Ian Thomas Malone

A Connecticut Yogi in King Joffrey's Court

Monthly Archive: November 2017

Monday

20

November 2017

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Good Riddance, Transparent

Written by , Posted in Blog, Pop Culture

Criticizing Transparent has always been weird for me as a transgender woman, knowing that the very existence of the show was a step in the right direction for a marginalized and underrepresented community. The show has served as a great source of employment for the transgender community. The recent sexual misconduct allegations made against Jeffrey Tambor by two of the show’s transgender staff, which lead to his departure from the series, is upsetting for many reasons. The fact that Transparent is likely finished as a series is not one of them.

Transparent is not a show about transgender people. There is a transgender character in the lead role, played by the decidedly non-transgender Tambor, but the show is mostly about Maura’s angst riddled family, the upperclass Pfeffermans from Los Angeles. Stylistically, the show has strong roots with the mumblecore genre, seen in Girls, Togetherness, and Looking,  complete with the presence of mumblecore legend Jay Duplass (also non-transgender) in the main cast. For those unfamiliar with the mumblecore movement, it is a genre defined by seemingly aimless narratives and characters who are often derided as “adult children,” usually quite accurately.

Transparent was always about that, the melancholy trials and tribulations of being wealthy and sad in 21st Century America. As a fan of mumblecore, I’ve always been apprehensive about disliking the show for being a part of that movement, but the experiences that mumblecore often depicts are far removed from the issues that affect transgender people in every day life. Transgender people face immense discrimination at work, which is fundamentally linked to our ability to afford medical treatments as simple as HRT, where the difference between $10 prescription and one costing $300 is mostly a matter of employment (due to our healthcare system), at a time when elected politicians fight to allow companies the ability to fire us at will. It would have been nice if Transparent could have focused more on those issues and less on all the orchestra of whining done by the adult Pfefferman children. The show hasn’t been cancelled yet, but it wouldn’t lose much of a beat if it kept going. The lack of a transgender lead hardly changes the show, which has been its problem all along.

The mumblecore comparisons do help in one key regard. Transparent represents the transgender community about as well as Girls accurately depicts Brooklyn millennials. To be fair, It is hard to say what kind of television show could ever represent such a diverse group as the transgender community, but a whiny affluent family from Los Angeles does not immediately come to mind as the model I would use. HBO’s Looking serves a great contrast as a mumblecore style show that depicted San Francisco’s gay community. It wasn’t necessarily a show strictly about being gay, but its use of a predominantly gay cast & crew gave the aura of authenticity that eluded Transparent. Being trans was never firmly rooted in Transparent’s zeitgeist. How could it have been?

In The Transgender Manifesto, I make the fairly simple observation that transgender people are fully capable of playing any character, cisgender or otherwise. Fictional narratives rarely dive into the subject of transgender identity, and the presence of a transgender character does not require one to do so. We are in fact, people. Representation in film and television is still to this day a huge issue for people who are not white and male. The idea of a black Othello was once seen as an outrage, despite the character’s own background. We’ve come a long way since then, but we couldn’t have a transgender lead in a show that traded off transgender people to diversify itself in a crowded field.

And yet, we had Transparent, the transgender show that wasn’t about transgender people. Yes, it increased our visibility (what that actually means, I’m not quite sure) and it certainly employed transgender people. I guess that counts for something. It is a poor depiction of transgender life. It didn’t need to be. The transgender community deserves better.

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Tuesday

14

November 2017

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Remembering Chuck Mosley

Written by , Posted in Blog, Pop Culture

The news that Chuck Mosley, the original singer of Faith No More, had passed away last week is sad on many levels. As an artist, Chuck changed the landscape of rock music with the albums We Care a Lot and Introduce Yourself, blending rap and hard rock, starting a movement that defined much of the 90s. But Chuck the legend wasn’t really the Chuck that I knew.

I was fortunate to have a chance to meet Chuck this past August, when his band came through Los Angeles, as his longtime percussionist/manager Doug Esper and I are both signed to the same publisher. It was through Doug’s frequent Facebook posts documenting their touring adventures that I got a sense of Chuck, the person. Knowing that the world lost that Chuck is what’s truly heartbreaking about this news.

Chuck treated me like an old friend from the moment I walked up to him outside the Viper Room, immediately including my friend and me in a conversation about some music he’d recorded earlier that day as if he’d known us for twenty years. He was extremely kind and gracious whenever fans came up for a picture or an autograph. After learning of his affection for silver sharpies from his band, I gave him the one I’d brought so he could sign my vinyl sleeve of We Care a Lot, prompting Chuck to insist I take the pen he’d been using in exchange. It seems like a silly story, but that kind of genuine warmth can be pretty hard to come by in this world.

When Chuck took the stage at The Viper Room, he proclaimed to the audience that he was so nervous he had to do a couple shots to calm his nerves. That kind of openness and vulnerability is rare, especially to see from someone in front of a crowd. With Chuck, what you saw was what you got. His nerves certainly didn’t stop him from putting on one hell of a show.

You could tell Chuck was one of the good ones by the way his band spoke of him, full of affection for his various quirks and warm personality. I’ve seen countless stories on social media over the past few days of people with similar stories of Chuck’s kindness and heart. He shared a friendship with Doug in particular that transcended bandmates or business partners. They cared about each other. Perhaps that notion was so apparent because we think of show business as such a cutthroat industry.

Chuck never tried to hide his struggles or the demons he battled throughout his life. The statement put out by his family, “After a long period of sobriety, Charles Henry Mosley III lost his life, on November 9th, 2017, due to the disease of addiction. We’re sharing the manner in which he passed, in the hopes that it might serve as a warning or wake-up call or beacon to anyone else struggling to fight for sobriety” further demonstrates his giving spirit, the kind of openness that is inspiring through its unrelenting grounding in reality.

I’ll never forget Chuck, and not because of his unforgettable sound. He lived a hard life, but remained a genuinely good person right until the end. My heart goes out to his family and friends, who have lost such a kind soul. I’m grateful I had the chance to get to know him, if only for a single evening. Chuck touched a lot of people through his music, but also through his grace as a person. Thanks for caring Chuck. We care a lot too.

Donations for Chuck’s memorial service and funeral expenses can be made here.

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