IS THIS A "ROLE REVERSAL"?
[A little writing assignment done for women's studies class on a film we watched called "Role Reversal." ]
Watching "Role Reversal" was an amazing and somewhat insightful presentation if not a smidgeon overzealous in its initiation of the subject matter. The production, which runs a bit over an hour, follows four individuals, Ryan, Tye, Ary, and Starla, and puts them into the opposite sex’s eyes. Despite its inherently strong premise, Role Reversal harbors a potentially unrealistic flaw, the central figures already exhibit potent attributes related to the roles they are to play making them more extreme polarities of the case study’s subject matter.
It really isn’t surprising to find this to be the case given the "Real World" atmosphere the producers went out of their way to create. From introductions to diary cameras, the production values screamed reality TV. To further exacerbate this unreality, we have the four principal characters.
First through this door of viewage into their private lives is Ary. She feels that she’s a fairly feminine woman. Even her friends refuse to accept that she could possibly pull off being a man. This is already outright bizarre given that within the first few shots we have of Ary, she’s pumping weights and heavily into exercise. Which may express a quick view into her life positing the consideration she may be a tomboy.
Ary also exhibits traits of being masculine by her very personality. She’s aggressive when she wants to be, and the version of manhood she chooses to become is a womanizer who is very egocentric. She, in character, even suggests that women like to get it from him, to be used. This suggesting that, mentally, she’s trying to be much more assertive and confident than she already is.
Next up we’re given Ryan. He’s the closest to normal or average we’ll get out of these four. It seems that he’s a womanizing type, but is really fairly sympathetic and reserved in his own regard. He’s the "macho man" persona the producers were apparently looking for in this role.
When we first meet Ryan, he’s talking about how he has nothing but respect for women but always ends up sleeping with them. This suggests he’s caught in a conflux between his thoughts on what masculinity is and his empathy for females in general.
Tye is an interesting individual as he’s one of the two more extreme individuals on the set. He’s already highly feminine and is trying to "be a better man." It’s striking to consider that he’s trying to emotionally reconnect himself to being a man when his energy levels suggest the opposite.
The big sensitivity issue with Tye arises after a baseball game gets rained out and someone finds out he’s really a man in drag. His emotions to his cohorts back at the apartment truly demonstrate how he’s just been struggling against his own emotional self.
Last up is Starla. Probably the most masculine woman the producers could find, she is already fairly manly in her approaches to life and is unable to understand why other people mistake her for a man. This in spite of the fact that her facial features and stature suggest a confident and outgoing attitude often associated with the male portion of society. She is quick to take charge and sensible enough to not involve herself in major disputes.
After the show is said and done, Starla refuses to do a follow up interview with the production staff. Perhaps this suggests she found out something about herself she wasn’t prepared to find. Then again, maybe she was just tired of the whole affair.
Role Reversal was an interesting production but its environment and extreme personalities was too unrealistic to be applied to the general populace. The players were already bordering on the edge of their inner personalities with two polar opposites as man (woman), woman (man), and the two lesser extremities who prove to be a balance between the polar extremes.
Some people may think that this is how men and women reversing roles will naturally act, but that’s not necessarily true. There have been and still are people who fall right in the middle of gender identity. Role Reversal might have made a fun viewing but it doesn’t speak to the actual differences inherent between men and women and certainly doesn’t represent a truth that this is how the average person may respond if left in a similar situation.