What A Bisexual Person Wants Straight And Gay People To Know

The other day, I was scrolling through social media, minding my own business, when I innocently stumbled upon a video, edited together using clips of celebrities discussing their experience with bisexuality, including Halsey, Kristen Stewart, Drew Barrymore, and many others.

I enjoyed this video. As a bisexual woman myself, it made me feel good. It made me proud to be who I am. And, yes, I know that the rule of thumb for the internet is that, every time you feel that way, don’t look at the comments. But I looked at the comments anyway. And, reading through them, my stomach sank.

It isn’t that the majority of comments were outwardly intending to be cruel or anything like that. In fact, I’m pretty sure that they were trying to be accepting. But they all pretty much read the same: “I don’t care”.

There were a few comments from actual bisexual people, trying to defend the validity of the video, but the vast majority were from straight people or gay people (who went out of their way to identify themselves as gay), clogging up the comments with repeated assertions that they didn’t care. They didn’t care so much, in fact, that it very quickly proved that they did. They cared a lot, or else they would have just moved on without making a comment.

And I think I understand where these comments come from, at least on the surface. The idea behind it is not to make me, a bisexual woman, feel bad. Quite the opposite in fact – when straight and gay people make these comments, they think that they’re making me feel validated and normalized. I’m so validated and normalized, in fact, that I shouldn’t even have to say that I’m bisexual. I shouldn’t say it at all. I should just stay quiet, really, and allow them to continue pretending that I don’t exist.

Because the way that these comments appear, whenever a celebrity or a fictional character is outed as bisexual, this idea of, “I don’t care who they sleep with, just as long as they perform well” – it feels less like they’re saying, “be who you want to be”, and more like they’re saying, “please stop talking about this, I don’t want to hear about it”.

And maybe straight people and gay people don’t care. Maybe it doesn’t affect you. But I care, and, personally, I wish they would too.

Because silencing bisexual people is not something that’s unique to the comment section of social media posts. In fact, it’s common enough that it actually has a name – bi erasure.

And bi erasure affects me. Bi erasure affects how straight and gay people view and treat me. And bi erasure is a huge problem.

Bi erasure affects me when I come out to a straight or gay person, and they automatically assume that I’m confused, or a straight woman looking to experiment, or a lesbian who’s afraid to come ‘all the way’ out of the closet (the idea that I’m only half out of the closet is also seriously problematic – I am all the way of of the closet).

Bi erasure affects me when 47 percent of people say that they would never date a bisexual person. And, no, I’m not asking for 100 percent of the population to be looking to date me specifically, that would be… quite frankly, exhausting. But the reasons that people cite to avoid getting involved with any bisexual are actually disgusting. I’ve heard many people say that they would never date a bisexual because they’re afraid they might cheat on them (as though straight and gay people don’t cheat on their partners). I’ve heard many people say that it’s actually unfair for a bisexual person to try to enter into a committed relationship, because we all know that they’re eventually going to stray for penis or vagina or whatever. Actress Megan Fox even made the comment once that, though she identifies as a bisexual woman, she “would never date a girl who was bisexual, because that means they also sleep with men, and men are so dirty that [she’d] never want to sleep with a girl who had slept with a man.” Before people even get to know me, bi erasure has already created this image of me as some sort of dirty, promiscuous whore, out to harm straight and gay people by entering into committed relationships with them.

And, lastly, bi erasure affects me when 44 percent of bisexual youth have reported experiencing suicidal thoughts in the last year (compared to 33 percent LGBTQ youth en masse). Bisexuals make up the largest single population in the LGBTQ community, and yet we are woefully underrepresented – by our own community.

So to the straight and gay people who want to make sure we know that you don’t care about us – we know. You’ve proven that to us again and again, trust me. You can stop saying it.

But, like I said, I think that the majority of these comments do not come from an intentionally harmful place. I think that these are people who want to live in a society where nobody has to say what they are, they can just be what they are. But the problem with that is that we don’t live in that society. We live in a society where the label that you put on your sexual orientation affects the way that people treat you – whether you be straight, gay or lesbian, or bisexual. And when you are treated differently and ignored for the label that you identify as, then, trust me, it feels good to see a celebrity or fictional character that you look up to identifying under the same label. It feels liberating. It is what truly makes you feel validated and normalized.

So, to all the straight and gay people reading this (and I sincerely hope you are reading this; you are who I wrote this for, after all), I want to ask a few things from you.

I want you to let us speak when we have something to say. Before you rush off to tell us that you don’t care, that you don’t want to hear it – listen. Please. We might even open your mind to possibilities that you did not know existed.

And when it comes to stereotypes that you have developed in the absence of actual bisexual representation, I want to ask you to think about them critically. Because the thing about bisexual people is that we… people! We are a relatively large group of people too, and growing larger (1 in 3 American young adults identify themselves on the bisexual spectrum, after all). And what this means is that we are full of variety that one might not expect, if they never saw or heard from us. Some bisexual people are promiscuous, some aren’t. Some bisexual people feel best in polyamorous relationships, some in monogamous relationships. Some bisexual people experience a preference for one gender over another, and some find that their interest is split 50/50, down the middle. Some bisexual people are incredibly romantic and love to be loved, some aren’t. It all depends on the person – and I, for one, am tired of living with stereotypes that may or may not even apply to me.

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Bisexual People Are Not Just Going Through A Phase

So, full disclosure here: I’m a bit of a geek, and as such, I’m a bit of a fan of trivia, especially trivia that’s related to movies and books. So it should come as no surprise that today’s rant stemmed from a little bit of trivia. Namely, a bit of obscure Harry Potter trivia.

According to an interview with Entertainment Weekly, actor David Thewlis, who played the character Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter films, was quoted as saying, “Alfonso Cuarón (the director of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban), in the rehearsals, without J.K. Rowling’s knowledge, told me that [my character] was, in fact, gay. So I’d been playing a part like a gay man for quite a long time. Until it turned out that I indeed got married to Tonks. I changed my whole performance after that. Just saw it as a phase he went through.” Perhaps as a result of this statement, I have also found some sources claiming that J.K. Rowling herself claimed that Lupin was an ‘ex-gay‘ who, over the course of the series, learns to be straight when he falls in love with Tonks, a female character. However, as the leading source of this latter claim seems to be a user’s comment on IMDB, I wouldn’t put too much stock in the claim that this is something that Rowling actually said.

Now, why am I sharing this piece of trivia, you might be asking? Well, besides it simply being interesting to know from a total geek perspective, I also find it to be very telling as far as how we as a society tends to view sexual orientation.

Look at the language that was used in the above trivia. Regardless of what the sexual orientation of Lupin’s character is actually supposed to be, Thewlis decided that, if Lupin was interested in men at one point and interested in women at another, then that must mean that he was just “going through a phase”. And regardless of whether J.K. Rowling was the one who identified Lupin as an “ex-gay” or not, that is a term that some fans have come to use toward him. So then, what is Lupin’s sexual orientation? He likes men at some point, women at others… it’s almost as though he likes both… as though he might be some sort of strange, previously unknown sexual orientation that lands somewhere between straight and gay, like some sort of… bisexual or something…

Seriously though, why wasn’t this the first place that everyone’s mind went to when Lupin’s sexual orientation supposedly changed between movies? (I’m foregrounding the movies here because that seems to be where this issue is most apparent to the actors and the audience.) Why was there even this mention of “going through a phase”, of being an “ex-gay”, when we all know that bisexual people exist?

Or do we?

The issue of bi visibility has been an ongoing one for the bisexual community for pretty much… forever. In fact, there’s even a whole day in the year dedicated to spreading awareness about the existence of bisexual people, because apparently, the majority of people haven’t caught on yet. Bisexual people are frequently assumed to be going through a phase that they’ll eventually grow out of or overcome. Bisexual men are interpreted as being gay men who are simply afraid to come “all the way” out of the closet (as though coming out as bisexual isn’t coming all the way out). Bisexual women are interpreted as straight women who are looking to impress men with promises of threesomes and getting to watch them make out with other women (because it always comes back to being about men in the end somehow). Or, sometimes, bisexual people of both sexes are merely interpreted as experimenting, being curious, being rebellious, but not actually being what they claim to be.

And when it comes to real people with actual sexual orientations, we still tend to use a perspective that mirrors the one we saw with poor Lupin. When we see actual queer couples, we automatically assume that they are a gay or lesbian couple. A wedding between two men is always referred to as a gay wedding, even if it’s totally plausible that neither man is actually gay. And do you know how many times I have seen someone come from dating someone of the opposite gender to dating someone of the same gender, and the common response is, “oh, so you’re gay now?” or “I didn’t know you were gay!”

And if you do this or have done this, I’m not trying to make you feel bad about it. As human beings, we tend to want to separate everything into two categories, sometimes referred to as a ‘binary’. We want everything and everyone to be male or female, light or dark, straight or gay. And when something doesn’t fit easily into that binary, we tend to ignore it; I mean, what have we done to gender non-conforming or intersex people?

But the truth is, the world doesn’t exactly work this way.

The truth is, of all adults living in the U.S. and identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, bisexuals comprise of a very slight majority (1.8% compared to the 1.7% that identify as gay or lesbian). And of these people, not all of them can be confused, questioning, or going through a phase.

The truth is, I identify as bisexual, and I have since I was ten years old. I tried to change myself. I tried to force myself to belong on either end of the binary, because that was what I thought people expected of me, but I just can’t change who I am. I just can’t not be bisexual, because the way that I identify is very real and very unavoidable.

The truth is, we have been ignored for far too long. We have been dismissed as not even an option for far too long. We have been invisible for far too long.

And it’s time for that to stop.

It’s time for us to talk about bi visibility.

Why We All Need to Talk About Biphobia (Discrimination Against Bisexual People)

I’m not going to lie – I’ve had a difficult time coming to terms with my sexual orientation, and I blame part of that on the fact that I am not attracted to one singular gender. I am attracted to girls, boys, transgender people, gender queer people, non-binary people, etc. – basically, I’m attracted to people before genders, a phenomena that is more commonly known as being bisexual.

Now, bisexuality can come in multiple forms. By definition, it is the attraction to two or more genders, but what this means is a bit more complicated than it sounds. It is possible to be bisexual, but have a preference for one gender or the other. You can be bisexual and be attracted differently to either gender. Or you can be bisexual and experience equal attraction to either gender. At the end of the day, there are no straight-forward rules for identifying as bisexual – if you feel like you identify as bisexual, then you are bisexual. It’s as simple as that.

Now, I have known that I am bisexual since I was about ten years old, but I did not know the above information until I was around twenty years old, when I finally decided that it was time to be proud of who I am and research information on what that meant. In my searches, I came across several blogs and websites on bisexuality, and it was here that I found the official definition of what bisexuality was, because I had previously thought of it merely as an attraction to both boys and girls, split equally down the middle. It was also in these blogs that I first came across the word ‘biphobia’.

For those of you who are not familiar with it, biphobia is, as you might expect, the discrimination against people who identify specifically as bisexual. Although bisexual people can experience homophobia as well, biphobia is a partly separate issue, relating to the issues that bisexual people in particular face.

Now, I want to emphasize that this is not a word that I had ever heard until I started looking up information on bisexuality on the internet. And if I had not had reason to look this information up, if I was either straight or gay, I very well might never have come across it. Which struck me as exceptionally strange and disappointing, because the more that I read about it, the more I realized that biphobia is something that we all need to talk about – not just bisexual people. It is something that straight people need to remember, and it is something that homosexual people need to remember.

And why?

We need to talk about biphobia because whenever someone gets romantically (or sometimes sexually) involved with someone of their own gender, the dominant response is “oh, I guess they’re gay now” or “I didn’t know they were gay”, even if aforementioned person has had multiple partners of the opposite sex. The possibility that they might be bisexual never even crosses most people’s minds.

We need to talk about biphobia because in an interview with Larry King, Anna Paquin, an openly bisexual woman, was referred to as a ‘non-practicing bisexual’ because she is married to a man, whereas married straight women are not referred to as a ‘non-practicing heterosexual’ and married lesbians are not ‘non-practicing homosexuals’. And this is not an isolated incident either; this is something that even believed in my teen years – that when I get married, my identity would change depending on who I married. If I married a man, I’d magically become straight. If I married a woman, I’d magically become a lesbian. But that isn’t how it works. Bisexual people are bisexual – that doesn’t change based on who their current partner is.

We need to talk about biphobia because bisexual people are often accused of being queer people who are able to ‘pass’ as straight because they are capable of entering into relationships with someone of the opposite gender, but it is not a privilege to have your identity consistently dismissed and ignored throughout your life.

We need to talk about biphobia because bisexual women are automatically assumed to be promiscuous women who are merely trying to impress men, whereas bisexual men are automatically assumed to be gay men who are too afraid to come all the way out of the closet. Either way, bisexual people are automatically assumed to just want men at the end of the day. This assumption is so strong that many lesbians have stated that they would never date a bisexual woman because she’d probably just leave them for a man, because we all know that that’s what bisexual women really want (cue the eye rolls).

We need to talk about biphobia because I as a bisexual woman feel like that is not something I should disclose too early in a relationship, because it might cheapen me in my partner’s eyes.

We need to talk about biphobia because bisexual women in particular are dismissed as dirty, promiscuous, greedy, and unlovable, while simultaneously being sexualized, fetishized, and objectified by men who really like the idea of a woman who will sleep with other women, but also with them as well. Perhaps as a result of this, bisexual women are nearly twice as likely to be abused than straight women (according to a Buzzfeed report). Bisexual women also have a 46.1% chance of being raped in their lifetime (whether that be by a romantic partner or not) – a rate that is 2.6 times higher than straight women and 3.5 times higher than lesbian women (according to the bisexual support website Bitopia).

We need to talk about biphobia because I as a bisexual woman feel as though I cannot or should not date a man, because if I did, I’d lose something in the process – a feeling that is only emphasized by biphobic representations of bisexuals such as in the television series Glee, wherein there is one episode where a gay character becomes upset because his boyfriend kisses a girl. But it wasn’t the possible cheating that made him upset, no – it was the fact that the kiss resulted in his contemplating that he might actually be bisexual, as though his realization that he might be bisexual makes him less valuable in his boyfriend’s eyes. This conflict is resolved when the boyfriend character comes to the conclusion that he is completely gay, and thus the gay character can rest easily knowing all is as it should be. There is also a later episode where a lesbian character discloses that her ex-girlfriend was bisexual, to which the girl that is currently flirting with the lesbian character responds by saying that it’s “for the best” that she’s an ex then, and that what she really needs is a “100% Sapphic goddess”. This openly biphobic character is then treated by the lesbian as ‘better’ than her exes because she’s a real, bonafide lesbian. And this is a television show that marketed itself as being open-minded and inclusive.

We need to talk about biphobia because it is everywhere, and it isn’t something that I even thought about all that much until I had need to think about it. If I wasn’t bisexual, then chances are I’d be continuing to perpetuate these toxic beliefs today, because I wouldn’t know any better.

And people need to know better. That is why I talk about biphobia.

Because bisexual people are not dirty, greedy, naturally promiscuous, or whatever a biphobic society that enforces these beliefs paints us as. We are people. We are people who want to find love as much as anyone else. The only difference between us and anyone else is that we have to live with these assumptions held against us, and people are not talking enough about that. And we deserve better than that.

3 Subtle Ways That Bisexual People are Regularly Excluded

So, I’m not going to lie: I like being bisexual. If I could choose my sexual orientation, this would probably be the one I would choose. I like that I was forced from a young age to exist between the lines – to see things from outside of the binary. There are many people, after all, who never think to question the binary because they’ve never had any reason to. They’re either straight or gay, either male or female, they see things in terms of either good or evil and black or white, but when you’re a person who falls outside of those terms (whether you be bisexual, pansexual, intersex, gender non-conforming, or even just a jerk who means well), then suddenly you’re forced to question why it is that people tend to see things as either one thing or another. Society rarely considers the murky middle regions, and I’m proud to say that I have firmly taken residence in those regions.

But there are some parts of being bisexual that are less than fun, and one of those is when someone doesn’t mean to be exclusive, but they are. This often goes back to what I was saying about the binary – most people see things either one way or another, and they just don’t realize that doing that ignores the infinite options in between. They aren’t trying to be offensive, and they don’t mean any harm in it, they just aren’t used to thinking outside the binary.

So to illustrate this, I’ve collected a list of three statements I’ve heard often from people who aren’t trying to ignore the existence of bisexuals, but end up doing so by default.

1. “Oh, insert-public-figure’s-name-here is dating/married to someone of the same gender? I didn’t know they were gay!”

This one I only take issue with when the above mentioned information is really all you have to go on: when all you know is that insert-public-figure’s-name-here is dating someone of the same gender, and the immediate assumption is that that must mean they’re gay.

I saw this a lot with Kristen Stewart recently, when there was speculation on the internet that she might be dating a woman, and most of what I heard jumped immediately to this conclusion. “I didn’t know she was gay!” or “Of course Kristen Stewart is a lesbian! I should have known!” was everywhere. Yet, the fact that she wasn’t outed yet meant that nobody knew if that was the case. All that they knew was that she might be involved with a woman. And if Kristen Stewart was/is involved with a woman, then that doesn’t necessarily mean that she’s a lesbian. After all, her being bisexual or pansexual was equally as plausible in that scenario, but I never once heard anyone say “I didn’t know Kristen Stewart was bisexual!”

While I doubt that anyone was actively trying to be harmful, the immediate assumption that a person must be completely homosexual in order to be dating someone of the same gender erases the experiences of those who aren’t.

Better ways that you can phrase this sentiment include “Oh, insert-public-figure’s-name-here is dating someone of the same gender? I didn’t realize they were part of the queer community!”

2. “She’s so hot, I’m going to go lesbian for her!”

I remember hearing this statement a lot around the emergence of Ruby Rose as a public figure.

The sentiment that you’re trying to get across when you say that is: that woman is so physically attractive that I, as a straight woman, would actually consider having some sort of romantic or sexual relationship with her. And that is a perfectly fine sentiment. I understand better than most that sexuality is not as simple as it seems: a person can identify one way all their lives and then suddenly identify differently well into their adult lives, and there is nothing wrong with that.

But the problem with the wording in this statement is not only that is misunderstand what being queer is (you don’t just go lesbian because you saw a hot girl and now suddenly, your lifetime of being attracted to men is forgotten), but it reduces sexuality to a very one-or-the-other, binary system. You’re not saying “yes, I’m still attracted to men, but that woman makes me think that I’m not entirely as straight as I thought”. What you’re saying is that sexuality is either straight or gay, and this woman is somehow so hot that you started playing for the other team all of a sudden.

It ignores the possibility that a person can be attracted to men, and also be attracted to women. Because if you legitimately find this woman attractive, then the only thing you can be is a lesbian.

Better ways that you can phrase this sentiment include “That wo/man is so hot. I’d date him/her.”

3. “Oh, so you married a woman? Does that mean you’re straight now?” or “I had an ex ‘go straight’ on me”

I’m lumping these two together because they basically express the same sentiment: in both cases, it’s assuming that a bisexual person who enters into a long-term relationship with someone of one gender is now exclusively attracted to that gender.

First of all – that just isn’t how the world works. Straight women who have been happily married for years are still able to find men who aren’t their husbands attractive, and nobody bats an eye at that. It’s normal, it’s to be expected. “I’m married, but I’m not dead”, older people will jokingly say when they see an attractive person. Well, it’s the same thing for bisexual people. Even if they’re completely in love with someone and can’t see themselves ever being with anyone else, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t bisexual anymore.

And, secondly, this kind of plays into a very harmful stereotype about bisexual people: that we’re all either confused or faking our sexuality for some reason. Bisexuality isn’t real, it isn’t possible to actually be attracted to more than one gender, and someday we’ll all learn that when we find the right person and just become straight (spoiler alert: we won’t).

Better ways that you can phrase this sentiment include “Congratulations on getting married! I’m so happy for you!” or “Yeah, my ex is dating Jim now. I hope he treats her well.”

~

As I mentioned before, all of these statements are fairly common, and if you’ve said something like this before, I’m not here to judge you or say that you’re wrong. The only thing that I’m trying to do is point out the ways in which these statements erases the experiences of bisexual people, and hopefully, help you to think a little bit more outside the binary by pointing out that these experiences exist. We’ve all done or said things that we didn’t realize were harmful or exclusive at the time, and that doesn’t mean that we’re evil people. All that it means is that we keep trying to better ourselves and learn more about other experiences.

 

Rocky Horror Picture Show: Let’s Do The Time Warp Again Review

I found the original 1975 movie for Rocky Horror Picture Show while I was still in high school, and though, I’ll admit, I didn’t take to it immediately (it is, after all, a weird movie, even by today’s standards), it very quickly became one of my all-time favourites.

To this day, it’s probably the only movie I’ve ever seen with an all-bisexual cast of characters, and it was the first movie I ever saw that emphasized the message that bisexuality was totally okay! Boys, girls, it doesn’t matter who you like – as long as it makes you happy. And while it didn’t always have the most accurate or even the most positive representation of what it was like to be bisexual (I’m still waiting for someone to give me a castle to strut around in wearing high heels and red lipstick), it more than made up for that by simply being fun.

But I don’t think I need to go into what makes the original Rocky Horror Picture Show so great – we all know it’s great. It’s become an iconic film – even today, it’s impossible to see an image of red lips against a black background without thinking of it.

So instead, let’s focus on something else: let’s focus on the 2016 remake of Rocky Horror Picture Show.

From the moment I first heard of it, I was hesitant, and the news that trickled down to me about it didn’t make me any more excited. There were a lot of casting choices I disagreed with (more on that later), and some of the decisions that they seemed to be going with really seemed to misunderstand the entire point of the first film. There was even a period of time where I had decided not to watch the remake at all.

But I did. I mustered up the self-loathing enough to find the film and watch it in its entirety.

And, to be honest, there were a couple of parts of it that I found myself enjoying. The movie threw in a couple of jokes that I found myself chuckling at (“we’re not having meatloaf again”), and there was the occasional moment that made me smile.

But overall, the film met my expectations entirely – and my expectations were pretty goddamn low. So, without further ado, let’s talk about this travesty – all the things wrong with the 2016 reboot of Rocky Horror Picture Show.

1. The Cast

Just… just the whole cast…

There were times when I found it difficult to understand what it was about their acting that I hated so much. I mean, they were overacting, but of course they were. Everyone in the first movie overacted too, and it was completely fine there. It was fun, even – I love the performances from the original film. So what was wrong with these performances?

And then, it hit me:

You know when you’re watching a movie, and the characters in the movie decide to do a parody of bad acting? When they’re in a play or something like that, and their fake-acting is so bad that you’ve never actually seen it in a movie?

This was a whole film of that.

There wasn’t a moment in the movie where I wasn’t acutely aware that everyone was acting. It just sort of felt forced – the way the whole movie did, really. It wasn’t Rocky Horror Picture Show, it was paint-by-number. Say the words and do the scene necessary to make this an adequate remake and then move on. No passion, no fun, just hollow recitation of lines, with a vague attempt to copy the delivery of the original actors.

The only possible exception to this would be Ryan McCartan, who played Brad Majors. I feel compelled to except him because there were a couple of scenes where he actually made me smile, and I feel like he was genuinely enjoying his performance, which is more than I can say for the rest of the cast.

2. Laverne Cox

I do feel bad calling out Laverne Cox specifically, especially when I just called out the entire cast for delivering an uninspired performance, but Laverne Cox in particular frustrated me.

And it wasn’t that she was bad in the role – she was, but I could have forgiven that. It was the fact that she was cast at all.

This is actually what made me not want to watch the movie before it came out, to be honest. Because, look, I understand that, in real life, Laverne Cox is a transgender woman, and the gender of Dr. Frank-N-Furter in the first film was questionable at best. But I think that Dr. Frank-N-Furter needs to be represented by a male actor – primarily because his male-ness in the first film does overpower his female-ness. He may wear women’s clothing and full make-up, but his being a man in all of this contributes to the message of the story. It opens up questions about sexuality and gender, and as a woman, Laverne Cox is completely incapable of doing that.

Think about it, honestly: if Dr. Frank-N-Furter is a woman, how many homosexual relationships do we see represented in the film? We have Frank/Janet and Frank/Columbia, both of which are afterthoughts at best. Instead of watching a man dress in women’s clothing jumping from relationship to relationship, we instead get to watch a woman dressed in women’s clothing sleep with a whole ton of guys and then maybe flirt with the occasional girl.

And I know, I know, in real life, Laverne Cox is a transgender woman, but you’re missing the point: that’s only in real life. In the reality of the film, I see no evidence besides the fact that she sings “Sweet Transvestite” that she is anything more than a cis-gendered woman who just happens to like sex – and even “Sweet Transvestite”, as we learn later in the movie, is actually about her being an alien.

Upon watching the movie, a part of me did, admittedly, hope that her performance as Dr. Frank-N-Furter would make me forget the mistake of her casting – that she would just be so good at it that I wouldn’t even think of her as out of place. But, to be honest, it only made me more upset. Because she just didn’t suit the role. Laverne Cox lacks the ferocity of Tim Curry. She was just too sweet, a little bit too passive. She wasn’t cast because she was the best choice for the role, I soon realized – she was cast because Fox was uncomfortable putting a man in that role, but didn’t want to face the controversy they would find if they put just any old cis-gendered woman in there. They needed someone else, someone for whom a decent argument could be made stating that she actually did belong there.

Overall, the only word that I can think to properly describe Laverne Cox as Dr. Frank-N-Furter is simply heteronormative. It’s an excuse to take the homosexuality out of the film, to be able to watch a woman flirt with men because it made you uncomfortable to see a man in her position. It’s about making sure that, even if she doesn’t fit into your cis-gendered definition, at least she’s still upholding gender roles as we know them, crossing as few boundaries as possible.

I’m sorry, Laverne Cox. You deserved better.

3. Child-Friendly Representations of Sex and Violence

How to say this without sounding like a creepy pervert…

There needed to be more sex!

(Nailed it)

In all honesty, there needed to be more discomfort in general. I still remember watching the 1975 version for the first time and feeling genuinely uncomfortable. Granted, I was fourteen at the time, but still. It wasn’t porn or anything like that, but it didn’t shy away from certain subjects either.

But in this version, the scene where Rocky is hovering over Janet while she is clearly enjoying something that he’s doing is replaced with Rocky and Janet giggling and jumping on the bed together.

The scene where Frank pulls Janet’s legs around his waist (and then does the same to Brad later) is replaced with Laverne Cox slapping Victoria Justice’s ass.

And the scene where Frank pulls the tablecloth to reveal Eddy’s ravaged corpse is replaced with Laverne Cox pulling the tablecloth to reveal… Adam Lambert with a funny look on his face.

The sex and violence was an important part of the first film, helping to establish the overall mood of it. Cutting all that out just makes it feel… less Rocky Horror Picture Show.

4. The Audience

This is more of a nit-pick here, but the fact that they kept cutting to an audience that was watching the film bugged me. I know, I know, it was supposed to capture the feel of the original Midnight Screenings, but it didn’t. It just distracted from what was going on.

5. The Fact That It Exists At All

Okay, so that subtitle might be a bit harsh, but let me explain.

This complaint came to me during the opening song – “Science Fiction Double Feature”, which, in this version, is not sung by a pair of dismembered singing lips, but by an Ivy Levan who was either told to never stop moving by the director, or she really needed to pee. The whole time that I’m watching this scene, all I can think is, “why would they change this? The original scene was iconic. Why give us this instead?”

To which, the part of me that still wanted to enjoy this film said, “well, they couldn’t very well just redo every single scene exactly as it was. Some changes need to be made to make it original.”

“But it isn’t an improvement, so then why do it? Why bother making these changes if you can’t make it better?”

That thought then remained with me throughout the entire film. And I know that that’s often an issue with remakes of good movies, but it is a real problem when that thought occurs to the viewer first thing and then sticks with them.

I honestly cannot think of one change they made that I liked better than the original.

Not Dr. Frank-N-Furter as a woman.

Not Columbia coming from being a bubbly, perky personality to seeming like she really needed a nap.

Even the jokes that made me laugh weren’t entirely necessary. My life was just fine before I heard them.

I mean, I suppose there was more racial diversity in this film than in the original. That’s one improvement.

 

Overall, I’m just left with the impression that nobody who made this film understood the original at all. And not only that, but they didn’t care to understand it. There was no passion or heart in it, like there was in the first one – there was just a quick attempt to make a movie that people would watch so that they might make a little bit of money out of it, without having to do anything that made them uncomfortable. And that’s not what Rocky Horror Picture Show should be about. If anything, this film should have been more edgy than the original, not less. Rocky Horror Picture Show is about refusing to accept boundaries. It’s about coming to terms with who you really are, not who others tell you you should be. It’s about finding your own personal happiness, whatever that may mean. And I most certainly did not get any of that out of this film.