Social media abuse saw actor Hugh Sheridan hospitalised for mental health treatment during the past week. Previously, an Instagram post led to the postponement of a season of Hedwig and the Angry Inch starring the actor. The Daily Mail reports the backlash over his casting to take on a role some characterise as transgender included vitriolic trolling.
Producers cast Hugh Sheridan for the lead role. Hedwig is a queer punk musician who undergoes a botched gender reassignment operation in order to escape East Germany.
However, some people see the character as transgender. In another social media controversy recently, some posited that Frank-N-Furter from The Rocky Horror Picture Show is transgender. That despite Frank-N-Furter strutting the stage in fishnet stockings proclaiming, “I’m just a sweet transvestite.”
Frank-N-Furter, of course, can be and has been, played by a transgender actor. As has Hedwig.
John Cameron Mitchell who created the role told Buzzfeed in 2018 he designed Hedwig so anyone could play the character.
“I’ve seen trans people do it. I’ve seen female people do it. Once it’s known as a quantity, I think it’s kind of cool that the males started it out, but then the metaphor gets extended and maybe becomes a mask, and a mask where the feelings and the ideas are more important than the attributes of the person playing it physically or age-wise.”
Queer Artists Alliance
The open letter that caused the recent controversy emanated from an Instagram account billing itself as the Queer Artists Alliance.
“The choice to cast a cisgender male as a transgender character is offensive and damaging to the trans community. [It] continues to cause genuine distress and frustration amongst trans and gender non-conforming performers across Australia.
“It is unquestionable Hugh is a talented and deserving actor. [However] it is not appropriate for a cisgender actor to be the gatekeeper of a trans story.
“We understand the box office appeal in having a famous and commercially successful actor such as Hugh Sheridan headlining the show.
“Our problem is that marginalised groups have been excluded from participating in a significant opportunity to tell our story because we are not as ‘well-known’ or may not ‘sell enough tickets’.”
Hugh Sheridan hospitalised
The Daily Mail showed photographs of Hugh Sheridan leaving hospital with a bandaged hand and wearing a patient wristband. His Packed to the Rafters costar Jessica Marais and another friend accompanied him.
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