20 thoughts on “The Danish Girl Gender Bends the 1920s

  1. I honestly have little patience with the fuss over who gets the role, casting goes to who has most potential. I find this almost as pathetic as the fact that some countries have banned the film for its subject. the costumes do look interesting though

    1. “casting goes to who has most potential”

      Sure it does. Just ask the people of color who continue to be snubbed by Hollywood.

      “I find this almost as pathetic as the fact that some countries have banned the film for its subject.”

      Finding people rightfully outraged by transphobic casting (“trans women are really men, so let’s cast a cis male actor as one of the most famous trans women in history!”) as “pathetic” as transphobic countries is… certainly your prerogative. But false equivalency and a broad indifference to history sure seem out of a place on a comment on a blog about historical accuracy.

      1. It’s pathetic because narrow-mindedness is always pathetic. If you say that only a transgender actor can play a transgender role, then by definition you’re also saying that that same transgender actor can only ever play transgender roles, and they can never take a role as a straight man, a gay woman, etc. It’s the same as saying that the only shakespearian role a black actor can have is Othello, never Macbeth.

        to act is to become something you’re not, to find sympathy, commonality, but to become other than oneself. acting is about becoming fluid, other, about letting the role and the director shape you into something new. So if you say that an actor can only play something they already are, then you’re saying they can’t act, and that you have no idea what acting actually is.

        1. “It’s pathetic because narrow-mindedness is always pathetic.”

          It’s interesting that you classify it as “narrow-mindedness” to make sure that trans actors, an overlooked marginalized group, get to play trans characters rather than a cisgender actor who has more options.

          “It’s the same as saying that the only shakespearian role a black actor can have is Othello, never Macbeth.”

          That’s blatant false equivalency, as you’re claiming that the whitewashing that takes place in Hollywood (and elsewhere in media) to deny Black actors and all actors of color opportunity is the same as saying that a marginalized character (in this case, a trans woman) should be played by a actor from the same marginalized group (in this case, a trans woman).

          “So if you say that an actor can only play something they already are, then you’re saying they can’t act, and that you have no idea what acting actually is.”

          You’re being deliberately obtuse about this and about casting as a whole. It’s less about the acting ability and more about casting and who is called upon to display that acting ability.
          Should a great, talented white actor get to play a Black role, particularly when it’s a famous Black person, like Martin Luther King jr, even if that actor is talented? Absolutely not. Because Black actors get few enough chances as it is. The same goes for trans actors, to say nothing of the fact a cisgender man is being cast as a trans woman (if they’re going to cast a cisgender person, why not at least a cisgender WOMAN? Oh right, because that doesn’t support the ignorant mindset that trans people aren’t ~really~ the gender they say they are, they’re whatever gender cis people call them).

          There are a great number of extremely talented trans actresses that have little enough opportunity and that deserve to have this role over Eddie Redmayne.

          1. Since for some reason it’s not letting me reply to your comment, I have to reply to my own.

            I was really stepping away from this because I try to keep my debates on particular forums (both online and otherwise) and enjoy Frock Flicks for lulz, reviews, and people that wonderfully nitpick historical accuracy in costuming as much as I do. However, the Frock Flicks team is smartly socially aware and sharp in their reviews (such as The Help and this one, for two examples that immediately spring to mind) in noting bigoted tropes, problematic casting, and other pieces of injustice. Given that that retelling of history is frequently a highly politicized affair (the series about why historical inaccuracies happen gets into some of this, particularly the failings of proper historical education), this is bound to happen and I’m really glad to see the authors on this site address it.

            “So these extremely talented trans actresses you mention- do they audition exclusively for trans roles?”

            Do Black actors audition exclusively for Black roles? Absolutely not, nor should they! Should a Black actors be the only ones considered for Black roles? Absolutely! Same principle applies here.

            I’m going to offer some reading that articulates better than I can why trans women should play trans women (and cis men shouldn’t):

            When Will Hollywood Let Trans Actors Play Trans Characters?

            The Danish Girl’s Intentions are Good — But Trans People Deserve Better

            While Heartfelt, “The Danish Girl” Recycles Tired Trans Tropes

            “The Danish Girl” Has An Emotional Hole at Its Heart.

            Shallow Progress: What “The Force Awakens” and “The Danish Girl” Have in Common

            White Cisman Hires Same to Play Trans Woman (Again)

          2. And you can’t see how your affirmative answer to my question reduces all your other arguments to the “because I say so, so there!” Of a spoilt toddler?

            Talent is no guarantee of success. There are plenty of talented actors of all flavours who never get thier big break, it’s just tough, it’s how the real world works and grown ups learn to cope. If these people of whom you speak really are as talented as you say they are did it occur to you that perhaps they’d rather get a job because of that talent rather than because of thier identification?

            Complaining about discrimination then demanding others be discriminated against just doesn’t do anyone any favours.

          3. Let’s see here… I’m presenting information, via perspectives from this group of marginalized people, including how this casting hurts their community.

            YOU’RE presenting false equivalencies and name-calling.

            Read the articles, because I know you haven’t.

          4. ADDENDUM:
            then demanding others be discriminated against

            Uh, was this about “discriminating” against cis actors by saying that trans characters should only be played by trans actors and that it’s really problematic to cast a cis man as a trans woman? THAT’S “discrimination” to you? Yeah, you didn’t read the articles I provided. Please do so and educate yourself.

          5. I’m actually trying to argue for true equality, which you can’t have if certain groups are excluded on the basis of gender/ race. Which is what you’re advocating by saying only a trans actor should be allowed to play a trans part, but that same actor can also play cis

            I assure you’ve i ve read the argument, but I’m capable of having my own mind.

            I don’t suppose you’ve read today’s article about the like of tatchel, Greer, and beard being banned from speaking in universities because neo liberal entitlement means people cannot bear a dissenting opinion to thier own. Tatchel equates it to Stalinism.

            Bored now

          6. “I’m actually trying to argue for true equality”

            No, you’re arguing for the reinforcement of privilege. “True equality” only comes when we recognize that not all groups have been or continue to be treated equally and take measures to correct that.

            “I assure you’ve i ve read the argument, but I’m capable of having my own mind.”

            Uh, given that I provided the links to six different articles, you haven’t read “the argument”, you would’ve read (if you’d read them) SIX arguments, seven if you count my own. Your “own mind” is capable of clinging to your prejudice and bigotry and preserving your own privilege and entitlement (“if marginalized groups get ‘special treatment’ because they’re so marginalized, what will become of these poor oppressed cis actors!!!”).

            “neo liberal entitlement means people cannot bear a dissenting opinion to thier own”

            Thanks for showing your hand. Hilarious that you pot the kettle black when it comes to “entitlement”.

            “Tatchel equates it to Stalinism.”

            Tatchel is apparently unaware that Stalin used to torture and murder people, but this is again the same sort of ridiculous false equivalency and persecution complex that you’ve displayed throughout what I’ll generously call this debate.

            Look, I can present you with the correct information and why what you’re saying is bigoted and transphobic, but I can’t force you to apply critical thinking.

            This has gone on far too long (damn my need to educate!), so let’s leave it here.

            If the last word is important to you, it is yours. Have a pleasant day.

          7. The quote you label me pot kettle black for was from the article, not from me. I thought you might have found the article interesting because they interviewed a lot of people who’ve done so much for feminism and gay rights etc than you or I ever will.

            And you can label me trans phobic for believing in equality if that’s what you need to do. ( you nothing about me) but to the day I die I will believe that all animals are equal. I will never believe that some animals are more equal than others( and nor do any of my friends in the lgbt community, possibly because they are all old, wise, and somewhat jaded)

            Nobody is such a special little snowflake that they deserve to get what they want handed to them on a plate

  2. This movie is on my list of things to see – for the subject matter but also for the fact that a friend of mine did some embroidery work on one of the pieces in the film – although I’m not sure if it made it into the final movie – his work is exquisite and he’s a fun guy on top of that as well – so I just want to give a little shout out to him: https://www.facebook.com/JoeMitchellEmbroideries

    And I have to completely agree about the green velvet ensemble – it’s like… to die for gorgeous.

  3. I just finished mainlining “The Pillars of the Earth” and now I want to do nothing but watch Eddie Redmayne forever in everything. Tom Hiddleston better watch out.

  4. I had this movie on my ‘Movies to Definitely See’ list. I knew it was going to have great acting, it has Eddie Redmayne in it, but also for the subject matter. The costumes put it now up after Joy. (Major move, taking care of sick mother and catching her cold & cough, have delayed my seeing Joy).

    Pixie is adorable.

  5. I think Gerda has the Edwardian silhouettes to emphasize that her relationship with Lili has roots in the past, underlining how she felt left behind during her partner’s transition into her new life. Both Danish girls evolve in their personal style as a symbol of their internal transformation.

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