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Degrassi TNG: Soap Opera Summer 2010 - Week 4

"My Body Is A Cage" part 2

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Adam, Drew, and their mother bear have a meeting with Principal Simpson. Adam's mom wants him to transfer schools, because she says Adam will face harassment and assault. Adam says that won't happen to him, but his mother insists it will. This reminds me of when I came out to my mom and she was like, "No. You can't do this. You're going to get AIDS." She said in it this very demanding tone which sounded like she was ordering me to go out and get infected with HIV. I had to tell my mom, "I'm not going to get AIDS, mom. I'm not black!" I'm part of this generation of LGBT people who are too young to remember the AIDS crisis of the 80s, so don't have the same fear of the disease or automatically associate it with gay men like older people do. Most of what I learned about AIDS came from a Captain Planet special when I was in elementary school.

Getting back to the episode, Mr. Simpson doesn't offer Adam much help. As a man who lacks a penis or testicles, you would think that Mr. Simpson would feel some solidarity Adam. He says Fitz and Owen have been suspended. I mean, they will be back in school next week, so it the suspension must have been only for one day, maybe just that afternoon. Owen was the guy who threw Adam into the door and he will be in every episode next week. Degrassi Community School gives their football players the same broad leeway from punishment that you'd expect of a Big Ten university, not a losing high school team in a country where football isn't even that popular. Mr. Simpson has big dreams for the football program, I guess.

Seriously, Degrassi's administration is one of the worst in North America, topped only by those schools you read about down South that still have segregated proms. They're supposed to have this zero tolerance policy toward violence, but it's only ever been applied to Spinner and Jay.

"Hey, you bullied Rick, just like every other boy in this school? That's it, you're expelled. No exceptions. Zero tolerance. Go away."

"Hey, you two boys beat up a girl because she wants to play football? Well, boys will be boys. See you guys on the field."

"Hey, you threw a kid half your size threw a door? That's an afternoon detention. See you in class Monday, champ."

Fuck you, Mr. Simpson. How are you turning into a worse principal than the Shep?

You know, some viewers think Adam and Drew's mom is a bitch, but if you were a parent who had to deal with the complete fucking retards who run Degrassi Community School, you'd have to act like a bitch to get things done, too. She's sticking up for her kids because she is the only one in the whole school system who will give a damn about them. That's how a mother is supposed to act. Damn right she's a bitch, then. I certainly don't like her attitude toward Adam's transness at all, but she still manages to be the best adult this show has had since Tracker, or I guess Spinner, since he's about 32 now.

Turns out, Anya's mom was not sleeping around, she was out getting an MRI and discovered she has cancer. Anya is worried and Leia is no help. Leia talks about her aunt who came down with cancer and seemed to get better after chemo, but as Leia says, "But then she died, like, recently." Leia is trying to make Anya feel bad on purpose.

Holly J talks to her and Anya starts tearing up. Holly J thinks this is because Anya knows that she has hooked up with Sav. If this did not involve cancer, this could be another wacky misunderstanding B plot.

Adam is not enjoying having been yanked out of the closet. Simpson makes Condoleezza Rice escort him in the hallways (it's hard to get work with George W. Bush on her resume). Bianca refuses to dance with him in remedial gym so Adam has to sit out. He declines to dance with the teacher, because I assume the teacher would dance lead and make Adam feel like a girl. Adam should dance with that one boy who also doesn't have a partner. He's Asian, it won't be hard to think of him as a woman.

Mini-Connor shows up in Media Immersion in his boxer shorts. What the hell was his plan there? To get suspended? I hate Mini-Connor. I could go into one of my (basically racist) tirades about my dislike for this character, but he isn't worth the time.

Adam's family is having dinner with his grandmother, who doesn't know about Adam's transness. So, Adam shows up in girl mode and everyone calls her Gracie. It's hard for Adam, but his grandmother is probably suffering from old people brain. She is teetering on the edge of dementia and seeing Adam as a boy may be so confusing that it will trigger full blown Alzheimer's and she will poop her pants. And you do not want to be in the room when an old person poop themselves. It's not like when a baby poops. It is far, far more disturbing.

Anya is so upset that she goes into the classroom where the volcano model is located and sets it off. This is supposed to be an artistic moment for the show. The volcano represents her mom's cancer and Pompeii represents her family and some Canadian ballad plays in the background (which is not "The Needle and the Damage Done"). I was just left wondering if ancient Romans really dressed in such modern clothes. Maybe there was an eruption in 2008 that I didn't hear about it because it wasn't reported on The-N TeenNick or Comedy Central.

Holly J and Sav are pissed that Anya ruined their big class project. Anya skirts blame by saying her mom has cancer. Yeah, if you have cancer or a family member has cancer, you get that one pass to do something jerkish. I would have used it to punch Sav in the face. It would feel soooo good.

Anya and her parents go see the cancer doctor, whose name is Dr. Kasopolis. Hey, that's Uncle Jesse's last name on Full House! Alright, looks like Anya's mother is in good hands. "Alright Mrs. Anya's mom, let me just massage your breasts for a few minutes. OK, your cancer is cured." That's better than Dr. Cochrane down the hall. But we don't talk about him.

Adam goes to school as Gracie. Bianca calls him an ugly girl and a tranny, so the teacher makes her go to the principal's office. "Sir, if I go one more time--," Bianca pleads but doesn't get to finish before she is sent away. Let's finish that for her.

"Sir, if I go one more time...Mr. Simpson will want to braid my hair."

"Sir, if I go one more time...Mr. Simpson will make me watch another Olsen Twins movie with him."

"Sir, if I go one more time...Mr. Simpson will cry because girls intimidate him."

"Sir, if I go one more time...______________________________________" [Fill it in yourself!]

Mini-Connor and his butt buddies checked out Ms. Oh's profile page and learned she broke up with her hotrod riding badboy boyfriend. Mini-Connor gives her advice about breakups despite the fact that he has never had a girlfriend. Ms. Oh feels humiliated in so many ways.

OK, so Facerange is just the Canadian version of Facebook, right? Because for Mini-Connor to have seen all those photographs in her profile, it means Ms. Oh must have either friended him or accepted his friend request Either that or she has made her profile public, which are both stupid things for a teacher to do. If she worked in half the school districts in the United States, the administration would consider the photos where she in the the bikini top obscene and fire her.

Adam is stressing over having to look like a girl, so he self-harms, which we were told he did prior to transition. And not in some weeny Ellie way with soft-tipped protractors--no no--he sets his arm on fire! Of all the things it looks like you could be doing when you put a lighter to some glass, this may be the least intense, but it is still something. Trans people are often associated with having engaged in self-harm. I've done it a little, but I can't stand to see blood, or any permanent marking, or pain in general, so I just punched myself in the butt a bunch of times whenever I was feeling low.

Clare finds Adam and tells him to be himself. "You don't have to change who you are," says Clare. "Everyone else does." This from the girl who changed her image due to peer pressure.

Adam feels better and his friends and family gather in what I think is the Ravine to burn some of his girl clothes. Now Adam will not feel like his body is a cage.

Grade: D+

"My Body Is A Cage" was much better than "You Don't Know My Name." I'd put MBIAC at an B+, but the first half of this week drags the overall grade way down.

"You Don't Know My Name" was bad and a lot of that has to do with Holly J and Sav. God, what a disgusting couple. The Holly J part is OK, it's the Sav part that makes me ill. I hate that guy. He's smug and boring and I need a new Liberty to take my anger out on. High school shows thrive on relationships, so I guess there is that excuse why you would put them together even though they have zero chemistry. I mean, of course Holly J would go for Sav. After what an awesome boyfriend he was to Anya, why wouldn't she? Never stopped Peter from getting girls.

Connor, Mini-Connor and White Connor annoy me, and are why I couldn't give MBIAC an A+. I know the show is trying to make them the next JT and Toby but that is like grabbing four guys off the street in Liverpool and telling them to be the next Beatles. JT and Toby...man, those nerds were magic together. The show tried with the Websters. They tried very hard to make the Websters funny, but lightning doesn't strike twice like that. The thing is, JT and Toby were sort of pervy, but still always came off as harmless, and always humorous. The Websters were never funny and always had this vibe, like, if they weren't going to get any from a girl soon, they were going to take it. There is a fine line separating the innocent but pervy kids from the future college rapists, and I am not so sure the Websters haven't crossed that line off screen. The Connors are harmless, but not entertaining.

OK, now on to Adam. I read some message board and blog posts about this episode and learned people were crying over it. I would just like to say to anyone who teared up over this episode: you are stupid. I didn't cry. I didn't cry when JT was stabbed. When JT died, I aroused. That episode ended and I was locked my dorm for two whole hours to the thought of that little twerp dying in a puddle of pee. It felt so good. My roommate was in and out during that time, but he was used to me by now and happily watched most of it.

My point is, don't get too emotionally involved in this dumb show. I knew Adam was going to get beat up weeks before I saw this episode. I knew it as soon as I learned there was going to be a transgender character on the show. Any reader who has take a queer studies class should know what I am talking about. I don't remember if there is a term for this, but it's a cliche in a lot of movies and TV shows that feature gay/les/bi/trans characters and have to make that character suffer. Either by getting beaten or murdered. It happens a lot. You can see it on Brokeback Mountain, Ally McBeal, Boys Don't Cry (which I have not seen but should because I'd really like to see Hilary Swank get raped) and even on Degrassi. Marco was beaten up in season 3, so it's been done before on this very show. Usually, these productions are put together by well meaning, liberal straight people who think that portraying the queer character a victim of violence will make the audience sympathize with us fags. And I think in the case of this episode, it probably did for many viewers. On the other hand, stuff like this reinforces the idea that if you are queer, well, you are going to suffer through life.

So, keep that in mind before you send me any more messages bitching about the grade I gave "My Body Is A Cage". It is one of the best episodes this show has ever done, but this show isn't very good and this episode still has problems.

Final Thoughts:

This whole Soap Opera Summer thing has been declining pretty fast. Don't worry kiddies, it only gets worse next week.

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