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 Even The Human Stain is verging on outdated.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.
Not everyone’s born related to Francis Ford Coppola. Most of us have to walk the long walk of continuous trial and error, cobbled-together resources, or costly film school. If you’re a queer woman filmmaker of color, you have to work exponentially harder. Chances are you’ve worked on some of the grungiest sets known to humankind, although with some of the most spirited and eager (and often unpaid) partners in filmic crime. You’ve done the same long hours as those paid 200 times more than you. You, like your higher-budget counterparts, probably also occasionally survived on Twizzlers at the craft services table, if you even had a craft services table.
You’ve had to put up with the most unique and odorous bullshit.
Fresh off International Women’s Day, Cinemulatto offers 10 sure-fire ways of confirming, once and for all, that you’re a queer woman of color making a low-budget film. Holler if you’ve experienced any of these on a film set. These are all based on true stories.
You’ve appeared in at least one of your own movies. You based the lead on yourself. This is usually a bad thing.
Half the crew responsibilities are covered by your girlfriend/wife/significant queer other/person you’re sleeping with. Although limiting, this is usually a good thing.
While filming in public, people who see you tell you how to shoot the film, including parents, college students, and homeless guys.
There is one straight white male on set. He offers frequent advice because he knows someone who knows how to run sound.
Someone eventually freaks out, usually an actor. They turn to you for resolution of past abuses and ills. You become Mother Teresa therapist just to finish the movie.
The (usually male) DP starts directing the film.
There is a marked lack of deodorant.
There is that one person. We all know her. She complains. About everything.
You survived on Twizzlers at the craft services table.
After your first film, you vow to never do it again. But you do, repeatedly.
MULATTO OF THE MONTH: JENNIFER BEALS
Thinking of trials and tribulations makes me think of the day (or was it evening?) in 2004 when I found out Jennifer Beals would be on The L Word. Although I ultimately ended up hating this show, here was my main high school crush (we’re talking closeted 1980s crush!) starring as a lesbian in prime time. The consummate intellectual and humanitarian, Jennifer’s transformative effect on me runs deep!
Remember your female idols this month. It’s never too late to show 80s appreciation!