Thursday, January 13, 2011
Life doesn't just magically get better, but you get stronger
Life Doesn't Get Better But We Get Stronger
This film was created by my friend Kitzia with my help. One exciting thing about somewhat figuring out how to make movies is helping others to express themselves cinematically as well. She had never made a movie before and was interested in making one after I told her about the whole "It Gets Better" phenomenon and showed her some of the movies.
"It gets better" was created in the wake of the young gay suicides that were taking the news by storm and meant to be preventative of more deaths. The idea was that an older LGBTQ individual would take directly to their webcam and describe the hard time they had as a youth but their subsequent survival, stating that "it gets better" if you stick it out. There have been a slew of criticisms of this movement. Many bloggers stated that the campaign encourages youth to just accept bullying, and can I just add that this bullying meme is driving me crazy-the problem is much bigger than youth to youth name calling, it is a larger societal homophobia and heterosexism perpetuated mainly by adults. Some stated that since most of the digital storytellers speaking to the webcams were white that the movement doesn't speak to people of color, and to add to this, another criticism that I haven't so much seen as felt was also based on identity politics as most of the faces represented on video were of men. The most prevalent criticism is class-based stating that things only get better if you are rich like Dan Savage. One of the most famous criticisms in the queer movement was in video form and was made by a woman of color (LuzLoca821) stating that it doesn't get better but you get stronger. Her digital story was also made by speaking directly to a webcam. Some other responses to "it gets better" include the youth-based video project "Make it Better" and the intersectional project "I Am Proof That It Gets Better."
When Kitzia expressed interest in the project we engaged in a discussion on all the criticisms as well as the good things. I found many of the videos to be inspirational and am happy to know that people were being proactive about the suicides. Though many people criticized the video bloggers for making videos instead of doing something, I don't think that these are mutually exclusive. Many people are doing many things for the movement including making video and though some people are making videos as their first activity, this can be just the beginning.
A week later Kitzia showed up at my house with a poem she had written in Spanish. Surprisingly, or maybe predictably, her thesis was the same as LuzLoca821's though she had never seen her video. I was excited to support an "It Gets Better" video that could both provide hope to youth, give representation to an underrepresented community, break form from the project by being in poetry form rather than in a rant, and by being in Spanish rather than English; literally speaking to a different audience.
We decided to do partial talking-to-the-camera and partial video and photo, and it was a new form for both of us. I had help from a friend, Samthropology, who taught me how to detach audio to layer over image and video and I showed Kitzia. It was difficult to do something new and it has taken us a month to organize time and work out all the glitches. In filming her talking to the camera it became clear that I needed to learn how to use a microphone and lights. We used my floor lamps but the lighting is still not great. I am hoping my next production class, Documentary Media, will teach me these skills.
Since the video is in Spanish I will post a translation as soon as Kitzia makes it. But for now, a brief translation from me is that she is saying that life doesn't magically get better but you get stronger and urges people to seek out other queers and form their own battalion of queer warriors. She tells her audience that they are stronger and more beautiful than they imagine and tells them to have hope, adding that they are needed.
I had a fun time video recording Kitzia and helping her to edit and brainstorm. I think skill-sharing is an important part of the movement and am confident that she will share as well.