Author Topic: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?  (Read 753 times)

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Offline Allie24

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2017, 08:26:18 pm »
Watched Psycho last night - I'm on a TG film binge!  It has exactly what we want for at its end - the expert witness explaining firmly that Norman isn't a transvestite, and what one is, in precise detail.  I wonder if Silence or Dressed didn't have similar scenes which were cut out in editing.

Silence did have a scene like that, but it was more of a throwaway line. Hannibal says Bill is not a transsexual and that is that. There is not explanation really as to why, just that he is.

Dressed on the other hand, OMG what a piece of work that film is. The killer in that one is an actual transsexual, but they play it out to be like a Jekyll and Hyde situation. The doctors in it explain that a trans person is essentially two people in one body, a male and a female side, and what is driving the female side to kill is that she is angered that her host is being aroused by women, so she murders them. They even have a clip of an interview with an actual trans woman (Nancy Hunt, I think her name is), and at the end of the film, have a long drawn out scene where they explain the process of SRS and how it is used to help make the violent female side feel better.

I'm not the kind of person to really call films transphobic or racist or whatnot. At least ones that are not made with the intent of insulting a particular group of people (i.e. Birth of a Nation). These films are mostly just products of their times. But I know that this is a hot topic and I wanted to stir up conversation by playing devil's advocate a little bit (in favor of the side that thinks Silence IS transphobic). I definitely think that there elements in the film that can be seen as problematic to trans people in light of the culture of time it came from and the amount of representation, but I wouldn't accuse the director/writers of transphobia outright. Even Dressed to Kill... From what I read DePalma was more just ill-informed and ignorant, not malicious in his writing of the killer.

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #21 on: October 21, 2017, 11:20:49 pm »
Plus he made Scarface and the Untouchables. He could walk up to me, punch me in the face, scream racial slurs at passersby, then proceed to eat a puppy and I wouldn't hold any of it against him.
- Ellie
(Anxiously awaiting my hormones, why are the labs taking so long... gaaaahh!)

8/30/17 - First Therapy! The road begins in earnest.
10/10/17 - Presented as female in therapy!
10/20/17 - Came out to my father!
11/8/17 - Initial HRT consult!

I'm thinking about making a ticker for how many days until I have something to put in the ticker. But then I realized I won't know what to set the countdown to until it actually happens, so now I'm going to eat an ice cream sandwich. The progression made more sense in my head.

Offline V M

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #22 on: October 22, 2017, 01:14:35 am »
While it is bothersome that one of the main characters are cast as a psychopathic serial killer who happens to be transgender, it is important to remember that it is a fictional horror/thriller film

I think it is a well crafted bizarrely entertaining film full of unique characters purposefully designed to hold our attention with fear and suspense but I'm not certain that it is purposefully transphobic

Think about it, you have:

Clarice Starling who is a top student at the FBI training academy who runs about like a frightened and confused little bird

Hannibal Lecter who is a brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer

Then there is Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb who is a psychopathic serial killer and just happens to be transgender

Obviously not all FBI trainees run around frightened of their own shadow and you don't often hear of psychiatrists who are murderous cannibals and I am yet to hear of anyone like Buffalo Bill


 
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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #23 on: October 22, 2017, 09:40:04 am »


Hannibal Lecter who is a brilliant psychiatrist and cannibalistic serial killer


The evil psychiatrist is actually a strangely common trope. I think that is half of Batman's rogue gallery.
- Ellie
(Anxiously awaiting my hormones, why are the labs taking so long... gaaaahh!)

8/30/17 - First Therapy! The road begins in earnest.
10/10/17 - Presented as female in therapy!
10/20/17 - Came out to my father!
11/8/17 - Initial HRT consult!

I'm thinking about making a ticker for how many days until I have something to put in the ticker. But then I realized I won't know what to set the countdown to until it actually happens, so now I'm going to eat an ice cream sandwich. The progression made more sense in my head.

Online Viktor

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #24 on: October 30, 2017, 10:21:27 pm »
TSOTL I never took to be transphobic, since Harris has Clarice and Lecter discuss how transsexuals are rarely involved in violent crimes and then Lecter goes on to explain how Buffalo Bill isn't an actual transsexual. He was rejected from the gender clinics for not meeting the criteria for successful diagnosis, but is afflicted with some trauma and/or disorder of the personality in which he would like to be a transsexual - to escape his general identity (not his gender identity). "He's tried to be a lot of things, I expect," is what he knowingly follows this up with, meaning Bill was searching for ways to escape being what he is, or to feel special, but will ultimately never succeed.

If there was some insinuation within the book or the film that this is what transsexuals do - that they are all totally nuts or serial killers, that would be pretty transphobic. But I felt the film and the book did distance Bill from real transsexualism. Those who thought the film didn't when it came out either weren't paying attention to the lines, or else thought that any movie with the antagonist having any connection at all to the topic of transsexualism would harm transsexuals. I don't think it does. I also think it's an excellent film.

Offline Julia1996

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #25 on: October 31, 2017, 05:48:49 am »
Buffalo Bill was loosely based on real life serial killer Ed Gein. He didn't skin women and wear their skins but he did collect "trophies"  from his victims.  Breasts, feet, etc. He also tried human taxidermy and he liked to wear his victims clothes and shoes and masturbated while he was wearing them. I can see how a writer with a good imagination could create buffalo Bill from Ed Gein. Norman Bates was also loosely based on Ed Gean. He also had a total obsession with his mother.
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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #26 on: October 31, 2017, 10:49:54 am »
Ed Gein inspired more classic movie villains than anyone else in history probably.
- Ellie
(Anxiously awaiting my hormones, why are the labs taking so long... gaaaahh!)

8/30/17 - First Therapy! The road begins in earnest.
10/10/17 - Presented as female in therapy!
10/20/17 - Came out to my father!
11/8/17 - Initial HRT consult!

I'm thinking about making a ticker for how many days until I have something to put in the ticker. But then I realized I won't know what to set the countdown to until it actually happens, so now I'm going to eat an ice cream sandwich. The progression made more sense in my head.

Offline Julia1996

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #27 on: October 31, 2017, 10:58:18 am »
Ed Gein inspired more classic movie villains than anyone else in history probably.

I watched a show on A&E about him. He was a totally scary guy.
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Offline Allie24

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #28 on: October 31, 2017, 12:05:54 pm »
I watched a show on A&E about him. He was a totally scary guy.

Did Gein crossdress? Bill, Bates and Leatherface all share this trait, so I wonder if their creators got that from him.

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #29 on: October 31, 2017, 12:12:19 pm »
I don't believe there is any direct evidence of actual cross dressing, but I believe the woman suit was a real thing. Noooooot really sure if that is cross dressing or not.
- Ellie
(Anxiously awaiting my hormones, why are the labs taking so long... gaaaahh!)

8/30/17 - First Therapy! The road begins in earnest.
10/10/17 - Presented as female in therapy!
10/20/17 - Came out to my father!
11/8/17 - Initial HRT consult!

I'm thinking about making a ticker for how many days until I have something to put in the ticker. But then I realized I won't know what to set the countdown to until it actually happens, so now I'm going to eat an ice cream sandwich. The progression made more sense in my head.

Offline Julia1996

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #30 on: October 31, 2017, 12:29:08 pm »
Did Gein crossdress? Bill, Bates and Leatherface all share this trait, so I wonder if their creators got that from him.

Yes he did. He would masturbate while wearing the clothes of his female victims. Supposedly leather face was based on a real life family of killer cannibals.
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Offline Allie24

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #31 on: October 31, 2017, 02:23:43 pm »
Yes he did. He would masturbate while wearing the clothes of his female victims. Supposedly leather face was based on a real life family of killer cannibals.

How lovely...

Offline RobynD

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #32 on: October 31, 2017, 02:29:48 pm »
It's transphobic. It's also not an excuse but it was written in a much different time. The vast majority of violent crime has nothing to do with gender variation, so making that part of it was for the "deviance" factor.



Offline Allie24

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #33 on: October 31, 2017, 03:12:48 pm »
It's transphobic. It's also not an excuse but it was written in a much different time. The vast majority of violent crime has nothing to do with gender variation, so making that part of it was for the "deviance" factor.

Devil’s Advocate, here: do we have tangible evidence that making Buffalo Bill a crossdresser was indeed done for the sake of adding to his level of deviance (i.e. quotes from the producers, directorial notes, etc.)?

Offline kelly_aus

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #34 on: October 31, 2017, 04:22:22 pm »
I'm kinda saddened by this thread, as it kinda confirms something said to me recently about the trans community - "People would take you more seriously if the trans community didn't get offended or upset about very little thing, whether it's real or imagined."

And that's what this thread looks like to me, trans people looking to be offended over a possible slight.

Offline MaryT

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #35 on: October 31, 2017, 04:37:42 pm »
I'm kinda saddened by this thread, as it kinda confirms something said to me recently about the trans community - "People would take you more seriously if the trans community didn't get offended or upset about very little thing, whether it's real or imagined."

And that's what this thread looks like to me, trans people looking to be offended over a possible slight.

I shared your concerns but Allie did reasonably answer them, I think:

I'm not the kind of person to really call films transphobic or racist or whatnot. At least ones that are not made with the intent of insulting a particular group of people (i.e. Birth of a Nation). These films are mostly just products of their times. But I know that this is a hot topic and I wanted to stir up conversation by playing devil's advocate a little bit (in favor of the side that thinks Silence IS transphobic). I definitely think that there elements in the film that can be seen as problematic to trans people in light of the culture of time it came from and the amount of representation, but I wouldn't accuse the director/writers of transphobia outright. Even Dressed to Kill... From what I read DePalma was more just ill-informed and ignorant, not malicious in his writing of the killer.

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #36 on: October 31, 2017, 04:50:32 pm »
I'm kinda saddened by this thread, as it kinda confirms something said to me recently about the trans community - "People would take you more seriously if the trans community didn't get offended or upset about very little thing, whether it's real or imagined."

And that's what this thread looks like to me, trans people looking to be offended over a possible slight.

I may be wrong since this is a quick reply and I don't have time to reread the thread at the moment, but I think most people actually came out saying it was either not transphobic or at least not intended to be malicious.
- Ellie
(Anxiously awaiting my hormones, why are the labs taking so long... gaaaahh!)

8/30/17 - First Therapy! The road begins in earnest.
10/10/17 - Presented as female in therapy!
10/20/17 - Came out to my father!
11/8/17 - Initial HRT consult!

I'm thinking about making a ticker for how many days until I have something to put in the ticker. But then I realized I won't know what to set the countdown to until it actually happens, so now I'm going to eat an ice cream sandwich. The progression made more sense in my head.

Offline kelly_aus

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #37 on: October 31, 2017, 05:05:54 pm »
I may be wrong since this is a quick reply and I don't have time to reread the thread at the moment, but I think most people actually came out saying it was either not transphobic or at least not intended to be malicious.

That the thread even exists kinda proves my point. Yes, some have said it wasn't transphobic, but that's not really the what I'm getting at. It's a question I don't  think needs to be asked at all, a glimpse through the script gives the answer needed - as does historical context..

Offline Allie24

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #38 on: October 31, 2017, 05:12:08 pm »
That the thread even exists kinda proves my point. Yes, some have said it wasn't transphobic, but that's not really the what I'm getting at. It's a question I don't  think needs to be asked at all, a glimpse through the script gives the answer needed - as does historical context..

This thread was started with the intent of simply debating this topic. It was not done to start in-fighting, just to have a fun discussion about cinematic representation and its effects on culture (if there even are any). Whether or not the question needs to be asked is a topic for another thread, entirely. Regardless, there are people who have an opinion and I just want to talk about it.

This is all purely light-hearted.

Online Viktor

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Re: The Silence of the Lambs... Is It Transphobic?
« Reply #39 on: November 01, 2017, 09:02:47 am »
If it were genuinely transphobic then they wouldn't have inserted lines specifically to distance transsexualism from what the killer is supposed to be. They would have said "yes, Bill is an insanely frustrated transsexual" or just Bill is a transsexual.

And then the usual counter argument I hear: "but then they should have left transsexualism out altogether, and not use the suggestion to make an 'exotic' seeming killer."

And then if we left transsexuals or the suggestion of out of everything so as to avoid accidentally seeming transphobic or portraying them in a bad light in any way, people would be accused of excluding them. If they were only ever portrayed in media as angels, someone somewhere would complain of the lack of "realism". You can't win if you approach fiction by trying to appease some audience beforehand, so I prefer it if they just make the things they want to make and then people can either love it or hate it afterward.

"Bill" is such a hopeless, despicable and empty individual he tries to appropriate transsexualism for himself; he does so murderously and extremely awkwardly, and is eventually thankfully stopped by our intrepid female protagonist. That's about it. If someone's going to argue that all art (inc. film/writing) has to have some lesson or propaganda in it that they personally approve of, I cannot agree.