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May 6, 2024 41 mins

Gare talks with filmmaker Vera Drew and comedian Ella Yurman about the pitfalls of representation and moving beyond the online media bubble.

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Speaker 1 (00:01):
A media this is it could happen here on Garrison Davis.
The past few years, we have regularly covered the rise
of legislation that restricts access to public space and medical
care for trans people in the United States, as well
as attempts by politicians, lobbying groups, and media personalities to

(00:25):
drum up transphobia in hopes of quote unquote eliminating transgenderism
from our society and culture. The quest to eliminate transgenderism
includes harassment campaigns targeted against specific individuals, boycotting companies that
feature trans people in their marketing, and banning queer books, media,

(00:46):
and art from libraries across the country. The conservative right
has decided that the boogeyman of gender ideology and the
woke mind virus is one of the most pressing threats
to Western civilisation. This brand of transphobic militancy opposes any
form of visible queerness, viewing it as an ideology that

(01:08):
acts as a viral cultural contagion. That's why they spend
so much time trying to ban drag shows and art
featuring queer people. They know they're losing the cultural battle
and that really scares them. As trans people have been
trying to weather this huge wave of organized transphobia. Trans
and queer artists continue to push forward, with multiple hit

(01:30):
films coming out this year from trans directors and transactors
and actresses are taking more and more high profile roles.
Last episode, I interviewed comedian Ella Yerman and filmmaker Ver
Drew on the process of creating independent queer media. This
episode will focus on why we are seeing this new
wave of queer art, why mere representation isn't enough, and

(01:52):
attempts to go beyond the online media ecosystem. Ellie Yerman
is the host of Late Stage Lives, a queer gen
Z Public Access late show on Brooklyn Public Access and YouTube.
The format of late night comedy is almost wholly dominated
by old white sis straight men. Late Stage Live attempts
to deconstruct the genre in which it aligns itself with,

(02:14):
utilizing sketches, correspondence, segments, and original reporting, but for a younger, queerer,
more politically radical audience. The show is not just made
for gen Z queers. It's also made by an entire
team of young queer and trans people, which gives it
a very unique feel compared to literally all of its competition.

(02:34):
The show itself feels queer and highlights the massive gap
between simple queer representation and queer art, or in this case,
queer late night comedy. There's a palpable distinction between hiring
a gay person to work on seth Myers versus having
a late night show that is built on queerness. On
that note, here's a clip from my interview with Ella Yerman,

(02:56):
host of Late Stage Live.

Speaker 2 (02:58):
There's like a huge difference between like the token queer
writer and like a show that centers queerness and transness.
And I'm really proud of of that. As in terms
of our show, like, I think that's one of its
main drives is how queer focused. It is something we

(03:18):
talk about in every episode, in every piece read loves
to Hammer This Home is sort of the question of
why us. It's the first question we ask when anyone
pitches any segment or piece or story of the question
is like, what's the game, what's the perspective? And then
why is it us delivering this perspective? Because anyone can
write a piece of political analysis, lots of people do,

(03:40):
but like, what about this story is uniquely coming from us,
uniquely coming from the host, Ella from the Writer's Room,
and I think we found it most strongly in the
last two pieces, the Lives of TikTok piece, and then
the episode before that, we did a segment on the
Alliance Defending Freedom, which is a spooky, evil conservative cabal

(04:01):
that trains lawyers to overturn Scotis cases. And I think
those both found felt really focused in on sort of
us as young queer people. And I think the gen
Z part is also really relevant for us. A lot
of Late Night is hosted by old men, and as
much as I love John Stewart, he is an old man,
an old sis, white man, an old sis as far

(04:24):
as I know, heterosexual white man.

Speaker 1 (04:26):
Who already left the job ten years ago and.

Speaker 2 (04:29):
He already left it, right and he's back now. But
like what does that say about anything?

Speaker 3 (04:33):
Yeah?

Speaker 4 (04:34):
Yeah, And everyone talking about politics.

Speaker 2 (04:35):
Is like old white guys, and everyone in Congress is
old white guys or George Santos, and there's like this
sense of like the world is ending, as you probably
know on this show that bills itself as like amidst
the collapse or whatever your tagline is.

Speaker 4 (04:53):
But like gen Z is so.

Speaker 2 (04:55):
Uniquely affected by political goings on in a way that
I so this is true of every general, every youngest generation,
that like all of the decisions are impacting us most,
but it feels more urgent these days because the world
is ending with climate change and with the encroaching you know,
global fascism, and with the decay of light stage capitalism,

(05:16):
that it feels so important now more than ever to
like center those experiences and look at how the world
and the news and politics impacts these groups of people.
And the way we achieve that is, Yeah, we don't
just have one token queer writer. We are Our room
is all queer, largely trans. About half of our writer's

(05:38):
room is non white, and as we grow that that
number will either stay the same or get bigger, certainly
not smaller. Yeah, at the end of the day, I
think the fact that the room is is completely queer
and predominantly trans and non white and all young, it
just like sort of happens. And the fact that it

(05:59):
started that way and been built from the ground up
that way, I think gives us a huge edge. Even
if the daily shows fired all of their writers and
hired only trans people, I think it would be a
hard pivot to get the show to suddenly be doing
what we're doing, just because the whole structure is built differently.

Speaker 1 (06:16):
In Vera Drew's new movie The People's Joker, an autobiographical
transgender coming of age parody set in the Batman universe,
the shallowness of queer representation is actually one of the
core themes of the film. In the movie, the main
character is not satisfied by simply being a token diversity
hire for a late night comedy show, and instead hijacks

(06:37):
the airwaves and charts her own path. This plotline, like
many others, mirrors the director's own life and the movie
itself is a perfect example of how creating a piece
of art inherently built on a multimedia experience of queerness
will produce a wildly different result than simply having a
gay person in the writer's room. Here's a from my

(07:00):
interview with Vera Drew. It's not even that I feel
like queer representation is like too straight or sis. It's
just not even like an accurate reflection of queer reality.
You know, like every gay couple I know is nothing
like a straight couple. I mean, some of them are,
but like those those gay couples always break up like

(07:22):
it's like they're just they're just in you know, reenacting
cycles and thousands and thousands of years of patriarchal bullshit
on each other when they could just be having hot
gay sacks with each other. And like that to me
is like the biggest tragedy of like representation. And it's
like is also why I think people lash out at

(07:42):
us so much. Like I on one level, I understand
the idea of like this is getting shoved down our throats,
you know, because like it kind of is that's coming
from a place that I sort of agree with because
they're getting sold this like propaganda that it's like they're
just like us, you know, And like to me, it's
like my experience is so specific to me and in

(08:05):
so specific to you know, like the experience of a
trans woman. There are things about my life that are
similar to that of a sis woman but not certainly
not identical. So like I never want to see art
that is that. I also, I'm like really over trans
people being used in a way that they're either I mean,

(08:25):
it doesn't really happen anymore where they're like treated like freaks,
but like it's kind of the tragedy porn or kind
of pedestalizing us. I guess, like I hate that, like
my identity is inherently political, like just because I this
is who I am, Like I it's not a pleasant

(08:47):
situation to deal with. So I think with joker, Yeah,
I want people joker, I really wanted to talk about
representation in a way that also just wasn't annoying because
like I also, it's not even I'm tired of having
this conversation. It's just sad that people like us keep
even having to have this kind of conversation because like
I've also heard it now within our own community that

(09:11):
like you know, I've heard other trans filmmakers say, like
we should only be telling happy stories, we should only
be spreading queer joy or what absolutely does no, absolutely not,
Like it's that's embarrassing. Yeah, I want I want to
spread queer panic. I want to it's not even panic

(09:32):
just like queer existential uh horror. I suppose I don't know.

Speaker 3 (09:37):
Well, I mean for me, it's like I don't know,
like because I've gotten shipped to not I haven't gotten
a lot. And now honestly that I've started mentioning in
the press, people have said it to me as much
as good, but like I was getting a little bit
of the like, how oh, making the joker a murderous
trans woman? Okay, you know please, first of all, like

(09:59):
villains are queer coded the history of film. Oh, almost
all of the Pavan villains are queer coded except completely,
And like why can't so why can't a why can't
we do it like not in a subtext way, why
can't we just do it directly? And then also like
I live in a country that villainizes trans people, so
like why can't I process that very thing by making

(10:24):
myself a queer villain in a in a movie that
I made? And and I don't know, it's like I
think what I hate about the queer joy thing and
the like The People's Joker is like a very funny movie.
It's very colorful, it's very campy, but it's also like devastating,
you know, like it's it's got a very serious message

(10:47):
to it that I think it brings up a lot
of emotion in people when they watch it, both sis
people and trans people, And you know, I think that
speaks to something else, just like about representation is like
I told this story that was so specific to my
experience and like trans people are identifying with it and
relating to it, but so are CIS people, you know,

(11:09):
Like yes, like you know, we should be telling stories
that portray the trans experience honestly or the queer experience
honestly and specifically. And if we do that, like if
we do that effectively, that is still art that a
SIS person can consume because SIS people also go through transitions.

(11:29):
SIS people also have to die and be reborn sometimes,
and like I think just everybody kind of comes of age.
It's just like trans people and queer people kind of
have to do it more visibly and publicly and externally
a lot of the times. And I don't know, for me,
it's like that was like another reason too, of like
of just being like no, like we're gonna get this

(11:51):
out into theaters and and you know, like make this
kind of theatrical experience for anything else. You know, it
was always made made to be like viewed I think
with like a crowd of people like yeah, yeah, kind
of like a midnight movie vibe.

Speaker 1 (12:10):
I guess when you think about it, Jesus and the
Joker I do have a lot in common in terms
of getting baptized, getting bored again it's it's really very
similar characters.

Speaker 3 (12:20):
Absolutely, And I mean that's why, uh, because I think
this was something while Brie and I were writing the
movie that she was constantly every step of the way
like what are you doing? Like why are you bringing
this much like gnostic Christianity to this absolutely?

Speaker 2 (12:36):
Uh?

Speaker 3 (12:36):
Like I remember, you know, there's this like French song
that's in the movie called I'll Be Your Joker that's
composed and performed by Emily Sloan, and the lyrics to
that are a poem that I wrote that are just
you never like it's not in anywhere in the movie,
it's just in that song, but it's like this it's

(12:59):
the people's joke prophecy, Like I actually wrote it in
this like kind of Gnostic Bible structure, and then we
translated it to French and recorded it as a song,
and like that was like really kind of coming from
that place of like just really I love I mean,
I'm obsessed with Jesus, uh, And I kind of just
always have have been. Like I was raised Catholic and

(13:21):
I just, uh, I'm not I'm not Christian, but I
have a lot of Jesus stuff around my house, Like
I I'm I'm just obsessed with like the iconography and
really love it the story itself as like a myth
and like the mythic understanding of of death and rebirth,
and and also just thinking of it as like another

(13:44):
example of like the hero's journey and I don't know,
like it's it's somebody uh asked me at a Q
and A like basically like how do you have the
balls to like cause by the end of the People's Joker,
like you basically find out it's like cut it is
like Dune. There's like a weird Messiah story happening, and
that partially just comes from like I think for me,

(14:07):
queerness is inherently like a very spiritual experience. It just
has been for me, and I think a lot of
trans people actually deal with Messiah complexes. I think it's
something that I feel safe saying I have. And I
also really wanted to unpack that just idea of the
like Joseph Campbell White Savior Heroes Journey thing.

Speaker 1 (14:31):
It could happen here, we'll return after these messages we
now return to it could happen here. During my interview
with Vera Drew, she mentioned as something about not just

(14:51):
wanting to throw the movie up on YouTube when the
film is dealing with legal issues, resulting in uncertainty around
how the film would be released. And that got me
thinking about queer people's relationship to platforms like YouTube as
the sort of default way of sharing video art. A
big reason why is simply because the platform is so
accessible without many of the hurdles and roadblocks of more

(15:14):
traditional distribution models. But sometimes I worry that it's become
so default that our reliance on YouTube has actually become
a self limiting factor that overdetermines the scope of our
own art. Let's return to my interview with Vera Dru
to continue this topic. Queer people, specifically trans people have

(15:35):
kind of been stuck with a lot of their like
art or video art just becoming this thing that you
throw up on YouTube. We've done a good job in
making like a community there, I suppose, but at certain
points it feels very like insular, like we've created this
little tiny bubble that everything is just trapped inside of
because obviously we can't rely on like big studios to

(15:55):
make our own stuff or distribute our own stuff, Like
that's not happening either. But I feel like we're kind
of kicking ourselves in the foot if our only artistic
output is like techno music and YouTube video essays, both
of which can be good, both of which can be art.
But there's a whole other world out there that I
feel like we have closed ourselves off from. So I'm

(16:18):
kind of interested, like like on that choice to like
not put it on YouTube and actually like ride this
thing out as like a movie.

Speaker 3 (16:24):
Yeah, I mean that is It's such a relief to
hear you talk about it in that way, because yeah,
I never want to be dismissive of online creators. Sure.
Like I worked in TV for ten years as an editor,
and I was very fortunate to work on a lot
of really cool shit, like I worked on. My first

(16:45):
job was I was an intern on The Eric Andre Show,
and like then my job immediately after that was on
Nathan for You, So I really got to work with
like all these really amazing comedians, many geniuses, And in
that process, like always knew I had wanted to make film,
Like my earliest memories are are wanting to make films.

(17:06):
Like right around the time I saw Batman Forever, I
was like, I want to be a director, and I
came up in post production just because like a lot
of editors end up sort of following you know, a
lot of editors are really just direct like frustrated directors.
So I was kind of like, here's a place where
I could like sort of learn my craft. And I've

(17:26):
always loved experimental animation and visual effects and stuff and
also just like incorporate that as well into like my career.
And it's good. I'm so glad I had it as
like an incubation period for me to kind of find
my voice and my aesthetic and and learn a lot
from these like super talented people. But there was always

(17:47):
this frustration that I had because when I would take
stuff out to pitch or anything that was like my
own story, like you can't really get trans art made
in any sort of mainstream space. I think that's one
of the things that's most frustrating about the whole like
woke culture bullshit, just because it's like they act like

(18:08):
we're some sort of like elite class that's like favored
by the media, which it's like I can just tell you,
like that's I'm on my press week right now. Like
the media is certainly enamored with trans people. But like
I don't think it's like coming from a place of
like we're trying to change and put everything and you know,
make these people in charge. It's just uh, you know,

(18:30):
it's it's click baity and it gets people, it keeps
people arguing online. So it's very hard just to even
break through as a director too. Like I mean I
was at that, you know, forget pitching shows that I've
written or whatever, like just trying to get episodic TV work.
I just couldn't do it, like once I changed my pronouns,

(18:51):
Like I was literally up for jobs that went away
after I came out. So I just reached this point
of like I think, maximum frustration and kind of like
wanted to whatever I did, you know, I don't want
to say like I was ready to walk away from
like working in the industry in twenty nineteen, but I

(19:11):
kind of was like I was kind of just at
this point where I was like, I need to make
a fucking movie or something on my own and kind
of just put all I have into that, and that's
going to be the way people will either finally take
me seriously as a director or like I'll at least
have made a movie and then I can just be
in debt and I'll have a movie I made. So

(19:33):
to me, it was always about not necessarily like finally
being taken seriously by my industry, but just like kind
of making this giant piece of art that is not
only like a big like look what I can do,
you know style thing, but like is also just about
all of that, about the frustration of being allowed in
but only being allowed in in these certain ways, like

(19:56):
whether it's on like a diversity cast or like, you
know whatever. Like I was, I worked on the show.
I can't really talk about it because it's like nda
stuff and I don't think the show will ever come out.
But I was in the writer's room on a cartoon
that was being rebooted, and it was one of my
favorite cartoons of all time. But I had a day
where I was like just sitting in the writer's room

(20:17):
and I was like looking around at my coworkers and
it was I was like, oh, wait a minute, it's
all girls, and I'm I'm a girl, and I'm a
trans girl. We're all just being brought in to rehabilitate
this like problematic piece of arc, you know, And it
was like this crazy moment of having like like also
have had lost jobs because of my identity and now

(20:38):
being in this place where it's like my identity is
like this bargaining chip. So anyway, how does this connect
to the online art conversation? Like I've always kind of
had to also play in like online spaces. Like I
started a public access station with my friends a few
years ago called Highland Park TV. A few years ago.
I was like ten years ago now, but that's still

(21:00):
going on today. And it was basically just this space
for us where we could like just record whatever. You know.
We'd meet up one week and come with like some
pretty simple sketches and shoot it on our public access
set and throw it up online and you know, like
twelve people would watch it and that was it and
that but that was cool, Like you know, you build
like little followings and communities that way, And I had

(21:23):
always just wanted to break out of that, you know,
because I think my sensibilities are pretty me and edgy
and weird, but like I'm really kind of a basic bitch.
Like when it goes to the stuff I like, like,
I really like my taste is very college dorm room.

(21:44):
I have a back to the future tattoo. Like, I'm
very influenced by like genre film, and you know, like
I love David Lynch, I love experimental film and stuff too.
But like I've always like really felt like I could
do it. I could be like just like a genre filmmaker.
But and we had the controversy at TIFF. I had
a lot of pressure on me to just kind of
put the movie out there, and I could never articulate

(22:07):
to people why it was important to me to not
do that and to hold out. It wasn't just like financial,
it really was. I mean, I mean maybe it's ego thing,
but it's it's also just like I've been doing this
long enough to know like the movie was gonna always
find its audience, but there needed to kind of be
a plan in place so that like I could actually

(22:30):
put it towards having a career that the career that
I've wanted my whole life. You know, Like I think
it's ridiculous that we live in a culture now where
every artist, even the ones like me who have had
a trade in this industry, Like in an industry like that,
we have to really carve our own path in online
spaces or on Twitter or YouTube, or whatever. It just

(22:54):
keeps us all in cycles of poverty. It like, like,
I fucking hate posting to Twitter. I do it still
just because it's the easiest way to get the word out,
But every single time I send a tweet, I'm like,
this sucks. Like I'm supporting one of the worst people
alive right now just by still using this site, somebody
who hates me and people like me so much that

(23:16):
he literally won't talk to his own child. Yeah. Like,
I really just wanted to kick the door down for
myself and hopefully for some people that come after me.
And you know, I really don't want to be the
type of filmmaker and the type of queer filmmaker who
like holds the ladder up behind them. Like it's not

(23:36):
even that I have integrity, it's just that like this
movie is that to me, this movie is such like
it's a gospel on how we need to be making
art more ethically and more for ourselves and from a
place of care. And yeah, that's just I want to
hopefully change my little corner of the industry as much

(23:58):
as I can toward that.

Speaker 1 (24:01):
I mean, it definitely feels like we're getting more and
more people are embracing this idea of independent queer cinema,
and more people are are deciding, instead of putting whatever
short film they want on YouTube, try to do a
festival circuit.

Speaker 4 (24:14):
And it's that.

Speaker 1 (24:15):
Was one of the things that I think I really
respected after what happened at TIFF. What I really respected
at your insistence to like, no, like we're going to
find a distributor, Like we're We're not just going to
throw it up online and call it a day. It's
not just going to be like a fan film. It's like,
this is an actual, like expressive piece that we're gonna
It might mean that you won't see it for another
two years, but it shows like a level of like

(24:37):
actual artistic commitment that I found gave gave the project
a real sense of.

Speaker 3 (24:42):
Like, wait, oh, thank you.

Speaker 1 (24:45):
The notion of this comfortable YouTube bubble we've created is
perhaps why I find the public access TV side of
Ella Yeerman's Late Stage Live so compelling. A lot of
queer people around my age grew up with the transgender
video essay as the primary form of our artistic video output,
and there's a lot of good video essays out there,

(25:07):
but at a certain point it started to feel like
the main way a young, radical queer person could engage
with the art form. It's gotten to feel so insular
and a bit restrictive, like we're enforcing our own bubble.
On top of this self limiting aspect, I'm not even
sure how much growth the format even has Anymore. Recently,
I've begun to see more queer artists specifically trying to

(25:29):
make things outside the strict video essay framework. Even some
of the most popular trans video essay creators have been
trying to move into documentary and narrative filmmaking. I asked
Ella about moving beyond the video essay bubble because although
Late Stage Live does it air on YouTube as well
as Brooklyn Public Access, the format is not just your

(25:49):
average transgender video essay.

Speaker 2 (25:52):
We don't have any pink lighting at all. Yeah, it's
definitely something I've been thinking about a lot, both like
in my own personal career and for the show. A
lot of my bylines in the last few years are
all YouTube based, with Late Stage and some more news,
and it's frustrating that even as YouTube is seen so
much growth and like celebrities come from YouTube all the time,
and some of the biggest names in the world are

(26:14):
Internet stars now, there's still like the sense of illegitimacy
to be doing a project on YouTube, and like, like
when I try and get published in like more legitimate
journalism magazines every so often, I'm always looking at my
resume and being like, I wish I had like a
byline in a magazine instead of three years of writing
for a YouTube show that I love so much and
think is doing better works than most of these magazines,
but like that I know won't get treated the same.

(26:37):
So there's definitely an aspect to that that I think. Yeah,
like it's partly YouTube is so accessible anyone can post
on YouTube that I understand why queer people have sort
of relegated themselves to this bubble. Trans people wrote like
why we've ended up with like you know, the trans
video essay scene, Thank you Mother Natalie. But it makes
it hard to sort of break into this like final

(27:00):
frontier of legitimacy, I think, and I think by like, yeah,
like not fully committing ourselves to being a YouTube show
from the get go, we do sort of leave doors
open to be considered like a more legitimate television production,
which is exciting for like growth opportunities. I think the
live studio audience also really pushes us out of that zone.
We get a lot of accusations from people who are

(27:22):
mean on the Internet of using a laugh track, and
I just want to say, and I will say it
till the day I die.

Speaker 4 (27:26):
It would be so much easier if we were.

Speaker 1 (27:31):
I could totally tell when there's gay people laughing the
background versus a laugh track. It's a very clear difference.

Speaker 2 (27:37):
Absolutely, it would be so easy if I was just
plugging that in in post.

Speaker 4 (27:40):
But no.

Speaker 2 (27:41):
We bring in thirty thirty five Gaze every month just
to laugh at my jokes, and sometimes they don't.

Speaker 4 (27:47):
And you can see that too when they don't laugh
at my jokes.

Speaker 2 (27:50):
But I think that is something I was really excited
to do that is different from a lot of the
other video essay sphere because it also brings in aspects
of live performance that I love as a up and
as a theater artist, and also like, yeah, just pulls
it into like a slightly different genre of thing that
we're making. And I think certainly in terms of like
growth and audience building and like the potential of being

(28:12):
picked up by some larger organization. It definitely puts us
in like a different It makes us look slightly different
than like a YouTube show, even if we can all
like sort of quietly acknowledge, like, well, what all of
our growth is happening on YouTube and Instagram?

Speaker 4 (28:24):
But like, as you said, like Real Late Night.

Speaker 2 (28:27):
Is huge on YouTube now too, And there's all these
other extra correlating factors of like monetization on YouTube sort
of died a few years ago after the ad apocalypse
or whatever, and so you have to go through crowdfunding
sources like Patreon or sponsorships or x other white Like
there's not like you.

Speaker 1 (28:45):
Can't Nebula or whatever. Right, new streeting service for YouTube
pops up.

Speaker 2 (28:49):
Yeah, right, you can't just rely on ad sense anymore.
And that's frustrating in its own degree. But I think
even beyond that, Yeah, like not relegating ourselves to being
a YouTube show, both thematically and like concretely in terms
of content and form, is like really exciting. And I
think like, even as we grow and gain a budget

(29:11):
and are able to buy nicer cameras, we want to
like keep the aesthetics and vibe of like Edgy Radical
public Access because it's like a part of the voice
of the show, along with sort of the practicalities.

Speaker 1 (29:24):
Yeah, having background ketamine jokes, I think really is right.
It sets you apart the quote unquote.

Speaker 2 (29:31):
VHS cleaner that sits on the desk every episode. I
don't own a VHS.

Speaker 1 (29:36):
We will return to. It could happen here after these
messages we now return to. It could happen here. To me,
the most exciting thing about the idea of a new
wave of independent trans cinema is that we'll get to

(29:58):
see a whole bunch of trans films that otherwise would
never get made by the big studios. After trans filmmaker
Jane Shanbron's successful festival run of her small scale future
debut titled We're All Going to the World's Fair back
in twenty twenty one, her next film, called I Saw
the TV Glow, got picked up by m Stone's production

(30:18):
company and a twenty four The film is now coming
out later this month. In the case of The People's Joker,
it dares to take Warner Brothers and Disney at their
word that their privately owned intellectual property is in fact
our culture's version of mythology, our very own Greek gods,
and so if these characters really are the cultural icons

(30:39):
that the monopolized companies who own them claim them to be.
What happens when we actually do treat them like mythology
and use these characters to artistically mythologize our own lives.
By skillfully sidestepping copyright law via effective legal parody, we
get to have a Batman film through the lens of
transgender chaos magic, which I'm afraid would simply never happen

(31:01):
under Warner Brothers Discovery, as they can't even stop deleting
their own finished films to get tax right offs. A
few weeks ago, I showed my it could happen here
co host Mia Wong the People's Joker, and afterwards we
talked about what makes it feel so special and it's
placed within the pantheon of queer cinema.

Speaker 5 (31:18):
One of my dear friends, Vicky Osterweil, is writing a
book called The Extended Universe about sort of copyright law
and what it's done to film, and specifically focusing on
on Disney and the thing that's different about The People's Joker. Right,
if if you want to know why the People's Joker is,
you know why specifically you couldn't make this, it's it's
partially because it's trans and it's partially because it's actually

(31:40):
a movie. Yeah, because and then this is this is
this is this is Vicky's argument, you know, and this
is this is the hidden truth about the film industry
is that movies are not designed to sell movies.

Speaker 1 (31:50):
No, they're to send copyright.

Speaker 2 (31:53):
No.

Speaker 5 (31:53):
No, it's it's worse than that. Like, a superhero movie
does not make money on the movie, right, the movie
theater is not making money on the movie. Movie theater
is making money on food the company itself. That's not
where the money comes from. The money comes from toy sales, yeah,
and sales of stuff afterwards. Right, So what you're actually
seeing when you're seeing a superhero movie is just an
ad and this is yeah, and this is part of

(32:16):
what the people's joker is that makes it different, right,
And you know, and it's because like specifically, because it
is trans and because of the way that is transit
makes it impossible for its being made by corporation, and
because trans people fought to make it, it gets to
be an actual movie and not a fucking toy sales thing.

Speaker 1 (32:32):
Yeah, because they're not going to be making a toy
of mustache pedophile batman.

Speaker 5 (32:37):
Yeah. Right, and this is incredibly important for the genre
of film, because you know, I mean, there is a
world that is not too far off where we are
the last people making actual fucking films and not advertisements.

Speaker 2 (32:50):
Yeah.

Speaker 5 (32:51):
To use this sort of like only semi ironically, using
this sort of lofty, like Marxist language is like, yeah,
like we kind of also have been given the historical
task of safe film from its complete annihilation by these
fucking capitalist copyright ghouls.

Speaker 1 (33:08):
It's a pleasure to see. It's a joy to see.
I think I was reading an interesting article recently that
talked about how trans media's orientation has been very referential.
It's been very much based on experiences that trans people
have as kids engaging with media, whether that's with something
like Buffy the Vampires Layer, whether that's with DC comics,

(33:28):
And it's because transness is so much about recontextualizing your
whole life and identity. A lot of trans media has
also been about this form of recontextualization, both with I
think The People's Joker is a great example, also the
upcoming film I saw The TV Glow, which is very
much based on like Buffy and other and other kind
of like Monster of the Week title TV shows. It's

(33:49):
combining all of that kind of stuff with a lot
of lynching influences, both in these cases, both in The
People's Joker and in I saw the TV glow to
create this like dream of self identity in this referential format,
and that's been an interesting trend to watch in trans cinema,
and I think that's that's something that's something to look
I think that's something to look for when you're engaging

(34:11):
with future trans cinema projects, seeing if those kind of
things pop up, and if and if they don't, why
is that what else is actually happening instead? I think
those are gonna be some interesting interesting ways to uh
engage with our own diy art in the next decade here.
Because as much as like everything we talk about is
so like depressing, like on this show, like about how

(34:33):
everything dealing with like trends stuff is about how everyone's
trying to like kill us and restrict our medical care,
that does not actually stop us from becoming people who
actually engage with culture in any real sense. I think
despite everything that's targeted against trans people, it does not
stop us from actually having a cultural output. And the
thing a lot of conservatives are afraid of is our

(34:54):
cultural output. The fact that trans people keep being actually
really compelling artists and really compelling people in general makes
conservative service. I don't think it's impossible for conservatives to
make art. I think there is conservative art that actually
can be seen as like okay art. But they certainly
are afraid at how good trans people are at making

(35:17):
music and now making movies. When I was talking with me,
she brought up a good point that all paraphrase here.
Part of why we're seeing this new wave of independent
transcinema is the result of a combination of two things.
One is that trans and queer artists have been and
continue to be chewed up and spat out by the
traditional media machine, and two, the traditional media machine itself

(35:41):
is slowly rotting from the inside, which can be a
tricky situation to navigate for a lot of queer artists.
But simultaneously, it also means that we're in this position,
we're having been spat out. We have full rain to
go make our own, massive, grotesque, degenerate queer art on
our own, because there simply is no artistic alternative. Trans

(36:05):
people need to be submitting to film festivals regardless of
whether or not CIS viewers and critics will understand the work.
Filmmaking is one of those art forms that you can't
really do all by yourself, but that doesn't need to
be a limitation. That can be an asset. Gay people
are good at a lot of different things, and filmmaking
integrates so many different artistic areas and skills, and as

(36:27):
we've seen, a movie made by a community of queers
can create such a unique result. When talking with Vera Drew,
she mentioned that having a whole team of artists help
her complete the movie is also in part what ensured
that she would find a way for the film to
be distributed the right way so that it's seen up
on the big screen and not just published online for free.

Speaker 3 (36:48):
You know. That was another thing that really kind of
kept me from doing anything irrational with the film, like
posting it on Google Drive with contribution to a donation
link or whatever. It was like like I have all
these artists that just worked on this movie with me
for two and a half years, and like, no, we're
gonna fucking do this. Like I said I would do this,

(37:10):
and I'm gonna do this cause like I can't just
like feed this back into the incubator and the fucking
feedback loop of trans Twitter and like cool underground circles
that I totally love to be a part of, but
we're all trying to, you know, get more visibility outside
of those things. So yeah, I always really just wanted
to honor that, honor the team and make everybody feel valued.

(37:34):
And you know, I paid as many people as I could,
and you know, was very straightforward about what I could afford,
and a lot of people worked in ways that they
just felt compensated and that was very appreciated. You know,
I think in general, like everybody on this was very underpaid.
But like it was such a labor of love and
such like a a personal thing for all of us

(37:59):
that everybody just like showed up and and really rallied
around each other and really just kept saying yes and
to everything, and it's so cool. I don't I don't
know how I'll ever really be able to replicate. I
don't think I should either, just because it's it was.
It was quite a gargantuan task, but you know, it
was it was literally the best time of my life,

(38:19):
was was making this movie. Like I think it really
it taught me just how to be a human being
and how to love and how to like finally feel
connected to my to my queer community, because I think
like The People's Jokers really more than anything, it's really
about nuance and like relationships and family and uh politics,

(38:40):
And it talks about nuance by really leaning into these
like extremes, which I think just is also inherently queer,
and I don't know, I mean that to me is
like another thing. It's just like I I hope and
there there's there's a lot of trans filmmakers that are
like starting to pop up in the genre space, but
like I hope, I hope we more of it, just

(39:00):
because like we all grew up on the same movies
that SIS people did, So like why can't we make
similar art, you know, and tell our stories in the
process and also do it in a way that's like
not hiding in the shadows.

Speaker 1 (39:13):
The People's Joker is slowly ending its US theatrical run,
but you can still look for tickets and show times
at the People's Joker dot com, and you can find
Vera Drew online at Vera Drew twenty two Late Stage
Live just released their sixth episode, and I'm really excited
to see how the show will grow and evolve over time.

Speaker 2 (39:33):
And we've actually recently hit an inflection point with the
show where like the sort of organic, haphazard growth is
no longer sustainable for us. We've been having a lot
of really exciting and scary conversations behind the scenes about
like formalizing our production process and kicking our shit up
a notch so that we have the potential to make
this bigger and better and more polished. But it is

(39:54):
at its core still like a production born out of
community and like mutual respect. Yeerman. You can find me
on Instagram at La dot Yeerman, on x dot com
at Ella Yeerman. I think I'm on Blue Sky also,
though I don't do anything there. You can find Late
Stage Live as Late Sailers Live on all platforms. That's Instagram,
x YouTube, TikTok probably also Blue Sky, but those are

(40:18):
the big ones. And then if you're interested in finding
my stand up show, we're at T four T Comedy
on Instagram and x oh. And then most specifically, if
you're interested in helping fun Blade Stage and make us
bigger and better and shinier, you can go to Patreon
dot com slash Late Stage Live, where we post Yeah,
we have a behind the scenes photos and videos, and
we make a semi frequent podcast where my head writer

(40:42):
and I talk about the news and shoot the shit
and talk about the process and a lot more detail
episode by episode. And we're so grateful for our current
patrons and for opportunities like this, and we're excited to
see where the show.

Speaker 1 (40:53):
Goes that doesn't for us at It could Happen here.
I hope you enjoyed my Transformers and Gi Joe ad
break references, and if not, you can send any complaints
to the President of Columbia University. Solidarity to everyone across
the country who's been out the past few weeks. See
you on the other side. It could Happen here as

(41:16):
a production of cool Zone Media.

Speaker 3 (41:18):
For more podcasts from cool Zone Media, visit our website
coolzonemedia dot com, or check us out on the iHeartRadio app,
Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Speaker 1 (41:27):
You can find sources for It Could Happen Here, updated
monthly at coolzonemedia dot com slash sources.

Speaker 3 (41:32):
Thanks for listening.

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