When Hollywood Goes Wrong

Teena Brandon Teena Brandon (a.k.a. Brandon Teena)
Born: December 12, 1972
Birthplace: Lincoln, Nebraska, USA
Date of Death: December 31, 1993 (murdered)

I knew who she was. She said she had to get her head back together. She wanted to come back to her old life and her old life was Teena Brandon. – JoAnn Brandon (Teena’s Mother), 2000

Boys Don’t Cry is a 1999 movie that chronicles the tragic end of young Nebraskan Teena Brandon’s life. Teena, who has a “sexual identity crisis,” tapes her breasts and cuts her hair very short to appear like a man. She goes around as ‘Brandon Teena,’ dating women, and inevitably getting in trouble when they discover her secret. Brandon makes her way to Falls City, Nebraska, where she again poses as a man.

There, she falls in love with Lana, and hangs around with Lana’s circle of friends. When her true nature is finally revealed, Lana’s friends turn on Brandon, and eventually end up killing her. No real explanation is ever given as to why Brandon does what she does. The script by Pierce and Andy Bienen even portrays Brandon as confused. When her brother confronts her about being a lesbian, she denies that she is one.

Acclaimed as a movie portraying the problems faced by transvestite teens, the movie had some fatal flaws. Below is a write up exposing the problems in the film:

How did Teena’s mother, JoAnn Brandon, react to the film Boys Don’t Cry?

JoAnn Brandon was outraged by the film’s portrayal of her daughter Teena. In early 2000, JoAnn, who could not work because of severe asthma, still owed money for her daughter’s funeral. She said that she was irritated that a fund set up to pay for the funeral received meager contributions, while others, such as the filmmakers, profited from her daughter’s death. “I’m really sick and tired of people making money off my child,” JoAnn said in an Associated Press article. “I don’t understand how you can put three weeks of somebody’s life up on film and win an award for it.”

Did the filmmakers interview Teena’s mother, JoAnn Brandon, for the movie Boys Don’t Cry?

The filmmakers did not interview Teena’s mother, JoAnn, for the film that they were making about her daughter. JoAnn was upset that they also neglected to interview Teena’s close friends and relatives. (The Associated Press)

What does Teena’s mother believe made her daughter want to become a man?

JoAnn Brandon, Teena’s mother, was upset that the filmmakers failed to explain that for several years when Teena was a young girl, Teena had been sexually molested by a man. JoAnn said that Teena sought counseling in 1991, and began to dress in men’s clothing and date women as a defense strategy. “She pretended she was a man so no other man could touch her,” JoAnn said in an Associated Press article.

Had Teena’s mother been in touch with her daughter at the time of Teena’s death?

Teena’s mother last spoke to Teena on December 30th, the day before Teena’s death. Her mother said that she had clearly spoke to a woman. (The Associated Press)

Does Kimberly Peirce, writer and director of Boys Don’t Cry, believe her film is true to the real story of Teena Brandon?

Kimberly Peirce said that she is aware that she took dramatic liberties with the film. One of these liberties includes the exclusion of the second witness, who was also murdered at the scene.

Additional Information

For more information about the actual murder of Teena Brandon: http://www.crimelibrary.com/classics4/brandon/

This article was posted on Friday, August 18th, 2006 at 11:17 pm and is filed under Movies. You can follow any updates to this article through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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