The Gay Best Friend

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G.B.F, Comedy, Directed by Darren Stein.

          The Reelout Film Festival gave myself a great chance to increase and enhance my knowledge and a chance to look back at myself on homosexual identities. I was attracted to the high school background of this film and when I found out that this film was centered on the struggles of homosexual identities, I purchased my ticket without any hesitations. G.B.F, an acronym for Gay Best Friend, is a great movie that shows a precise reflection of what high school life is centered in today’s society and possibly a great solid example of how homosexual identities are represented and treated. The film G.B.F. deals with the struggles of teenage homosexual identities on surviving the high school life and challenges to change perspectives of people who view homosexual identities differently or as an object, this film greatly achieved on the objectification of gay identities.

          G.B.F is a very classy, adorable, enjoyable and light film focused on the events between homosexual identities and the three queen bees of the school, the perfect blonde fashionista Fawcett, the drama-club glamazon Caprice, and religious princess Shley. In the beginning, the two homosexual identities in the film, Tanner and Brent were trying to find the other gay friends of their own on their mobile app, when on the school ground making a gay best friend became the new trend and the ultimate standard to be the prom queen of the year. LGBT club uses the same application to track down gay people in the school and leads Tanner to come out. Tanner being the first to come out in school, the three queen bees start their work to ‘possess’ Tanner to be their best friend.

          This film deals with the intersections of homosexuals and the stereotypes that were upon their identities. Moreover, I realized two evident factors that were clearly presented in the film: unbelievable amounts of societal stereotypes placed on homosexuals, objectification and the different looks upon homosexual identities, the important vocabulary I used in the previous paragraph is the word ‘possess’. Knowing that having a gay best friend is the new ‘trend’, the three queen bees tries to possess Tanner, the first gay to come out. Fawcett, Caprice and Shley were clearly showing their shallow knowledge of homosexual identities. “Wanna go sip extra-large low fat ice coffees and talk shit about people?”, “that was like 4 texts ago”, my personal favorite quotes from this film, and I find this a great example of how the society thinks of homosexuals because society has a stereotype that gay men are girlish and feminine. Gossiping, texting quickly and sipping extra-large low fat ice coffees may be my own stereotypes, but is a common action done by females. Adding on, other quote such as ‘we will totally gay you over” is a clear evidence that the society has a clear image of how gay men should look dress and behave like. Also, my point on objectification of gay men were clearly shown in these quotes: “Maybe everyone secretly wants a G.B.F.” everyone ‘wanting’ a G.B.F. How can you possibly ‘want’ a person? It feels like they are classifying gay men as a fashion accessory that they can always take it by their sides. However, this was clearly summed up in the film, “It seems that many of you girls are treating Tanner as more of a prize to be won than an actual person.” clearly and enough said.

          Some people may find this film a danger to the society because this film uses humor as a tool to emphasize the problems of homosexual identities and I also do really find this as a problem, but on the other side of thought thinks that if they didn’t use humor, I don’t think this movie would’ve got a good attention from the ‘straight’ people. Some people have a very good knowledge on how homosexuals live everyday of their life, but it is clear that some people in society are not. On my opinion, types of films such as G.B.F is targeting audience who are actually not too familiar with the reality of gay men but full of stereotypes. Therefore, having a high school background struggling on relationships is a great topic that most teenagers can relate with and especially using humor to emphasize stereotypes can give some people a chance to look back on how might they have acted and thought the same of homosexual identities. Though this film used a lot of humor to emphasize homosexual stereotypes, I don’t think it is a danger to the society because the film actually cleared up that those stereotypes are wrong and negative.

          The ultimate message in this film is that society is treating homosexual identities differently compared to heterosexuals. Some societies ban gay relationships and puts on stereotypes and regulations on one’s sexual desires. When someone identifies themselves as ‘gay’, some people will soon look at that person with a stereotype. And this is the major problem of our society when we are the same people after all.

          As I identify myself as a ‘straight’ person, my experience with Reelout Film Festival was very enjoyable and educational. It was a great opportunity to look back at myself and my thoughts and stereotypes that I had towards homosexual identities. This was a first time that I participated in a cultural event like the Reelout Film Festival, and I felt amazing because everyone in this screening room was accepting of other identities and careful of stereotypes. I sometimes feel very uncomfortable in social events because some people are extremely rude and unconscious of their word choices such as “that is so gay“. However, knowing that I am in a place full of people who are similar to myself, I felt very safe and accepted. Even if I am not one of the homosexual members of this society, I felt accepted, and I believe this is what everyone should feel in every circumstances and events of their lives. 

 

Stein, Darren, dir. G.B.F.. School Pictures, 2013. Film.

 

How Comedy Helps Society

Going to the ReelOut Film Festival to watch the film G.B.F directed by Darren Stein was an experience I am glad I got to enjoy. I would recommend everyone go to the festival no matter the film; being in the building was amazing.  There was this abundant feeling of acceptance and understanding throughout the building, if I went there in pajamas I don’t feel like I would have been judged or given a second glance. Being in an atmosphere like that was very refreshing compared to my hometown and Queen’s University.

Although Queen’s is taking many strides in the right direction we are still stereotyped as a judgmental white dominated school, and sometimes these stereotypes can make people feel uncomfortable and unaccepted.  Being a minority at Queen’s it can some times be overwhelming even though my hometown is a white dominated city, being away from family can sometimes make you feel out numbered.

 

*SPOILER*

 

Relating to the film G.B.F (standing for Gay Best Friend) directed by Darren Stein, I enjoyed it. The film is a comedic representation of a teenager coming out as a homosexual to his high school. The main character Tanner Daniels attended North Gateway High School and was “out-ed” before he was ready to come out, when his fellow schoolmates tracked him using a dating app made for homosexuals. This outing changed his life, instead of being a wallflower; he became the next “object” to win by the three Queen Bee’s at the school; Shlee, Caprice, and Fawcett. Every girl wanted a gay best friend.

 

The film portrays the ridiculous stereotypes placed on homosexuals by society. It successfully does this by using comedy and stereotypes about high school. It references the popularity struggles in high school, and the different social groups. The main idea of the film is that the three Queen Bee’s are struggling to gain the most power/popularity to win prom queen and the only way to do that is to have the next best fad, which in this case is a gay best friend. However once Tanner is “out-ed” the three Queen Bee’s are a little upset that he does not follow the typical stereotypes places on homosexuals.  He does not have impeccable fashion taste, he does not want to have girl chats, and he reads comic books. Their upset was evident when they said, “You’re not like the ones on Bravo…” ones referring to the homosexuals on bravo who depict the stereotypes society places on gays. Stein’s use of exaggerated stereotypes was brilliant, t caused viewers to laugh and then also assess their own perceptions and stereotypes they believed to be true. One that really stuck out to me was when in the movie they stated “we don’t have a real live gay”, at first I laughed along with the audience but then it got me thinking that in fact during high school we had no openly homosexuals. They only came out during the summer of grade 12 year going towards university. That got me thinking, was my high school not accepting enough, were we to judgmental?  If you asked me that question before the movie I would have sworn that we were an accepting high school with a great community but now I have to think long and hard if that was actually the case. Did we not make a safe environment?  Another comedic example that was used to show the unrealistic stereotypes and judgment placed on homosexuals by some portions of society is a quote that my friend showed me from the website wittyprofiles.com.

 

“ I went to subway today to get my favorite. The man in front of me ordered a different sub. I got really pissed because he didn’t get the same thing as me, even though it didn’t affect me in any way.”

 

“This is what people sounf like when they say gay marriage affects them.”

(http://www.wittyprofiles.com/q/6769016)

 

 

 I think the use of comedy and outrageous stereotypes is a great way to make society think and assess situations better because they realize how ridiculous some of them are.

 

An example of a successful use of comedic stereotypes to breakdown barriers and show the general public how stereotypes can hurt people is done by a comedic tour called The Axis of Evil. In the United States of America, axis of evil refers to a act of terror made against the homeland, particularly by Muslims. To show how ridiculous it was to stereotype all Muslims as terrorists and scary human beings comedians Ahmed Ahmed (from Egypt), Maz Jobrani (from Iran), and Aron Kader (whose father is Palestinian) created the tour called Axis of Evil. The goal of this tour was to show the burdens Muslims are faced with because the stereotype of them being terrorist exits, it also was to show that Muslims are people just like everyone else, the laugh, they make jokes, and they are not all evil.  One of the most popular lines in the comedy tour is “As a Middle Eastern male, I know there’s certain things I’m not supposed to say on an airplane in the U.S. I can’t walk down the aisle and be like, ‘Hi, Jack.’ Even if I’m there with my friend Jack, I say, ‘Greetings Jack,’” (Jobrani, Axis of Evil Tour) I feel that this line in his comedy act is a clear show of the breakdown of stereotypes. People listening to this joke laugh because they think how ridiculous it is but then they realize that it is actually true.

 

If you would like to watch some of the jokes and comedy acts they have here is the link: http://blog.ted.com/2012/12/12/a-sampling-of-maz-jobranis-stand-up-sprinkled-with-the-work-of-his-axis-of-evil-comedy-tour-collaborators/

 

I believe the use of comedy in both the movie and in the comedy act of the individuals is the best way to show controversial ideas to the general public because it gets them thinking. 

Another Stereotypical Teen Movie

Most teen movies today use stereotypes to add humour to the struggles high school students face in the classroom, throughout the hallways, and at home.  It seems that these struggles are taken light-heartedly when the queen-bee is constructed as a beautiful, rich, popular goddess and homosexuals are seen as objects.  High school is a tough time for many people as it is a prime stage in their lives to start making a distinct identity for themselves.  This process becomes worse when external social factors that fill up the entire school surround and pressure individuals to conform to certain standards and when movies like G.B.F, directed by Darren Stein, take stereotypes to a whole new problematic level.

 

Tanner Daniels, the main character in the film G.B.F., is a high school student who accidently spreads the message that he is gay.  While it would have been nice to see a mature response to this event that is scarring for many, Tanner becomes a pet to the three most popular girls in school.  For their own status on this stereotypical hierarchy that the director brutally exaggerates, the girls fight for Tanner as their “gay best friend” or G.B.F.  While Tanner’s popularity allows him to eventually share his recounts of his experience being “outted” and helps others by giving them courage to come out as well, he is seen throughout the movie as an object to manipulate, an accessory to make the popular girls look cool with the latest “trend.” 

 

That being said, stereotypes presented in the media about high school are humourous.  Using stereotypes in teen movies dealing with someone’s sexuality is a recipe for disaster.  Groups that identify themselves with a sexuality other than heterosexual deal with the stereotypes that the film G.B.F. displays in comedic fashion.  When one girl asks Tanner, “What gay stuff do you like?”, the audience indeed may laugh, but when media continues to aim for entertainment over education, serious social issues are left unnoticed and not dealt with properly.  These stereotypes are very real in high school and the director does a great job at bringing all those realities to the screen, but when the stereotypes become exaggerated for comedic purposes, I question whether or not teen movies are as harmless as everyone perceives.

 

This issue is similar to one that I previously studied.  I researched how the portrayal of Muslim women in Western media and how the continuing of Orientalist stereotypes is increased by the media’s power to reach a widespread audience and manipulate them.  The subsequent behaviour from linking images of Muslim women to images of terrorism and oppression leads to the ongoing spread of false realities.  Many current popular television series, including “24”, an action-drama about terrorism, display these Western constructions about what it means to be a Muslim women and that, for example, the hijab that is worn by Muslim women as an expression of choice and religious commitment, is linked to images of 9/11 and therefore represents terrorism and corruption.  Much of the media is dominated by the West and after the historical tragedy on September 11, 2001, when four terrorist attacks were launched on the United States, the West used it’s influence to spread their side of the story, which quickly became the only story that society adopted as truth.  During a time of high media coverage post-9/11, one might hope that the information spread after the event would be constructive, but instead the media only continued if not worsened the global view on Muslim women, behaviour so brutal and misleading that racism and oppression are still present and increasing.

 

We see here that media’s role in the spread of information is important to fully grasp before thinking films like G.B.F. are a good idea.  I understand that GBF is a comedy but behind every good joke is truth supported by outrageous stereotypes.  In a time where the current generation depends on media more than ever before and where political structures are shifting towards the promotion of gender equality, having these two phenomenon’s happening at the same time where one (the media) hinders the development of the other (political practices), it becomes a priority to rethink the kind of films that are produced and labeled as a comedy.

 

G.B.F. – An Accurate Depiction of the High School Experience

G.B.F., directed by Darren Stein, is a film depicting the teenage struggles of coming out as homosexual in high school. Tanner Daniels, a student at North Gateway High, was accidentally “out-ed” by his peers after he downloaded an app where you can find other homosexual people in your community. While Tanner had been content to fly under the radar, his life is turned upside-down as he suddenly becomes the latest fad that all of the girls want—the gay best friend.  The three Queen Bees of the school, Caprice, Shlee and Fawcett, all fight for Tanner’s friendship and to claim him as their GBF.

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This film gives an intersectional analysis of the high school experience, telling a story of love, friendship, struggles with peer pressure and the desire to be popular. G.B.F. is a high school film that is an accurate depiction of teenage life today, even if it is somewhat hyperbolized. Full of stereotypes, the movie is humorous with its witty lines bringing to light many false views that we have of the homosexual community: “So you’re a gay now”, “Are you going to audition for the spring musical?”, “Oh, that’s not gay”, “You’re not like the ones on Bravo…”, and my personal favourite: “When you’re getting gay with a guy, how do you decide who’s the girl and who’s the boy?”. Tanner comes back with “Not an expert, but I think you’re both the boy… That’s kind of the point”.

The main issue of the film arises when Tanner is not allowed to bring another male to prom as his date. Fawcett, a Queen Bee, decides that she will hold an alternative prom where Tanner can bring whomever he chooses. After winning Prom King, Tanner makes a speech where he finally lets his peers know his true feelings about his experience of being the only “out” homosexual at their school: “I don’t want to be King of a gay prom or be a gay best friend or get gay married. I just want to go to prom, be a friend, get married maybe. You all see me as an object or a symbol” (Stein 2014). Tanner paved the way for other students in his school to come out as homosexual, or any other sexuality or gender they chose. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this film. While they kept it light with all of the humour, the message is an important one. Society does treat homosexual people, or really those of any minority, as different. When we refer to someone as “a gay” or talk about homosexual marriage as just that instead of simply marriage, it becomes problematic. While we may not mean to, we are further embedding inequality into our society through the way that we treat and even talk about those who are different than us. To promote equality, we must change many things including the terminology we use. Tanner makes a good point in his speech after becoming Prom King. We shouldn’t refer to homosexual friends as our GBF. They are simply friends. Their sexuality should not influence our likelihood to befriend them.

My experience at the ReelOut Film Festival was immensely positive. Have you ever walked into an environment and just felt safe and accepted? This is exactly how I felt when I entered the Screening Room. I felt like those surrounding me would not judge me based on the way that I looked and dressed, my sexuality, my choice of makeup, etc. Sometimes I don’t feel this acceptance in my school community. It is almost as if all of my peers are striving to be better than me and do better than me. I feel constant judgement from not only my peers, but also my professors and TAs to act a certain way, dress a certain way, perform a certain way. At times, I don’t feel comfortable in my school environment and therefore don’t feel comfortable within myself. I wish that Queen’s had the same atmosphere that the ReelOut Film Festival did. In fact, I wish that all places felt like that. Fearing constant scrutiny from those surrounding you even as a straight white woman is not something that we should still be struggling with in 2014. 

 

Stein, Darren, dir. G.B.F.. School Pictures, 2013. Film.