In the Reelout Arts Film First Period Brandon Alexander III plays new girl Cassie, who joins a new High School with the goal of becoming popular. After befriending Maggie, an unpopular wall-flower played by actor Dudley Beene, the two become allies to on their journey of becoming the most popular girls in school just in time for Cassie’s sweet 16th birthday party.

This film was ultimately a parody of multiple 80’s movies, drawing upon characteristics of film that were prevalent in older movies, but are rarely shown in modern day cinema because of their offensive nature. The director Carlie Vaughn wrote this film to have a generic plotline to be followed requiring little effort from the viewer, making this film a light comedy.

Prior to the viewing of First Period at the Screening room, we were shown two short clips, “V” and “They”. “V” was created for a yearly film contest the festival holds, where the challenge was to portray the term “virginity” through an object. The gay creator expressed his sexual frustration by damaging a series of objects starting with the letter V, showing his frustration towards his seemingly enduring virginity. “They” was a Claymation short piece about the creator’s experience of meeting a girl in college who did not identify in the gender binary. She used the pronoun “they” when talking about a person. Meeting this new girl was inspirational for her, and she felt the restrictions of societies labels lifted off of her, giving her freedom. Both short films gave a message of freedom and the theme of embracing your feelings and identity. First Period stars two male characters acting in female roles. Throughout the movie, the male’s characters are seen as unattractive and inferior to the other strictly male or female characters. Having males act as females plays with the idea of having two-spirted characters, manifesting both female and male dispositions.

The female characters in this movie follow a typical sexual script, showing characteristics of a stereotypical female by emphasizing the importance of aesthetics, acting in ways to attract boys, and putting little interest into their classes. Cassie dresses and acts with emphasized femininity in attempt to fit in with the popular girls by wearing bright makeup, and wearing revealing, feminine clothing. The first scene of the movie is a shot of Cassie’s bedroom, serving as the initial characterization of her character. The colour scheme of her room is pink and animal print, and it gives her a girlish persona, an example of how this film draws heavily upon types of social construction. Another example of social construction is brought forth with the sole African American character in the film. He was first presented in a rap battle, stereotypical to Northern American gang culture and was then given no further depth of character- an example of racialization.

The intersectionality of the most dominant members in the movie included being Caucasian, who are assumingly wealthy from what is shown in of their homes. Having Maggie and Cassie striving to be accepted by the school’s popular girls establishes a hierarchy giving power to the Caucasian wealthy characters. Another characteristic included in the intersectionality of the dominant characters was their heterosexuality. For the majority of the movie, the popular characters were all in heterosexual relationships. Near the beginning of the film, Cassie revels her steps for becoming the most popular girls in school, and one of the 3 steps was to date good looking boys, suggesting that being in a heterosexual relationship gives you a higher status. Nearing the end of the movie when the two male dominant characters come out, they lose their title of being “popular”, but instead become accepted into a new friend group. This friend group does not hold the same dominating power the popular group had at the beginning of the movie, giving the impression that their qualities make them lesser than previously.

The final scene in First Period strayed from the theme of pointing out the satire of well-known 80’s films. After following a very stereotypical “chick flick” story line, the ending veers off the predictable plot line. In most movies, the “happy ending” consists of the protagonist accomplishing their goal, defeating the antagonist and in most cases, ending up with their love interest. In the case of First Period, Cassie and Maggie didn’t exactly become the most popular girls in school, but they accomplished created a sense of acceptance at the talent show, overthrowing their school’s oppressor, Heather (Lauren Rose Lewis). Ending up on stage in only their underwear, members in the audience join them, and a celebration symbolic of showing your inner self takes place. Just as Maggie prepares herself to win over her love interest, to follow the storyline of other stories with the same “success of the underdog” themes, he chooses his male best friend over her, surprising the audience with the twist of events. Cassie not ending up with her love-interest portrays a more important message of accepting yourself and not caring what the world thinks.

Attending this movie was a unique experience for me. I feel that this movie was a distinctive addition to the Kingston Queer Film Festival, and was trying to achieve a dissimilar effect than the other pieces shown. While watching the trailers of the other films in the festival, most seemed more serious in nature, trying to shed light on serious issues in the LGBT community, or bring different perspectives than we normally see in Hollywood films. First period had the intention of being humorous while touching on sensitive topics instead of trying to achieve an emotional response from the viewers.

– NH