Recently, the Bonner County Human Rights Task Force has been dealing with a local film organization who was airing their programs on a local cable channel. We had received complaints about a particular film, "The Pick Up," and I have been tasked with ressponding on behalf of the Task Force. Here is a recent email I sent to the other Board Members...I thought it might shed some light on my recent non-CWC work:
Dear Task Force Members,
I apologize in advance if I offend any loyalties to the individuals I am about to mention in this email. I do not know who is friends with whom, and still I want to express my opinion.
I had the opportunity to watch "The Pick Up" this weekend and was appalled by its content and quality. In my opinion it, it is tasteless and sends a clear message that it is OK to use violence against someone who is transgendered (or a transvestite). As a member of the LGBT community (and a small one at that here in Sandpoint), I abhor the message that this film sends.
This said, in order to gather more information from the filmmakers (I wanted to give them the benefit of the dounbt -- perhaps my read on the film was inaccurate), I contacted Sandpoint Films and spoke with Janet Jarzebek. Janet was very surprised by my call and kept asking me "Where are you going with this conversation?" and I told her I simply wanted to better understand the intention behind the film and whether Sandpoint Films had any policy about the representations they put forth in their films.
Janet was very defensive with me and at first seemed completely unwilling to have any dialogue. When I told her that I was personally offended by the film, she responded, "I don't find it offensive...I don't look at it that deeply." She then went on to say she was a Democrat, that she was kind to animals and humans, that she did not have a biased bone in her body..." "I am totally NOT prejudiced!" she asserted. When I mentioned that the film condoned and even mocked the use of violence against a transgendered person, she replied, "This was a true story and guys should not dress up like voluptuous women and pick up on other guys in bars." She truly believed that the man who beat up the other man dressed in a dress was in the right.
Toward the end of our conversation, she asked me what I wanted from her...if I was just looking for an apology... and I told her I really just wanted to understand better why Sandpoint Films would have made this film. She told me it was like any art -- if I didn't like it, I didn't need to watch it. Fair enough...but really?
I share all of this with you, my TF commerades, to let you know how ingrained discrimination is -- especially against minority groups who are not well-represented in specific communities. Having participated in a Sandpoint Films production myself, I now feel implicated as a part of an organization who does not share my values at all...and this is troubling.
What else to do? I have written Northland Cable a letter thanking them for pulling The Pick Up from their programming...and I will certainly not have any further involvement with Sandpoint Films...but none of this seems to address the fundamental ignorance of the many people who not only made this film, but continue, as self-identified liberals, to believe it the truth of its message. I hope our work as a TF can continue to educate our community on the importance of Human Rights and the condemnation of hate. I feel angered by my conversation, but also hopeful that we can continue to do good work in a community that obviously still needs it.
Thanks for listening,