You sound like a human being male!

Year Released : 201481l4EGjg4UL._SY445_ (1)
Director : David Thorpe
Cast : David Thorpe and his friends

I’ve mentioned a few times that I have a list of trailers saved on a Youtube playlist that I want to watch. There are some that I have only had on there for a few days, whereas others, such as “Do I Sound Gay?” have been on there for quite some time. So I decided that as I can’t find anything that I want to review that I would finally get around to watching this.

I am fully aware that the subject matter of this film could potentially cause offence…..not to homophobes, I couldn’t give a shit about whether they find it offensive, but rather people who are actually gay. Now before I start this review, please note that I am not homosexual, so I am looking at this from a complete outsider’s point of view.

The main reason that I am interested in this film and that it touches on and looks at vocal therapies (at least what I can gather from the trailer) and I have attempted it myself. For my first time readers, I am transgender and part of that was going through vocal therapy, but it definitely didn’t work and I still sound male, and this causes all sorts of issues given that all of my accounts, such as at my bank, are all in a female name, but they often don’t pass me on security as my voice doesn’t match my name. It’s an interesting contrast to those in the docu-film who sound feminine when some don’t appear to want to.

Plot

Following on from splitting up with his boyfriend, David Thorpe decided to film a documentary in which he explores the human voice. He interacts with homosexual friends and celebrities as he tries to establish how having a feminine voice impacts your life as a man.

David also attends vocal therapy sessions in order to try and make his voice more masculine, and delves into his earlier life in order to pinpoint the moment his voice changed.

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So, offensive or praise-worthy?

I’m going to go into a minor personal view before I go any further and it’s the issue of stereotyping. As I am currently in the process of changing from male to female, I get stereotyped a lot and it really bugs me, and the reason is that people just revert to the typical image of transgendered people that they see on TV and in movies, such as the automatic assumption that just because I want to be female, I must automatically have been homosexual when I was male. That is not the case and that stereotype always bugs me. It deeply annoys me when people expect me to act a certain way just because I am becoming female, mainly because being female doesn’t necessarily equate to being girly, and in that sense I can see why a lot of homosexual men might not like this film, and some would find it offensive.

David spends a large section of the film going through vocal therapy to try and get a more masculine sounding voice, and he talks at length with other homosexual men about the subject of gay men tending to have effeminate sounding voices, and there didn’t seem to be a balanced argument to the docu-film. Whilst there was a lot of support for the anti-feminine sounding side of the argument, there isn’t a lot to say for the other side. For example, there is a discussion in which one man says that if he is having sex, he wants his lover to sound like a man and not a woman, which whilst I can see where they are coming from, the way most of the docu-film is presented almost as if that is the preferred option for most homosexual men to sound masculine, which I’m not entirely convinced is the case.

For me the docu-film felt like it was trying to get to the bottom of a root-cause and have it not being David basically trying to find an excuse why his relationship failed. It definitely felt more like a vanity project more than anything else, and since watching this I have asked a few of my friends that are homosexual and had break ups if they ever doubted their voice, and not one of them said that they had. It’s basically just one guy’s issue with his own self-confidence.

Filmmaker David Thorpe practices vocal exercises he learned from a speech pathologist in an effort to alter the way he speaks. In Do I Sound Gay?, Thorpe searches for the origin of the "gay voice" stereotype.

That is not to say that the film isn’t entirely without it’s interesting discussion points, such as featuring several young men who were bullied during their teens for an effeminate manner, and almost forcing their voice to change so that they could camouflage themselves in public. For me this was easily the most enjoyable part of the docu-film and it’s one that I can relate to personally, not to mention when one of his friends says to him that she felt like he had been lying to her the whole time, again, something that is relatable, but whilst there are some moments that I do genuinely like, there just isn’t enough substance in the film.

Throughout the 80 minute run time, there are numerous examples of clips from TV shows, movies and various other forms of media being shown, but very rarely do they have seemingly any relevance and they feel more like they’re there simply to add to the run time, rather than actually add any substance. The docu-film already feels like it lasts too long and it’s blatant filler. Nothing more, nothing less.

At just shy of 80 minutes, “Do I Sound Gay” drags…..badly. I felt like I had been watching it for a long time and decided to see how long was left….and only 35 minutes had gone by. I think the main reason for this is that I’m not entirely convinced that David Thorpe had a real end message that he was trying to convey throughout the docu-film, and for me at least it felt a bit aimless. I made a note at around the 50 minute mark of “where is this actually going?” and half an hour later, at the film’s conclusion, I felt no different, or no more enlightened than before I had started.

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Summary

“Do I Sound Gay?” offers very little in terms of genuine substance and feels more like a vanity project, as opposed to something that actually has a message to say. David Thorpe’s approach to film-making could potentially result in a very interesting documentary one day, but he hasn’t achieved it with this as, even at just 80 minutes long, it feels at least 35 minutes past it’s welcome by the time you get to the end.

During the exploration, I never once felt that it was coming to a natural end and when it did end, it didn’t really make it feel watching for 80 minutes seem worth it, and as weird as it sounds, I’m going to use a quote from American Psycho to describe it. These are the final few lines in that hit film and wouldn’t have been out of place at the end of “Do I Sound Gay?”……”there is no catharsis. I gain no deeper knowledge about myself, no new understanding can be extracted from my telling. There has been no reason for me to tell you any of this. This confession has meant nothing”

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