Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Media Moment: Transgender woman in Spiritualized video

Despite the fact that Spiritualized is still one of my favorite bands, their newly released video perpetuates the longstanding myth of  sex-working transgender women. Not only does the video feature "Jane" performing an array of sexual favors, and glorifies the "dress-up" aspect of transgender culture, but it also covers a whole lot of gruesome violence towards the protagonist. Some may argue that the video advocates for an awareness of present violence in the transgender community. However, it goes on without saying that not all transgender women are prostitutes, strippers or escorts. This video seems to justify violence towards these women due to the dangers in their position as a sex workers. Also, the fact that the director featured a black transgender woman, rather than a white one goes on to show yet another stereotype and advocate not only homophobia but racism. The video documents the protagonists' black family, and finishes off with a protagonist's young brother using a pistol to kill Jane's attacker.

 Question: Would the video be as successful if the protagonist was white, and if the director did not emphasize the "dress up" of the transgender culture?

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with you about this video. I absolutely love Spiritualized as well but I think the video perpetuates a lot of the stereotypes we looked over in class (such as black people being connected to violence, myth of transgender prostitute, etc.). I think if the protagonist was white the entire mood of the video would be different. In The Kills' video for "Baby Says" (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfLcPYA3Nlk) which focuses on a white transgender woman, you can see how dissimilar the transgender depiction is from the "Hey Jane" video. In "Baby Says" the white protagonist is seen having a great time with friends and struggling for acceptance towards the ending of the video. The dress-up aspect seems to be common in both transgender portrayals but the video does not incorporate violence or prostitution. Since it is possible to create a transgender character that does not follow the common stereotypes, these two videos show that it is race that acts as a major schema for the roles.