Hedwig and the Angry Inch: A love story that broke taboos


The film was unmistakably ahead of its time and able to make distinctions between gender, sexuality, and drag in a way that the mainstream culture is only catching up with. For Yassine Senghor, a specialist in LGBT diversity and inclusion, Hedwig’s power lies in the way he exploits the difficulty of defining himself when no label is appropriate. “The movie doesn’t necessarily specifically describe what the trip is like for everyone, it’s very personal for Hedwig, but I think it highlights that confusion when you’re in a space where there isn’t necessarily language to define you. ” This is different from the drag performed by Hedwig, but Senghor believes that the power of the drag is also in the foreground. “This highlights that drag is not necessarily an exploration of identity but has the power to subvert gender ideas, make fun of them and challenge the status quo.”

Changing identities

Of course, as times change and the world progresses, gender drag and nonconformity has become much more accepted; but certain elements of Hedwig have become more controversial. Lillian Crawford, a cultural writer whose Listen to Lillian podcast and newsletter explores representations of the genre in British films, watched the film recently and although she found a lot to admire (“the songs are so good!”) , other elements were less comfortable. “There’s this ominous almost fetishization of her body by the GI who finds her and also her mother, which sort of subscribes to the thesis that trans people are only trans because their parents wanted them to be. of a different kind at their birth. Trans representation before and since [the film] focused on some sort of traumatic event that makes you trans. (The film implies that Hedwig was abused by their father as a child.)

But for its creators, Hedwig is not a trans story. “I can almost certainly say that we never used the word trans when writing,” says Trask. We were telling a person’s story and we were interested in dualities in general and gender duality was one of them, but that was just part of what made Hedwig. forced into the operation and when, later in the film, Hedwig sings Wig in a Box, they are reinforced by female expression, but the film ends on Midnight Radio where Hedwig finds strength and self-acceptance in removing all the artifices. is withdrawn at the end, ”Mitchell says. “The character is now naked saying, ‘OK, it’s me, call me whatever you want… Meet my type, I won’t be tagged anymore”. has aged, he adds: “In terms of genre, things have definitely changed for the better. I’ve never really been a person on the label, but I know it’s very important when you’re young. It was very important for me to go out, it is very important to say what you are and then as you get older you forget what you are. You barely remember your phone number, but you are sometimes reminded that these categories are important to people. “

When Trask was writing Hedwig, he wanted to explore the genre binary fallacy. “When I was writing Tear Me Down I was very interested in using the Berlin Wall metaphor. The song names these different binary dualities as male / female, up / down, slavery / freedom, communist / capitalist. In the post-wall period, there was this real research among countries that could no longer define themselves as aligned with Russia or aligned with the US Who are we without this wall? There’s not much difference between a bridge and a wall, they are both human constructions. The Berlin Wall was the same way gender is – the division between men and women and what that means for who people are as persons is a human construction. We are taught to believe that gender is immutable but it can go downhill. “


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