In January 2002, some friends, a few awesome drag queens, and I took to Palo Alto and the streets of San Francisco to film Raised by Drag Queens. Yet another film shot for a pittance (I believe $5,000, if I’m remembering correctly), the cast and crew featured such names as Amy Kelly, Kennedy, Faye Lasheo, Kortney Ryan Ziegler, and Lisa Dewey, to name a few.
The movie grew out of an idea I had with the movie’s DP and editor, Allan Benamer, as we rode the NYC subway. It was pretty simple—what if three drag queens found a baby on their front step and raised her into womanhood? This is the result. Hope you like it.
Rest in peace, Leonard Nimoy. As Spock, you brought us all over the galaxy, dealing with tribbles, recovering from the hazards of the planet Neural, jamming on your Vulcan harp. Those of us who grew up in the 70s and 80s also knew you from In Search Of…, where you introduced us to the legends of Bigfoot and the incorrigibly coy Loch Ness Monster.
Perhaps this was all sociocultural groundwork for the Mars 100.
In honor of your stature in the intergalactic In Crowd and your never-ending ability to terrify, provoke, and mystify, Cinemulatto is doing a bit of its own celestial discovery. Assuming that someone, somewhere, will eventually make it to Mars—several someones, most likely—we’re examining the question: why the hell do you wanna go there? What if, like Obi-Wan, you’re our only hope? Is this the next major evolutionary step for humans? What weighty objectives will our intrepid trailblazers of Martian Manifest Destiny tackle in the name of humanity, morality, and scientific advancement? This is your chance, humans—don’t screw it up. Also, I have a few more questions.
Questions for People Going to Mars
Will you propagate the species?
Will there finally be equality?
Will you not screw up the environment? Is that even possible on Mars?
Does this mean an end to poverty?
Will you establish more than a two-party system? Or have none?
You’ll have to share resources; will your society be socialist, communist, or other?
With lower gravity on Mars, will you evolve into an average height of 10 feet?
Will there be an LGBTQIA community?
Will the incarceration rate for black men disappear?
Does this mean an end to warfare?
Will you have the arts? Science? The search for truth?
Will you have schools, museums, and libraries?
Will there be guns?
What are you looking for, exactly?
Despite the questions raised by the possibility of the next phase of human evolution, our Martian counterparts are definitely escaping some of the more egregious things we have here on Earth. Just to provide a different, more positive perspective, here are a few things they’ll no longer have to think about.
Things Humanoid-Martians Won’t Have to Think About
Locally raised food
Westboro Baptist Church
Finding a parking space
Flash flood warnings
Dense fog advisories
Being mauled by a mountain lion
Whatever one thinks of the Mars One mission, space exploration is here to stay. I know I’m with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Fare thee well, sweet species, fare thee well.
Most of us are familiar with The Bechdel Test. To qualify as female-friendly, a movie must meet three requirements:
It has to have at least two women in it,
who talk to each other,
about something besides a man.
Isn’t there more? Let’s face it—women, if movies indicate correctly, are really only good for two things: birthing babies and pleasuring males. And everything related to these things. Sex. Prostitution. Stripping. Staying home with babies. Agonizing over babies.
Did we mention sex?
Here’s a new test: is the movie about sex or motherhood? Luckily, we have many, many great examples in the modern film canon!
Yes, many male filmmakers hit the nail on the head with their vaginally focused characterizations of female characters. Here are 9 great examples. And, just for fun, let’s point out what these characters’ male counterparts get to do.
Blue Velvet. When she’s not waiting to get her kidnapped son back, Dorothy Vallens loves to get hit by Jeffrey Beaumont. Meanwhile, Jeffrey’s off doing things like solving mysteries and getting rid of the bad guy.
Breaking the Waves. Okay, granted, Jan Nyman was paralyzed in an oil rig accident and attempts suicide. He fails. While he recovers he gets to have sexual fantasies about his wife, Bess McNeill, after he urges her to go out and get some on his behalf. She has tons of sex. She thinks God is speaking to her. She ends up getting beaten to death and Jan’s all better just in time for the funeral. Big win for women’s rights!
Antichrist. You can’t really mention Breaking the Waves without bringing in an even bigger score for women the world over. We’ve reviewed Antichrist in a previous Cinemulatto post. But how can we resist including it here? The mental breakdown after “She” loses her child? “He” only gets to keep his sanity, although later his penis gets bludgeoned. “She” gets to chop off her clitoris. Susan B. Anthony fought long and hard for such a privilege.
Scarface (the Brian De Palma version). Say hello to my little trophy wife. She snorts coke all day and is devoid of mothering capabilities since “her womb is so polluted.” Tony Montana gets to build an empire before losing it. Where’s Elvira’s spin-off, where she becomes a gang warlord?
The Accidental Tourist. We know this is based on a novel by a woman. Couldn’t this have been a case of alternative casting? Two women: one loses a child, another chases a man from her first appearance in the movie. You can catch him if you follow him on the job—as he travels the world and writes best-selling books. Who wants to be an author when you can work at a kennel in heels?
Requiem for a Dream.
“I stole a cop’s gun. Or I think I did. I definitely stole a TV.”
“Yeah, well I was in a sex show with a double-headed dildo.”
“So what? I lost an arm and my buddy’s in prison.”
“What about your mom?”
“So, wait. Motherhood and sex?”
Leaving Las Vegas. A down and out guy controls his own destiny with the help of not a bartender, or a therapist, or a cop, but a prostitute. (For other titles in the “I’m here to forward your story and I either have a kid or a sex job or both” cf. The Wrestler, Taxi Driver, Pretty Woman, Trading Places, and maybe a few others.)
Fight Club. I’ll be chain-smoking and waiting to have sex with you while you travel the world and double as the hot leader of an all-male wallop society. I have a cool costume and makeup, though.
Only God Forgives. This film may not yet have a place in seminal film history, but Ryan Gosling’s blank stare is, by now, iconic. He spends his time with prostitutes. He reaches into his dead, overbearing mother’s womb. End scene.
These are just a few examples. We both know you’re familiar with more great ones.
Hobby Lobby won. Thanks to five men on the U.S. Supreme Court, the corporate human being of Hobby Lobby will no longer have to fund the odious sin of contraception committed by their female employees. Praise Jesus, who died specifically for our right to deny basic healthcare to wanton hussies and the men who boink them!
With the road paved for corporate religious freedom everywhere throughout our fair land, why not start our own religion-based business? Yeah, let’s do that, then make our employees abide by the tenets of our incorporated, moral pathway to the afterlife.
Even though some very smart people have said the morning after pill does not cause abortion, it’s not a question of fact—it’s all about belief. So, we believe idolatry and obsession are the same thing. No more use of social media by any employee.
Since we all have to honor our father and mother, no employee will ever be allowed to place their parent into a home for the elderly.
Abortion is unnatural…and so is processed food. Junk food vending machines will be banned within a 50-mile radius of the company. Anyone caught eating or possessing junk food will be terminated immediately.
Thou shalt not kill, but you can own a gun, but only if you open-carry that gun and not kill; you can only scare people and especially children. You can also scare corporations, which are people.
If you’re an anti-gay employee who’s later found to be secretly frequenting gay clubs or other dens of iniquity, you will be turned into salt.
Sex and pee-pees are dirty unless you’re married. Unless you provide us with a copy of your marriage certificate, your healthcare plan will not cover Viagra, erectile dysfunction drugs, penile implants, vasectomies, or circumcision.
Related to number 6: all men are prohibited from purchasing condoms, sex dolls, and porn. We’ll be watching you.
Anyone working on a Sunday will be stoned to death.
You must love others as you love yourself. If you hate, disrespect, or dishonor anyone, this means you have a deep-seated feeling of self-loathing. Although we’re not doctors, we’ll diagnose you with borderline personality disorder. We’ll also deny you benefits to cover therapy.
You have to attend all happy hours. We’re a happy fucking company, so act like it.
To that end, we’re here to act on the age-old trope that says music defines and shapes identity. We present to you the Mulatto Playlist, bringing together the very best of “black” and “white” music. Now you can be a mulatto, too, or just sound like one.
Here’s the perfect mixture of culturally appropriate songs for any occasion. Sit back, relax, and be a Mulatto.
Puff the Magic Dragon – Peter, Paul, and Mary
Night and Day – Al B. Sure!
I Honestly Love You – Olivia Newton-John
Don’t Call Me No Mo – Project Pat feat. Three 6 Mafia
Take Me Home, Country Roads – John Denver
Cat Daddy – Rej3ctz feat. Chris Brown
Surfin’ USA – Beach Boys
Gucci Mane – 911 Emergency
Dueling Banjos – Arthur Smith
Don’t Drop that Thun Thun – Finatticz
Don’t Cry Out Loud – Melissa Manchester feat. clowns
Wiggle – Jason DeRulo
Muskrat Love – The Captain and Tennille
T-Pain feat. B.o.B – Up Down (Do This All Day)
(You’re) Having My Baby – Paul Anka and Odia Coates – interracial parenting!
Buju Banton – Good Looking Girl
Because the internet has over 4 billion sites and we can find things like this, have a bonus track:
My Aunt Alice is pushing 100. We’ve never been close, but we’re cordial during very rare get-togethers. When I was a kid, however, she was a regular presence in my life. While her heart was in the right place, her tongue couldn’t always keep pace. As a result, she holds the esteemed title of Most Likely to Say Clueless, Inappropriate Things at Breaux Family Gatherings.
But were the things Aunt Alice said really all that bad? Can we learn something from her rudest and most egregious utterances?
I think we can.
I wasn’t talking to her, anyway. My family and Aunt Alice were at a restaurant. Aunt Alice was complaining about my dad. Mom stepped in to defend, wherein Aunt Alice mumbled, “I wasn’t talking to her, anyway.” Important lesson, particularly for artists and marketers: Know your audience. Also be aware of how you’re crafting your message for optimal impact.
Don’t raise your skirt for any boys. I took this one to heart. Because of this important forewarning, I came out during the summer of 1989 and never looked back. I may have looked sideways a few times, but now I’m here and I’m queer. I even think Aunt Alice got used to it.
Learn how to sew. I really wish I’d taken Aunt Alice up on this one. How useful would it be to be able to fix a rip in one’s own pants (that I now wear to avoid raising my skirt), or dabble in bespoke fashions? I missed the boat and the sewing machine on this one.
Did you find a rich husband yet? With some kind of mystic prescience of the economic downturns of the 80s, 90s, and our recent “Great Recession,” Aunt Alice knew how to save a buck and inform others how to do the same. I have a wife who’s doing okay, but alas, no rich husband for me.
Did you win the lottery yet? Advice: Think big.
She looks better now than when she was alive. At my mother’s wake in 1997, as I walked back to the Catholic church pew after viewing the body, these were the hushed, insightful words that lit from Aunt Alice’s red-lipsticked mouth. I’ll never forget them. I know that during someone’s “difficult time,” I can pass along the same words of encouragement, knowing I was taught by the best.
So, the next time that crazy uncle or madcap auntie causes a ruckus at the annual family potluck, or if you ever happen to be down on your luck and dealing with circumstances beyond your control—remember Aunt Alice. I do, and I’m a better person for it.
I attended a pretty fancy-schmancy university (Stanford, to be exact). When one graduates in the same class as famous political organizers, U.S. senators, and authors (or authors, or authors), there’s a lot of potential to develop a massive inferiority complex. For years, that’s kind of exactly what I did, i.e., compared myself to my peers, or at the very least, harbored a secret wish that they’d do something like eat bad fish, or stub a toe.
Well…as they say, that was then, this is now. I’m proud to say I haven’t harbored a jealous thought in a long time—probably for the last five or more years. How did I reach such a blissful state of confident Nirvana? How did I stop being a jealous, bitter, dramatic mess?
Here are 7 things that contributed.
Started taking better care of myself. What you eat really does directly correlate to how you feel, and how you regard yourself. For the past several years (sugar addiction notwithstanding) I’ve focused on consuming lean meats, organic fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and plenty of nuts and legumes. I also exercise regularly and try to spend at least a little bit of time each day being mindful. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of self-pity if your staple food is Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.
Gave up toxic habits. If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know I haven’t touched alcohol since 2005. This was a catalyst to find a lot of self-worth outside of a bottle, and led to a lot less drama in my life.
Focused on accomplishments and the process. I used to scoff at people who said, “It’s all about the process.” Now I’ve discovered, without this being a goal, that I love the process—writing, working with actors, composing shots, editing, and everything having to do with movies. Also, “accomplishments” are such socially defined little bastards. Awards? Of course they feel great. Money? Everyone appreciates getting paid; this goes without saying so I won’t (quite) say it. Finding I have a strong set of friends and cohorts who get excited about my movie projects? Excitement is hard to come by these days, meaning generating it is a major accomplishment.
Surrounded myself with supporters. This is related to the above. It’s not one-sided—these are the people who love me who I love in return. One might even say “like-minded”. It took many years and a process of elimination, but I reached a point where I easily:
Identified detractors and steered clear. Know the signs: they never congratulate you on anything, they talk a lot about themselves, they point out your perceived shortcomings in the form of jokes, and they can do no wrong. God bless ’em. I have none of them in my life.
Had an Eat Pray Love moment. This happened in late 2008. I spent 10 days in the Peruvian rainforest on a shamanic ayahuasca retreat. (After all, isn’t film a controlled hallucinatory experience?) I wouldn’t recommend this for everyone but it worked wonders for me. (It also worked for Isabel Allende in completing her trilogy of adventure books.) Yes, as I communed with the ayahuasca goddess at the edge of the unknown universe, I had a sweeping sense of being a supreme creative being. What did you do this weekend?
Grew older. The aging process is great for self-esteem. It’s made me mellow out a lot and not care so much about what other people think. When one has to focus on maintaining the energy required to get things done, one has little time for peer comparison. The only person I find myself trying to one-up these days is me.
If you’re currently a jealous, bitter, dramatic mess, I hope you find some pearls of wisdom or some small level of solace in the above. But stop comparing yourself to me—go make your own damn list.
To honor Millennials, mixed chicks, and digital natives, Cinemulatto presents our first guest blogger: my daughter. May this serve as a time capsule and provide insight on what the “young people” are thinking.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are now experiencing an EXTREME. BLOG. TAKEOVER!
(Cue intense classic rock music and fire shooting up from unexpected places.)
My name is Dakota Billops-Breaux and I am honored to be Cinemulatto’s first guest blogger. Because I’m not a blogger, nor do I know the first thing about being a blogger, this should be an interesting experience. I do know, however, that this particular blog is about film. And race. And stuff. It says so in the header. So, readers, for the next three to five (or maybe six) hundred words, I’ll do my best to enlighten you on all of my knowledge of those three subjects.
Unlike my mother, I’m not one to pay close attention to the films I watch. How they were made, what shots were used, and various trivial facts about the films aren’t really in my best interest. (I mean, really, the only reason I’m even calling them “films” instead of “movies” is because I know that’s the Cinemulatto way!) However, I do know a lot about my mom’s films, and I’ve been on the set or a part of the cast or crew for basically my entire life. Being behind the scenes of several movies has really taught me a lot about film. For instance, when you’re four and wearing plastic purple heels and your assignment is to walk towards three drag queens, sometimes you just have to stop crying and suck it up for the camera, no matter how scary their false eyelashes and tall stature may be.
I am extremely mixed race. I’m about as mixed as a person can get; the only race missing is Latina. In addition to being mixed race, I come from a very mixed family, thus having relatives in a bunch of different parts of the world including Jamaica, England, New Mexico, Texas, and Minnesota. I visited my Minnesota relatives this past winter break for the celebration of my great grandmother’s 100th birthday. (She lives in North Dakota. She’s adorable.) The reason I’m telling you about my trip to Minnesota is relevant, promise. I was staying in a hotel there (The Hilton. Very fancy. We used a Groupon.) and I took my sister, Precious, downstairs to see what was going on in the lobby, as bored 16-year-olds do. In the elevator a girl with straightened hair and a black headband turned to me and, with a fascinated look on her face, asked, “Are you Blasian?”
“Excuse me?” I replied.
“Blasian,” she repeated, “You know, like, Black and Asian?”
“Ah. That would make sense. I mean, I guess I am, yeah.” I obviously was not aware that “Blasian” was a thing. Turns out the 14-year-old Minnesotan was also “Blasian”, being a mix of African-American and Cambodian. It’s interesting that she chose to define herself as specifically as “Blasian” (in addition to choosing to create her Internet friend group out of almost entirely “Blasians”) when she could easily define herself as mixed, like I do. Granted, I am more than two races. What would my term be? Whi-a-bl-native-sian?
Dakota Fanning’s real name is Hannah.
In the music video for “What’s My Age Again?” by Blink 182, the band was naked about 40% of the time.
License plates in the Canadian Northwest territories are shaped like polar bears.
Well, I have thoroughly enjoyed being Cinemulatto’s first guest blogger. Because I don’t have a relevant thought to end on and keep you thinking about for the rest of the week, remember to eat your vegetables!
Since we’re living in such a post-racial society, and because of the enlightened Obama protest in Arizona where people held signs that said, “47 percent Negro” and “Impeach the Half-White Muslim!”, Cinemulatto thought it’d be appropriate to check in with our racist Arizonan pen pal.
Hey there buddy,
I totally saw you in the news! Or, I think it was you. You were holding an “Impeach Obama” sign. That was you, right?
I know it’s not my turn to write. I just got so excited to see you in national news, I decided to give you a freebie.
First off, I was thinking of how lucky we were to meet in The American Conservative blog comments. My life has changed for the better since that fateful, high-web-traffic afternoon. Thanks for letting me be your troll!
I understand you’ve been having a hard time. This is also why I’m writing. Quite frankly, I’ve figured something out—I think your current bout of depression may be related to you being kind of a shitty person.
Don’t take that the wrong way. We all have our better moments and our better selves. And I use it to preface a few words of wisdom I’d like to pass along.
I know, I know—I’m always giving you advice. It’s the liberal in me! This one’s great, though. I happened to be thinking about business intelligence. Call it a byproduct of San Francisco gentrification. What’s business intelligence? It’s taking a bunch of data and seeing if the numbers tell you anything about your organization. Think of it as a way to maintain a competitive advantage. It’s basically using information to get ahead in business.
My advice to you: hone your racial intelligence. It’s using information to get ahead in life.
I can appreciate that you’re undereducated. I don’t fault you for that. You know I respect someone who’s at least trying. There wasn’t a single typo on your protest sign. I’m so proud of you.
Still, I have a few things to point out based on what I heard about the Desert Vista High School protest. I think you made a few incorrect assumptions about race. And song lyrics.
First off, by chanting “Bye Bye Black Sheep”, folks weren’t doing justice to the sheep, and may have inadvertently humanized Obama. The “black sheep” from the song was actually quite generous, compassionate, and respectful (three bags full of respectful!). Review the words and you’ll see.
Instead of “Impeach the Half-White Muslim,” the sign should’ve read either “Impeach the Mulatto Muslim” (a great little nod to this blog), “Impeach the Mixed-Race Muslim,” or “Impeach the Biracial Muslim”. I know terms of identity change all the time but the sign is otherwise kind of offensive.
I should also let you know: Obama isn’t Muslim. But, if he were, that’d be okay. I know how much you love the Constitution (we have so much in common!). We’re both aware that “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Did you know, however, that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof?” Thereof means of the thing just mentioned. Just so you know.
I hope you find this helpful. And please let me know how things are going. Did you remember to wear sunscreen to the protest?
Always thinking of you,
MULATTO OF THE MONTH: PAULI MURRAY
The first black woman to be ordained as an Episcopal priest, Pauli Murray was mixed with Irish, Black, and Native American. Hospitalized twice for bad breakups with women, her “inverted sex instinct” was as bold as her feminist writings on the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Does the tragic mulatto still exist in literature and film? We’re not quite sure. Imitation of Lifehas been old news since the advent of Jennifer Beals, Halle Berry, and Maya Rudolph. Even The Human Stain is verging on outdated. It seems transgender is the new black, or the next frontier of mainstream media figuring out there’s more to entertainment than stereotyping.
Tragic mulattoes are still out there, however. Here’s how you can tell if you’re one of them.