I had a very interesting discussion about theater and film the other day. My parents and I were talking about Little Shop of Horrors and, specifically, about the ending of the musical versus the ending of the (1986) movie. In the musical, the story ends with the main characters getting eaten by the plant and everybody dying. The movie was originally going to end the same way, but audience reactions were so negative that they were forced to shoot a happy ending where the plant is destroyed and the main characters survive. Frank Oz, who directed the movie, later said something I think is very interesting:
I learned a lesson: in a stage play, you kill the leads and they come out for a bow — in a movie, they don’t come out for a bow, they’re dead. They’re gone and so the audience lost the people they loved, as opposed to the theater audience where they knew the two people who played Audrey and Seymour were still alive. They loved those people, and they hated us for it.
That’s a real gem of a thought in and of itself, a really interesting consequence of the fact that theater is alive in a way that film isn’t. A stage play always ends with a tangible reminder that it’s all just fiction, just a performance, and this serves to gently return the audience to the real world. Movies don’t have that, which really changes the way you’re affected by the story’s conclusion. Neat!
But here’s what’s really cool: I asked my dad (who is a dramaturge) what he had to say about it, and he pointed out that there is actually an equivalent technique in film: the blooper reel. When a movie plays bloopers while the credits are rolling, it’s accomplishing the exact same thing: it reminds you that the characters are actually just played by actors, who are alive and well and probably having a lot of fun, even if the fictional characters suffered. How cool is that!?
Now I’m really fascinated by the possibility of using bloopers to lessen the impact of a tragic ending in a tragicomedy…
A lot of people will write long posts justifying why it’s wrong the more popular actors/movies didn’t win, but here’s one for Ruth Negga.
Ruth was born to an Irishwoman and an Ethiopian man, Ruth has been working tirelessly for years in various shows and movies.
Ruth portrayed Mildred Loving, a woman who was arrested for sleeping in bed with her husband. A woman who was arrested after the birth of her first child. A woman who was not allowed to happily be with her husband or family for over ten years because of the color of her skin. When they finally won their case, Mildred lost her husband seven years later to a drunk drive. Ruth wore her ACLU ribbon today partly to represent them.
Ruth’s performance in Loving was heartstopping and everyone I’ve shown the movie to in real life watched with awe as she brought so much emotion and voice out of a woman who hardly spoke. Watch archive footage of Mildred and then watch Ruth’s performance. It’s completely astounding and you can TELL she worked so hard to bring her to life, to tell us the story of this woman who’s been only mentioned briefly in schoolbooks. Just a scene of her, standing in the sun in the countryside, had me in tears.
I can’t quite wrap my head around a white, fictional character in a performance that was underwhelming in comparison to Ruth’s winning. I just can’t. Was she undermined because of race? Perhaps. Was it because she was a new face? I don’t know.
What I do know is that Ruth Negga won that red carpet tonight and she truly kept her “always be posing” rule at maximum performance. Everytime the camera flipped to her (which was quite often) she looked so ethereal. “We may lose the small battles but win the big war.” I feel like we’ll see Ruth Negga on that red carpet again soon. She’s got so many Preacher fans at her back and she’s definitely taking the world by storm. I can’t wait to see what she does next and I hope she has a really nice night and a good night’s sleep.
Ok I know I’m like fifty years late to the party but
I started reading performance in a leading role like a year ago but I didn’t finish it cause I got busy and would lose track of what was happening because I took such long gaps in between chapters and all that so I stopped
So people have been asking why RPDR contestants cannot perform as fictional characters on the Snatch Game. RuPaul has clarified why the queens cannot.
The reason why Max couldn’t do Miranda Sings (like she did it on her audition tape)
is the same reason Acid Betty couldn’t do Pepper from American Horror Story.
Even Raven came dressed as the Evil Queen from Snow White for Season 2′s reunion special but was told by the production team she had to get a new outfit to wear. Why? Because all those characters are copyrighted and come cases are probably trademarked.
Copyright Protection provides the owner exclusive rights to use, copy and adapt the fictional characters, as well as other related rights, subject only to copyright defenses such as fair use or expiration. Trademark Law may protect the names, physical appearance, catchphrases, and certain other elements of fictional characters, provided that they are used on goods or services, identify and distinguish the source of the goods or services from those of others, and are either inherently distinctive or have acquired secondary meaning (i.e., meaning in the consuming public’s mind as a source identifier for the relevant goods or services).
Even when Raja played Tyra, they had to blur out the official Tyra Show logo shirt she was wearing…because the show would have had to pay for it. Pretty much anytime you see parts of their clothes or hats blurred or covered, it’s because it has a trademarked logo they do not want to pay to air.
For example, if you purchase an authorized Darth Vader costume or toy lightsaber, you know the source, directly or via license, is from either Lucasfilm or Disney. Trademark protection of a fictional character provides the owner with the exclusive right to use the character in connection with goods and services, as well as the right to prevent the unauthorized use of the character in connection with goods and services of infringing third parties.
So, if hypothetically, a queen wanted to perform as Madea on Snatch Game, Tyler Perry could see it, and either hate what the queen has done with his character or just want to deter other people from using the character, Perry could sue RuPaul, World of Wonder, and Viacom (the parent company of Logo TV).
Also, there is no “be sure you’re in the clear” for using copyrighted characters unless you have gotten express written permission from the copyright holder first. One issue with copyright violation is that if somebody wants to argue it in front of a judge, they can do so. Even if you’ve done the most parodyish thing and stamped “this is a parody” all over it, the copyright holder can still sue. Weird Al Yankovic still asks for permission to use songs he wants to , even though he is the poster child for parody.
Parodies are not free from legal issues or prosecution. The estate of Margaret Mitchell sued author Alice Randall and her publishing company, Houghton Mifflin, on the grounds that Randall’s novel, The Wind Done Gone was too similar to Margaret Mithcell’s Gone with the Wind, thus infringing its copyright. The case attracted numerous comments from leading scholars, authors, and activists, regarding what Mitchell’s attitudes would have been and how much The Wind Done Gone copies from its predecessor. The cover of the book bears a seal identifying it as “The Unauthorized Parody.” It is parody in the broad legal sense: a work that comments on or criticizes a prior work.
And even when the queens do portray actors, they specifically have to say that they are portraying said actor. So when BenDeLaCreme portrayed “ Dame Maggie Smith” Ben was Dame Maggie, even if she was really impersonating the Dowager Countess character from Downton Abbey.
Drag Race would have to lawyer up, but doing what they want without asking permission first is still leaving them open to having to prove said parody in court. Even if their lawyer says that they’ve got a 100% chance of winning in court, you still have to go through the effort and expense of appearing in court to do so.
The Rocky Horror Picture Show holds a very special place in my heart. In terms of not only exposing me to, but also allowing me to fulfill my own raw sexual and performative desires, but also in simply being able to be myself, RHPS has had the biggest impact on my life , bar none. The film brings out these raw desires. Some of them are simple, like a desire to wear a corset, heels, and feather boa, and just feel fucking sexy. Some of them are built on my desire to not dream it, but be it. And some of them, are honestly just built on me wanting to give myself over to pleasure. No other film, book, piece of music or play, has had an impact like that in my life.
The first time I encountered RHPS in terms of it actually having an impact on my life, was when I saw Gleehave an episode in their second series in which they perform songs from the play. That episode came out in 2010, so I would have been 13 at the time. As it was Glee, a lot of what makes RHPS, the RHPS, was left out. However, one thing I remember from that episode was seeing Science Fiction, Double Feature being performed for the first time. That really stuck with me. I don’t know if it was the lips, or the song itself, or the dripping blood in the opening titles. But something about that song really resonated with me. I still can’t really put my finger on why it does, despite the fact it’s my favorite song from the movie. Maybe it’s the whole, “I wanna go-oh oh” bit, who knows. But either way, it’s a song I adore. Both the up beat stage version, and the slower film version. I love lip syncing to it in my room. I’d love to play the Usherette in a stage show of RHPS. I hope that’ll happen someday.
The next time I remember encountering the film in a larger sense, was when I was 16 or so. Me and two of my best friends had a shared love of the film. They had seen it more times than I had, but from what I had seen of the film (which, admittedly, was mostly just Sweet Transvestite and Science Fiction, Double Feature), I loved it just the same. Watching it when I was older though was different, as a lot of things had changed. Firstly, at the time, I was out as bisexual. While I now identify as pan, from around 2011-2016, I was out as bi. Which was a huge difference, as when I saw snippets of the film, and it’s cover in Glee, that was pre-my acceptance of my sexuality, and pre-my sexual awakening. Also, watching it when I was 16, was after me starting to be honest with myself about my gender identity, and what I enjoy. Even in things as simple as makeup. While I didn’t actually wear makeup properly until I was 18 and at university, seeing the film once I was honest with myself about wanting to take a sledgehammer to gender roles made me see it in an entirely different way. I didn’t see Frank N’Furter as just a camp character. I saw them as *me*. I really do relate to them. I wanted to be them.
I think that viewing of the RHPS, in my best friends’ living room, was probably one of the most important evenings of my life in terms of sexual awakenings. I didn’t see the songs as just songs. I didn’t see the characters as just characters. I really saw myself in that film. I wanted Frank N’Furters lipstick and eye makeup. I wanted to wear a corset and heels, with a big feather boa, and have sex in a swimming pool with a group of people. I wanted to be like Janet Weiss, and just feel released - and let out all of my pent up sexual frustrations. I really wanted all of those things. For the first time, I realized what I wanted. I realized my deeply suppressed desires. I realized how badly I just wanted to be fucked. I realized how badly I wanted to dress a certain way. I realized just how provocative these things could be, and I loved it. The Rocky Horror Picture Show made me realize what I wanted in a way nothing, or nobody else has ever done before. Deep down, when you take away everything I am out of necessity, I’m just a kinky, transgressive, corset loving, makeup obsessed, freak. And I fucking love that. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So, why am I even talking about the RHPS in the first place? Well, I always wanted to talk about what I’ve just mentioned with you guys, as the film has clearly had such a prolific impact on my life. But the time felt right now. Last night, I had a new experience with the film. Up until last night, I’d only seen the film in two settings - watching it on my own in my room, and watching it with my best friends on occasion. However, last night, my cherry was popped. I went to a midnight screening of the film, with audience participation, and a shadow cast performing on a stage in front of the film. And it was the fucking best night of my life.
I’ve never been in an environment like that, where I truly felt like I belonged. Even LGBT+ activities can be divisive on the grounds of what your sexuality or gender identity is. But not RHPS. Everyone was in that theater for one common reason - to go fucking wild while we watched our favorite film. There was no divisiveness. No open disagreement as to who we loved most, or hated most. Everyone called Janet a slut, and everyone called Brad an ass hole. Everyone shouted at the cues, and stood up and did the time warp with one another. Everyone threw toilet paper at each other, and thew cards in the air. In some way or another, everyone was dressed up. Whether people were just wearing some over the top makeup, or a full on costume. It was the most fucking incredible atmosphere I’ve ever experienced.
What stuck out for me most about last night was the person playing Frank N’Furter. I’d never seen someone with so much confidence, or someone who exuded sexuality like that. They seemed just, so genuinely happy. So in love with what they were doing. It was almost like watching me, euphorically lip syncing to Sweet Transvestite in my bedroom, but in a packed theatre. Where everyone is in love, and encouraging you. Where nobody would care if they jumped on you, and dry humped you, and played with you during their lip syncing. It was an incredible sight. And it made me realize exactly what I want to do. It made me realize who I am, and what I want to be. It bought me back to one of my favorite songs in the film, which says the following, and says it all about how I felt last night, and really, how I’ve felt for a long time;
Whatever happened to Fay Wray? That delicate satin draped frame As it clung to her thigh, how I started to cry Cause I wanted to be dressed just the same…
Give yourself over to absolute pleasure Swim the warm waters of sins of the flesh Erotic nightmares beyond any measure And sensual daydreams to treasure forever Can’t you just see it?
I’ve posted up to chapter 7 of Hold Me Fast,my Scream of the Shalka fanfic, on AO3. In this excerpt from chapter 3, we learn just how stagey the Shalka Doctor is. Spoiler: They’re so stagey that they have a special room for soliloquizing.
The Doctor was talking to the Magister, or at least Alison thought they were. Then she realized that the Magister sat completely still in his chair. His hands were folded in his lap, his neck bent forward as if in acquiescence. In other words, he was in the position into which he defaulted when the Doctor turned him completely off.
The Doctor still addressed him, though. Bracing their palms against the arms of the robot’s chair, they leaned down to him. “But since Myself – assault Me / How have I peace / Except by subjugating / Consciousness?” they cried, almost imploring. Of course there was no answer, although a cat that had been napping glared at the Doctor before putting his head down again.
“Um…” Alison said in the resulting silence.
The Doctor turned around. “Yes?”
“Am I interrupting anything?”
“Hmmm?” The Doctor raised their eyebrows.
And there it was: one of the significant differences amongst the three of them. The Magister, Master of multivalence that he was, never met a subtext, ulterior motive, or allusion that he could resist. Being a word nerd herself, Alison easily engaged him in the parry and thrust of literary wit. The Doctor, by contrast, while allusive and often abstruse when quoting, never did well with hints and suggestions otherwise. They needed explicit statements of intent, feelings, and expectations.
“I mean,” Alison said, “is this one of your consensual non-consent things where you turn off his locomotion, but leave his hearing, just so you can fuck with each other? ‘Cause I’m going to leave if it is.”
“Oh no, the Master’s off.” The Doctor cocked their head, looking at something. Then they removed the robot’s remote control from their pocket and clicked a button. “Oh…well, I guess he wasn’t fully, but he is now.”
The Magister liked to fuck with their Doctor by doing things accidentally on purpose. [You wanted all those dead plants hanging from the ceiling? Then you should have said something before I sanitized the entire kitchen and threw them out.] But the Doctor wasn’t that devious. They were just…well… two steps left of reality was a good way to put it.
Thus Alison felt justified in telling them, “Well, maybe you should double check that he’s all the way off before you…” A thought occurred to her. “Wait – why is he all the way off? Don’t you usually do this sort of thing with an audience…and in the Epiphany Room?” Whenever the Doctor needed to do some soul-searching and/or soliloquizing, they typically repaired to the Epiphany Room. Within this circular amphitheater, they strutted and fretted on the central round stage. Meanwhile, the Magister kept sarcastic quips – and, on one memorable occasion, popcorn – flying.