This morning, while I was climbing on the Stairmaster, I got sucked into this documentary on HBO called "All About My Father". This documentary was made by Even, a young Norwegian man, whose father, a prominent doctor (psychoanalyst), lives as a transvestive. With his second wife, also a psychoanalyst. Who married Esban/Esther knowing he was a transvestite, and they write books together.
Even isn't really on the tranny bandwagon that his father is proudly piloting through town. He follows him with the camera and we see Esben with a very extreme brow tweeze talking about how he is both man and woman. As Even pushes him for more definitive descriptions he says he is a lesbian woman (Esther) and a heterosexual man (Esben). Even says, "but you're my dad and I cannot see you as a woman, to me you are a man in women's clothes." Esben's response is "It makes me sad to hear you say that. I feel isolated and lonely."
We see Esben in the bedroom, naked except for women's white underpants and he says that his body has started to change. Huh? For a moment I am confused - Is Esben going through transexual surgery? Did he have implants put in? And if so, why are they little and saggy? But then Esben clarifies that this is what happens to men as they age. It does? Not to my dad! A bit later we see old family film from Even's childhood, when Esben was married to Even's mom, and in that footage Esben is a major stud. Oh my God! I can almost understand why Elsa married him knowing he was going to borrow her clothes. Wowza - what a hunk. And I guess that explains the manboobs. I recently saw a candid photo taken of Arnold Schwarzenneger at the beach with his family. He's wearing a black speedo and he has big saggy man boobs - so I guess the downside of having big muscles as a young man is that they go slack as you age. I did not know that because my dad is a very lean and slender man who never had much in the way of pectoral muscles. He has really nice legs though.
Anyway we watch Esben make the transformation to Esther and then he and Elsa go shopping. All of a sudden she's hanging out with her girlfriend. Esther speaks in a higher voice than Esben and Esther seems a lot happier, more carefree and a heck of a lot more fun then Esben. If I was Elsa I'd want to hang out with Esther more than Esben. But poor Even - man, you can just see how freaked out he is. This is his DAD! Running around town dressed like a woman and talking in a weird voice. It's almost like he's got multiple personalities only I guess since it's only two the proper word would be dual.
There's a bit where they go out sailing - Elsa and Esther. Earlier that day Esben had gone and gotten the boat ready, but it's Esther that sails it. So they're tacking around and Esther tells Elsa to pull the winch, or something like that and then without the slightest hint of irony s/he says, "That's right! You have to do it just so because you are working in concert with nature. If you do it wrong it snaps back at you." Esther is wearing a black bathing suit top and a red wig and Even is shooting all of this and you just know that when he was editing it he didn't miss the irony of a man dressed as a woman talking in a weird voice discussing how you have to be in sync with nature.
In fact, through the whole documentary Esben and Even cannot seem to get each other to agree with where each of them is coming from. Esben/Esther wants his son to acknowledge him as a woman, not a man wearing women's clothing, but as a full fledged woman. Even wants his father to admit that he is a man and only a man, who happens to like dressing up as a woman. And I could actually see where they were both coming from although I was more with Even - dude you got an "x" and a "y" - sorry.
I have no problem with transvestites, in fact, on a lot of levels I get it. Women's clothing is much prettier and more fun to wear. Women get great fabrics and colors and flowy skirts and pretty stuff. Men's clothing - more function than whimsy. Although Carson on Queer Eye's got a lot of whimsy in his wardrobe. I've got two friends that like to dress up in women's clothing. Because I'm tall and a size 8 or 10 they can borrow some of my stuff and not stretch it out. So I let them. I don't have judgement around it. Of course I don't date these guys either. But one of them is married and his wife knows and she deals with it. The other I think has got some serious issues, but that's for another time.
What I found kind of creepy about this documentary was the lack of emotion in all of these people. They were so incredibly analytical about everything. Even and his father would talk and then Else, Esben/Esther's wife would delineate their points of view for the camera and for them. It was like a really long therapy session. Except for the parts where Esther was shopping - then she was just a girl out having a good time. If this was my house there would be drama! And a lot of laughing and crying because c'mon! it's sad and funny too.
It was also creepy how Esben described transexuals as people who couldn't handle the fact that society wouldn't accept them as women if they had a penis so they cut it off. And he doesn't think anyone should have to do that. A man can be a woman with a penis if only society would be willing to acknowledge the possibility. Huh! And then he goes on to describe how his mission in life is to make society see that a person can be both sexes in one body. M'kay.
Elsa and Even kept using the word "prediliction" in reference to Esben's drive to dress and be acknowledged as a woman. Esben uses that same word to describe Even's intelligence (he has an I.Q. of over 150). Prediliction means "partiality or predisposition to something". Is that an appropriate usage of the word? Can you have a prediliction to your own intellectual intelligence.
I was getting confused listening to Esben/Esther and all of his intellecual rationalizations for why his son should accept him as a woman. What's wrong with being a guy who just happens to enjoy wearing women's clothing? That I can get. Elsa talks about how she is attracted to Esben's masculinity although with the extreme tweeze he's got going on his brows and the lack of man-hair I don't really see it. I can't even contemplate their sex life - though I'm sure they have one.
I never got to see the end because my 30 minutes went by really fast and I had to get ready to leave. Since HBO plays stuff over and over I'm sure I'll get to see how it ends. I turned off the television feeling oddly grateful that my parents only decided to have an open marriage. There are, apparently, lots of other ways your folks can torture you.
As I was walking out to my car the school next door was having some kind of end of the year carnival. Michael Jackson singing "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" as small children cavorted around the schoolyard. Creepy. Imagine what the King of Pop and Pedophelia's kids are going to deal with when they're a little older. Esben/Esther will seem like a walk in the park compared to that.