Representation and Respectability in Rocky Horror
How D’You Do
Rocky Horror is messy. Always has been. Some people love it, some people hate it. Some see it as liberation. Some see it as insulting and misleading. For transparency’s sake, I’ll state at the outset that I’m a lover. It was and is a positive celebratory thing in my life as a queer, AMAB transfemme kinky person. But I also have queer, AMAB transfemme kinky friends who loathe Rocky Horror as a degrading, damaging stereotype of our existence. And that’s fine. I get it. We can all have different feelings and experiential lenses that inform our view of it and they can all be true. There’s good reasons on all sides. And these multiplicities hold true down the demographic line — there are other people under the queer and trans umbrellas who hate it and some who love it, and there are some square cishet people who hate it and some who love it as well.
The recent remake starring Laverne Cox as Dr. Frank-N-Furter is fomenting these arguments again, particularly in the public realm of social media. So let’s take the opportunity to examine the value and drawbacks of the late night double feature picture show. What makes Rocky, well … Rocky? What makes Frank, for better or worse, one of the most enduring trans characters in media? What distinctions can we make between the two characterizations, and what are their auguries?