Friday, June 20, 2008

"T.V., is it the reflector or the director?"

Hey peeps,

Everything fab + groovy in your world? I hope so.

I'm beginning to wonder if there's a Friday afternoon curse on creative thoughts. Well, as much as blogging is an act of creation. Mind tends to be a burst, nay, stream of consciousness and if I'm lucky - and I guess I should include you (dear reader) - the creative vibe will kick in and they'll actually be a point to today's little piece. (Ed: I would make a welcome change, wouldn't it? :D ) I suppose I should start keeping an ideas book!

Earlier in the week I saw a couple of ladies (from work) back in their opaques. I should point out they weren't in just their tights, I don't work for Pretty Polly after all. :) It wasn't that warm, but the bright sunshine and then seeing the dark tight 'winter look' threw me a bit. Still, at least they're weren't cold! No doubt the fashionistas will be flogging bare legs this winter to address the balance. :)

Jo (Angel) has posted some links to YouTube showing a Japanese game show where they take a few young chaps and make them over into young ladies. I suppose it's a bit like a homespun version of He's a Lady (if you remember that). I think the nearest we came to a show like that was Boy Meets Girl, but the strange competitive elimination process to the latter seemed tacked on. Still, such is life in the media I suppose. Everyone else is doing that so we better do the same.

So this last week I've been looking through YouTube... Well, perhaps wading through would be more appropriate. I think my interest had peaked due to the lack of recent dressing. Funny how a month off makes you miss it! I stumbled on to a stash of clips from American sitcoms with a CD / drag element, only to hit a bit of history.

Do you remember Silver Spoons? It was a sitcom from the early 80s on ITV. I was quite young, not yet a teenager, and I remember the episode fairly well. I remember being glued to the set (so to speak) as the young lad in it dressed up as a girl to be a 'date' to his clueless pal.

It was my earliest memory of seeing someone dressing in that way. Someone trying for a *convincing* look rather than going for the comedy option.... or at least, what my memory told me (God, that wig. You can almost hear the static from here! :D). Yes, ironic that we're talking about a sitcom where the cross dressing is played for laughs (see here), but the plot was that he (the young kid) should *look* like a girl. Despite the jokes on posture and the difference in body language, it hooked me in. There's someone like me, my brain cried, but deep down I knew that wasn't the case. This was just a sitcom. Tranny characters don't come along (as a rule) in 80s. Hell, in some shows you never saw anyone black! :)

As a young kid growing up in a small town, the TV was one source of information. Certainly, our local library van didn't hold any answers to my questions. :) I suppose now, a youngster would open their browser, hit a search engine and learn that way. How things change eh? But back in the day and in my confusion - perhaps naivety - I wondered who else would be like me. After all, who wants to be alone? I guess I went looking for affirmation that other people like me existed. There was a word in the dictionary, so trannys must exist right? :)

Channel 4's gay magazine, Out On Tuesday wasn't aimed at me, yet I watched it whenever it was on. One of the side effects - by the way, if you're one of the Religious Right, grab a pen now :) - was that what the programme reported on, made me re-think and challenge the cr*p (even hate) that my school mates would say about gay men and women. After watching a few episodes, I began to wonder about the statistic: one in ten. If that was true and there were 700 boys at my school (single sex you see. No wonder I'm warped :D). So that's what? 70 gays guys, 7 trannys* and maybe half a TS? :)

[ Ed: 1 in 100? Possibly, possibly not. But if that number was true, the number should be 5. Lynn is 6th and her mate 'B', who told her before he left for college. Lynn's tranny radar is terrible! Birds of a feather eh? :D ]

Two other programmes stick in my mind from that time: First Tuesday's report on Florence, Italy. According to that programme, the city was positively bursting with transvestites. :) What was interesting to me was the interviews of the CD folk on there. They lead fairly ordinary lives (so to speak), held down jobs, *were* married and I took comfort in that. Sure, I was a bit different, but it wasn't the end of the world.

The last 'big impact' programme was a series with Philip Hodson (Hodgeson?). It was on late Saturday night (again, ITV I think) and he'd look at adult behaviour each week. I was about to turn over when I heard him talk about 'men who like to wear women's clothes'. That had my attention! :)

Anyhoo... that's enough from me. What about you dear reader? Did you see positive or negative images in the media, or did you just disengage altogether?

Take care,
Lynn

[ Today's lyric: Disposal Heroes of Hiphoprsy's Television: The Drug of a Nation ]

6 comments:

  1. Wow! I thought I was the only one to remember that episode of Silver Spoons!

    I don't remember much crossdressing telly from my youth, but I think it was probably all for comedic effect.

    I don't recall seeing a sympathetic tranny till The Crying Game.

    There's a fairly convincing one in the film "Cast A Deadly Spell" that didn't set off my tranny-senses. Although now you know it will probably be obvious if you see it :)

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  2. That was a long and interesting post. Please forgive me if I waffle on a bit in my response as you said a lot that struck a chord with me.

    First up, your mentioning "Silver Spoons" takes me back. I probably never watched more than one or two episodes of it when it was on TV in my part of the world, but I remember the name. The station that showed it here used to show it with a programme called "Square Pegs", as I recall. Unfortunately, the handful of episodes I saw didn't include the one you mentioned.

    Growing up CD myself, I can relate to your youthful feelings of confusion about the subject; I had a few such feelings myself. I think my biggest area of confusion was simply wondering why people made such a big deal about the issue in the first place. No-one seemed to give a damn when girls wore boys' stuff, after all, so why couldn't boys wear girls' stuff (particularly as a lot of it was so much more interesting and cool than the stuff we got to wear)? It seemed only logical. Adding to my confusion was the fact that, contrary to the stereotypes I'd been exposed to about CDers, I wasn't gay, nor did I really feel the need to try and pass as a girl - I simply wanted the freedom to exercise my "total clothing rights". I don't think TV or movies really helped or hindered me there; I eventually just decided I was going to wear what I wanted and to hell with anyone who had a problem with that (and my attitude hasn't really changed in the twenty-odd years since). It probably helped that, at the time, I'd already built up a bit of a reputation for being an eccentric, so I don't think people were too shocked when my offbeat behaviour started to include me occasionally wearing the odd piece of female attire. :)

    I'd agree that most of the portrayals of CDing I did see on the box did use it to "comic" effect (although I found the joke so overused, it rapidly became stale to me). I sometimes saw it used as a form of humiliation too, which didn't impress me at all. I remember an old episode of "Neighbours", for example, in which one character was, on his buck's night, forced into a metallic purple dress and handcuffed to the rail of the footbridge outside Lassiter's Pub. That pissed me off, mainly because I thought it was a disgraceful way to treat a gorgeous dress! :) I also recall an episode of "Family Ties" in which one of the characters (Skippy, I think) was persuaded by a bunch of his "cooler" peers to start going around in women's clothing. As I recall, he was led to believe it was all part of an "initiation rite" that'd eventually lead to him being accepted into their group, but they just made him do it so they could laugh at him behind his back. Again, I don't like portrayals of CDing like that at all.

    I've also seen CDing exploited to a tiresome degree in a lot of not very funny "comedy" movies, which is another reason I hate the double standard concerning the activity - it makes people seem to think any movie which shows a bunch of guys in women's clothing is an automatic laugh riot. "Ladybugs", "All Men Are Liars" or "Sorority Boys" anyone? :P

    Like you, my views on homosexuality have changed a lot since I was a kid, although I don't think TV had anything to do with it in my case (I don't know what did, to be honest). When I was a kid, I held gays in such low esteem that I used to believe all that garbage about AIDS being God's punishment for them, but now my views couldn't be further from that, thankfully. Actually, there's a lot of stuff I used to think was evil as a kid, but no longer do: drugs, abortion, Communism (actually, that one really was bad news), heavy metal music glorifying Satan etc. I've become quite the liberal now. :)

    Finally, I was interested to read your speculations about how many of your old schoolmates might be gay. I spent a significant portion of my own childhood at a single-sex school, and I'm astounded at how many of my old classmates have since come out. There's five I know of, and probably a few I don't. :)

    Again, sorry for waffling on like this. Your post just provided much food for thought.

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  3. Pandora > LOL. I guess not! :) It came from a time when we had only 3 channels! :D How things have changed eh? Thanks for the movie tips, I've not heard of Cast a Deadly Spell.

    I remember a few other TVs on TV incidents:

    One was a film set in South America where the (male) prisioner escaped by disguising himself as a women (in fantastic wedges I seem to remember). That wasn't for comedy although he wasn't a tranny.

    There's an episode of Juliet Bravo (oh the shame!) where they arrest a guy dressed up. I forget why they nicked him. For some crazy reason I seem to recall our intrepid bobbies find out that he was a lookout for a group of burglars and was in disguise. Great choice.. NOT :) He probably would have blended in better if he'd have worn a black & white jumper, mask and had a bag marked 'swag' :D

    As to sympathic tranny characters I can think of two, well one and a half. The 'half' was a drag queen character in the cop show 50/50 (with whatshermush from Wonder Woman) in an episode "Is he or isn't she?". The only tranny character I can think of was one in the short-live comedy programme 'Slap' on ITV.

    I watched far too much TV as a kid :)

    Zosimus > Hello and welcome! My, quite a reply! Firstly, thank you for your kind words.

    Yes, it's a strange world we live in. It's okay for a lady to wear trousers, but a man can't wear a skirt. I know what you mean about passing - that 'issue' didn't come until much later on.

    The 'guy in the dress' gag isn't new and like any well-worn gag, it's all in the delivery. I enjoyed it's [the gag's] use in Moonlighting where the two leads are pursuing a CD suspect. I seem to recall Bruce Willis's character, David, miming he wanted a room key (he had a hat + veil on) and using the bell on the desk to signal the number. I think he got felt up in the lift and lamped the offender too. :)

    As to dodgy films; see also, Big Momma's House, Nutty Professor, White Chicks, etc. Then there's "I'm A Lay-dee" which grows more tired the more I hear it.

    As to the punishment angle on AIDS, I remember a comic (Mark Thomas) saying that if that were true then God had to be a lesbian. :)

    Man, are we going to burn if this is all wrong. Still, at least we'll look good. :D

    TTFN

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  4. Thanx for the reply and welcome. I was interested to hear of the movie set in South America that you mentioned. Back in the early '90s, when the Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar was still alive and causing much murder and mayhem in his country, I heard a story that he'd escaped from prison by wearing drag. I don't know if there was any truth to that story, or if it was simply some lame attempt to humiliate him. I suspect it was the latter - according to the story, the prison guards saw him walking out with a bunch of his cronies; said, "Hey, isn't that Pablo Escobar dressed as a woman walking out the gate? Yeah, I suppose it is; how about that? Oh well, let's get back to our game of cards"; and let him go, which seems unlikely.

    I've seen all the movies you mentioned, and surprisingly, didn't mind some of them. Another one I can think of, which showed a transvestite (sort of) in a sympathetic light (again, sort of), was "The Fifth Element", with the character of Ruby Rhod. God, I loved him; he's become quite a role model for me!

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  5. The more mainstream potrayals of homosexuality in the 80's seen to be a kind of hello duckie sub Mr Humphries inpression so tg's were hardly likely to be seen any better (and still aren't imo).

    Crocodile Dundee, featured a crossdresser chatting him up initially not realiseing that it wasnt a rg and ended up with him whiping off her wig as some kind of revenge.

    the transformation scene in Just like a woman, took my breath away as a child seeing it.

    Finally I don't know where I would have been without channel 4, I saw two docs, one was about the more dressy end (frilly dresses and so on). The other was a short and featured girls going out, not being seen a wiredo's, having girlfriends etc. Both were inspiring.

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  6. Hello (and welcome) Lucy. :)

    > in the 80s...

    It did seem that way didn't it? I was never part of the gay community (indeed, I'm still not), so my views are as an outsider. I got the impression that gay rights didn't really hit the mainstream until the late 80s. That's not to say that things were suddendly A-OK overnight, they're not. To me there seemed a gradual shift into people not giving a stuff about it.

    Channel 4 has done some excellent documentaries (IMO). The other year there was an anniversary for the channel and they did go through them. It was quite surprising to see what they did and what they got away with at the time :)

    C4 doc-wise, I can think of Why Men Wear Frocks (quite recent) and Five Minutes in Heels is Heaven. BBC had a go with One Life which again showed TG people as, well, people.

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