David’s exploration of confidence and self-knowledge was complimented by interviews with fascinating individuals including comedian Margaret Cho, sex advice columnist Dan Savage, writer David Sedaris, actor George Tekai, and fashion expert Tim Gunn on their assessments of both their own voices and the cultural biases surrounding the gay voice. It was also complimented by staged scenes, which felt a little off, and by street interviews.
I watched this film with my parents, who were in town from Iowa for the weekend. It prompted quite unexpected dinner conversation, especially regarding the three gay porn scenes featured in the film. To be clear, they each last probably 3-5 seconds, so they take up maybe 15 seconds total out of a 75-min film. I find the choice to include those scenes both bold and necessary; how can the filmmaker discuss his fear of not being desired and not address how this may tie to his own and cultural perceptions of desire through porn? Still, I admit it surprising and the lead-up was practically non-existent, giving me little time to mentally prepare to see (blurred, but still clear) gay porn. My mother and father saw the porn addition as a weakness that drew them out of the film, and I can understand their conundrum. The inclusion of the porn scenes ensured that the film, while anchored in universal questioning of confidence and desire for connection, remained incredibly tied to the film’s subject and unfortunately did detract from the connections I felt to the film. That being said, I would not advise him to remove the scenes; as this is still a personal exploration, it is necessary to discuss issues and stereotypes around pleasure.
Despite our arguments over those scenes, our conclusions were the same: the film was a fascinating take on the impact of the voice, from scientific examinations of intonation to the use of the “gay” voice in film. The cultural impact and assessment was the most intriguing; I immediately began paying more attention to the way I speak as well as my perceptions surrounding speech. If you can handle three quick porn scenes (you probably can), this is a worthwhile 75-min exploration that provides a whole new lens through which to view our culture of voices.