Welcome! This is The Other Movie Project, a blog series where I watch movies released near me that are not about white men. I’ve been doing this since January 2015, and movie review website A Good Movie To Watch published my summary of my experience so far (you can read it here). Now, let’s see what movies were released in July that were about anyone, literally anyone other than a white guy.
When my partner and I bumbled into our local cinema looking for Trainwreck tickets, we were annoyed/thrilled to find the session completely sold out and a line out the door. This was a great day for women in comedy! And an irritating 20-minute drive for us to a different cinema! But the fact that a rom-com written by a woman based on her own life was selling out theatres couldn’t take the sting out of the poster we saw that had no mention of Amy Schumer’s name. The poster said, instead, “TRAINWRECK: FROM THE GUY WHO BROUGHT YOU BRIDESMAIDS”. Fuck you, poster. You might as well have said, “TRAINWRECK: REMEMBER THAT OTHER COMEDY ABOUT WOMEN YOU ACTUALLY LIKED? DON’T WORRY A MAN IS BEHIND THIS!” They didn’t even say “Judd Apatow”, which would have capitalised on his name recognition. Just, “the guy”.
Okay, so, infuriating advertisement of a comedy by one of the most popular comedians of the moment aside, how was Amy Schumer’s debut feature film? It was good. Flashes of brilliance in an unremarkable setting, like a diamond set in tin. If you’re expecting Trainwreck to subvert the rom-com genre (based on Schumer’s genius skewering of tropes on her Comedy Central show Inside Amy Schumer), you might be disappointed. Trainwreck is less of a subversion and more of a disruption; it’s the rom-com we could have been having all these years if rom-coms weren’t so awful.
Meg Watson at Junkee wrote a great article called ‘Trainwreck May Not Be A Feminist Masterpiece – But In A Rom-Com This Good, Does That Matter?’ and you know what, it’s so good, I think you should go read it now. Like, actually click out of this blog and go read Meg’s article. I’ll wait.
I do disagree with Meg on one point: Schumer’s love interest (Bill Hader) does tell her that he cares about how many guys she has slept with. I think he explicitly says to her face, “I am bothered by how many guys you have slept with.” He tells her that he doesn’t “feel safe”, but that is never expanded on. Is he worried about STDs? That she’ll cheat on him? They never have that conversation and it seemed like a disappointing slide into slut-shaming by a writer who is supposedly sex-positive.
But Schumer brings so much heart to this film – and lacerating wit – that it lands well. Her relationship with Bill Hader’s character is refreshingly sweet and based on them actually getting along. I enjoyed this take on the rom-com format where the couple gets together because they like each other, and not in spite of mutual antagonism. The conflict comes when their relationship is tested by circumstance: Amy suffers a personal loss, she is worried she’s about to lose her job, and Hader’s sports doctor is under pressure from his mounting profile. It’s so much more enjoyable than the usual “they are secretly working for each other’s enemies” or whatever trope usually props up the romantic tension, because the stakes feel more real. There you can sense the hand of Apatow – a belief that stories about regular (albeit white and privileged) people can be interesting, too.
Trainwreck is a lot of fun and surprisingly sweet. I hope more romantic comedies turn out like this one.
Oh, and LeBron James is so fucking fantastic in this film. It isn’t even fair. He’s the best at basketball and can do comedy acting? Stahp.
Other movies released near me in July that were NOT about white men:
(The ones I didn’t have time to watch)
2. Madam Bovary
Number of movies released near me in July that WERE about white men:
That’s more than twice the number of films about women.
Aaaand not one film about a person of colour.
A note about the film Stonewall
In February, we saw Selma hit cinemas – the first theatrical movie to feature Martin Luther King Jr as a main character, and a film about “the political and emotional peak of the modern civil rights movement“. This year we are also getting a theatrical film about the Stonewall Riots, “the pivotal LGBT+ equal rights event”. Stonewall is about the activists who started the riots and are credited with kicking off the Pride movement. According to history, key figures in these riots were two transgender women of colour, Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. God, I would love to see a movie about this story. But I can’t watch Stonewall for The Other Movie Project. Why? Stonewall is about a white man.
Diogo, a reader of The Other Movie Project, brought to my attention American transwomyn of colour Pat Cordova-Goff, who is calling for a boycott of Stonewall. The petition says:
History classes throughout our nation have built a reputation of instructing young generations that white, straight, cis folks are the saviors and founders of this land. Wrong.
Do not support a film that erases our history. Do not watch Stonewall.
Erasure matters, and can have violent consequences. When we only or mainly see white people/men/cisgender people playing significant roles in our historical narratives, it justifies the further marginalising of people of colour, women and transgender people. It reinforces the idea that non-white-men don’t matter, or don’t matter as much.
I’m disappointed that Stonewall doesn’t qualify for The Other Movie Project. I’m disappointed that we could have had a big-budget film about two real-life incredible trans women of colour and instead got another offering about a fictional white cis male. This seems especially dopey considering we are living at a time when the transgender community is becoming more visible than ever, particularly thanks to two real-life incredible trans women of colour, Laverne Cox and Janet Mock.
Okay, I’ve had my say about it, but since I am a cisgender white woman I suggest you don’t listen to me about this but go and click on all the links in this section. 🙂
2 thoughts on “July: Trainwreck”
Wow! I really enjoyed reading about Marsha P Johnson and Sylvia Rivera. It’s a crying shame that I won’t learn more about them watching Stonewall.
Agreed! Apparently one of the background characters might be ‘based on’ Marsha P Johnson, which is just not even close to good enough.