Hi everyone, welcome to another Weekly Wail/Fireside Chat with me, your occasional wet blanket and voice of reason, J.M. Brannyk!
Happy Trans Week 2020! We’re reaching the end and I hope it was a safe and happy week.
I’m no randy when it comes to gender talk as you can see: here, here, a little here…maaaaybe here.
I myself identify as genderfluid, which is old person talk for NB/nonbinary/…..sigh “enby” (I’m old, sorry little ones). Which I was recently reminded is a form of transgendered. I sometimes forget the umbrellas I stand under.
But, let’s talk trans, eh?
Especially trans in horror.
What is it?
Well, dipping into https://transequality.org’s website, I’m going to take some info:
Transgender people are people whose gender identity is different from the gender they were thought to be at birth. “Trans” is often used as shorthand for transgender.
When we’re born, a doctor usually says that we’re male or female based on what our bodies look like. Most people who were labeled male at birth turn out to actually identify as men, and most people who were labeled female at birth grow up to be women. But some people’s gender identity – their innate knowledge of who they are – is different from what was initially expected when they were born. Most of these people describe themselves as transgender.
A transgender woman lives as a woman today, but was thought to be male when she was born. A transgender man lives as a man today, but was thought to be female when he was born. Some transgender people identify as neither male nor female, or as a combination of male and female. There are a variety of terms that people who aren’t entirely male or entirely female use to describe their gender identity, like non-binary or genderqueer.
People can realize that they’re transgender at any age. Some people can trace their awareness back to their earlier memories – they just knew. Others may need more time to realize that they are transgender. Some people may spend years feeling like they don’t fit in without really understanding why, or may try to avoid thinking or talking about their gender out of fear, shame, or confusion. Trying to repress or change one’s gender identity doesn’t work; in fact, it can be very painful and damaging to one’s emotional and mental health. As transgender people become more visible in the media and in community life across the country, more transgender people are able to name and understand their own experiences and may feel safer and more comfortable sharing it with others.
The Trans Killer:
There are so many amazing articles out there about the trans killer, so I’m going to highlight a few for you to check out.
Logan Ashley has an amazing and incredibly in-depth look at some trans killers in the article, “A Timeline of Transgender Horror”. Which was also hilarious because he said, “I refused to watch Ticked-Off Trannies with Knives on principle” and that was a podcast Jim and I did for ComboBox at my own request: part 1 and part 2.
But honestly, if you want a good, long read and analysis before bed, this is the article for you (plus he’s got other really good articles about gender and pop culture).
“Blood, Bodies, and Binaries: Trans Women in Horror,” by Jenni Holtz is a classic piece that everyone should read about some major trans women killers and their influence in horror. It’s short, but concise and is a cornerstone piece when talking about horror and gender (however, I’m still not convinced about Angela):
Horror movies provide a vehicle for viewers to project their own struggles with fear, loss and death and to be able to engage with those feelings in a contained manner that is socially acceptable. By making trans women objects of fear, films like these reinforce harmful ideas about trans identity.Jenni Holtz, Blood, Bodies, and Binaries: Trans Women in Horror
In an article titled, “Who’s Afraid Of The Big, Bad Trans Woman? On Horror and Transfeminity”, Mey Rude talks about her own experiences while watching Insidious 2 (besides boredom…wait, that was me) and the trans experience in horror as a larger theme and as that translates to real life:
The movies that use trans people or crossdressers as a scare tactic don’t bother to make a distinction between the two. Because of this, for many viewers of these movies, these characters have been their only pop culture reference points when a trans woman is mentioned. That means that when they hear that someone is a trans woman, they have a list of characters that are lumped into this general category of ‘women who are really men’ and that category is filled with psychopaths and serial killers.Mey Rude, Who’s Afraid Of The Big, Bad Trans Woman? On Horror and Transfeminity
Trans as Body Horror
And while werewolf films are perhaps the most obvious example, body horror in a more broad sense still checks most of the parallels. Any film about the transformation of the body, or about the death and rebirth of a person, can have a transgender reading.Logan Ashley, A Timeline of Transgender Horror
Before we start with the next articles, here’s a fun exercise from https://transequality.org:
Thought Exercise: Thinking About Your Own Gender
It can be difficult for people who are not transgender to imagine what being transgender feels like. Imagine what it would be like if everyone told you that the gender that you’ve always known yourself to be was wrong. What would you feel like if you woke up one day with a body that’s associated with a different gender? What would you do if everyone else—your doctors, your friends, your family—believed you’re a man and expected you to act like a man when you’re actually a woman, or believed you’re a woman even though you’ve always known you’re a man?
Sounds like the start to a good horror film, right?
Because for some people it is. I mean…real life, not a film. I guess a docum- you get the point. This is a common and easy trope found in thrillers and horror, all the way from frickin’ Gaslight (Reddit users, calm yourselves at the mention) to The Vanishing Hotel to Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
It’s basically Star Trek’s four lights, over and over, except by the people that are supposed to be taking care of you or holding your well-being at heart.
Except it’s your own body that everyone is telling you that you’re wrong about. So not only is there a disconnection/disphoria with your own body, but the people you need to listen to you.
Samwise Lastname on the website GenderTerror.com, expresses in detail the similarities of the trans experience with Cronenburg’s Antiviral and The Brood, in the article, “Antiviral: A Transgender Take on Body Horror”:
There’s a long history of queer people being institutionalized, forced into psychiatric programs, and stripped of their privacy. Gender nonconformity or being gay were once mental illnesses, after all. Even if that’s no longer true, many gender clinics still require patients to have their gender dysphoria diagnosed by a psychologist.Samewise Lastname, Antiviral: A Transgender Take on Body Horror
Matthew Rogerson goes old school with “A Body in Transformation: Cronenburg’s Body Horror as Transgender Cinema” and has some good citations of other places to check into trans body horror. He brings us back to horror being for and to the marginalized, much like the horror genre generally is:
Horror is, of course, no stranger to empowering narratives for marginalised people, and recently, Cronenberg’s most visceral, most visually unsettling and disturbing output, has contributed to conversations of transgender cinema.– Matthew Rogerson, A Body in Transformation: Cronenburg’s Body Horror as Transgender Cinema
And Sasha Geffen’s incredible and utterly heart-felt, “Trans Horror Stories and Society’s Fear of the Transmasculine Body” talks in depth about Hereditary, transmasculinity and society’s misunderstanding and fear of it:
It can be nearly impossible to describe this experience to those who do not share it. Arguing for the existence of a primordial gender — not a clothing preference, not an affinity for a certain color scheme, not a set of stereotypical behaviors — is like arguing for the existence of a soul. The only language we have is spiritual, and more often than not we are preaching to nonbelievers.Sasha Geffen, Trans Horror Stories and Society’s Fear of the Transmasculine Body
You’re Reading Too Much Into It. It’s Not That Big of a Deal.
In October I was in a webinar about intersectionality (because of course I was) and thankfully I always have my webcam off because I was overwhelmed. I think a lot of things hit at once, but something the speaker said really hit me in a way that blindsided me.
“The life expectancy of trans women of color is just 35 years old.”
Now, Imma cut this off here, because it’s a bogus stat: https://www.thestranger.com/slog/2019/09/23/41471629/is-the-life-expectancy-of-trans-women-in-the-us-just-35-no
It was basically a game of telephone, but it shows how little we really know about our own trans communities (especially POC and Black), scientifically and as a whole. Trust me, I am NOT saying this to discredit any hardship that trans people face because without a doubt they face some of the worst discrimination and harassment, including physical violence and sexual assault.
But my point is that it’s easy to throw up stats, and feel sad, and keep going without even looking into it.
And in our beloved horror genre, trans people have been quite the punching bag for a long time.
In the Dead Meat podcast #54: Transgender Representation in Horror, Joan Ford joined James and Chelsea to talk about some of the trans icons and stereotypes. In it, Ford mentions the big push back that many trans/LGBTQ people hear constantly: “You’re reading too much into it. It’s not that big of a deal.”
But when you are marginalized, it is. Our culture, especially pop culture, is representative of our collective thoughts, feelings, and motivations as a society. It is a reflection, a mirror of who we are during a period of time. Horror cannot and should not be excluded. It should be examined and held up to the light for imperfections. I’m not saying that any of these movies are bad, but I’m saying that representation matters and it’s time to let old tropes, shadows of our fearful past of “the other”, die.
As bell hooks said (pulls out heavy grab-bag of bell hooks quotes), in “killing rage: Ending Racism”:
Beloved community is formed not by the eradication of difference but by its affirmation, by each of us claiming the identities and cultural legacies that shape who we are and how we live in the world.bell hooks, killing rage: Ending Racism
And while she was speaking on racism, many of the same sentiments can be linked towards the LGBTQ community because, guess what, there’s a lot of different ethnicities and colours within our LGBTQ and #HorrorFam.
The more we can see and understand that intersectionality and be open to people’s points of views and criticisms, the healthier and stronger our community and culture will be.
So, that being said, please go watch an old timey movie that was mentioned in the articles (some are on Tubi for free) and just take a mental step back this time watching them. Try to figure out a few new things for yourself.
I’d also say hug a trans person, but instead (pandemic and all), maybe just follow some people on Twitter and let them know that, yeah, maybe they’re not reading into it and it is a big deal.
For any support, I would suggest: https://translifeline.org/ or https://www.thetrevorproject.org/
Crashin’ in Roswell NM: Road Trippin’ with Jennifer Weigel
So on my recent road trip to Miami AZ USA for my menstruation art installation, we decided to detour to Roswell NM en route home. To be honest, this was one of the best decisions of my life, up there with road trippin’ from Arizona to San Francisco along CA-Highway 1, and I will go into the details of why here soon.
Roswell NM USA has totally embraced its alien history of the UFO crash in the late 1940s and subsequent government cover up. The whole town is alien-happy with beautiful hand carved wood totems, murals and statues everywhere celebrating otherworldly denizens of all types, though predominantly the gray aliens of the crash (and their green counterparts). Even the city logo features a flying saucer as the center of the letter “R”. It really is kind of incredible.
One of the biggest draws is the International UFO Museum and Research Center, housed in the wonderful old theater building. This museum details the crash history as well as celebrating aliens in movies and media and examining newer alien sightings and abductions. It is very thorough and includes maquettes, statues, written accounts and an extensive research library, as well as an interesting art collection of various items.
And there are TONS of fun alien themed curiosity shops. I will give a shout out to the newer Invasion Station north on Main Street where there had once been an old car dealership. I love the quirky nature of this particular store as well as their strong desire to promote local artists. Most of their wares are hand-painted in NM and feature designs by prominent local artists including one of the lead muralists in town (I bought a magnet of his). They also feature really alternative kitsch like KISS and Ace Frehley alien bobbleheads, marijuana and anal references, and such. All in all, our own Haunted MTL’s kinda folks…
And the city is a huge tourist draw internationally, so you can meet some amazing and interesting folks from all walks of life who have caught the alien bug or at least want to check out all the hype. As a result of the tourism, the residents seem really laid back and accommodating (kind of like Hawaii but not quite as much) and there is a thriving art scene. And it’s totally my kind of art – weird and a little creepy. Anyway, I feel like I’ve finally found my peeps and am eager to return someday.
If you’re feeling a bit extraterrestrial, I invite you to also check out some of my alien-themed stories here on Haunted MTL: LTD UFOs among us; my Drive-By short story; and LTD Abducted.
American Horror Story Season 12, Delicate
Killer Queens, I wasn’t expecting to be back so soon with American Horror Story info. But yesterday we were blessed with a teaser for the intro of Season 12, which we believe will be titled Delicate.
We are looking at a Summer release for season twelve, but won’t know for sure until June, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Here’s what we know right now.
First, yes Kim Kardashian is starring alongside Emma Roberts in a role that was written specifically for her.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that AHS favorites will also be involved. According to IMBD, Charlie Carver, Rebecca Dayan, Cody Fern, Leslie Grossman, Billie Lourd, and Denis O’Hare will be included this season.
AHS Delicate is different from other seasons in many other ways. It’s the first season to ever be written by just one writer, Halley Feiffer. This isn’t a writer most of us as horror fans will be familiar with. She’s written episodes of shows like Kidding, SMILF, and American Crime Story. The last one can at least be seen as a sister show to AHS.
As far as I have found, Feiffer has never written horror content. She is now the sole writer for an entire season of the most popular horror show in America. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. It’s just not what I would have expected. Most AHS writers are staff writers, actors from the show, or at least people I’ve heard of. So as we don’t have any former work to look at, we can only wait to see how she does.
We also know what the source material is for this season. It’s a book called Delicate Condition, by Danielle Valentine. This book will be released in August of this year. Which also seemed strange to me. Normally a book would be, you know, published before it inspires additional work.
Even so, Delicate Condition seems like a fascinating story. According to Goodreads, it’s the story of a woman named Anna. Anna is trying to get pregnant but starts to believe that something dark is working against her. Her doctors don’t believe her. Her husband doesn’t believe her. Is she losing her mind?
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t deeply interested in this book. And I have to assume that Feiffer and Murphy already have hands on it, to jump to this sort of decision.
By the way, Valentine at least is not an untested writer. Her first novel, How To Survive Your Murder, also made it right on my TBR pile. With a rating of 3.7 out of 4 on Goodreads, I think we can assume Valentine knows what she’s doing with the written word.
This is all that we know about American Horror Story Delicate so far. What follows are my thoughts and opinions only.
My first thought is that this season is going to be dealing heavily with women’s reproductive rights. This is a topic a lot of us are concerned about right now, as it feels like every day women lose more and more rights to our bodies.
(By the way, if you want to help fight the good fight for body autonomy and get some spooky stories, we have an anthology for that. I have a story in it, as does the horrifyingly talented Jennifer Weigel. All proceeds go to support organizations that help women make their own health decisions.)
American Horror Story has handled important political issues before. Last season, AHS NYC discussed the AIDs epidemic that went largely ignored in the 80s and killed hundreds of young gay men. They did this in the best way possible, in what this critic believes to be the only way fiction should handle heavy topics. They rooted the issue in a good story. A story that was pure fiction, but also true.
However, this season has a lot of red flags. Never before have I seen the guest star be the main focus so early. Never have I seen any franchise bank so much faith in an all but untested writer, basing work on a book that isn’t even published. And frankly, I’ve never been much of a fan of Kim K, or anyone else who’s famous seemingly just for being famous.
I’m not rooting for this season to fail just because I don’t like the guest star. If Kardashian is good at this, I’ll be thrilled. I’ll be the first one singing her praises. But when everything we know so far is added up, I’m a lot more concerned about AHS Delicate than I am excited.
The Last Drive-In Season 5 Premiering April 21st Exclusively on Shudder!
They say good things come to those who wait, and boy have we been patient. It has been close to a year since our eyes have indulged a full season of ‘The Last Drive-In with Joe Bob Briggs’, in fact, the season 4 finale premiered on Shudder July 1st, 2022. Since then, we have been able to satisfy our appetites with festive holiday specials sprinkled throughout the past year. Specials such as ‘Joe Bob’s Halloween Hangout’ guest starring horror’s favorite Mistress of the Dark, Elvira (played by the legendary Cassandra Peterson) and ‘Joe Bob’s Ghoultide Get-Together’. Last month was a treat in itself, as we were able to witness Joe Bob Briggs and co-host Darcy the Mail Girl (Diana Prince) marry one lucky couple for the first time on the show with ‘Joe Bob’s Vicious Vegas Valentine‘ special.
While the current changes in staff at Shudder have left fans questioning whether we will receive a new season of the popular series, I can happily say mutant family, we need not worry. In fact, to our wonderous surprise, Joe Bob Briggs has officially announced via Twitter, season 5 of ‘The Last Drive-In‘ will be premiering April 21st, exclusively on Shudder! One thing that is noteworthy, is unlike previous seasons, it has been reported by 1428Elm that season 5 will be broken up into two parts of five double-feature blood-curdling episodes. Though we have not been provided the official release schedule for the second block of season 5, here is a sneak peek of what we can expect for the first half of the season:
April 21: Season 5 Launch Party!
April 28: Walpurgisnacht Part 2!
May 5: Cinco de Fucking Mayo!
May 12: Mama’s Day!
May 19: Dysfunctional Family Jubilee!
Unfortunately, we do not have an official list of the brand-new double feature films for the first half of season 5 but, with amusing episode titles such as these, one can only imagine what grindhouse-classics will be joining ‘The Last Drive-In’s’ already eclectic list of sloshy goodness. For those impatient mutants eagerly waiting for more hilarious Joe Bob rant-filled commentaries, or those newcomers who’ve yet to experience the magic that is ‘The Last Drive-In‘, all previous four seasons, including past holiday specials are currently available to stream now on Shudder.
If you are just as big of fans of ‘The Last Drive-In‘ as we here at HauntedMTL are, please be sure to follow us on Twitter @HauntedMTL and join us April 21st as we tweet along with Joe Bob and Darcy the Mail Girl for the season premier. As is tradition, we will be hosting live watch parties every Friday with each new episode, including fresh holiday specials. The road to season 5 is upon us…let the countdown begin!
April 21: Season 5 Launch Party!
April 28: Walpurgisnacht Part 2!
May 5: Cinco de Fucking Mayo!
May 12: Mama's Day!
May 19: Dysfunctional Family Jubilee!
. . . and that's only the beginning.#TheLastDriveIn pic.twitter.com/WfeTx0shNa— Joe Bob Briggs (@therealjoebob) March 16, 2023