'Sierra Burgess Is a Loser' Is Being Slammed For Transphobia and Homophobia
10 September 2018, 14:09 | Updated: 19 November 2018, 14:41
This is not on...
It's no secret that there was a lot of hype for Sierra Burgess Is a Loser when Netflix put it out last Friday. Not only does it star the incredible Shannon Purser as Sierra (Barb from Stranger Things, Ethel from Riverdale) but it also features Noah Centineo as her love interest, Jamey (yes Noah Centineo as in Peter K from To All the Boys I've Loved Before). Not to mention, it also has an amazing curated soundtrack.
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However, reception to the film so far has been mixed. While critics and viewers are praising the cast (Shannon, Noah and the other two leads, Kristen Froseth and RJ Cyler, all shine), people aren't responding so well to the plot. Some find the fact that it's a love story based around catfishing to be problematic, while others are taking issue with the 'jokes' in the film. One scene in particular is being called out for being transphobic.
Mere minutes into the movie, one of the main characters makes an offensive trans 'joke'. Mackenzie (Alice Lee) is one of the mean girls who bullies Sierra and, during school, she pokes fun at trans people after Mrs. Thompson (Loretta Devine) sets her class an assignment. Mackenzie suggests that Sierra can make hers "about [her] trans experience, super topical". It should go without saying that this isn't okay.
Of course the 'joke' isn't presented in a good light but Mackenzie isn't really reprimanded for it and there are ways to show that someone is a nasty character without resorting to transphobia. Trans people are regularly subject to prejudice and it's not right to use them to illustrate points in films, particularly when they're not even included in the films in question in the first place.
On top of that, Sierra regularly makes problematic references to being considered a lesbian (as though being thought of as a lesbian is an insult). Unsurprisingly, the internet is not impressed. Here are just a few of the reactions.
Some are disappointed because they were really excited about the film.
im genuinely so disappointed about sierra burgess is a loser. we all hyped it up thinking it was gonna be a beautiful representation & self confidence movie and it turned out to be a transphobic, homophobic and making fun of serious disorders mess.— andrea was suchfinn (@farradaycurtis) September 7, 2018
It showed so much promise.
Others think that the problematic 'jokes' really tarnish the movie.
SIERRA BURGESS IS A LOSER: Shannon Purser tries very hard to make this as genuinely felt as TO ALL THE BOYS, & she almost succeeds. It’s instead fitfully charming but over-plotted & cliché, & dotted with odd, mostly unchallenged trans/gay jokes? Also: catfishing is bad actually— Laurence "Laura Dern" Barber (@bortlb) September 7, 2018
Not even Shannon Purser can make up for them.
Plus they're not the only thing that's wrong with the film.
sierra burgess is a loser disappointed me. transphobic & homophobic jokes, catfishing and faking a disability is suddenly "ok". just because you've got a hard time fitting in doesn't mean being a straight up dick is fine and consent is not a thing anymore. would not recommend— faria 🌻 (@coolfariaX2) September 7, 2018
All of these things were messy.
A couple of fans believe that the actors in the film deserved more.
sierra burgess is a loser was terrible written and had transphobic & homophobic jokes, as well as faking being deaf, & an unconsented kiss. the actors are all incredible but the plot sucked and the characters had potential but the writing ruined it.— 𝕒𝕪𝕒 (@cvntineos) September 9, 2018
They are all so talented. This is such a wasted opportunity.
Perhaps worst of all, the film's writer Lindsey Beer has conversed with a trans writer behind the scenes but not publicly apologised to the trans people that she has offended.
It's important that she acknowledges this publicly so that cis people who watch the film are aware of what kind of effect these 'jokes' have.
And now people are actively boycotting the film because of this.
Mkay nevermind, fuck the Sierra Burgess movie. For anyone who wasn’t told like i was, the movie has a bunch of trans jokes and the writer is making excuses.— mason | Preorder My Book 'I Wish You All the Best' (@masondeaver) September 7, 2018
So fuck it ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
This is understandable.
As it stands Lindsey Beer and the cast are yet to publicly respond to the backlash.
We shall keep you informed if there are any updates.