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Tangerine – Overview/ Review (with Spoilers)

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Overview

When a young woman, fresh from prison, learns her boyfriend cheated on her, she goes all around town to find the woman he cheated on her with, and then him, and all the while her best friend watches the drama unfold.

Trigger Warning(s): Transphobia

Characters & Story (with Commentary)

Fresh out of jail Sin-Dee (Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) struts out and meets up with best friend/ roommate Alexandra (Mya Taylor). Someone who has been trying to keep it down, know the tea and keep it classy. Unfortunately, though, Alexandra, despite claiming to not be for drama, lets it slip that Sin-Dee’s man Chester (James Ransone) cheated on her, and with that comes the movie’s plot of Sin-Dee going on a hunt for one of Chester’s hoes.

Highlights

Being that there are so few trans actresses, especially in the same production, it was beautiful to see such diversity. Though perhaps what was also a real plus is that there was a sisterhood amongst them. Granted, perhaps not on the level where it seemed it was their community against their world, but with everyone seemingly not alone, and there to support one another, to a point, it made for a nice ensemble.

Though it should be considered a negative, and it is listed as one, that almost every trans person we see is in the sex worker industry, it can be argued the social commentary, which is never direct, is important. For it really leads you to question, why would such a massive amount of woman be sex workers? But then you see how they are treated by their tricks, how people talk about them, act around them, and you begin to figure, if that is how everyday people act, imagine how people act when they might have tried to interview for a position. For some of the women aren’t fish, and others, like Alexandra, may have just started their hormone treatment. So while they know their gender identity, unfortunately, others don’t accept it. Thus leaving that hard life of quick cash perhaps the only option they saw. Especially since, at least in Alexandra’s stated case, there is no family, but her girls, to fall back on.

Low Points

As noted, one major low point is that damn near every trans person, or femme male, we see is a sex worker. Granted, there were a few who may have just associated with sex workers, but there isn’t much provided to differentiate who was about that life and who wasn’t.

Like many a mainstream film, the trailer sadly makes this film seem funnier than it is. For, as you watch the film, honestly it sometimes seems like a string of YouTube videos, or vine parodies, strung together into one mostly coherent film. Sad thing is, though, despite the would be comedic situations, such as Sin-Dee dragging this girl named Dinah (Mickey O’Hagan) down the boulevard, you don’t find yourself laughing really. If anything, the would be comedy moments mix with the drama to the point where they sort of cancel each other out. So as much as you can tell a moment was supposed to be funny, it becomes hard to laugh at for the pain of the joke isn’t fully masked.

On The Fence

Bringing me to the topic of respectability politics, which I think was the main thing holding me back from being able to laugh. For between seeing shows like I Am Jazz, The T Word, and other media which features Trans people, so comes the question of, can I laugh? I mean, though sex work isn’t a consistent occupation for trans characters, at the same time there comes this uncomfortable place for laughing at what you aren’t familiar with.

To elaborate, Sin-Dee is a purely comical character, but you can tell the main reason she is acting a fool is because Chester might just well be the closest thing to love she may have found as a trans woman. Especially one which didn’t have the surgery, perhaps can’t afford hormones, and yet has herself a man. And maybe this is me just thinking too much, but being that there is a reason behind almost everyone’s crazy action, including one Alexandra did for the same sort of validation, there really does seem to be a constant battle between this being a comedy or drama, with neither side winning.

Overall: TV Viewing

At this point, I am beginning to feel about media focused on trans people the same way I do about media focused on Black people. Great there is more out there, but just because your production is the only one we’ve been introduced to in awhile, it doesn’t mean you automatically deserve praise. After all, the issue isn’t just about quantity, but the quality and then, most of all, diversity. For, as can be seen in Black media, you can find a million and one shows dealing with upper middle class, or rich, black folk, but rarely any sort of Black folk who are working poor, just getting by, or what have you. Which is slowly becoming an issue for the media presented on Trans people, but sort of in the opposite. In transmedia, at least the stuff I know of. With the exception of I Am Jazz, a large part of their stories deal with crime, poverty, and I don’t know if transmedia is , like Black media was, waiting for their Cosby Show moment or not, but as they become less of an anomaly and more of something we see on a fairly regular basis, things have to change.

Things To Note

Excuse the rambling towards the end.

 

Published inMixed (Divisive)MoviesTrigger Warning(s)

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