1999 Dir. Jamie Babbit
Clea duVall, Natasha Lyonne, Cathy Moriarty, Mink Stole, RuPaul and Melanie Lynskey.
A wonderful pastel coloured satire on gay reform, through whilst you’re laughing remember that these scary places that gay kids get shipped off to really do exist.
Megan’s parents think she’s gay, her school friends think she’s gay… so does her boyfriend. Between them and RuPaul from “Tru Directions” they set out to hold an intervention for Megan and send her to ‘straight’ camp to be fixed, via a six step programme. The funny thing is that this is all news to Megan, who vehemently denies the allegations and ‘proof’ shown her.
Ironically, and here is where the fun of the film really starts, the straight camp contains the epitome of every single gay cliché walking… of course this is possibly why so many straight people I know enjoyed the film, I’m not sure if they are laughing with us or at us however. The camp follows a very stereotypical view of what is male and what is female behaviour and attitudes, and what their roles are in society. It’s a very old fashioned… essentially pre-70’s feminism movement. The camp doesn’t really brainwash the camp, it just teaches them how to hide who they are beneath pretences just to please others.
Megan does indeed find her “Tru direction”, in the form of another camp mate (no pun intended) Graham, a soft butch lesbian who got caught with a girl, by her parents and sent here to get ‘straightened out’. By the end of the film Megan and Graham have run away from the graduation ceremony (Megan gate crashed, having been expelled, to ‘rescue’ Graham) and Megan’s parents have started attending Pflagg meetings. I like the turn around with the femme chasing the pseudo-butch, it makes a nice change to have her be the stronger of the two, but then maybe it’s not that different, look at Ruth in FGT.
This film serves as a scary commentary on the lengths people will go to try and get others to be the same as them, to conform to societies binary and black and white defined ‘norms’, as well as those desperate enough to want to be ‘fixed’ as if you can turn your sexual preference off like a light switch. Teenagers, in particular, need see the examples set by people from all walks of life and society, so they know all their ‘options’ and how they want to be, whether to live a lie, or to be themselves.
This film is funny, irreverent and well acted, with a side element of seriousness, without being preachy about it. I like the irony and the simplicity that some people think that if you just try hard enough you can change who you are.
I give this film a 9/10 for sheer fun and enjoyment… I went to see this film twice when it first came out, good acting and believable lead chemistry.