Response to The Crying Game
The first half of The Crying Game focuses on the development of the relationship between Fergus, a volunteer for the IRA, and Jody, the man he is helping hold hostage. Through their time together, Fergus learns about Jody’s past, especially about Jody’s girlfriend, Dil. Before Jody dies, he tells Fergus to find Dil and remind her that Jody is thinking of her before his time of death. The second half of the movie centers on the blooming of the romantic relationship between Fergus and Dil. What both Fergus and the movie viewers are unaware of is that Dil is in fact a transgender woman. While watching this movie unfold, I couldn’t help but notice how it continued to take away the legitimacy of Dil’s trans identity.
The first time Dil and Fergus try to sleep together is the first time we see Fergus in denial of Dil’s transsexuality. This is the scene that Dil’s transsexuality is supposed to be revealed to both Fergus and the movie audience. When Fergus sees Dil’s naked body, he immediately stops what he is doing and runs to the bathroom to vomit. It is unclear of whether he does this because he is disgusted, shocked, or both. This reaction almost establishes Dil as an antagonist, as she has “tricked” Fergus. This serves to legitimize Fergus’s reaction, and could in turn shape the audience’s reaction to be of the same essence. Fergus’s denial is evident when he abruptly leaves. Dil is willing to sit down and talk to Fergus about what had just happened, despite the fact that he had just accidentally hit her in the face and gave her a nose bleed. The way the filmmakers shaped Fergus’s reaction serves to demonstrate Dil’s identity as something threatening, and treats her male body parts as indicators of her “true” identity, which in turn delegitimizes her trans identity.
Another scene in which Dil’s trans identity is delegitimized is the scene in which Fergus cuts her hair. In the film, the reason for Fergus doing this is portrayed in two ways: the first being to disguise her from the people who are after her, and the second being to deconstruct her femininity. He reassures her to go through with this by saying things like, “I like you better this way” as if he likes her the way she “should” be. He also promises her that he will never leave her if she goes through with this transformation. This convinces her, and she goes through with it. This serves to put Fergus in charge of her identity, and also portrays her identity as something of an “act” that she can easily drop. This whole scene was uncomfortable to watch as the filmmakers demonstrated that her trans identity is falsifiable and can be something that is simply turned on and off.
Another way that Dil’s trans identity was denied is the way Dil and Fergus refer to each other. Throughout the film, Dil calls Fergus pet names like “hon” and “baby.” Fergus is fine with this until he becomes aware of Dil’s transsexuality. This demonstrates that Fergus is in denial that she is a woman, and does not want her to treat him in the same way as she did in the past. This is even prevalent at the end of the film, when Fergus is supposed to have accepted Dil the way she is. Even when he is in prison, and their friendship/romance is much more established despite his previous repulsion, he refuses to accept her pet names. Fergus’s denial of Dil’s femininity is also evident in the way that he refers to her. Even though he uses female pronouns for her, he still refuses to call her a woman. To his friends and colleagues, he tells them that she actually is not a girl. This serves to put him in an authority position, as if he is the one who decides her identity.
Even though the movie seems to establish Dil and Fergus’s relationship as stronger and maybe even romantic by the end, it fails to show Fergus accepting Dil for who she really is. The film attempts to explore trans identities and tries to explain them, but does a poor job of accepting them.