Monday, March 31, 2008

Movie Trailer, Dun Dun Dun

One of my Myspace friends alerted me to the fact that Asexuality: The Making of Movement now has a trailer up on Youtube. I watched all 8 minutes of it, and I was very surprised by what I saw. Why was so much of it made up of already-aired TV spots? Why does it ask "come on, is asexuality for real?" Why are "sexperts" included when what they're saying about asexuality is so obviously false? (An AVENite once called these people "modern day flat-Earthers", and I think that's perfectly apt.) I really didn't like how the trailer seemed to be setting up a "do we exist" exploration. That's the same thing that Montel and The View did on their shows, and I don't think it's constructive. The reason I liked the KPFA show so much is because we were already operating on the assumption that our identities were valid. And after seeing the trailer for this film, I'm hesitant about continuing to be involved with it. You can see the trailer here. What do you think? Since the film needs asexuals as subjects, it can't really be made without our consent. So what, if anything, should be we do?

(Also, I have to comment on the music, because that's just how I do. "How Soon is Now"? Are you kidding me? Please tell me that choice was because Morrissey is an asexual icon, and not because our ability to be human and loved is somehow in question.)


Karli June said...

Eff 'em all! Let's make our own damn video! Which reminds me...we need to get our music video underway...

Lia said...

Well, I just watched the trailer and I'm trying to organize my reactions- I agree that this trailer doesn't seem to get past the question of whether asexuality is real. The "experts" who commented on asexuality really did not seem credible- what the hell is a "performer/sexologist" anyway- what degree do I need to become one of those? Her comment was ridiculous. It was clear from the people interviewed that most had never experienced sexual attraction in the usual sense- so why suggest that asexuality is a "shutting down" in reaction to a bad breakup or some other disturbing sexual encounter?
The next person who spoke, the sex therapist, said that "of course they can't miss something they never experienced". I got some insight from this about one of the reasons some people are afraid of asexuality. Their sexuality is such a big part of who they are, that confronting an A-person forces them to imagine what their lives would be like without it. I think to highly sexual people, the thought would be similar to suddenly going blind, or even dying. So they can't imagine life without sexuality, and they need to reassure themselves that this could NEVER happen to them, by proving it could never happen to anyone. Therefore they resort to the strategy of trapping you into inconsistencies- questions like "do you masturbate?" or "do you have sexual fantasies?"- then they can conclude "Ha! You really do have some sexuality!"
I am concerned that the film, at least what the trailer shows, does dehumanize its subjects. Not to make too much of this, but after each asexual person spoke, his or her name appeared on the screen along with an unflattering cartoon-like drawing of the person. None of the interviewers or "experts" had these drawings, suggesting that in some way they are more real or credible. The segment they showed from "The View" seemed like they were going for laughs rather than any serious dialogue. The statements to David on that show- "Why organize around something you aren't doing?" and "If you aren't having sex what is there to talk about?" reveal a disturbing lack of empathy toward a group of people who've had to struggle so hard to arrive at the understanding that they aren't alone- something most people can take for granted.
I hope all the people interviewed for this film get together and insist on a more even-handed, less sensational presentation that doesn't doubt the existence of asexuality, before they participate any further. Not so long ago, maybe a film like this could have been made about homosexuality- imagine the furor that would happen if anyone tried it today. Asexuals will also get to that degree of acceptance, and the process will be helped along by doing everything possible to frame the debate from the starting point "of course we exist, who could question that?"

Angela said...

I wanted to respond to your comments about the trailer. For the blog audience, my name is Angela Tucker and I am the Director of the film, Asexuality: The Making Of A Movement. The trailer referenced in this post is an 8-minute piece made to raise funds for a larger film we are working on about the growing movement around asexuality.

I wanted to address some of the issues that you brought up directly and publicly. First though I need to clarify the necessity for a trailer for a documentary at such an early stage. Trailers are used to raise money for a project and to participate in promoting a discussion. The trailer is not the film itself. The film will be a much longer and far more nuanced thing. We have many, many more interviews to film. This film is very far from being done.

Onto your comments/questions:
Why was so much of it made up of already-aired TV spots? Why are "sexperts" included when what they're saying about asexuality is so obviously false?
We are making the film completely independently (meaning with our money) so that we are in a position to tell the story we want to tell before being beholden to broadcasters. Therefore, we have only been able to do a handful of interviews and are forced to use a good deal more archival footage than we would like.

The already-aired TV spots seem old to you but to a larger audience learning more about asexuality, they are interesting. Yes, Tucker Carlson is completely ridiculous. We know that. Yes Joy Davidson is ridiculous and mean. We know that too.

You should know that a common response we’ve gotten from people who are not asexual who have watched this piece is that they were struck by how aggressive and stupid the sexperts and the segments on this topic were overall. It made them more open and intrigued by the discussion that this film is initiating.

We will be interviewing Anthony Bogaert and several real experts in the months to come. They will be added to this trailer at a later date.

The reason I liked the KPFA show so much is because we were already operating on the assumption that our identities were valid.

I did listen to the KPFA show and thought it was really informative and interesting. Radio and film work in different ways though.

My colleagues and myself feel that media that reflects both sides of a provocative issue is the most powerful way to tell a story. Yes, everyone has a point of view that bleeds into their work but we really try, to the best of our ability, to show both sides of an issue. With this film, we hope that the audience will be left to draw their own conclusions and it works in asexuality’s behalf in most cases because the experts who are speaking negatively about it are such idiots. The film itself will use these images as a jumping off point of spotlight our asexual characters a bit more fully and completely. Also keep in mind that the film is going to spotlight the movement at large.

The statement: “Come on, is asexuality for real?”
It is there to be irreverent and provocative. We want to present questions to the audience before the audience has them. It gains the audience’s trust. And there is an audience out there who is asking themselves that very question. The film will dive into a large discussion but in order to create some kind of dramatic arc, we needed to pose some kind of question.

Also, we want the look of the film to be modern and though we are dealing with serious subject matter, we want a levity and humor as well. We think the trailer reflects this. This was also why we chose to use animation.

I am not asexual. I should put that out there. All of the ladies working with me on this aren’t either. We are all learning more and more about asexuality as we go along and the more people we meet the more inspired we are by the strength and fortitude it requires to speak publicly about such personal issues. Your blog post is exactly the type of discussion we want to elicit. I will be in San Francisco in June and would love to continue this conversation in person.

Oh, and lastly, the Morrissey song was a wink and a nod to him as an asexual icon. Nothing more. Nothing less.

Ily said...

Karli-- I am SO psyched to make our music video! I have a few ideas, and I've been keeping an eye out for good filming locations...

Lia--Always glad to hear from our resident psychoanalyst; I think your idea on why people fear asexuality is probably as spot-on as we've ever gotten. Although, one major thing we're trying to prove is that you CAN'T suddenly become asexual (if you do, you're probably having a medical problem), so I don't understand why some people are so resistant. I mean, if you love sex, it's impossible to become asexual overnight, and we're trying to show them this. I guess I'm expecting people's fears to be rational, and they aren't. Anyway, at the risk of sounding like Paul Newman's evil twin, can we find a way to bottle and distribute you? Every A needs an ally like you in their corner!

Angela-- Thank you so much for taking the time to comment. (I hope you read this :-) I'm glad you can see where I'm coming from, and even though it might not sound like it, I understand where you're coming from, too. I work in the entertainment industry, and I know how hard it can be for people to accept a project, even if yours is better than what might be out there. I understand the impetus to jazz it up and make it sexy (no pun intended). I also know how hard it is to raise money-- something I've been working on recently myself.
What I want people to understand is that asexuality isn't really an issue with sides, not in the same way that, say, abortion or the death penalty are. In 30 years, we'll be just as accepted as any other orientation, and "the media" (I put that in quotes because I know it's silly to talk about the media like it's one behemoth) can either predict that before it happens, or report it after. I guess one of the reasons I'm so generally indignant about some of our media portrayals was that I considered myself to be straight for 20 years. So I know what it's like to be the "assumed" identity and to not have to explain yourself. I know that asexuality is exactly the same as heterosexuality, in that it's just another orientation, but that's what bothers me about the "debate"-- no one ever debates if straight people exist (outside of radical feminist literature or philosophy). But, my straightness was just as ephemeral as some think our asexuality is. I think you just might have more faith in the viewing public than I do.
The reason why I was so shocked should really be taken as a compliment to you and your team-- I was so impressed by the thoughtful questions my interviewer asked me, and I was expecting to see things in the video that were more like that.
And ah, yes, I'd sell my soul for Morrissey to officially join us.
Again, I really appreciate your thoughtful response. That's really where the indies win. :-)

Bri said...

People keep saying what I want to say before I can say it! I'd be upset... but they also do it more eloquently. So really, it's for the best.

Two things I'd like to add.
First, that I agree with Ily's statement that we're not an issue so much as something people need to know more about. Regardless of whether people believe it, we do exist. I'd rather watch a film about who we are rather than if we are, and I think having a human element to it would make the viewers care a lot more too.
Second, while I appreciate that the "sexperts" are being used to show an extreme, I think they'd work much better as an example of what asexuals deal with rather than as a source. Even if the people watching understand that they're ridiculous, the presentation makes it confusing, and its almost as if the film is suddenly arguing the opposite point of what it's trying to make. Granted, this could become more clear as production progresses.

Ily said...

Bri, thank you for the comment. You (eloquently!) make 2 (3?) important points.

Queers United said...

i am glad to see another clip on asexuality, i will post this to my blog later.

Angela said...

Thanks for your comments Ily.