Jeffrey Schwarz

review i am divine

Editor’s Note: This review original ran as part of our SXSW coverage. The film is now out in select theaters. Assimilation seems to be the order of the day. One of the arguments leveled against the “It Gets Better” campaign is that while it pushes for self-acceptance among queer kids, the “better” part actually seems to mean “normal.” That is, all the images it puts forth of a happy gay life after the misery of high school bullying are images of an assimilated life. If that’s true, it means the bullies haven’t been left behind at all — they’ve been internalized. But if we want to support the kids who can’t look forward to becoming “normal” somewhere down the line, we’d better start checking our archives. History is full of the stories of bullied outsiders who learned to love themselves and went on to become strong icons. While maybe not the most kid-friendly, Divine was one of the biggest, most outrageous, proudly outsider and dangerously different gay cultural icons we have. And just as the forces of assimilation seem to be taking control of our memory, too, documentary filmmaker Jeffry Schwartz comes to the rescue with the release of his definitive Divine biographical documentary, I Am Divine, richly evoking the world of vibrant outsiders that Divine came to define.

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published: 12.18.2014
C-
published: 12.17.2014
B+
published: 12.15.2014
B
published: 12.12.2014
D+


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