What's it about?
Set in the late 80's. A scandalous sex tape comes out at St. Joseph's - an exclusive all boys high school.
What'd I experience?
Since I was already in the area (Soho) I thought finding the theatre would be pretty easy, but it took me three times to walk right by the small window with the sign THEATRE. It also didn't really help that there was a venue under construction right next to it that covered any indication of the address.
Regardless, the theatre wins for having the worst restroom. I'm honestly still wondering how having a curtain for a door is acceptable. Given that little set up when I walked backstage (legit behind the set) I walked up to the bathroom 'door' and proceeded to open it as I didn't hear anything on the other side. There was someone.
I walked in on a lady peeing. Ugh. Why?
I think she was more embarrassed than me as she avoided any eye contact when leaving the room. Thankfully, I noticed that men's restroom was unoccupied and had a real door, so I used that one. This wasn't all - my struggle continued. Once I scored what I thought was a good seat, a women with massive hair sat right in front of me. She basically blocked every visual angle. I quickly moved to the seat beside me.
The set looked like a packaged deal you'd get for Black Friday. What resembled a living room was on the left, a school office in the center, and a gym locker room on the right. I was worries that the closeness of the sets would disrupt my focus, but it didn't.
When Brandon - the typical jock - walks on stage and begins the tour for St. Joseph's campus, I really saw the lethal charm that lands him as the prime suspect in the sex scandal that soon breaks out. Living in his father's shadow (a notable alum) has caused Brandon to go to immeasurable heights to pretend to be who he so badly wants people to believe he is. Keeping a friendship secret with Justin - the only homosexual boy at St. John's - he breaks the only real bond he has been able to make.
Although a lot of what Brandon does to prove himself is extreme and unfair, it made me recall all the times I had to catch myself acting unlike myself based on who I was hanging out with. In high school (and even primary and middle school), as a teenager I often felt like I had to talk or act differently with certain friends. Hanging out with the cool kids made me constantly remind myself to be loud and act like my grades weren't important to me (the biggest lie). Unlike being with genuine friends, who I didn't have to remember to be anything because I was just being myself.
A lot of parents are in denial because they don't want to admit that their child is capable of heinous things. Not to justify any of Brandon's actions, but he is actually a perfect example of a tortured soul that settled on abusing his status as means of keeping his facade as a real man. Luring an innocent girl into having sex with him - whilst secretly taping it - not only took away any chance of respect for her but also enables him to feel superior.
Seeing his mother deny over and over again that her son could be capable of exploiting a women in that way is probably the thing that resonated the most with me and my culture. In the Latin community machismo comes in different labels and actions, but it persists and has become acceptable in most relationships.
It was interesting to see that this issue staged from the predator's perspective. I feel like often the remorse for the victim is shown (which is justified), but then don't bother to see anything more than pure malice under the attacker's motives. Brandon's life had been set up for him, he was able to have anything and everything he wants. That's why when the identity of the male in the video is revealed to be him, he brushes it off as "something that will pass. A bump." Confessing to his mum that he has no remorse toward the 'meaningless' girl, because she wouldn't have amounted to much.
The only emotion that Brandon's seems to have is toward Justin. As the scandal initially breaks, Justin asks Brandon if he is the man in the tape, to which he denies. Soon, it becomes clear that Brandon lied to Justin - but it appears to be to protect his relationship with Justin. Thing is Brandon is gay. He denies that too, but he's definitely gay. So why does he record himself having sex with a girl and publish it himself? I know, to prove that he's a man. It isn't even the fact that in the 80's being gay was probably still a shock, because today I still see the same treatment that Justin receives for being public about his preference. He is beat up and verbally abused everyday, and Brandon knows to expect the same response. Even worse, when Daddy dearest is a notable alum who embodies all that is a real man.
Even more shocking, finding out that his mother had dated Brandon's father even after witnessing him exploit a girl back in the day. It seemed to me that had this not happened to her son she would have never had to remind herself of participating in abusing that young girl. She recounts that while she was dating her husband, a new girl, much like the one Brandon used, had come into town. In a desperate attempt to fit in she is convinced to go to a house party in which a premeditated haze session awaits her. She is given excessive amounts of alcohol and placed on a bed to be taken turns of as she loses her innocence, all in which Brandon's mother was capable of stopping. The saddest part is the reason why she claims to have let it happen is, "...it was her or me."
In the end, Brandon's future remains unclear but there is a sense that he might be right about this being a bump in the road for him. Yes, he is expelled and most likely gonna have a hard time getting into college, but he certainly has enough money and status to build up again, which may start the same cycle once again.