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Man in the Mirror 2011

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Scenarios USA, 80 Hanson Place, Suite 305, Brooklyn, NY 11217; 718-230-5125
Produced by Jonathan Shoemaker
Directed by Joel Schumacher
DVD, color, 17 min.

Jr. High - General Adult
Adolescents, Gender Identity, Homosexuality, Bulllying

Date Entered: 06/27/2011

Reviewed by LaRoi Lawton, Library & Learning Resources Department, Bronx Community College of the City University of New York

Scenarios USA uses filmmaking to advance youth leadership, advocacy and self-expression in under-served teens. Scenarios USA asks teens to write about the issues that shape their lives for the annual "What's the REAL DEAL?" writing contest. The winning writers are united with some of Hollywood's finest filmmakers to convert their stories into award-winning short films.

In Man In The Mirror, Jason Gutierrez is a Puerto Rican from New York City and the classic all-American macho man. Jason has a beautiful girlfriend, has status among many of his classmates and is accepted by everyone, including an openly gay student whom the viewer later finds out, has romantic ties with Jason. Things heat up when his brother comes to visit who is openly gay.

It is clear that among many of Jason’s male friends their school has become a gauntlet through which students must pass every day. The argument between Jason’s girlfriend and one of the bullies taunting a gay student shows that bullies roam the halls, targeting the most vulnerable or isolated, beating them up, destroying their homework, and shoving them into lockers, dunking their heads in toilets or just relentlessly mocking them. It’s all done in public—on playgrounds, bathrooms, hallways, even in class. Some of the students either laugh and encourage it or scurry to the walls, hoping to remain invisible so they won’t become the next target. For many, just being noticed for being “uncool” or “weird” is a great fear—except for the openly gay student who challenges the mindset of many of the male students who happen to be friends of Jason. When Jason is observed kissing this same student the situation is even scarier when he confronts his friends beating the student he kissed in the bathroom. Here he is challenged by these same friends to prove his legitimacy as a man by joining in on the fray. Most people find explicit racist and anti-Semitic behavior unacceptable, an affront to their moral sensibilities. Racism and anti-Semitism are out of bounds even when they don’t become physical, and most of us believe that those who openly express those sentiments should be severely punished. Why is the same not true of gay bashing?

**Warning: There is a scene in the film where two males are kissing which may be disturbing to some viewers.