Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TBR Answers Your Burning Questions #1

Contemporary gay movies are generally tragedies. How do you think this irony relates to the real lives of gay people?
-From Dawnson (Question originally appears here.)

Tragic endings are a staple not of gay films per se, but of erotic films. It's all that sex -- whether gay or straight -- that "warrants" a death by murder or suicide or total calamity. There's something about Philippine culture, our religious, predominantly Catholic upbringing that tells us all that promiscuity and forbidden desire on display must somehow be punished by film's end. As viewers, we must be purged of the guilt of watching by restoring order through common morality. For the longest time, homosexuality has been part of that which is sinful and must therefore be thwarted by a downer ending.

I find it disheartening that many filmmakers today still think this is the way to make a movie, uncritical of their own positions on sex and homosexuality. Similarly, many viewers still sometimes prefer the taboo gloom of these negative movies. Notice the popularity of the tragic and heavyhanded Ang Lihim Ni Antonio over the light and unapologetic Kambyo. I'm sure fans will have different justifications for their preference (quality, technical merit, etc.), but I'm betting it's largely a function of tone. So maybe we still need these homosexuality-leads-to-death movies if only to see something onscreen that resembles our true feelings about our own experiences. It's possible many people still believe relations with the same sex is a dirty indulgence that must be kept in check. On the other hand, I smile everytime I hear a viewer complain about stupid endings. I see it as a sign that more gay Filipinos are now envisioning a more positive future for themselves, one in which we can live happily ever after. I think what we ask for is not a ban on tragedies; We're simply hungry for movies that are more imaginative, intelligent, and forward-thinking.


joelmcvie said...

Tragic endings are a staple not of gay films per se, but of erotic films.

From the way you wrote your post, it seems clear that you're referring only to Filipino gay & erotic films. But what can you say about gay films from other countries?

thebaklareview said...

the question was part of a batch of questions pertaining to current filipino gay films. hence, the angle. sorry, i guess i wasn't very clear about the context.

gay films from other countries? that's a huuge topic. an overview of the queer cinemas of the world should tell us that the films are as varied as the colors of the rainbow. sure there are tragedies, but also so much more.

it should be enlightening to read what gay people from different contries have to say about their respective national gay cinemas. i guess that's partly what i'm trying to do with thebaklareview. i mean, wouldn't it be great if a thai can explain to us how exactly the ending of "the love of siam" is supposed to be satisfying? :-)

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