Or in short, here’s my review of the “independently-produced” movie still showing in commercial cinemas right now. Wagi in fairness sa longevity ha. Ikaw na, Remington! Chos.
ZOMBADINGS 1: PATAYIN SA SHOKOT SI REMINGTON (2011)
s. Raymond Lee, Michiko Yamamoto, Jade Castro
c. ayan read the poster obvious naman haller imbey ka
Pitch: A homophobic boy in Quezon province gets cursed to become gay when he grows up in a town where gays are being murdered and later turned into zombies until the boy-turned-teen’s curse gets lifted. Trust me, it’s really that convoluted.
Catch: It’s that convoluted. Did I already say that? It’s convoluted.
Yesterday, I accompanied one of my superfriends to watch a movie that has been running in cinemas since the end of last month even if I’ve already seen te film during the Cinemalaya closing last July. Not bad for a supposed independently-produced film, no? When I say “supposed,” it means the producers made this film outside the commercial mainstream studio systems that most — if not all — of them served at one point in their careers (or still currently serving it, actually, for some of them at least). I guess their sensibilities trickle down to the product they create, because it still reeks of commercial mainstream-ish fare. Let me elucidate.
The film is lost in its identity since it doesn’t know if it’s going to be campy or just a plain comedy. From what I discovered, the filmmaker said in a forum that they didn’t intend to make it camp. And this is where we hyperventilate. Kalurkey itey!
I don’t know if you trust the Wikipedia entry on it, but the first definition of camp there is “an aesthetic sensibility that regards something as appealing because of its bad taste and ironic value.”
Hmm may ganung factor? Maybe Susan Sontag’s “Notes on Camp” would help, as she wrote:
…the Camp sensibility is one that is alive in a double sense in which some things can be taken. But this is not the familiar split-level construction of a literal meaning, on the one hand, and a symbolic meaning, on the other. It is the difference, rather, between the thing as meaning something, anything, and the thing as pure artifice.”
Well, let’s just put it this way: Zombadings didn’t have that kind of camp sensibility to me because it felt more like it had a Star Cinema sensibility to it — a bad case of Star Cinema cookie-cutter formula pander-to-the-lowest-denominator type of comedy film which most of the time makes you want to slash your wrists because, even if it’s a comedy, IT AIN’T FUNNY. And since the director said nga in that forum that they just set out to do a comedy film, it gave me more shivers. As in. Chaka Khan ever.
Now why is a comedy film about gays being killed in a small town because they’re gay not funny? BECAUSE KILLING GAYS AREN’T FUNNY, PERIOD. (Or please educate yourself and read this article.) Regardless whether they get zapped by an out-of-this-world kinda-sci-fi-ish subplot of a thingamajig called the gaydar controlled by a macho man that would be later on revealed as a super-huge closeted homo, hmmm… perpetuating self-hatred, anyone? That’s project number one. Luz Valdez!
Project number two would be this: why is a comedy film about a straight guy cursed to be gay not funny? BECAUSE BEING GAY IS NOT A CURSE TO BE CURED FROM BY SHAMANS, DIVINITY EXPERTS, OR WHATNOT. We are gay because we are gay, people. And news flash, we love being gay, we’re proud to be gay, and we’re happy we’re gay — even if the rest of homophobic society isn’t happy for us. KEBS! We don’t mess with your life so don’t certainly mess with ours. Kajirita Jackson ha.
And why is a comedy film about a straight man turning effeminate gay not funny? BECAUSE NOT ALL GAYS ARE EFFEMINATE. There’s nothing wrong with the section of our populace who are effeminate, but the key word there is “section” meaning “not everyone” and hence do not generalize about us and most especially do not stereotype us as being just of one kind, as mainstream media has been doing for decades now. Like the rainbow flag we out and proudly wave during LGBTQ pride marches, we are a community of diverse people who come in all shapes and sizes, forms and content, so please, do not peg us to just merely one type and one type alone. Keribels?
Now the major major problem with this film is that we from the LGBTQ circles, those who know camp and could define it, who follow pop culture to a fault, who are academic/knowledgeable etc. etc. chenelyn boomboom (to quote my lesbian beki friend) about such issues regarding sexual orientation and gender identity or SOGI, we could very well distinguish if something is being literal or being symbolic, like what Sontag said. But if the film is not being camp, it surely will be taken on a mere literal level in the sense that the message people (who are not attuned to the issues and concerns surrounding the LGBTQ community) will get is this: “See? [Parlor swishy] gays are doomed to die and become zombies because they’re a menace to society, so it’s good that this cursed-to-be-gay straight boy is being rescued by the girl of his dreams and his friends and family so he won’t be gay.” Of course I’m kidding about the being zombies part but what the hey, let’s just thrown it in na rin! For more!
Oh man. I don’t even know why this film was made the way it was made, given that I know the history of the producers and such, their backgrounds but most of all their own SOGI. Well yeah, I know, not all women are feminists and not all LGBTQs fight for equal rights but what they hey, they should have known better than to produce a film that not only reinforces general stereotypes about Filipino gays but also propagate such negative images of gays and gay behavior. And I haven’t even forgiven them for writing in the term “third sex” in the script, as uttered by one character. Yes, read about that specific rant here in my other article.
So is the film totally hopeless? I’d like to say so, but it really has its moments and it’s ironic that its moments are highlighted by non-gay scenes. It’s just purely hilarious whevener Eugene Domingo appears in the film as the grieving mother in rollerblades of the girl of Remington’s dreams. And I also like the way the latest gay lingo is incorporated there and propagated. Hey, I lurv the lingo! Read my articles about it here and here.
Hay naku. Anyway, there are still a gazillion things to say about this film but perhaps I will reserve my other thoughts for another time. For now, just relax and enjoy a movie — another movie, not this one. And if ever they do take the title seriously, perhaps Zombadings 2 could be a better fare.
Taray lang ng lola mo.