G.B.F, directed by Darren Stein and written by George Northy is a short film that covers serious world issues within the scope of an average North American high school. G.B.F, meaning “gay best friend”, primarily focuses on the experience an adolescence Tanner is faced with when he is exposed as being gay to the school before he is ready. To make matters in Tanner’s life more complicated, it was his own best gay best friend who let everyone know Tanner’s secret. Tanner is played by Michael.J.Williet and works alongside other actors such as Paul Iacono, Sasha Pieterse, Andrea Bowen, and Xosha Roquemore. However, the reaction from Tanner’s peers is not the typical negative bullying scenario we see too many times in our communities today. In fact, Tanner becomes the school’s most popular kid. After reading in a pop culture magazine that the newest teen fad is having a G.B.F, Tanner becomes a victim in a war between the three competing Queen Bee’s of his high school. Each girl attempts to be the most popular girl in school, with the hopes of winning prom Queen. As the competition continues, it becomes apparent to them that having Tanner as their G.B.F is the secret weapon in winning. Thus, the movie follows Tanner’s struggles from dealing with his sexuality publicly, being in a fight with his best friend, and getting caught up in the popularity contest we know as high school. Overall, the movie does a fine job in exploring the effects of primarily gay stereotypes, along with racism, religious extremists with of course the proper dose of comic relief.
The movie is narrated from Tanner’s point of view and is told in a chronological order. Although at times it can be a bit boring to watch day to day events unfold, it is effective in making this movie as close to a real experience as possible. In addition, the movie uses witty comments and light humor while covering important issues adolescence face. I thought this technique was particularly brilliant as it relieves some of the seriousness without downplaying the urgency of the topics covered.
At the forefront of the movie is Tanner’s experience as being a homosexual in a predominantly straight high school. In my opinion, the biggest mistake we make in our world today is limiting people to the one aspect of their individual. I was strongly impressed with the way G.B.F demonstrates this through the use of humor. As soon as the school’s Queen Bees learnt that Tanner is gay, that is the only quality about him they cared about. He is no longer the Tanner who may identify himself with multiple different categories such as ethnicity, race, religion, education, and yes sexual orientation. In the eyes of the Queen Bees he is now strictly stuck in the “box” labeled homosexual. Much like anything else there is of course a stereotype associated with being homosexual. Northy also does a fine job in incorporating gay stereotypes, of course with some humor because let’s face it stereotypes are often funny because they are so wrong. Fawcett (Sasha Pieterse), one of the school’s Queen Bees states to Tanner after finding out that he’s gay “You don’t even sound like the ones on Bravo. We can totally gay you over.”
Along with the inclusion of issues regarding gay stereotypes, G.B.F also touches upon the issue of racism and religious extremists. Caprice, played by Xosha Roquemore makes a plea to Tanner that she needs him as her G.B.F so that she can be the first Prom Queen of colour. She shows Tanner pictures of the long list of previous Prom Queens; all white, blond, petite, essentially the Hollywood definition of beautiful. Furthermore, Caprice’s competitor for the crown, Fawcett follows suit perfectly to the description of previous queens. This directly reflects the way pop culture influences our perception of beauty. Andrea Bowen plays the third Queen Bee named ‘Shley. ‘Shely fits the perfect stereotype of a religious extremist. Typically, when people think of a religious extremist and a homosexual together in a movie, it is assumed that they will not get along. However, G.B.F presents the alternative approach. In this case, ‘Shley is accepting of Tanner’s sexual orientation. Yes, she is using her friendship with him to increase her chances of being chosen for prom queen but I still found it refreshing to not see the typical hatred extremists cast towards gays.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed attending this festival and was content with my choice of watching G.B.F. If I had to contribute one piece of criticism to the movie it would be with regards to the representation of the homosexual characters. Both Tanner and his best friend Brent are depicted as the stereotypical gay individual seeming flamboyant and feminine. I think it would have been more refreshing to see characters that depict all different characteristics and not just those considered more feminine. With that being said, G.B.F conveyed the messages of gay stereotypes, racism and religious extremists to the today’s adolescence in an entertaining and funny film.