Movies get titled and renamed all the time while they’re being written and during pre-production. Often times if the film is anticipated to be a blockbuster the film will even be purposefully named something completely different and generic until the studio is ready to publicize it. There are times, however, that movies get renamed to make them more acceptable to the hetero/cis-centric audiences or to dodge some negative press among minority groups.
“The problem? They renamed the film at the last minute..”
First among those would be the Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver flop that got blasted online in response to insensitive comments made by Rodriguez who still seems to be ignorant of why the community is so upset. Even Weaver made a fairly cold comment although Rodriguez persisted in shoving her foot further and further into her own mouth. I’ve written about this specific trash-flick and the reason why so many are upset before (Dear Michelle Rodriguez and Female Icons Dis Gender Equality) so I won’t rehash it all. I will state that because of the backlash, the film went to video on demand and then received a limited theater release and remained off the radar for the most part, thankfully. It was originally called Tomboy in the earlier production stages and then was changed to Re/Assignment during filming and a chunk of post-production. The online community hammered the film under the Re/Assignment name so when it came to actually release it the production company must have figured three time’s a charm and changed the name again to just Assignment in the hopes of focusing more on the hit-man aspect rather than the “sex change” elements. While I will point out that the original story was written in the late 70’s by Denis Hamill, he did his best to quell the uproar with his explanation but it did little to save the film, and it should remain in the obscure trash pile it now finds itself in.
Next up is About Ray which maintained its title for the entire duration right up until just prior to its theatrical (limited) release. The film features three strong female actresses – Susan Sarandon, Naomi Watts, Elle Fanning – but, unlike the previous film mentioned, this one does focus on being transgender. While the community cried out about transface being an ongoing issue, the film itself was trans-centric. It touched upon many trans-related issues and how family members may struggle to understand and accept, even those already within the LGB community. The film was set to have been released in New York and Los Angeles as of May 5, 2017, and there is the expectation that additional cities and theaters will receive the film (click here to see if it’s available in your area). The problem? They renamed the film at the last minute, and it is now 3 Generations (sometimes: Three Generations) in a marketing attempt to “cis-ify” the film. Making it appear that the film is merely about three generations of one family (of which it is) makes it more marketable to the moving-going cis/hetero crowd.
“This is kind of our own fault, though.”
This is kind of our own fault, though. While ignorance cannot be helped such as the case with the Rodriguez flop, the LGBT community has shown itself to be unreliable to back LGB and especially T related projects. It seems we’ve become more interested in tearing down, nit-picking, and being indignant with everything than really supporting what is making its way out there for us. Should we settle for crap? Absolutely not and to do so is a major injustice to ourselves and the entire point of our cause. But when the numbers came in for When We Rise, it was devastatingly lower than anticipated. That scared the studios and it wound up resulting in a cancellation of an LGBT show before it even made it to production. About Ray/3 Generations received more flack about it having a cis-actor than actually supporting a film addressing trans-related matters. These certainly are the only incidences of our own failure to support film and television projects that attempt to represent us. When something does come our way, we’re spending more time bashing it so that fewer people are interested in putting themselves out there with our topics than we are appreciating the fact that there are people who are trying to break down doors and make the LGB and especially the T communities more visible. Getting projects approved that are Trans-specific or even generally LGB centric is difficult if you’re talking about having major studio backing that will result in a film that will receive much greater release and advertisement. So why would anyone involved take the risk when the community continues to show that we will not support anything and then turn around and complain that there’s no representation in film and television?
What we see out there right now may not be perfect, but it’s gaining ground. It is making us visible, and it’s trying to represent us as humans rather than creepy villains with weird sex fetishes/psychosis – you know, how we used to be represented in shows. Send studios and actors your support. Give insightful feedback instead of an attack. Promote the films and shows so that more are made and continue to demand quality in the process. But please, stop demanding visibility and then refuse to support it at the same time.