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Review: Do I Sound Gay?

BY TIGERE MURINGA

A clear challenge to the patriarchal male standard voice made the film “Do I sound gay” the best documentary film that will spark an interest even to those who remain conservative and resolute against homosexuality.

Directed and produced by an American famous journalist David Thorpe, the documentary followed the history and development of gay voice in the life of David Thorpe, and the emotional stress and the stigmatization that he went through after discovering that many people thought that he sounded “gay”.

The documentary begins with interviews in New York with David asking different people if his voice is similar to that of gay men. What was surprising and disturbing to him was that all his interviewees thought he sound gay. Because of these responses, David embarked on a journey of own voice interrogation. He began to listen to his voice, something he has never done in his life and made concerted efforts to try and change his voice with the help of voice couches and speech pathologist. All this he did in order to conform to the socially constructed masculine characteristics of having a powerful, authentic, standard male voice. He however, realized that changing old habits was not an easy task and would take a long time.

The documentary has a mixture of brilliant and crazy personalities from all walks of life. David Thorpe, Margret Cho, actor Takei, Savage and David Sedaris, all these had different opinions and ideas on the notion of a gay voice and how people struggle to satisfy invisible socially constructed values of gender.

The film is a typical example of a well-crafted piece of work that satisfy most of the codes and conventions of a documentary. The filmmakers made use of techniques like interviews and voice overs which are common features of a documentary. For example David had interviews with people in the street and in offices. Extreme close up shots were utilized by the filmmakers to enhance and reinvigorate the emotional stress that David Thorpe suffered as a result of having a gay voice. To that end all these film techniques made clear how David was emotionally disconnected from himself, and how he was trying to reconnect to the socially agreed male standard voice stereotypes.

 

Tigere Muringa is a young film writer and a political activist at UKZN. He graduated at the University of KwaZulu Natal with a Cum Laude degree in Media and Cultural Studies and is currently doing his Honours in Media and Cultural Studies at the same institution.

 

The 36th Durban International Film Festival (DIFF) is organised by the Centre for Creative Arts at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (a special project of the Deputy Vice Chancellor of Humanities, Cheryl Potgieter) with support from the National Film and Video Foundation, , KwaZulu-Natal Film Commission, City of Durban, German Embassy, Goethe Institut, Industrial Development Corporation, Gauteng Film Commission, KwaZulu-Natal Department of Arts and Culture and a range of other valued partners.

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