Sure, Brending’s film serves as an essay on misogyny and celebrity, and there is a lot to love in the first half. The puppet pseudo-documentary dives behind the music of Junie Spoons, former innocent child idol turned sex-soaked superstar. Yes, the insta-star set is worthy of being mocked, as well as the automated music machine that pumps out personalities. With a cut-rate but inventive production design that allows for the message’s immediacy as well a certifiable pop hit (which may be the most disturbing thing of all), the film has an edge seldom seen even in indie film.
Still, the most memorable element of the film is the disturbing vein of trans-exclusionary radical feminism that takes over the second half of the running time and made this reviewer cringe. As the story progresses, Junie Spoons is sidelined for a Junie-spoons wanna be who undergoes a series of surgeries and claims to be the real Junie Spoons. Any one who dares disagree is branded ignorant.
This TERF propaganda is based around the disgusting and dismissive ideology that trans women aren’t ‘real’ women and lends support to the misguided and scientifically disproven belief that being trans is a choice. It’s truly unfortunate, because for the first half of the film, Brending delivers a scathing attack on a society that amplifies women’s bodies while silencing their voices. It seems the director is so hung up on the ‘body’ issue that she cannot fathom the damage these hateful beliefs do to an already endangered minority.
TERFs have been known to doxx teens, leading bullying and suicide watches. They compare trans women to ‘blackface’ and label them ‘men in dresses.’ They hijack Pride parades and claim ‘trans women are merely men attempting to rape lesbians.’ They seem to forget that transwomen lead the Stonewall Riots. They seem to forget that exclusion as a policy is antithetical to the purpose of feminism, as well as the very nature of Queer identity. They seem to forget that no trans person would deliberately choose to stand out among their peers to be singled out for abuse, assault, for rape, or murder.
But films like Nicole Brending’s hateful Dollhouse make it all the more easy to dismiss us. This is an creed that has more in common with the white nationalists, the men’s rights activists and the Westboro Baptist Church than true feminism. Most of feminists has disavowed this repellant rhetoric, and its time that the Make America 1940 Again set get with the reality. Gender Identity is biological, as much as my black hair, my propensity for heart disease, and my sexual orientation.
And while we’re at it, SHAME ON SLAMDANCE for programming this piece of cinematic filth. Programmer Clementine Leger wrote “Nicole Brending commands a rebellious universe that f*cks the system on every level,” what she fails to mention is that it is a world full of hate. Is this sort of hate speech the kind of representation of indie filmmaking that Slamdance wants to showcase? Would they show a film that says immigrants aren’t real americans because they weren’t here? Or how a film that suggests Muslims deserve to be publically shamed for their religious beliefs. I think not. Honestly, Leger should resign for this, and anyone else who gave this film the ‘okay.’
I sincerely hope Brending does not have as much hate in her heart as her film showcases, but if she does, I hope she never makes a film again.
I also hope both she and Leger head to Sundance and catch Rhys Ernst’s wonderful film ADAM. Maybe they can learn a bit about the transgender culture they are so afraid of.
Bears in the Snow: Sundance 2019 Preview