A movie that asks, What Line?
Written By: T.S. Slaughter
Directed By: T.S. Slaughter
Satire is a wonderful thing and can produce the very best of cinema. At the same time satire has to play a high wire act at every moment. If a satire isn’t biting enough then the inevitable question arises, What was the point of that? Conversely is a satire is too biting people will lose the message and damn the film for its theatrics. As odd as it is to say a satirical film needs to find the middle ground, and go for it without going for it at such a level that the message of the film is lost.
The Gays goes for it, and it goes for it hard. In that way I feel T.S. Slaughter does his film a great disservice. He skewers all aspects of gay culture, and many of heterosexual culture to boot, but the way he skewers creates issues. Should I care that conservative America puts forth a wholly incorrect view of gay culture? Of course I should, and it’s not a stretch to posit that there will be conservatives who would watch a film like The Gays and honestly believe that all their worst fears have come to fruition. Still, Mr. Slaughter goes so far over the line that the satirical message of the film is lost very early on.
Instead of being a satirical stab at the way the right wing views homosexuality, The Gays ends up being an episodic shock machine. Each scene appears to be designed to shock the viewer into submission. The crude humor only serves to distance the message of the film from the viewers mind. Instead of pondering why the right wing could possibly think the way they do the question becomes what will the film try to shock its audience with next? The problem with such an approach is that after a few scenes nothing shocks anymore. There’s a reason that the overwhelming majority of shock jocks fail, because playing the game of increasing shocks is a losing gambit. The Gays attempts to shock, and shock again, then shock some more, but almost ten minutes into the film I was dull to the shocks Mr. Slaughter wanted to elicit.
Everyone involved in The Gays tries, I really do believe that. In the end they don’t succeed at making a great movie, or even a satirically sound film. However, they don’t succeed at making a terrible movie either. For all its warts and flaws there are nuggets of decent filmmaking to be found in The Gays. As a short I could see The Gays being highly effective, and its message and style would not become as lost in translation as they are in a feature length form. A valiant effort, but ultimately The Gays is attempting to drive a nail into a wall with a two ton titanium wrecking ball.