Rocky Horror Picture Show is one of those movies. One of those sacred, untouchable movies no one really wants to see remade.
Naturally, it’s getting remade.
When the initial announcement came that Fox had decided to remake The Rocky Horror Picture Show as a T.V. movie, I wasn’t initially opposed. After all – R.H.P.S. was adapted for the big screen from The Rocky Horror Show. By it’s very nature it is a stage show adapted to movie form. Theoretically, there is nothing wrong with a remake.
When it’s announced, however, that Dr. Frank N. Furter is going to be played by a transgendered woman? Then there’s a problem. There’s a big problem.
Two big problems, to be precise.
It was announced today that Laverne Cox, noted transgendered actress, was going to be playing the role of Dr. Frank N. Furter in Fox’s remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
It doesn’t seem like a problem from the outset. R.H.P.S. is a movie born of the sexual revolution, after all! Sexual liberation, freedom of expression and confusion as to ones gender identity are the sorts of things the play was created from. It was famously drawn from the sexually confused morass of creator Richard O’Brien’s younger years. O’Brien himself has stated himself to be somewhere between male and female in recent years.
When the news first hit of a transgendered actress taking on the role of Frankie, on paper it sounded fine.
Upon seeing a picture of Cox, it became clear – this actress is too much a woman to be Frankie.
The Character of Dr. Frank N. Furter is all about contrast. When he first turns around in the elevator, we see a wild-haired person in a long cape. We’re not certain what it is but when the character turns in front of his throne and tosses off that cloak, revealing what is obviously a man in women’s lingerie, the contrast is striking.
As far as I’m concerned, the entirety of the character of Frankie rests solely on that contrast.
Whereas Tim Curry and other Franks have been obviously larger men, who cannot be mistaken for a female, dressed in women’s clothing – kind of a representation of that confusion and mishmash – a mostly feminized transgendered woman playing Frankie makes the character less of a clash. Look at the person playing him, I really thought it was a biological woman at first.
They HAVE to butch this person up to play Frank, and for the disparity the character’s supposed to have to make you see that they’re different this person immediately doesn’t hit that mark.
Frank’s character is meant to be obviously masculine and obviously feminine. It’s to challenge gender norms and push boundaries as he seduces both Brad and Janet.
If we’re dealing with a transgendered actress with breast implants, we are for all societal purposes looking at a woman dressed in women’s lingerie. I’m sorry to say it, but that is a bastardization of the character of Dr. Frank N. Furter. It perverts and mutes the message of the original show. It is by its very existence less impactful.
The character cannot be a tranvestite in women’s underwear if he is someone who is socially identified as a she. Then it’s just a woman in her underwear.
How is that challenging or shocking at all?