Some people make the argument to “keep politics out of movies”, yet you shared a Mao Zedong quote on your Twitter, describing how all art is inherently political. Could you talk about bringing that perspective into the way you see movies, and how you challenge your own political views with the types of films you choose to watch?
Becoming class-conscious—and that’s an ongoing journey—is really the most profound experience of my life, aside perhaps from transitioning. Once you see that class struggle is at the heart of everything, once you understand who the enemy is and what has to be done, so many things just fall into place. Even before I was class conscious, though, I was viewing films through a political, social and eventually feminist lens.
I have no training in writing about film. I took a few film classes in college, but not much. I am not a professional and don’t pretend to be, or want to be. I began writing about film as a coping mechanism and a hobby, and part of that was figuring out what I wanted to say. I realized at some point that I needed to listen to my feelings while watching, examine them and write about that. This helped me understand myself better, too.
As I became more class-conscious and began to study and practice Marxism-Leninism, my political writing and point of view evolved. Getting involved in political organizing changed things even more for me. There are so many reviews I wrote even three years ago I would write differently now. Part of that comes from having a Leninist understanding of the state, and part of that is feeling compelled to be better at sharing my understanding of socialism, which I know to be the path to liberation.
There’s an argument that a single film doesn’t really have that much of a political impact. That’s a little debatable, but certainly there are films that are too obscure to matter in the grand scheme of things. I still think it’s important to analyze them on a political basis, because they are part of a bigger picture. Just one bad example of trans representation isn’t going to convince the masses one way or another about trans people. But hundreds of representations, most of them negative, in film, television, art, culture, religion, etc. adds up. It’s what we call the “ideological superstructure” of the capitalist state. It’s how the capitalists indoctrinate us, divide us, control us.
The state isn’t just the government; the state is a tool of the capitalist, of the class, not of the politicians who ostensibly run things. Understanding that means understanding that Hollywood films and major film distributors and festivals are all part of the state and the ideological superstructure. You can’t ignore their role in a broader political context, even if the directors or writers of the film never thought of it that way.