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February 10, 2010 / Prof Cupcake.

my body is my soul.

After four years of sort of wanting to see this film I finally have. My moderate obsession with it began when the i-tunes free download of the week in 2005 was Dolly Parton’s, ‘Traveling Thru’, the theme song to the film, but it took until my own road trip across America, this fall, to finally sit down and watch it.

It’s late, and it’s been a long day. I’ve done more ‘masculine’ things in the past week then the last year and I’m tired from playing my first game of basketball since I was 13 – forced to do so in gym class. I’ve always been picked dead last for sports, been shitty at wrestling and have chosen outfits that make me look like a cheap Cher impersonation. Gender, sex, sexuality, all of these labels which so many people use to describe themselves have been in a state of flux in my life since I can remember. I have spent years trying to be straight, to think straight, to walk straight, and as the last vestiges of my falsified sexually identity molt from me, I find myself much the man I have always been, writing in bed on a secluded farm. But who “AM I”? What do I identify with, how do I identify myself? This film asks that question. A meditative and beautiful story on identity and its issues, ‘Transamerica’ asks us all to see beyond what we are now and look towards what we want to become. For many, it is as simple as envisioning yourself as a doctor, a lawyer, or a friend.  For others, it is as a farmer, a man, a woman, an object of desire or simply as a person. We all search out labels by which to define ourselves.

I once read, “honey, we are all born naked, the rest is drag.” But I feel that statement forgets that within us, within all of us from, from way back in forever, lives a complex and beautiful self waiting to emerge, hammering down the doors of experience and beginning to be realized.

Felicity Huffman brings this struggle to the forefront of Transamerica and embarks on an incredible character film about this process of discovery.  Well, perhaps less of discovery and more of the pursuit of an end goal.

I’m not sure why I feel I can relate so much. It could be a product of my own marginalized sexuality, but I think it is more because of how this film presents the complicated dichotomy between self-realization and self-loathing. We define ourselves so often by our bodies, but what of the soul or the mind? We live in a culture that thinks so often in binaries that it feels almost natural to split the self from the realm of the physical, and I think we have done ourselves a great disservice by doing so.

For me, this film has, more then anything, asked me to step down from my soul and into my body, to re-inhabit what I so often think of as a vessel. It could be because I’m eating only organic, raw, biodynamic food products (I like kale… but I still want a cheeseburger) or it could be this film… But it’s not often that a work of art makes me feel so physically alive.

This film does. Watch it.


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