Sunday, December 12, 2010

Remembering... Brandon Teena


It's a sad state of affairs that it must be thus, but there are some people who just shouldn't let trouble happen to them; justice just isn't for them - is 'just ice' in the words of Joni Mitchell - and when the heavy shit finally does go down too often those responsible for administering the necessary justice to make it right are to be found on the wrong side.

Still, Brandon Teena might have had a long uneventful life, could have left Nebraska and found his way to a place where shades of grey can exist outside of the shadows... Instead he found and started dating Lana Tisdel, through whom he met a pair of ex-convicts named John Lotter and Marvin 'Tom' Nissen - two men whose own insecurities would prove Teena's downfall.

Born anatomically female on this day in 1972, Brandon Teena nevertheless knew all his life that he was a boy; he was still on his way to becoming a man when he was exposed as female and viciously raped by Lotter and Nissen at a Christmas party in 1993. Following a visit to the local emergency room, where a rape kit was applied - and later 'lost' - Teena was re-offended during questioning by Sheriff Charles B. Laux.

Laux finally got around to questioning Lotter and Nissen a couple of days later, but declined to arrest them; on New Year's Eve they found Brandon at the home of his friend Lisa Lambert, broke in, and murdered him (along with Lambert herself and her sister's boyfriend Philip Devine). Although both villains were eventually arrested and convicted, being the weasels they are they're currently working the system for all it's worth.

So the law has given Brandon Teena no justice - was even responsible for his death - but the media has done its part to right the wrongs. First there was a well-received documentary film, The Brandon Teena Story by Kate Bornstein and JoAnn Brandon; this was followed by Kimberly Peirce's 1999 film Boys Don't Cry, which starred Hilary Swank in an Academy Award-winning performance as Brandon and Chloƫ Sevigny as Lana Tisdel. While hailed by critics, the film generated some controversy amongst the people it depicts; not only does the script play fast and loose with the facts surrounding Brandon's murder, the real Lana Tisdel later sued the filmmakers for what she felt was an inaccurate and unfair portrayal of her.
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