“Spork” happens to be the name of the film and it is the nickname of it’s main character: a 14-year old intersex (i.e. hermaphrodite) teenager, who identifies as a girl. She is poor, unpopular, mistreated, and very soft-spoken. She sort of looks like she could be Pigpen’s (from The Peanuts) sister. Her hair is a rat’s nest. She can’t afford a new book bag, which has definitely seen better days and contains awful, crude insults. She has no friends. Her sole companions are her taxidermied pet dog, Buster, and a worn out VHS copy of The Wiz.
After suffering the torment of the majority of the student body, including a popular bunch of Britney Spears/Lisa Frank Gone Wrong/Bad Hair wannabes, Spork receives attention from another social misfit who calls himself Chang. Spork decides to take Chang’s advice and he socks one the Britneys in the nose with a basketball. It’s a game changer for Spork and gets the attention of her neighbor, affectionately nicknamed, Tootsie Roll.
Tootsie Roll dishes the dirt with Spork and informs her that she is planning on entering the school Dance Off to win $236 with which she would use to go visit her dad in prison. Spork relates to Tootsie’s love for her parent as she lost her mom quite some time ago, and it is a gap that had never been able to be filled by anything.
Sadly, Tootsie-Roll injures her ankle and can no longer compete and it is up to Spork to win the Dance-Off.
The film explores grave social topics issues such as racism, stereotypes, sexism, class warfare, homophobia, and gender roles. Despite the serious undertones, the film still keeps it’s comedic sensibilities.
The exact time-period that this movie is based in is confusing as there are events and trends out of place in another time period. There is a special word for this anachronism. For example, Spork and her friends are listening to hip-hop songs from the early 90s and wearing 90s funky fresh gear, while the antagonist, Betsy Biotch, and her crew are wearing 80s garb, listening to 80s music, and worshiping Britney Spears. Another example, if it is the 1990s, why is Spork into 1978 film, the Wiz? why is Tootsie Roll into using Afro Sheen**? Why is Charlie (a young man being raised by two dads; Spork’s future ??? interest) wearing 80s garb and have 80s teen magazine Chad Allen pictures/posters all of his walls.
Afro Sheen was a hair care product invented by George Ellis Johnson, Sr., a black entrepreneur, in the 1960s but became very popular, especially through the advent of the Afro and advertising by Soul Train during the 1970s and 1980s. Mr. Johnson was born in 1927 and he is stilling living today.
The Female Napoleon Dynamite?
Upon watching the trailer, it would probably be an easy choice to label this film the female version of Napoleon Dynamite. However, I think while there are similarities, this movie has better pacing and it deals with more controversial issues than Napoleon. The bullying that takes place in the film is visceral or rather, crude. This might turn some people of to the film. However, the fact of the matter is we know that children have the propensity to be vicious as well as adults.
One of the things I enjoy about this film is how issues are confronted in the film. I especially applaud the filmmaker for talking about gender roles and intersexuality. We see films that have been tackling the struggle against homophobia, but I don’t know about too many films that deal with intersexuality. In fact, until this movie, I didn’t know the word intersex or intersexuality. I am more familiar with the term hermaphrodite.
A person’s teenage years are confusing enough but to have to deal with how society deals with gender roles and conditions that are unique rather than the typical is important to talk about.
I think the underpinning of this movie is moving society towards acceptance of what is not typical. Just because you are different doesn’t mean something is wrong with you or there is nothing special or something worth celebrating. We have potential that only requires a little coaxing to be realized. Society should encourage itself to grow. Bullying is wrong, and I happy for campaigns like It Gets Better exist.