Student Delegate Blog: Social Commentary and Transgressing Social Norms

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By Stephanie Der

FUTURESTATES is rare; public television rarely ever ventures into the genre of science-fiction, let alone sci-fi as social commentary (the program is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting).  Political and universal issues are being explored, such as global warming, refugees, the gay gene, and family.  In addition, the cast is multiracial.  Most of the shorts feature people of color in most of the lead roles; the only one that doesn’t, “BEHOLDER,” has its reasons.  My favorites are “EXPOSURE” and “THAT WHICH ONCE WAS” for its kick-butt, dark-skinned government agent and Inuit lead. 

How often do characters like that appear?

I’ve always loved women who rebel against gender roles, and BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM is no exception.  It isn’t a new release, but if you’re like me and watched it when you were young, Bend warrants a rewatching.  It’s not only a soccer ball that’s being bent, but social norms.

Interracial relationships, extramarital sex, the inevitable cultural clash of immigrant families, and heteronormativity are all explored here.  A friend of the director, Gurinder Chadha, noted Jess and Jules were initially love interests, and I’m very curious what the film would be like with a lesbian romance.  Intersectionality certainly plays a role here too, but it’s all done quite subtly.  Also notable is the sly insert of Joe’s Irishness that will either leave viewers side-eying his racial sympathy for Jess, or nodding their head at Irish marginalization.  Diaspora is also brought up; Jess’ father is from West Africa, not South East Asia.

Stephanie is a participant in this year’s Verizon Student Delegate Program.

  • Jessica Liu

    Futurestates sounds awesome. I am glad to hear about short films that take on important issues. I also have seen Bend it Like Beckham around when it was first released and may watch it again due to your recommendation.