Faking It is a television show that first premiered on MTV in April, 2014. The show takes place mostly at and around Hester High School which is located near Austin, Texas. Unlike every other high school in America, at Hester High School being weird or abnormal is what lands you a seat atop the schools hierarchy of popularity. The show follows a series of main characters, all of which are struggling to not only gain or keep their rank of popularity, but are also struggling to identify their own personal selves throughout the tough journey we all undergo through high school. Throughout the series, the characters display several aspects that pertain to a lot of what we discuss in class, which is queer culture.
When the show begins, we are introduced to two of the main characters, Karma and Amy. They are sophomores at Hester High School and are also best friends. The dynamic duo is portrayed as being willing to do anything to gain a spot amongst the popular crowd. This aspect is tested when Shane Harvey, who is also a main character, accidentally assumes Karma and Amy are a lesbian couple, when in reality they are just best friends. Initially the pair’s reaction was to state that they were not actually a couple; however, when the two of them realized how popular they became from being known as Hester High School’s first out lesbian couple, they decide to hide their true identities rather than losing their new found popularity. Shane Harvey, the boy who ‘outs’ Karma and Amy is one of Hester’s most popular students and plays the role of an out and proud male student who loves unveiling the skeletons hiding in the closets of his fellow classmates. Later on in the series another main character, Liam Booker, who is Shane’s best friend ends up falling for Karma and throwing kinks in Karma and Amy’s attempt to keep their popularity by prolonging their charade of being a lesbian couple. As the series goes on, the show displays many of the struggles faced by students in high school. From Amy falling for her best friend Karma, to Karma falling for Liam and likewise for Liam himself, the show depicts the main characters as finding out tremendous amounts about themselves through the relationships and friendships which they experience throughout their encounters with their classmates. The last main character that is really of relevance to the aspect of queer culture is Amy’s step sister, Lauren Cooper. Lauren is initially depicted as the new girl who is quickly very popular but soon faces her own demons when she is ‘outed’ as being intersex.
I first began watching Faking It when the series first premiered on MTV. I related to the show and even though I found myself constantly thinking, “Wow, this would never actually happen in high school.” I could not help but to fall in love with the show because of the fact that the show handles a lot of issues and is not afraid to throw awkward situations into the audience’s face. The show not only handles issues such as Amy struggling to determine her own sexuality, but it also shows the struggles of Amy’s sister Lauren who is intersex. In many ways the struggles Lauren is depicted to have resonates with our classroom discussions of the struggles which members of the transgender community face. Though Lauren is intersex and not transgender, I found it interesting that she was depicted to suffer from such similar circumstances as those who brave the ridicule that is associated with being a member of the transgender community. Another aspect of the series that I found to be quiet interesting was that many of the struggles the characters where shown to go through made me think back to when we read Martha Shelley’s. “Gay Is Good.” I recall that she spoke about how one of the worst parts about being a homosexual was not the way that they are punished by law enforcement or by society as a whole, but the fact that those who identify as being homosexuals often believed that the fact that they as individuals identified as being gay was something that was not to be revealed. Martha Shelly basically states that it is the general knowledge that being a homosexual means that you are something that is so bad that is should not even be revealed or shared, and I feel that many of the characters in this series show characteristics of identifying with Martha Shelley’s statement. All of the main characters have resentment towards themselves because in some way or another they do not feel that who they truly are is someone or something that can be openly discussed. I feel that many of the characters are shown to believe that who they are as people is something that they are ashamed to show others which as stated, is how Shelley talks about how it feels to be a member of the homosexual community. I love the manner in which the show depicts the struggles members of the LGBTQ+ community face on a daily basis and how it affects them as people, and I also love how much it pertains to the day to day discussions and readings we have for class.
The movie opens with the suicide of Matt, a character that we do not know anything about at first. Alexa, a young Dutch woman from Amsterdam who was a close friend of Matt travels to the US in search of answers regarding Matt’s life. Alexa rents a room in a man’s home in Iowa where Matt grew up. Throughout the movie, Alexa makes a documentary which is comprised of interviews from people in the queer community who have come out. Alexa believes that Matt killed himself because of his sexuality because shortly before committing suicide Matt came out as being gay. The interviews we see throughout the movie discuss things that range from first kisses and dealing with their sexual identities to suicide attempts.
Throughout her interviews and exploration of Matt’s death, Alexa meets Jennifer. Actually, Alexa wakes up in what appears to be Jennifer’s living room after a night at the bar. When Alexa first opens her eyes she sees Jennifer who is working on a piece of art she is putting together from recycled materials. Jennifer offers Alexa a cup of coffee and in her rush to get out of the house, Alexa leaves with her coffee in hand. Then a few days later Alexa returns to Jenifer’s window with a fresh hot cup of coffee in hand and apologizes for running off so quickly. She then invites herself in through the window and insists that she go along with Jennifer to help her look for materials in the junkyard. From there, their friendship grows and soon Alexa realizes that she might be finding out more about herself from this trip than she had intended. Through rough questioning of herself and her sexuality Alexa finally comes to the conclusion that she likes Jennifer. This is commonly experienced by members in the LGBT+ community and it relates very strongly to the overall content of our class.
Though the questioning of her sexuality that Alexa, as well as many of the people she has interviewed are shown to have experienced fall in line with many of the readings as well as discussions we have had in class, this is not what stood out to me the most in the movie. There was one particular line during one of Alexa’s interviews with a lesbian woman that really caught my attention and made me think back to our very first readings. The woman being interviewed said something along the lines of how she thought it was ridiculous that women are only conceived as an idea so long as a man is involved. She then went on to talk about how society sees women only as compared to men and she asks why women can’t just be seen as women, and as stated it made me think all the way back to when we read “One Is Not Born a Woman” by Monique Wittig. Throughout which Wittig talks about how women only exist as a concept of the society which they live in. Wittig also talks about how if we could somehow no longer have the classification of man then we would no longer have to have the classification of woman and maybe things could be equal rather that men being superior simply because of their classification as a man.
Born Joan Larkin, Joan Jett soon became a name that was the foundation of a major change and movement in the world of rock and roll. Little did everyone know at the time, Jett would later become a name in rock and roll that will never be forgotten. Jett formed her first actual band, The Runaways, at the age of 15 in 1975. The Runaways, which was the first all girl rock band mainly produced music that was considered hard rock. Though The Runaways only lasted a couple short years before breaking up, Jett continued to fight the status quote by being a strong woman in the predominately male dominated world of rock and roll. Jett eventually went on to try to find a record label which would accept her work only to be turned down 23 times. Jett was so frustrated that with a help from Kenny Laguna she created her own record label, Blackheart Records. This made Jett the first woman artist to not only own, but also have direct control over an independent record label.
Throughout her career, Jett often pushed the envelope by being not just the average woman who sang in a band. Jett was the only woman on the scene throughout the late 1970’s and on who was not dressed in a cute outfit singing the words to some song about her boyfriend or what have you (like all the other female singers did). Jett, on the other hand was the lead singer and guitarist for her band, which produced hard rock music such as I Love Rock ’n’ Roll. The almost grunge rock sound in her voice and the way she was not afraid to really get into her music like the men in rock and roll did set Jett apart from all other female singers at that time. The songs she wrote and produced through her record label also set her apart from all the other female singers at the time.
Jett’s music was often geared towards those of us in society who feel like social outcasts. Even though Jett does not really step into the spotlight much to speak on such social issues, some of her songs such as Androgynous tell a story of people who do not necessarily feel comfortable with their gender. Throughout Androgynous Jett tells a story of a man and a woman who are similar to what someone today might consider as being gender fluid. Meaning that one day they wake up and want to wear a dress, and the next day they might want to wear a leather biker jacket with chains (clearly not being very girly but rather masculine instead), both of the choices being available regardless of their assigned genders. As we have discussed in class this is not uncommon for people to want to dress in the opposite manner that society decides is appropriate for their biological genders. Though Jett does not outright publicly advocate these ideas in terms of speaking on behalf of such issues, she does advocate them through her music and personal style.