(a “stop judging by outward appearances!” [John 7:24] film review by Timothy J. Verret)
Even though I had seen BOYS DON’T CRY many times before, I felt so compelled to watch it again after witnessing a Facebook post, wherein the religious (and I use that term loosely) one posted this picture of men wearing women’s clothes at a model runway show:
The religious one who posted this picture used the Bible verse, “A woman must not put on the clothing of a man, nor should a man wear the clothing of a woman. For anyone doing so is detestable to Jehovah your God” (Deuteronomy 22:5), to give her judgment some Biblical clout. The problem wasn’t the Biblical clout; it was that this religious one who posted this picture felt the need to judge anyone in the first place. I was appropriately (and, yes, religiously) outraged, and this religious one (me) replied, “Jesus said, ‘Stop judging by outward appearances!’ (John 7:24). Jesus was always calling out the Pharisees because they were all about outward appearances, because their ‘inner appearances’ were that they had darkened and judgmental hearts. We need to stop judging others by their outward appearances, because it’s the ‘inner appearances’ for which we will be judged for in the end by the Only Judge and Jury, God through His Son Jesus Christ. Furthermore, we can’t know someone’s ‘inner appearances’ unless we have outwardly walked in their shoes….or high heels, for that matter!” 😉 Yes, all of this to say that this is the reason why I watched BOYS DON’T CRY again and why I want to review it, for this film is about this very thing of judging others by their outward appearances!
BOYS DON’T CRY, directed by Kimberly Peirce, is a film based on a true story of a girl named Teena Brandon who wanted to be a boy, Brandon Teena, until a judging world vaginally and anally raped her and then killed her. Hilary Swank plays Teena Brandon/Brandon Teena, and she won a well-deserved Best Actress Oscar for her riveting performance. Swank’s performance is so good that the entire film comes across like we are watching a documentary. And it is a documentary because what happens in this film is exactly what happened that made a whole nation of “stop judging by outward appearances!” others very angry. Chloë Sevigny plays Lana, Brandon’s love interest, and her performance is equally riveting and impressive. The film needed to have a girl’s voice for a director such as Pierce to give Swank’s Brandon a boy’s voice that shouts out, “Be who you are! Don’t be who they want you to be, because they don’t even know who they are or who they want to be!!!!”
It wasn’t only the “boys” in BOYS DON’T CRY who didn’t cry when they vaginally and anally raped and then killed Brandon. It was the “girls,” too. It was all those who judged by outward appearances and wouldn’t let a girl just be a boy because that is just what she wanted and needed to be. I would love to say something like this only happens in the movies but, once again, this film is based on a true story and even if it wasn’t based on a true story, something like this happens a lot more than we think in this world of judging outward appearances. And the fact that this world would call it a “religious right” to judge others by outward appearances makes what happened in this film and what happens in this world even more deplorable and downright dangerous. Any religion that talks about hate and would not cry while it vaginally and anally rapes and then kills anyone for being different is no religion I want any association with in any way, shape or form. And it pains me to say that, because I know what religion should be: It should be about Jesus and “stop judging my outward appearances!” and instead start loving others for their ‘inner appearances.’ Sadly (and mostly), this is NOT what religion is about.
The scene where Brandon is vaginally and anally raped and then killed is hard to take. We, as viewers, have watched Brandon shine and find love in someone like Lana who did NOT judge by outward appearances, only to watch Brandon’s “boy light” and Teena’s “girl light” (BOTH!) be distinguished forever. I was very sad and very angry to watch Brandon tell the authorities after he was raped, “I have a sexual identity crisis,” only to have the authorities ask her in response to this, “Why do you go hanging out with guys, you being a girl yourself? Why do you go around kissing every girl?” Hello??!! Authorities, who made you judge and jury for anyone who goes hanging out with anyone they choose, who goes around kissing anyone they choose? I’m sorry, I thought this was the “land of the free?” Land that is “free,” as in free to go hanging out with anyone you choose, free to go around kissing anyone you choose? I’ll be damned if any authorities (or religious ones, like the one who posted the above picture) are going to tell me who I choose to go hanging out with, who I choose to go around kissing. Maybe those authorities and religious ones are afraid to accept that Jesus was absolutely “religious right” when He told the Pharisees (and us) to “stop judging by outward appearances!” And, more to the gaveled point, “stop judging!….period!”
I apologize that I did not do the usual, run-of-the-mill “film review” here with BOYS DON’T CRY, as far as “judging” the film on its elements of filmmaking. I did not want to go that route. The route I wanted to go is that it really did take someone like me to write a film review like this, because all my life I have been judged by my outward appearances. I’ve even judged myself by my outward appearances and still sometimes do. Thanks to a film like this, I’m reminded I can follow Jesus and tell the whole world (or anyone reading this right now) to “stop judging by outward appearances! Stop judging anyone on their outward appearances, because it’s only their ‘inner appearances’ that truly matter. You who judge may be a lot of things (and I hope you are), but one thing you are NOT is judge and jury. We already have a Judge and Jury, and that IS God through His Son, Jesus Christ!”
NOTE: If I came across as “judgy wudgy” in this film review, that was NOT my intention. I just wanted to come across as accepting and loving me and you for our ‘inner appearances’ and NOT our outward appearances! 😉