Black Mirror (spoilers)

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Pom Klementieff, who plays Karl’s female avatar.

Does role-playing change us, or simply reveal us?

In the recently released episode Striking Vipers, Black Mirror finally plunges into the murky world of online gender cross playing– and I do mean finally! In this episode, two college buddies enjoy playing a video fighting game much like Mortal Combat. They each have a favorite character. Danny always plays Lance, while his friend, Karl, prefers to play a female character named Roxette. Neither finds this problematic.

Until a fully immersive version of the game becomes available. In this new version, the players find themselves inhabiting the bodies of the characters they play– and even experience the physical sensations. Jumping into the game, Danny once more plays Lance, and Karl, Roxette. Karl jokes about what its like to have boobs, and the two start fighting. Soon, the sexual tension simmering beneath their play- fighting turns to making out, and eventually hot, steamy sex.

The show explores how this impacts them and their relationships, both with each other and their wives/lovers. They question whether they are really cheating, wonder if they are gay. Danny, in particular, struggles, as he is a married man with kids. His suburban life bores him. Is he living a lie?

Each man discovers he is more fluid than he imagined, but that their sexual attraction exists only online– at least the physical side. Karl rhapsodizes about how much he enjoys the female orgasm, but he can’t get that in real life. Meanwhile, it is interesting to me that Danny’s wife is named Theo, drawing the gender fluidity out further. I don’t want to give away the specific ending, but once the men have opened up Pandora’s Box, let’s just say there in no going back. I feel what the show suggests it is not so much that the online gender bending changes them, but simply allows them to express a part of themselves that was always repressed.

Most people, in my opinion, are many genders, but society works very hard to make us comform to a specific notion of biological gender. This episode there is a little girl and guy in everyone just waiting for a chance to get out.

Check it out on Netflix!

New Body Swap on Netflix!

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Transfers

French creators continue to produce some great TG media, with the new 6 episode science fiction series Transfers joining the instant classic, The Wild Boys as excellent examples of what can happen in this medium.

In Transfers, we find ourselves in a familiar but futuristic France where the ability to transfer people’s essence from one body to another has been invented and promptly banned.  However, as is usually the case, the banning on transfers does not end the practice but merely drives it into the black market.

The series centers around a fairly ordinary wood worker who finds himself illegally transferred (without his permission) into the body of a cop who specializes in hunting down illegal transfers.  He feels compelled to pretend to be the cop in order to avoid being caught as an illegal transfer, and so that he can be together with his wife and children once more.

So as for body swaps, the whole series centers around a swapped person and gets into all kinds of interesting questions about identity, morality and politics.  How much of behavior is genetic?  How much personality?  Is it possible to be “you” in a new body, or do you become that person?

Now, as you all know, I am all about the gender swaps, and this show has a major gender swap in the form of a ruthless middle-aged crime lord who ends up swapped into the body of an elementary school girl.  In his case, while he remains a ruthless crime lord with a taste for cigars and whisky even as a little girl, he also seems to begin to be adapted by his body.  It’s just little moments, but we see him fussing with his hair, putting it into a pony tail, or having one of his henchman braid it for him.  He also gets girly at times, sometimes mockingly, and sometimes seemingly because his new body demands it.  So, while it isn’t a big part of the show, we do get to see some TG moments that also seem to explore the notion of how much of a person is their “mind” and how much their body.  The young actress does an impressive job embodying the “man inside” and I would say should have gotten an award for her efforts!

Aside even from the body swapping elements, the show is very watchable.  It’s a thriller, a cop show, with a plot that moves and is full of twists and turns, surprises and revelations.  The cast is first rate, working from excellent scripts, and the show looks great, with first rate cinematography and lighting.

My only complaint?  Only 6 episodes!  However, the creators have stated they want to do more seasons, and if the show does well, the season ends with several interesting little cliffhangers for a future season to build on!

Check it out!

Link for NetFlix users in the USA.

I am sorry, my international friends, but I do not know where to find it in your locales.  I do know, given it was a European production, that it should be available in the EU.  The French title is Transferts, so try searching for that term!  If you find links, please share them in comments so other fans can find this amazing show!

 

 

 

 

 

Gender Bender streaming on Netflix

Check out my gender bending ebooks!

And especially My Epic Fantasy Series!

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In the future, you are not your body; you are data.  And, in this future world, corporations and governments can strip your data from one human body (called a sleeve) and place it in another, or even just store you indefinitely as information either with consciousness or within a simulated world.  This is the SCIFI basis of Altered Carbon, the name of both a book and a TV series.

Obviously, this opens up a lot of possibilities for gender swapping and exploration.  In the book and in the movie, it is clear that the main character, who identifies as male and embodies the tough guy investigator type (Deckard in Blade Runner, Mike Hammer in Mickey Spillane novels…etc…) has spent some time in female sleeves.  He mentions it in the book, and in the show when people scan his ID, all his former identities come up, and several are clearly female.

Unfortunately, neither the book nor the TV show delve too deeply into the gender games.  For those who enjoy the much more rare female to male swap, there is a fun sequence where a main character, Kristin Ortega, brings her grandmother back in the body of a hulking, tattooed and very male goon in order to celebrate El dia de los Muertos.  The actor does not over play the feminine mannerisms, and is actually very good at embodying a grandmother enjoying spending a holiday with her family.

All of the characters we meet seem to identify as straight male or female regardless of their sleeve’s sex, and there is little sense that the body swapping has led to any major changes in society in terms of how people perceive male and female.  It largely reflects our mainstream world with a SCIFI filter.  However, there is some interesting action, and the little taste of gender bending that’s there was enough to fire up my imagination.

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Another Netflix series based on a novel that gets into some gender bending is Kiss Me First.  

Get Book Here

Kiss Me First follows a young woman who spends a great deal of her time in a virtual reality game, using the name Shadowfax.  This show delves into identity more intentionally than AC, and without giving away too much I will reveal that there is a character in the virtual world who is not what she seems!  We also have characters logging in as other people, and lots of questions about what’s real and what isn’t.  I would love to see more gender stuff in future installments, but again what is there and what is potentially there got my imagination working.

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Lastly, a more straight up gender bending French film called I am Not an Easy Man.  In this film, like Second Nature, a chauvinistic male finds himself transported to a mirror universe where gender roles are revered.  Women are the aggressors, and they hold most of the money and the power.  Men are expected to do their best to look attractive for the women and are viewed as the lesser sex.  It’s a fun and interesting take on the usual story as the man finds himself struggling to deal with being objectified …etc… and there is a little body image stuff as at one point he contemplated putting inserts into his underwear to give himself a bigger butt.  The acting is all good, and the film does make some nice observations about gender and politics.

Check them out and let me know what you think!  I get lonely out here in my virtual world and would love to hear from you!  Thanks for reading!  Don’t forget to brush your teeth!