Monday, May 13, 2013

"Do Ask, Do Tell: The Movie": documentary about the now repealed military DADT policy; and 3 short comic films about "Reid-ing"


I found a 52-minute documentary film on YouTube by “Ali Sue” titled “Do Ask Do Tell: The Movie”, apparently posted in early 2012. 

The film comprises a large number of short interview clips by servicemembers affected by the now repealed (as of Sept, 20, 2011) “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy regarding homosexuals in the military. There is also some mention of DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and Proposition 8 in California, but the majority of the film deals with the military gay ban.
  
The opening of the film, which seems to have been made by members of GLOBE, a group of gay federal employees, has a disclaimer that it does not represent DOD views.  Then it goes into the idea that “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” and DOMA are both forms of “legalized hate crime”.
  
There is a long list of speakers.  These include the following list: Vicki Wagmer. Kaiden. Montanta from GLOBE, Kris Longacher, Dan Choi, Ben Gomez, Joseph Roca, Dr. Madison Shockley, Fred Karger, Will Rodriquez Kennedy, Evnlyn Thomas,  and retired USMC General Brahms. 
  
Some of the individual stories are harrowing. Vicki Wagner enlisted in the Air Force in 1989, when the military formally “asked”, and was investigated after being seen “kissing” a woman. She had held one of the highest top secret security clearances in the nation, as was threatened with five years in prison because she had the clearance.  (This sounds legally wrong, even then).  Dan Choi, a West Point graduate, was known for his White House protest.  Evelyn Thomas speaks of being “asked” (this may have been before 1993), and signing an oath at enlistment that she was not homosexual or lesbian.  Roca spoke of being harassed on ship for having been seen in gay bars (maybe by the Shore Patrol – they used to be “off limits” in many coastal communities) and possessing gay literature. Kaiden Montana says that he is the cousin of Allen Schindler, the sailor who was murdered by his own unit in 1992 in Japan, an event which became the subject of the TV movie “Any Mother’s Son”.
  
The very end of the film takes place on the official day of repeal of DADT, when Gen. Brahms speaks.

Much of the interviewing seems to be filmed in San Diego.  The stereo effect of the wind in the outdoor speech scenes is remarkable when played back on a large laptop. I attended the Outserve-SLDN (Servicemembers Legal Defense Network) party in Washington DC on K Street, Sept. 20, 2011 (an hour wait to get in), but this film seems to be shot at a similar party in San Diego or Los Angeles.  

  
The notes on YouTube give a link to President Clinton’s Executive Order protecting gay federal employees.
   
I don’t see this film on Netflix.  The film certain hits hard (particularly the interviews in the middle of the film). I think it ought to have a commercial presence, and be shown in a festival and available on Netflix. I would have paid a rental (like $3.99) to watch it on YouTube had it not been free.
  
Let me say, for anyone who doesn’t know me and finds this review, that I am the author of the two “Do Ask Do Tell” books on iUniverse (check Amazon, or the Books blog June 5, 2010).  They are subtitled "A Gay Conservative Lashes Back" and "When Liberty Is Stressed".  The first book gives my own history with the military, actually starting with my expulsion from a civilian college in 1961 (William and Mary) but getting myself drafted and serving in the military anyway in 1968-1970. 
  
I am planning to make a documentary film video about these materials (about one hour).  And I have several “narrative screenplay” manuscripts based on this material.  The most important presents three layers of  “reality” in “Inception-like” fashion.  Details are for another time, but I do want to point out that I may use the title “Do Ask Do Tell” in the films, just as in the books.

Let me add that, as far as I know, as a legal matter, it is not a problem for the same films (or the same books) to have the same or similar names;  it happens on imdb all the time.  (The only time it is a problem occurs when there is a trademarked franchise, like “Star Wars”). 

As matters develop, I would be interested in helping the filmmaker screen this video in festival or commercial settings, as I am able given my time and resources.  (Check my blogger profile for contact, or the “doaskdotell.com” contact page, or email at “JBoushka at aol dot com” or handle JBoushka on Twitter or “John W. Boushka” on Facebook or Linkedin.).
  
As if all this were not enough for today, I have a trio of “short films” to recommend today, easily found on YouTube.  They're "free", and that matters.  These items are the three “Reid.ing” films (“01”, “etc) about "free-ness" by Reid Ewing (who plays “Dylan” on “Modern Family”), each about seven minutes.  Film "01” is called “It’s Free”; he visits a public library in order to make fun of the need for people to get free stuff (remember, Hollywood is sensitive about piracy, so it’s a good subject for satire and fun – but It’s also a money issue for young actors and filmmakers and songwriters).  I particularly like the metaphor he makes from the children's book "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie," leveraging the content to make a comment about why some low income kids are exposed to violence from parents.  In “02” called “Free Fish”  (it reminds me of the Miami Marlins MLB baseball team)  he visits an aquarium (and makes some funny remarks about coelenterates and sea horses, among other critters), and in “03” (“I’m Free”) he visits and LA Superior Courthouse, presumably for a traffic fine, and shows what happens when people get tickets.  I don’t know how he got cameras into the courthouse to film, but maybe the county wanted the public to know how the system works.  All three videos are presented in “moockumentary” style familiar to fans of “Modern Family”.  I wonder it this acting style would work if Reid got to host SNL or some late night show,  He has other funny music videos (beside the famous “In the Moonlight”, like “Traffic Jam” (on the 405 or maybe the 210, see his own comments here)  and even “Imagine Me Naked”(where the egotism really works -- when you're only 23 -- imagine this song on Karaoke in bars, but I don't see any of Reid's work listed on Karaoke).  (For "Inner Child", see Oct. 8, 2012, near end of post.) All are “satirical”, particularly about being a young adult, just out of the nest, living "free" in LA.  Is this "libertarian"? .He calls his production company “Igigistudios” and his own persona character “Reid Rainbow”.  Oh, by the way, "cuddle" and "cuttlefish" (film "02") make a  "wild card: rhyme if you notice the spelling. (Note also -- "Traffic Jam" seems prescient given GOP NJ  Gov. Chris Christie's traffic jam scandal in 2013. Art cam sink politicians.)

                                                                                                                                                 
Is the third film ("I'm Free") self-defamation"? No one would react to it that way, but that's how one my own screenplays ("The Sub") was perceived by a school district where I did sub because the character in the screenplay resembled me too much (same nickname) and gives in to temptation.  Details are on my main blog, July 27, 2007.  The possibility of enticement or imitation may be more relevant in my case, no matter how remote.  An example of this issue in a commercial feature is Todd Verow's 1999 film "Frisk" from Strand.


Note (July, 2013): the videos appear to have been moved to the "Igigi" site (now no longer available -- still checking into this). There are some new short films at this site which would deserve attention in a future review post.  I think he lives pretty close to Strand Releasing's offices (not far from where I stayed myself last time in LA, on the notorious 405).  I hope these two parties meet.   

Note: (Feb. 27, 2014): In announcing his "My Brother's Keeper" initiative, President Obama seemed to almost quote Reid's comment near the end of the first film that "upper class kids don't have parents around to hit them like lower class kids do."

Update: Nov. 21, 2015:  Reid had an article about his personal experience as a teen with dysmorphia published in the Huffington Post Nov. 19, 2015, link here
   
Pictures:  December, 2007 Outserve-SLDN presentation on the Washington DC Mall;  LA 405 Freeway from the Angelino Hotel bar (near the Bel Air area), my  own visit, May 2012.  I ran into lots of traffic jams that week; the 405 was undergoing a lot of work.  

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