Metro Weekly

The Butch Factor

Reel Affirmations 2009

Review by Tim Plant

Rating: starstar (2 out of 5)
Saturday, 10/24/2009, 3:00 PM
Feature presentation, $10 at Shakespeare Theatre’s Harman Center for the Arts

WHAT MAKES A gay man a ”real” man is the general question asked by Christopher Hines in his documentary The Butch Factor. Unfortunately, what could be an interesting look at gender roles in the gay community ultimately reveals nothing new. Given the profiles in the film, Hines presupposes that gay men aren’t ”supposed” to play sports, carry a gun, or ride bulls (personally, this last one seems like an obviously gay trait). So a series of guys saying how their love of these things made it more difficult to come out quickly becomes repetitive.

Barely balancing the sports guys, the police officers, and cowboys, are two femmes, two drag queens, and a transgender man to provide the other side of the spectrum. When the film finally focuses on the bear community, loosely defined as hirsute burly guys drinking beer, it seems like Hines was pointing the film in this direction the whole time.

Hines relies too heavily on stock footage from pride parades, lingering crotch shots, and poorly framed still photos. The same scenes are shown over and over again, to the point of distraction. A series of academics fill the gaps between profiles, but they add little depth or perception to the discussion. Some interesting points are raised — coming out in the African American community, being gay in law enforcement, differing notions of masculinity in other countries — but are brushed over too quickly. More focus and direction would have been a huge boost to The Butch Factor‘s interest factor.

The Brits love soccer… er, football. Brighton Bandits (), Ian McDonald’s profile of Brighton’s gay football team, is more a look at the players than the game, which actually makes this sports documentary interesting. No small feat in my anti-sports opinion.

McDonald balances tracking the players as both individuals and team members during their 2006-2007 season. In addition to coming out stories and musings on the purpose of the team, equally entertaining is watching the blokes smoke a cigarette during half-time or recline on a bed for the interview with a dog walking in front of the camera. There’s little pretense here, which makes the Bandits a team to cheer for. And if that’s not enough, there are locker room and shower scenes, too.

The Butch Factor
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