Fab 'Rocky Horror' Reboot Trailer Drops, Some LGBT Activists Displeased
In October of 2015, Fox teased the masses with the idea of a Rocky Horror Picture Show remake starring Orange Is The New Black star and trans activist Laverne Cox. Buckets of excitement filled the hearts of Time Warpers who’ve repeatedly re-watched the original 1972 sci-fi musical film starring, Tim Curry, Susan Sarandon, Barry Bostwick and Richard O’Brien. The notion of reviving this iconic film, symbolic of an era of hidden kinks and flamboyance, is really exciting.
Initially, queer individuals were pent-up with childish joy — the famed role of transvestite alien Dr. Frank-N-Furter was finally going to be depicted by an open and notable trans Hollywood actress. The lyrics “Don’t dream it, be it”are now going to be zinging through the ears of homebodies everywhere, sharing a real, socio-political message to embrace your inner weirdo, regardless of mainstream aesthetics.
However, when Fox released the remake’s trailer on Monday, there was an unexpected backlash from members of the LGBT community who were concerned with potential consequences the reboot could host for the trans community.
The campy cult classic features Dr. Frank-N-Furter using his gender performance to manipulate those around him. After meeting lost newlywed couple Brad Majors (Bostwick) and Janet Weiss (Sarandon), the cynical madman blurs his gender to seduce each individually. This act of gender deception for personal gain is a misconception trans-identifying individuals are forced to debunk on the regular. And with a trans figurehead in the role, performing said deceit, the stigma surrounding the validity of one’s gender identity could be more actively questioned.
Critics of Cox’s casting within the role of Frank-N-Furter fear that the remake will reinforce perverted, overly sexualized stereotypes of queer individuals. Current legislation, like South Carolina’s HB2 law, creates barriers for trans folk, who are suspected of faking their gender identity to access bathrooms that align with gender to harass others. Many now live in fear of the questioning their gender identity, and subsequent abuse, in most public settings.
Laverne Cox playing a Drag Queen in Fox's Rocky Horror remake undermines everything she stands for as a trans woman
— Matthew (@MatthewRankcom) May 16, 2016
Somewhat uncomfortable with Laverne Cox as Frank Furter in reboot of Rocky Horror. How much is concern abt anti-trans tropes & how much
— Smol Trans Machine (@Keffy) May 13, 2016
Considering the old traditions of the film, fears concerning Frank-N-Furter’s crossdressing are expected to ignite a fire of mistruths and accusations by people outside the LGBT community. The identities of crossdressers and trans individuals are oftentimes confused for one another by the public, and with a trans woman of color (the most at-risk group for bystander street violence) playing a crossdressing male, many LGBT activists expect viewers’ ignorance to be heightened as the reboot airs.
Still, there’s a discord on this issue. Cox’s involvement within the production seems to be taking the remake a much farther step to the left, and for many within the queer community, the film resonates significantly because of its innate blurring of its characters’ gender and sexuality. Fans of Cox are stimulated by just the thought of the trans advocate performing in a role that doesn’t occupy a depressing, sad storyline, but rather one where her screwball humor can shine through.
Regardless of where you stand on this issue, it’s hard to dispute Cox’s continual rewriting of the Hollywood acting rule book. And although Fox has yet to set a release date for the Rocky Horror reboot, we do know that the subversive, deeply twisted kitsch musical will air around Halloween 2016, satisfying all our bizarre cinema needs.
Images via Vice and Refinery 29
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