It is election season in Ontario, and for the first time, I’ll be voting. After much wailing and gnashing of teeth, my citizenship is complete and my voter registration is in place. I can call myself “Canadian” with that much more conviction now, and the attention I pay to this country’s politics now weighs on a vote where it previously weighed on just my thoughts. In this unusually portentous time, I have been confronted not only with the mainstream parties, but with the tiny splinter parties trying to gain a foothold in real politics, as they litter public spaces with their signs and pamphlets. And they have reminded me that Canadian conservatives are pit-in-the-stomach terrifying compared to their American counterparts.
It was ordinary people who told me my soul would burn when I told them I am an atheist.
It was ordinary people who kept me from recognizing my gender until my 20s.
It was ordinary people who promoted a level of homework that devoured my free time for most of high school.
It was ordinary people who saw everything about me that was not useful to them and demanded that it change.
It was ordinary people who kept me feeling excluded, misunderstood, and feared until I was an adult, and sometimes still.
It was ordinary people who lied to me for fun and jeered at me for believing them.
It was ordinary people who made the world too bright, too loud, too messy, too much, and told me I was wrong for noticing.
It was ordinary people who made it so that, when I am frustrated or scared enough, I stop feeling my hands.
Emma González gives me hope.
I cannot often say that about my people. I am by turns disappointed in each half of my heritage, but it is my Cuban half that inspires the most sadness. And when I watch Emma González, I feel that unfamiliar rise in my heart, and know that my people will be better than we have been.
There are many little bits and pieces of growing up transfeminine in a hostile world. Recognizing ourselves early as pressed into a gender we neither desire nor understand is not always a blessing, and often merely changes the character of our seeping hurt. Our youthful relationships with boys, our youthful relationships with girls, how we feel about clothing and sport and our parents, all get colored through these lenses, already complicated and made more so by inept striving toward a less horrid vision of the future.
In her novel For Today I Am a Boy, Kim Fu finds them all.
CN child abuse, residential schools
Chandelure followed the sobbing. The lights of the flames on his chandelier-like body made for an obvious approach, even as his ghostly arms and flames left no marks on the wet trees. He paused, reaching the small gap where the sounds began.
The creature resembled a small tree stump with a stubby black body extending from one end. It held its tiny arms up to its wooden face, wracked with its sadness, its tears scarcely noticeable against the chilly damp. Chandelure weighed his options.
Mi familia no está aquí.
My family isn’t here.
CN sexual assault, Donald Trump.
United States, I will not forgive you for this.
I feel like I have a special relationship with grief.
Something peculiar happens with film budgets. Films that spend more on their cast than small countries spend on food make decisions premised on that kind of money. In a culture that places whiteness, maleness, and similar statuses on pedestals and holds others down, that often means that seeking the biggest names—the people most often recognized for their talent and expertise—means finding people who have had every advantage up to that point. Big-budget films are incredibly white and distressingly male, by and large, regardless of where they are set, and it’s only recently that films could give top billing to members of ethnic minorities without immediately becoming “niche.”
That’s what makes lower-budget films especially interesting.
One of the first things I noticed when I started watching classmates’ film projects, amateur movies on YouTube, and other low-budget cinema was the overwhelmingly greater diversity in the cast. Women and non-white people, disappeared from sight in mainstream films, appeared in profusion, matching the reality of the diverse places I have lived.
And that’s what brings us to Sharktopus (2010).
Spoilers for all three Sharktopus films below the fold.