I can’t get the film Tangerine out of my head. I woke up in the middle of the night further breaking down its plot line, its message, its purpose.

The film follows two male-to-female transgender women. The characters, you can feel it (it’s made quite clear in the dialogue and action) live in this world of others’ constant questioning–of constantly having to prove their gender performance. Are they overdoing it? Is this them? What is our gender norm? What is our basis for comparison? At the conclusion of the film though, the characters are stripped of the defining piece of their “female” performance, and we’re left with the same individuals. Their performance, to anyone questioning, is intact. Their true nature shines through, complete and as authentic at the end of the film as it was from the opening scene.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the performance of all the characters. Gender and otherwise. The meta of the film that yes, these are actors playing parts, but also their parts are playing parts. I couldn’t stop thinking about the juxtaposition of these “normal” cisgender performing characters with the title characters. Thinking about how we, some of us, are always performing every moment of every day.

What if you were in constant performance? Had to be? What if you’re performing and unaware of your performance? What if you weren’t in fact performing, but people assume otherwise? Isn’t gender, sexuality, human-ness in fact–in some aspect, always a performance?

It’s easy to manipulate you over social media because I know what performance is popular.

Aren’t we drawn to artificial intelligence because we don’t have to question those intentions–but instead can admire its performance? Can lose ourselves in it?

Isn’t that what draws us into any creature we deem “less than”: babies, old people, animals? The seeming authenticity inherent in the simplicity of their characters…


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