Week 7; February 24-March 2nd Blog Entry #2 (Done by S).

G.B.F; is it Better Inside the Closet or Out?

It all started with a magazine cover; ‘how to win that prom tiara’, ‘the do’s and don’ts of popularity’, ‘fashion trends for this new school year’ that three high school girls took to a new level in an all-out-battle to win the title of prom-queen. The power of ultimate consumerism brainwashes the girls into using the newest popularity-assuring fad that a gay-best-friend would catapult them to the top and they set their sights on their target. The film G.B.F presented at the fifteenth annual Reelout queer film and video festival written by George Northy and directed by Darren Stein depicts the reality of high school teen life; where people are targeted for being different, friendships can be sabotaged overnight and people become pawns in games of power. Filmed in 2013 and released January 17th of 2014, G.B.F is an R rated comedy, chronicling the triumphs and defeats of a group of high school students and a fad that objectifies gay individuals.

gbf-1

G.B.F main character, Tanner (Michael. J. Willett) and his friends plan his coming out but instead Tanner is ‘outed’ by others. B.F.F Brent (Paul Iacono) and Tanner have a major falling out, opening the door for the three most powerful and adversarial girls in the school to befriend Tanner motivated by their own agendas. A girl-war erupts as Barbie-perfect Fawcett (Sasha Pieterse), angelic Mormon ‘Shley  (Andrea Bowen) and musical diva Caprice (Xosha Roquemore) battle each other for the perfect prom-accessory molding Tanner into their definition of a ‘fabulous and fierce gay’. Enticed by his new status, Tanner faces a personal ultimatum; sell out to the superficial world of popularity or reconnect with his values and friends.

gbf-slo_mo_strut

This is a great movie whether you’re straight or gay, young or old, adult or teen; G.B.F entertains while touching on issues of great social importance and sensitivity. Armed with a super-charged cast who actively deliver wit and wisdom, the message of the movie comes through loud and clear; using people for your own benefit hurts others and in the end hurts you too. While there is no debate that G.B.F will keep you laughing and contributed to the ‘stitch’ I developed in my side, G.B.F is a parody where a fine line separates on the on-screen humour used in portraying events and the reality of the subject matter in people’s lives. In week 4 lecture of Genders 125, Professor Jane Tolmie discusses the risks of using parodies and satire as a vehicle for expressing social messages. If used well the effect on-screen can produce sheer brilliance however, if not, the result can be quite offensive to viewers. While G.B.F didn’t fall into the extremes of either of these categories, as a viewer I often found myself stifling laughs when the parody seemed to jab at sensitive underlying issues.

G.B.F depicts issues related to sexual orientation in an idealistic way. For Tanner, coming out wasn’t that traumatic or stressful, he was accepted by the majority of those in his school, teachers supported him, and a pre-existing school club for gays provided a sense of community and belonging. The consequences at home seemed just as idyllic, Tanner’s parents were accepting of his orientation having sensed it for some time and there was almost a feeling of relief that their son had finally caught up to what they suspected. In reality we live in a binary world where heteronormativity is considered to be the acceptable way to live life, playing into existing regimes of power and enforcing ableism as discussed in great detail in week’s 5 and 6 lecture of Genders 125. Within society certain members or groups of individuals hold power and authority over others based on rules and norms determined by the ruling group. Class readings have shed considerable light on the fact that within western society able power resides in white heterosexual individuals (Aulette and Wittner 80). In G.B.F the gender spectrum is altered, ultimately twisting it from the conventional norm where power and emphasis on protagonist characters include binary sex division and individuals classify themselves as heterosexuals (Week 3 Class Attachment). In G.B.F Tanner may appear to hold power and the upper-hand over Fawcett, ‘Shley and Caprice because of something he has that they want but in the world off the Hollywood screen that is not reality; there are real issues between sex, gender, sexuality and who people associate with.

Despite the movies focus on issues of sexual orientation the ‘whiteness’ of the cast can’t be ignored. Ethnocentrism is alive and well in the white culture that dominates the screen with a token black actress (Aulette and Wittner 83). The character of Caprice fulfills the racial stereotype of the young, black woman, portrayed as a diva, she is the ‘all-about-me-girl’ filled with attitude and sass (Aulette and Wittner 111). As well as racial ethnocentrism, G.B.F depicts ethnocentricity of religion impacting the character of ‘Shley. Singled out as a Mormon, ‘Shley and her church group are openly ridiculed bearing the brunt of the evil oppressor in the school.

Thanks to Stein’s formidable directing G.B.F plays to some very strong technical components including settings, costumes, and mainstream music that contribute to an air of lighthearted spirit energized through a well-stacked cast that delivers fast-paced dialogue surrounded by flashy glitz and beauty. While I found it very entertaining, aspects of G.B.F seemed to parallel the film Mean Girls written by Tina Fey and directed by Mark Waters, released in April of 2004. The story of a teen leading a double life and trying to balance between two groups, caught up in the consequences of power and authority, the reality of objectification, finally reaching the moment of truth where all is revealed in a highly public setting for everyone to see and hear.

gbf_12_87511989

The Reelout queer film and video festival opened my eyes to the diversity of film providing an opportunity to explore social issues through this media form in a thought-provoking and meaningful way. Movies are made to watch, share and discuss whether it happens with a small group of friends sitting at Tim Horton’s or Starbucks or more formally in a tutorial. Films and film festivals can be a great catalyst bringing people together over social issues. My hope is that movies like G.B.F and other gender diverse films become mainstream, breaking through the barriers of social dictate into the full view of the public eye. They have a lot to say and we, as a society have a lot to learn.

– S entry.

Sources Used:
– The Movie G.B.F
– G.B.F cast and director information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2429074/
– Mean girls cast and director information: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0377092/
– Reelout site: http://www.reelout.com
– Reelout G.B.F page: http://www.reelout.com/event/7pm-g-b-f/
– Lecture Material: Tolmie, Jane. “Week Slides” . Queen’s University. Queen’s University, Kingston, ON. January- February 2014. Lecture.
– Class Book: Auletter, Judy Root, and Judith Wittner. Gendered Worlds. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2012. Print.
– Week 3 Class Attachment Site: https://www.genderspectrum.org/understanding-gender
– G.B.F Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6DJSGrfNbk
– Picture #1: http://d1oi7t5trwfj5d.cloudfront.net/c1/fe/31be3b464e579190325ceedaad8f/gbf-1.jpg
– Picture #2: http://www.thefilmcollaborative.org/_images/slate_images/gbf/gbf-web/gbf-slo_mo_strut.jpg
– Picture #3: http://thenypost.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/gbf_12_87511989.jpg

Advertisements

4 Comments

  1. I too generally think that there is a fine line between what is considered funny in a parody versus what is harmful. I find that parodies must be watched with ‘a grain of salt’ because when taken literally, their messages can be harsh and inappropriate. Though, I think there are some parodies that are very effective at conveying important messages such as the Robin Thicke “Blurred Lines” Sexy Boys Parody by Mod Carousel. This music video emphasizes the unbefitting hypersexualization of women in Robin Thicke’s original video by reversing the roles of men and women so the men are made to be the sex objects. This extremely unexpected and unlikely change effectively communicates to viewers the unfortunate norm society has formed in which women are seen as sex objects. This ties in with your point on heteronormativity that suggests being heterosexual is the norm. Neither this, nor women as sexualized pawns to be toyed with should ever be considered normal, thus I see these forms of parodies as effective in addressing the matter. As you mention, films are powerful tools for addressing social issues. Though, as Uncle Ben famously says, with great power comes great responsibility. Filmmakers must be cautious of their story because if lines are crossed, content can be very easily misinterpreted.

    -J.

  2. I found it really interesting to read your blog as I watched the same film as you and I really agree with what you are arguing in your blog post! I thought it was very well done bringing in lecture notes in this post because what Professor Tolmie was saying relates heavily to the film. Using parodies to express certain morals is what many movies can do very well, and I thought that G.B.F did a very good job of this too. Many different stereotypes were portrayed in this film very well through the sassy black girl Candice, to the beautiful popular girls and the expectation of ‘fierce’ and fashion advice-filled gay men.
    I also really liked that you addressed the acceptance that Tanner had with coming out, and acknowledged that many high school students do not have this same experience when ‘coming out.’
    I also thought it was interesting that you related the film to Mean Girls because I was thinking the same thing when I watched the film. Both films are dominantly white and heterosexual with the separate class rankings from ‘ugly’ and not popular to who are considered the beautiful girls, making them the most
    popular.

    -R.

  3. I unfortunately have not seen this movie, as this review makes me want to. However, the way you describe it does make it sound like Tanner is living in an idealized world. I know that it is often the case where people coming out will be accepted immediately by friends and family, but the unfortunate reality is that most of the time this is not the case. It was especially interesting to see you relate this to western societal principles, where “power resides in the white, heterosexual individuals”, and “within society certain members or groups of individuals hold power and authority over others based on rules and norms determined by the ruling group”, you wouldn’t think that Tanner would have a lot of agency.

    – M

  4. The review of this film did such a good job of summarizing the story that I wish I had seen this film while it was playing just to experience it. The part that described Tanner’s coming out as easy made me think about how it generally is not easy at all for some people to come out and announce that they’re gay. Living in a world with such a strong heteronormative state of mind makes it seem like a big deal when somebody does when really it should be completely irrelevant to other people’s lives. It’s important to be logical about these things and unfortunately it’s not always easy to come out because of fear of rejection or hate. I’m not saying that it should be this way at all, but the fact that this film didn’t seem to explore or attempt to break any barriers with the situation of coming out when they easily could have seems questionable for a Reelout movie. It does seem as though they took a less serious approach to relaying their message, which in the end, still seems like a positive one designed to make people think.

    -L.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s