For my first blog post I found it important to focus on a film that really embodied the character’s out of the norm, gender and sexualities. Sleepaway Camp is a complicated film in a way for this reason.
In the film the main character named Angela portrays a pre-teen straight female who’s gay father was killed in a boating accident. What we learn at the end of the movie is that Angela was born a male, and her aunt who adopted her after her father’s accident forced her to be female because she always wanted a daughter. This idea of
forcing a a child to portray a gender that they might not identify as puts their gender in question immediately. Not only is that confusing for the character, but it’s confusing for the audience’s understanding. What pronoun should the audience be using? Do we empathize with Angela as the character she has been portrayed as throughout the film? Or do we empathize with Angela as her birth gender? We just aren’t sure. There is absolutely no context along with their gender. For all the audience knows, Angela could be happy being a female, but then again she was forced to be female so it’s very possible there is pent up rage because of that.
The second thing to think about is sexuality. Throughout the film Angela has flashbacks to her life as a child, and all of them involve sexuality. One them is a flashback to her father and his male significant other in bed together. From a very young age Angela was exposed to homosexuality. Another flashback insinuated that she was molested as a child or molested her sister. I found that vision to be a bit unclear. Regardless though, very sexual. These are ideas that could be difficult for a child to grow up with. One of them could do a great deal of damage to the child’s mental state.
Sexuality is still a big factor even when she’s at summer camp. The camp is full of pre-teen and teenagers who are either already sexually active, or are very interested in becoming sexually active. This means that there is a lot of pressure to have, and talk about sexual acts within the characters. Angela takes interest in one of the boys in the film. He is her cousins best friend. They kiss, but once he wants to take that further, Angela won’t allow it. Throughout, I wondered why. Was is because she saw herself a straight girl and just didn’t want to go any further? Was it because she was worried he would see that she isn’t a girl? Was it because she knew she was
a boy and enjoyed that she was also kissing a boy? There are so many possible reasons.
This film was filled with gender and sexuality concepts to be discussed, and there is no black and white answer. This certainly was not the average slasher film because of all these concepts, but it would be interesting to know the intention behind it all. What do you think? Could these gender and sexuality characteristics mean specific things toward the plot line?