When I picked this film, Valentine Road, to see, I didn't read it very carefully, but words and phrases in the description, such as these:
- "a gender-variant youth of color"
- "was therefore at least partly to blame for his own murder"
- "an outrageous crime and an even more outrageous defense of it, but the film goes much deeper than mere outrage"
- "two victims of homophobia," and
- "a community’s response—sometimes inspirational and sometimes cruel—to a terrible tragedy"
I certainly found that in this documentary.
Synopsis: On February 12, 2008, 14-year-old Brandon McInerney shot classmate Larry King twice. King died of his wounds two days later.
King, a gender-variant youth of color, had liked to wear makeup and high heels to school, and had publicly announced a crush on McInerney. For this reason, some of McInerney’s defenders say the victim had embarrassed the shooter and was therefore at least partly to blame for his own murder. Valentine Road is about an outrageous crime and an even more outrageous defense of it, but the film goes much deeper than mere outrage.
It’s the story of two victims of homophobia. King was killed because of it, but McInerney’s life was horribly twisted by it as well. And it’s the story of a community’s response—sometimes inspirational and sometimes cruel—to a terrible tragedy.
My thoughts and observations on this film:
- I found this documentary absolutely riveting, mostly because it did a fantastic job of detailing the intricacies of this very complex case.
- While I certainly remember this incident in the news, I didn't realize until a good way into the film that it was the one that moved Ellen to make this statement on her show:
- This film made me think about the legal definition of sexual harassment, but for the first time in the context of gender variance, as well as in the context of age. And with regards to that, it hurt my brain at times—not unlike the first time I thought about sexual orientation in the context of a biological male who is transgender, but not homosexual—so although he wants to be a woman, he is sexually attracted to women, because he is a straight male. So, he transitions into a female and is still attracted to women, since he's not homosexual. But then, as a woman, still attracted to women, we want to call her homosexual, even though [his] sexual orientation didn't change.
- This film is a real education about the legal system, particularly the juvenile justice system.
- Beyond the legal complexities—of which there are many—explored in the film, there is a fascinating glimpse—from heartwarming to incredulous to infuriating—into people, and people of all kind—from judges to lawyers, to parents, to siblings, to classmates, to teachers, and to society, in general.
- This film reminded me of a typical NPR story, one in which perspectives are brought out that I most likely never would have considered from my worldview, if they weren't explored in the story.