About four years ago, two professors on campus got together and decided to create something that would encourage students to be more understanding and accepting towards others—specifically those in the LGBT community.
Dr. Alan Hines and Dr. Curtis Herr, both faculty members of KU’s English department, sit down once a semester and choose a film that typically provides “positive depictions of the LGTB experience,” according to Hines. They call this event the Pride Against Prejudice Film Series.
In the past, the series has shown films such as 2010’s The Kids Are Alright, Rent and 2007’s Save Me, a film about a young man who is forced into a Christian-run ministry in an attempt to cure him of his “gay affliction,” that Hines actually worked on as a screenwriter. A few other low-budget films have been shown, which Hines feels portray “the most accurate” depiction of the LGBT experience.
On Wednesday, April 17, the series will continue with Hedwig and the Angry Inch, a stage musical turned film about Hedwig Robinson, a transgender female who suffered a botched operation in order to leave communist East Germany and move to America with the man she loves, an American G.I. named Luther. Once in America Hedwig must deal with Luther eventually leaving her for a man by forming a rock band. She then befriends a man named Tommy Speck, who she writes songs with and believes she has fallen in love with. Once Tommy runs off and becomes famous using the songs Hedwig wrote, it is truly the time for Hedwig and her band, The Angry Inch, to figure out how they are going to survive.
A main theme in this film is that of “finding your other half,” discussed Hines.
In the film, Hedwig uses music to refer to Aristophanes’ speech in Plato’s Symposium, which explains that human beings were once round, two-faced, four-armed and four-legged beings. The idea is that humans were split, leaving us to walk the earth desperately searching for our other half. This is something that Hedwig longs for throughout the entire film, and does so just like anyone else would, regardless of their sex, gender or orientation.
Hines discussed how great Hedwig and the Angry Inch is because of how it portrays the differences in sex, gender and orientation.
“It’s a way of seeing what diversity is within each of us,” said Hines.
“It explains it as a real celebration,” said Herr. “It’s not a downer at all; it’s a celebration of diversity.”
Hines also spoke about the diversity here on KU’s campus and how exciting it is to be a part of a university that is so open to individuals being just that—individuals.
“It’s great to be on a campus that’s so open to diversity,” said Hines. “People here are finding ways to be who they are.”
“I really want to support and encourage people to come out,” said Herr. “It’s such a unique film with a huge following.”
Herr talked about how stunned he was after watching the film, stating, “I could not move at the end of it. So much was running through my head.”
“It really drives a powerful message,” Herr reiterated. “Do our past social experiences create us or do we create ourselves?”
Herr also describes the film as a combination of animation, fantasy, music video and autobiography. He also promotes the film’s “incredible” score.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch will be shown in Academic Forum room 101, followed by a discussion with Hines and Herr. Admission is free.
By Taylor Zimmerman