger managementproblems and even borderline psychosis long before committing murder. Another set of issues raised by the movie concerns teenage runaways,underage drinking, and juvenile crime, all of which are related to (amongother things) a youthful population with too much time on its hands, toolittle supervision, and not enough guidance. The production has done more for raisingawareness than hundreds of public service announcements. A few critically-acclaimed film that focus on individualstories offering alternatives would also be useful. Most of the characters in Boys Don't Cry suffer from impulse controlproblems. A routine police check uncovered her true identity andthe outstanding warrants against her. Boys Don't Cry raises a number of diverse social issues that must beaddressed by a caring society. More resourcesare now available for victims, and prosecution is now more readilyavailable. Brandon would have benefited especially from someform of group therapy to assure her that, while few shared her specialcircumstances, she was not completely alone. Education with an eye toward building acceptance is necessary in otherareas of society, as well. The fact that it is based on a true (andtragic) story gives additional urgency to the need for strategies toaddress those issues. "Come Out Against Homophobia: Did You Know?" Http://www.now.org/issues/lgbi/stats.html.Peirce, Kimberly. Working to convince educatorsat the national, state, and local levels of the importance of helpingstudents to understand a significant minority within the population couldbegin to lay the groundwork for lessening homophobia within Americansociety. Yet social assistance programs must considerall the possible combinations of problems their missions might bring themto address, and an individual whose violent rape reinforces her existinggender conflicts, while rare, is not completely unknown. Adults who are no longer in school neverthelessneed ongoing programs to help them turn away from homophobia. Although she tried to keep silent, policestarted an investigation. Brandon was driven by what she termed sexual identity crisis.However, her killers, once they realized that she seemed to be a woman,were furious that she and Lana were lovers, seeing the relationship aslesbian. One of the mostobvious is the complicated issue of homophobia. Schools are an important place to start for another, related reason.NOW reports that lesbian, gay, and bisexual youth are at a four timeshigher risk for suicide than their straight peers. Thecosts to society of finding therapeutic treatment for him would almostcertainly have been less than the later costs of prosecuting him and thensentencing him to life imprisonment. Looking atsolutions or at least examining ways to confront these problems isessential to improving life for all of us. She claimed to be a hermaphrodite, one born with sexualcharacteristics of both genders, but the movie makes clear that sheappeared to be exclusively female. This paper is an examination of some of the issues raised by KimberlyPeirce's 1999 movie, Boys Don't Cry, and possible political organizingstrategies that might be effective in dealing with them. Brandon saw herself asmale and longed to arrange a sex-change operation to effect a physicaltransformation. Ultimately, her lieswere her undoing. Homophobia continues to be a social problem, as other recent high-profile cases have shown, leading to violence and, often, murder. The two were caught andsentenced for the murders, sentences they continue to serve to this day. The award-winning film based on Brandon's short life and terribledeath raises a number of issues that could benefit from politicalorganizing strategies and tactics to deal with them. The young people in the moviehave few leisure options: a local bar equipped with pool tables, aconvenience store for snacks, home for parties and hanging out, or theendless, desolate highway between destinations for driving to fast. For quite awhile, Brandon managedto hide her true gender from Lana as well as from the others. When entertainment cannot come to outlying areas, communities could beencouraged to bring citizens to more central locations. This devastatingfilm, based on a true story, suggests a number of common social problemsthat require social, legal, and political support to confront. To support herself and maintain hercharade, she resorted to petty thievery, forgery, and stealing cars, andshe used a false drivers license to escape detection. Programssuch as Youth Service America, America's Promise, and Do Something providevolunteer opportunities for young people, encouraging them to get involvedin their community by volunteering time to programs that need assistance.The trick is to make such involvement socially acceptable to cynical youngminds. Two men in the group, enraged that Brandon had tricked them intobelieving she was male, brutally raped her and then threatened her if shetold police what had happened. It alsotends to be under-reported. Brandon needs not just the established rape crisis hotlines andtreatment programs but programs tailored to understand her confusion overher sexual identity. The film would still have been able to stay true to itsartistic vision, and it might, in fact, have been able to heighten thetragedy by showing some hope for the characters who survived. One of the most powerful issues raised in Boys Don't Cry is that ofrape. To silence her, the men brutally murderedBrandon and a friend who was helping her. Brandon was not an innocent. Police are increasingly likely to believe reports of rape andto take it seriously as a criminal act. Finally, public pressure must be applied continuously to examiningexisting hate-crime laws and the publicity surrounding their application.If it can be proved that a murderer chose his victim out of prejudice orhatred, hate-crime laws can make the penalty even more severe. Boys Don't Cry. Using the name of Brandon Teena, shebefriended a group of bored, lower-class young people with too much time ontheir hands. While homosexuality has become increasingly acceptedin American society, gay and lesbian individuals continue to faceconsiderable prejudice. Some, however, clearly require counseling.
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