Marlon Riggs

Has anyone, besides me, heard of the wonderful filmmaker and poet Marlon Riggs?  I hadn’t until today, when I came upon his film, Tongues Untied, on ubuweb (which is an unbelievable source for films, sounds, essays and information on artists and the arts).

In this film, Marlon Riggs and his friends investigate their feelings surrounding the question of what it means to be black and gay in America.  Song, dance, monologue and candid performances seamlessly paint a pastiche of a black, gay experience between the 80’s and 90’s.  It was a mesmerizing and moving portrait, and although it was created from a point of view that is not my own, I felt deeply connected to it.

I was very excited to learn that this was a film aired publicly on PBS.  Does this kind of thing still happen today?  I have a feeling it doesn’t, especially since this film was slammed by right-winged conservatives.  Buchanan even used it in a campaign against George Bush Sr!  I wish films like this were still made public.  If this film isn’t being shown to document “fringe” experiences, what is?

Apparently I’m behind the times, since a friend told me that this film is canonical in queer theory.  I didn’t know about it, so even if you do, I thought it would be nice to share.  Enjoy!

Tongues Untied

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