The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson — My Latest for Splice Today

There would be no LGBTQ movement without Marsha P. Johnson. Together with Sylvia Rivera, she fought against the cops during the Stonewall riot, founded the Street Transvestites Action Revolutionaries (STAR) to keep trans people off the streets, and was a prominent AIDS activist. The NYPD ruled her 1992 death as a suicide, but everyone who knew her suspected she was murdered. Her case was never solved, but fellow trans activist Victoria Cruz investigated it herself in the 2017 Netflix documentary The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson.

Directed by David France, the film opens with archival footage of the memorial walk for Johnson down Christopher St. in New York City shortly after her body was found in the Hudson River, and then switches to the present day where Cruz and several other activists with the Anti-Violence Project (AVP) discuss the death of 21-year-old Brooklyn trans woman Islan Nettles. Cruz is about to retire after working with the AVP since 1997, but not until she finds out what happened to Johnson first. The film follows Cruz as she talks to Johnson’s siblings, her former roommate Randy Wicker, several other LGBTQ activists who knew Johnson, and retired detectives gathering whatever information she can get ahold of that would provide some closure.

Read the rest here.

Learning to Love Tommy — My Latest for Splice Today

I was 10 when I first discovered The Who’s Tommy. I rented the cassette tape of the 1975 movie soundtrack, and fell in love with the story of the deaf, dumb, and blind boy who could play a mean pinball. Four years later I watched the movie, and hated it. It was over-the-top and confusing. Luckily I bought the original 1969 Who album shortly after, which washed the awful taste of the movie out of my mouth. It’s still one of my all-time favorite albums.

Now almost 35, I’ve grown to appreciate director Ken Russell’s cinematic interpretation of Tommy. Not only did he bring Pete Townshend’s vision to life, but also added his own interpretation to the story. Tommy tells the story of a boy who becomes psychosomatically deaf, mute, and blind after watching his father kill his mother’s lover. He experiences the outside world through vibrations, and his parents subject him to the abuse of his Cousin Kevin, Uncle Ernie, and the Acid Queen. Despite his disability, Tommy becomes a pinball champion, and when he finally regains his senses he’s hailed as the new messiah. Unfortunately, he abuses his power, his followers disown him, and the story ends with Tommy realizing true enlightenment comes from within.

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“It” Scared The Shit Out Of Me!

CN: Disturbing things and possible slight spoilers

When I first heard they were making a new movie of Stephen King’s novel “It,” I was skeptical. Mostly remakes are crap, and I didn’t think anyone could do Pennywise as well as Tim Curry did in the ’90s TV miniseries. In the weeks leading up to its release, though, all the Hollywood insiders were buzzing about the film, so I went with my friend Courtney to see it last night.

And HOLY SHIT IT IS GOOD!

For full disclosure, I haven’t read the book, but I watched enough YouTube videos about what was in the ’90s miniseries and what was in the book to know the gist of what to expect. The newer movie does leave some stuff out of the book (thankfully the sewer orgy scene was one of them), added some new stuff (the film takes place in the ’80s instead of the ’50s), and added stuff from the book that wasn’t in the ’90s version (Eddie’s first encounter with It in the form of a leper). Overall, though, the movie is faithful to the spirit of the book, or at least according King.

For those unfamiliar with the story, it’s about seven misfit preteens (a.k.a. the Loser Club) who encounter a shape-shifting monster–mostly taking on the form of Pennywise the Dancing Clown–that comes to their small town of Maine every 27 years to steal/kill children. After It gets Georgie, one of the kids’ brother, they decide to go after It. Of course, 27 years later, after believing they killed It, the monster comes back so they all come home to Maine to kill It once and for all.

This movie only focuses on the Loser Club as children, while the sequel will follow the Club as adults. All the original characters are there: Bill the stuttering boy who lost his brother Georgie to It, Bev the girl with an abusive father, Ben the fat kid who loves to read, Richie the smart-ass (played brilliantly by Finn Wolfhard from “Stranger Things”), Eddie the hypochondriac with the overbearing mother, Mike the Token Black Kid, and Stanley the Jewish kid. (Yeah, the last two aren’t as fully developed as the others, but at least they’re still likeable characters.) Also returning is the sadistic psychopathic neighborhood Harry Bowers, who is scarier than It in a way.

And then there’s Bill Skarsgard as Pennywise. Now remember when I said I was worried he wouldn’t be able to fill Curry’s shoes? He didn’t need to; he made his own shoes! Skarsgard is so creepy and scary as Pennywise that even seeing him for just a few seconds is enough to make one need diapers.

Of course, I know a lot of my friends have PTSD, so I’m hesitant to say, “Everyone should go see it.” For those that do want to see it, here are your trigger warnings:

[POSSIBLE TRIGGERS AND SPOILERS BELOW! SCROLL QUICKLY TO AVOID BOTH]

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Child dismemberment, buckets of blood, the almost murder of a cat, Bev’s father (although not shown) is obviously sexually abusive, Harry carves an H onto Ben’s stomach, fat shaming (not meant to be taken as a good thing, of course), a goat is slaughtered with one of those air guns they use in slaughter houses (Mike lives with his grandfather on a farm, and they sell goat meat to the local butcher), a creepy painting comes to life (trust me, it is creepy!), and pretty much any scene with Pennywise is a guaranteed jump scare.

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[END OF TRIGGERS/SPOILERS]

The bottom line is if you like a good horror story, then you’ll love “It.” Because in the end, THEY ALL FLOAT DOWN HERE!