Did you ever hear these phrases in high school: “Quit being such a girl” or “That’s gay” or maybe “Don’t be such a fag.” Did you hear them from peers, from bullies, even from administrators in high school? Maybe you’ve even used this term yourself. As a way to bully, tease, or pressure those to stick to the status quo? Is this how you would describe your educational environment?
For those working on an upcoming short film, titled Dude, You’re a Fag, it does.
Based upon a research book of the same name, Dude, You’re a Fag follows Berkeley grad, C.J. Pascoe, as she spends over a year studying the social practices of a southern Californian high school she calls River High. The events she witnesses make “pussy-grabbing” seem like tea talk.
Almost fifteen years after C.J.’s research, passionate film students from the University of Alabama are recreating Pascoe’s experience and findings in a short film, which they are funding through Seed&Spark. “In a time in our society where homophobia and sexual dominance have become central to masculinity, this story demonstrates it isn’t getting any better. It hasn’t for fifteen years,” writer, director, and producer M.K. Phillips says. Considering the current political climate, not only is toxic masculinity a growing problem but also our society’s definition of what makes a person masculine has become twisted.
In DYAF, C.J. meets one of only three “out” gay students at River High, who she refers to as Ricky. With a mother who passed when he was very young and a drug-addicted father, Ricky moved around a great deal and suffered through intense harassment, however, he thought River was probably the most homophobic: “This is the most violent school I’ve seen most far… this is the only school that throws water bottles, throws rocks, and throws food, ketchup, sandwiches, anything of that nature.” Shortly after C.J.’s left River, Ricky dropped out.
But it wasn’t just Ricky who received extreme harassment. Before C.J.’s arrival, the school had a scandal where several football players raped a female student. With boys talking about drugging girls, making girls bleed from sexual exploits, and even at times how they would rape girls, it isn’t that surprising that the school had a problem with student sexual behavior.
“As someone who went through the bullying, and even became a bully myself to ward off attention,” says producer, Garrett Guerra, “this film hits close to home.” Guerra goes on to say that this homophobic bullying and sexual harassment hasn’t stopped just because we’re in 2017, rather it’s now moved to its arguably more dangerous online form.
The Phillips and Guerra team doesn’t know if society can ever fully overcome discrimination and harassment, “but if the majority of the earth’s population agrees this is wrong, then I think we could call that a victory.” They fight for that with their student film.
Click through to the film’s campaign page to find out more: https://www.seedandspark.com/fund/dude-youre-a-fag
Follow the team on Twitter: @dude_shortiflm
And Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dudeyoureafagshort/