Prep papers Pariah

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6 thoughts on “Prep papers Pariah

  1. This story “Pariah” written by Dee Rees, Ms. Rees, her all of her characters are based on being gay straight and questioning. All her characters are poor and middle-class, and there from two parent nuclear families and they are basically raising themselves. Dee Rees was recently named breakthrough director of the year at the Gotham Awards; she is a slight, boyish 34-year-old with a shy demeanor. She said “Most importantly, they are characters, real; black characters in fraught, complex relationships– something we haven’t seen on mainstream screens in a long time”. David J. Leonard said Pariah has created significant buzz amongst critics, cultural commentators, and the world of social networking. Ms. Rees wanted to have a little culture in her movies she stated use African-American, as opposed to black, very specifically in describing the drama at the heart of “Pariah,” since African-American means descendants of African slaves brought to America. Black, however, casts a wider net in dealing with works that depict the lives of people from the entire African diaspora.

    This alone gives a new generation of black lesbian filmmakers, such as Tiona McClodden, director of the 2008 documentary Black/Womyn: Conversations with Lesbians of African Descent, reason to be excited. “After Pariah,” McClodden said in an interview, “it might be a little easier for more of these types of film to be made. I hope it gets even more recognition and award nominations. So far there hasn’t been a show of something that has been commercially successful in this genre, so this is why Pariah is so important.”(David Leonard)
    “Giving voice to the hegemonic ally erased experiences of the black middle-class, black female youth, and black lesbians, Pariah refuses the trap of the politics of invisibility. It refuses to reduce identity to simple signifiers, yet its deployment of hair politics, its use of the landscape of Brooklyn, its representation of spoken word artistry elucidate the powerful way that black identity matters”.
    “The two worlds that ‘Pariah’ visits might as well be parallel universes, although they are within blocks of each other,” writes Stephen Holden in his New York Times review. “
    Did she make the characters reflecting her image?
    Is Ms. Rees gay?
    How would this movie relate to all of the other movies?

  2. Pariah is a story of identity and the complexity that comes with it when dealing with family and friends.The films cast is made up of poor and middle class black characters who are dealing with gender issues which is not seen in the mainstream media. Pariah also deals gender expressions. It provides a look into the lives of queer women and the social discomfort they feel when dealing with black gender roles. I am interested in seeing how the film expresses black masculinity and femininity, and how it transitions the queer women from the traditional feminine to masculine gender.

    “She is black and queer and a woman”
    “This hip hop identification is Laura’s male protective armor”
    “Replacing her fitted baseball cap with girlish baby door-knocked earrings”
    “I’m not like gay gay I am just doing my thing”
    “not just a slice of black queer life, but an in your face story”
    “Pariah gives voice to the difficulty of coming out”

    Why are lesbians more likely to “tinker with masculine gender expressions”?
    Why put on a show? Why not remain representing masculine traits. Why the need to revert back to feminine in the film.
    Why is it that some parents force their queer children to remain in their gender by wearing either feminine or masculine clothes? Do they think that this will hide the fact that they are queer? Is it a form of denial? like out of sight out of mind?

  3. Dominique Williams


    While looking at the articles for todays film, I noticed that this film is not like the others that we have watched. This movie seems like it is more along the line of some ones sexuality influencing yours because you hang around with them a lot. This girl, Alike, is influenced by her friend Laura into being a lesbian. We all know that being gay, lesbian, bisexual, etc. is frowned upon in todays society. Her mother tries to force her into wearing feminine clothe and tries to influence her into liking men instead on women. Alike is young and I don’t think that she fully knows if she wants to be straight or lesbian. Alike goes through some problems when her and Bina have a sexual encounter and Alike is told that their will be no relationship. Alike gets attacked by her mother when she comes out to her parents about her being a lesbian. Alike decides to run away to California and start college early. This shows that when parents don’t try to understand what their child is going threw then the only other option for a young, confused adult is to run away. Alike says that she is choosing to run away and I think this is due to the lack of parental support and that she just needs to find out who she is.

    1. “And this is what’s so great about Pariah. It complicates black identity not through decontextualized “slices of life” or formulaic “coming-of-age” structures, but through a real, live narrative and characters that are as conflicted as they are complex. To say that “race is not an issue” in Pariah, as one review does, is, of course, a soaring overstatement. But Pariah invites us to think about intricacies of identity that commercial film usually disappears when characters are black. Here, blackness is at play because sexuality, class, and gender are at play”
    2. “The film resists binaries vehemently, insisting on presenting not just a “slice” of black queer life, but an in-your-face story from a black social world where accepted ideas about gender, sexuality and intimacy don’t hold”
    3. “Focusing on sexual exploration, her relationship with friends, and her sense of identity, Pariah is really a story of Alike coming out as a lesbian to her family.”

    1. In the movie, does a white person, know that Alike is a lesbian? and how do they react?
    2. Why does the mother react so harsh to her daughter dressing that way?
    3. Did something traumatic happen in Alike’s childhood that made her like women?
    4. In her community, is the majority of people living their black and how do they look at Alike when they see her walk around like a guy?
    5. Is their a way that Alike could have came out to her parents?

  4. As I read this article for Thursday’s film, I noticed that it’s a little different from the other films that dealt with race, and the community lifestyle. This film seems to be a lot more about sexuality and the influence that it has on people. A lot of people that are gay, lesbian or even bisexual tend to hide it from others because people are hard on those types of situations. In the Film you can see that Alike is influenced hard by Laura. Laura is working hard into trying to convince Alike to become lesbian; she’s giving her all she has. As you see Alike mother is not accepting that at all, she’s trying to convince her daughter into liking men and not women. When Alike decide to come out to her parents, her mother goes after her and Alike felt that was too much. So Alike decides to leave home. Alike didn’t have any support from her parents so she felt that it was best for her to get away from all her problems.

    “Take Alike’s relationship with her best friend, Laura. More club hopper than bookworm, Laura’s living a hard scrabble life with an older sister after being disowned by her mother”.
    “These aren’t happy-go-lucky tales of gay assimilation. They aren’t the cute, openly gay assistant on a TV sitcom, or the mischievous, two-timing boyfriend vilified by Oprah Winfrey”.
    “I use African-American, as opposed to black, very specifically in describing the drama at the heart of “Pariah,” since African-American means descendants of African slaves brought to America”.

    Questions: In the film, how do other people around Alike acts towards her since she’s a lesbian?
    When did Alike realize that she liked Women and not men?
    Why didn’t her mother help her instead of being so hard on her?

  5. Kyle Sittig

    Pariah, from what I have gathered, is a coming of age story, involving a young, black, lesbian. Jamilah King’s comment about the film turning homosexuality into something “ordinary” stood out to me. A less subtle filmmaker might make the mistake of focusing so much on the surface aspects of being a lesbian. Instead, as a lesbian herself, she knows that this is one of many things a teen might be facing while she ages. It seems like the film will be dealing more with things every girl goes through, whereas Brother to Brother was a lot more focused on black/gay identity.
    After watching Brother to Brother, I am really curious to see how the feminine aspect of the film is handled. Being a lesbian is a lot different of a struggle than being gay, since the societal expectations that we put on women are entirely different than the ones we put on men. Also, Pariah deals with a younger woman, so it will be interesting to see how that plays into it.
    One of the articles mentions that the protagonist is a poet in Pariah. I continue to pay attention to why the main characters of these films tend to be so artistic. Pariah and Brother to Brother’s protagonists both seem to be looking for answers in art.

    “And this is what’s so great about Pariah. It complicates black identity not through decontextualized “slices of life” or formulaic “coming-of-age” structures, but through a real, live narrative and characters that are as conflicted as they are complex.” – Mecca Sullivan
    “This unapologetic humanity is Pariah’s greatest accomplishment. The film resists binaries vehemently, insisting on presenting not just a “slice” of black queer life…” – Mecca Sullivan
    “Moments like these help bring home one of the Rees’s biggest achievements with the critically acclaimed film: turning what was once taboo (openly gay teens) into something that’s painfully ordinary (kids struggling to fit in).” – Jamilah King
    “The film hinges on the belief that there’s no one way to be young, or black, or queer.” – Jamilah King

    How does masculinity factor into Pariah and Brother to Brother? How does masculinity play out differently between a lesbian and a gay man?
    What are the different meanings of “doing your thing,” as it seems to be the catchphrase of Pariah? How does this blend aspects of lesbianism with the struggles of youth?
    Where does this stereotype that African-Americans have a “gay problem” stem from? Is it addressed in Pariah and Brother to Brother?

  6. Pariah is another “coming of age” film that focuses on the black lesbian community in New York. This story follows Alike, a young woman who is struggling with her sexual identity. In addition to being black, Alike is also a lesbian. But this is merely seen as being a “tomboy” by her parents. Alike’s mother makes it clear that she does not support homosexuality and does a number of things to try and change Alike. This begins with buying her a frilly purple top that Alike is supposed to wear to church but chooses not to because she hates the shirt. It seems the only ally that Alike has is her friend Laura, a very masculine lesbian woman who has been ostracized by her mother for her sexual identity. This film not only addresses diverse sexualities but also the role of gender within sexualities. Alike struggles with her masculinity throughout the movie, as well as developing her sexual identity. This can be seen when she plays with the idea of wearing a strap-on to the club with her friends. Ultimately she decides to ditch the strap-on (which was white…) and continue on without it. The role of Alike’s father is very important because while not necessarily understanding Alike’s sexuality, he becomes an ally even when her mother clearly does not approve. Alike’s mother displays multiple variations of homophobia, whether it be embedded in her race or religious affiliation. In the end, Alike is able to make her own decision about where she is going to college with the support of her father. Her mother refuses to say “I love you” to Alike and informs her that she will be praying for her. Alike is not running, but rather choosing to leave.
    “But Pariah is more than all this. It’s a story that resists filmic genres, primary “issues,” and gender binaries alike. Rees’s characters are queer and straight and questioning. They are poor and middle-class, from two-parent nuclear families and raising themselves. They slide along gender spectrums unexpectedly and in their own time. Most importantly, they are characters, real, black characters in fraught, complex relationships– something we haven’t seen on mainstream screens in a long time.”
    “What’s special about “Pariah” is that it, for the most part, successfully tells many stories at once. Alike’s struggle to live openly with her family is the most prominent. But there’s also her socially isolated mother and her bitter, but protective father. And there are the stories that turn on the underreported brutality hundreds of thousands of queer youth of color face each year.”
    Why is it important to acknowledge that there are multiple stories being told throughout the film Pariah? What intersections can be made from viewing this film?
    Why does Alike’s father decide to become an ally rather than an enemy? Do you think this is possible for all families who have someone identify as LGBTQ?

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