Bil Browning

Transgender Pinocchio

Filed By Bil Browning | September 26, 2010 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: funny videos, Pinocchio, transgender

What's your opinion on this? I've been sent the same video by two different Projectors now. One thought it was a great trans-positive toon while the other found it slightly offensive.

See more funny videos and funny pictures at CollegeHumor.

Personally, I found it to be funny and trans positive if a little skewed (as any good toon should be!)


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I was good with it until the last thirty seconds or so. I know that's where the "funny" came in but seriously, that's just cheap lowbrow humor that unnecessarily focuses the trans experience upon genitalia (as always, sigh),

Seconded. Cis humor about trans bodies always seems to come down to 'Chopping it off'.

I've noticed that too. After seeing enough of it, I come to believe that cis people are REALLY obsessed about genitals. Seems wildly out of proportion to me. I think you might have to be born that way to understand.

Offensive, maybe a little. But, y'know, I'm Jewish and I find Borat funny. I can be trans and find this funny, too.

Sure, some of the nuance is missing from this, but this is Collegehumor, which makes fun of everyone for just about everything. Going for a cheap laugh is their stock in trade, and it's not like Pinnochio-as-transgirl was even the punchline. It was a two-bit dick joke with Gepetto as the butt.

I mean, if we're being made fun of lightly like everyone else, isn't that normalizing?

I don't find it offensive. I think it nicely thought-provoking. Thanks for the post, Bil!

Upon what standards are we to judge? This is an obvious improvement beyond what trans content you might have found on similar sites 5-10 years ago. It's chalk full of trans positive messages, which given the context some people are bound to laugh at. Still, those messages are validated and supported throughout.

But yes, very quick to the genitals and "chopping it off," which shouldn't be an issue at all for puppets. Really, if Pinocchio could be turned into a "real boy" with a heart and lungs and other complex organs, why does the puppet body need to be altered in order to be turned into a "real girl" (and how on earth could a wood chipper accomplish that without further damage). Not to mention the title "Pinocchio has gender issues" when it's clear that Gepetto is the one with the hangups in this story.

Beyond that, I just thought they took it in the wrong direction. Pinocchio has always been a trans male story.

Au contraire Tobi... making Pinocchio wanting a 'sex change' is the college humor way of stating what a faggy little character Disney's version of the puppet boy is. See, that's the joke, "I'm such a little fag, I actually want to cut my dick off." Oh yes, that and, for a second, we're supposed to think it would be funny if Pinocchio wanted to commit suicide in a wood chipper because he thinks he's a girl.

Au contraire Tobi... making Pinocchio wanting a 'sex change' is the college humor way of stating what a faggy little character Disney's version of the puppet boy is. See, that's the joke, "I'm such a little fag, I actually want to cut my dick off." Oh yes, that and, for a second, we're supposed to think it would be funny if Pinocchio wanted to commit suicide in a wood chipper because he thinks he's a girl.

Give me a break, folks. I transitioned 10 years ago & it's great that there is a cartoon to bring more attention to trans folks with a bit of humour. And the good witch Glenda is the conscience of how trans children/people should be treated. Thumbs up.

Michelle Kelley | September 27, 2010 9:53 AM

I agree. The very fact that the authors are poking fun at us through the cartoon is a mainstreaming action (prefer that to "normalizing" used elsewhere). And after all - humor focuses on the basic reality of a situation and tweaks it for the laugh. Many of us DO have it cut off......

Sharon KathyJo | September 27, 2010 2:28 AM

If this was meant to be trans positive, I don't think it quite works. It's too fixated on genitals... and heading off to "pleasure island" seems to imply that the gender identiy is erotically motivated rather than identity focused. I do know that we are sexual creatures but considering that the subject of this gender issue is a child, I think that the sexual references are misplaced. YMMV

As a trans person, I thought it was mostly hilarious. I agree that the focus on genitalia was a little forced, and didn't seem to add much humor-wise. That kind of focus probably hits a sore spot, since many trans people focus on their own and others' genitalia more than they'd like to admit.

That said, considering how tough it is to make a funny AND trans-positive short like this, I think they did an awesome job. Geppetto is obviously making a fool of himself, while the faerie, Jiminy, and Emily sound measured and reasonable as they continue to stand up for what Emily wants.

Nice work College Humor!

I find it quite the far improvement over that 'Family Guy' episode for a 'cartoon' (duh!)but it still leaves us as caricatures of people, rather that that of people. The genital reference is of course tasteless, so typical the focus of people when discussing anything 'trans.'

If this was (with the genital reference removed) done with real people, a young trans girl, it could have been something really informative, ie a nice PSA.

Also: A marginalizing factor is the inference of 'dummy' and 'wooden' (as in nature of the person) and far more insidious is the reference to the genitalia and the wood chipper as a grostesque method of transition surgery to remove, ie the 'woodie.' Very tacky.

I can forgive some amount of insult if the end result is funny enough. The problem with this isn't that it's offensive (it is, but only mildly so), the problem is that it's witless.

cut off? it's not necessarily cut off and much as reconstructed.
consider a frayed cuff. it's not cut off it's just turned over, an improvement.
so one wouldn't be cutting it off, just improving.

Trans-positive because it co-opts some of the language of trans people? It's still all about genitals, and the anxiety that SRS invokes in real, red-blooded American men. Ha, ha.

And it still says nothing positive about the lives of trans people. We're all just freaks heading off to Pleasure Island -- to try out our neo-vaginas?

Potty humor.

So,

I see. Having a gender issue is like living in a fairy tale, a la la land where any impossible wish is granted. Pinnochio has a gender issue that causes him to jump into a wood chipper and have his "gender" mulched. "She" still appears to be a little boy when "she" jumps out of the chipper. I see. "She" is still a little boy but a little boy living in la la land with a mutilated "gender".

What are these kids being taught in college these days? This is right out the Archives of Sexual Behavior - AGTS w/ BIID. I see. Yes, ASB - the "peer reviewed" journal of college humor. I didn't know they did animated cartoons. Hardy har har.

Hey, Rik? I don't want this kind of attention. I'm perfectly happy as a middle-aged woman getting safe, appropriate attention (flirting) from middle-aged men.

Nothing that refers to being transsexual as having "gender issues" is trans-positive. Merely refraining from advocating abuse of transpeople does not make a clip trans-positive.

"Gender issues" as a descriptor goes both ways. It's all about context.

If it's said within the context of, "this freak can't handle the fact that having a penis makes him a boy; he's got issues" then it's definitely negative. (And it relies on the innacurate assumption that gender and sex are interchangable.)

If it's within the context of "this person feels an incongruity between their birth sex and their gender identity, which is an issue because it's distressing," it acknowledges that being trans is okay and not a detractor of a person's value, without overlooking the fact that it IS a source of suffering until the feeling of incongruity is resolved. (And that can range anywhere from simply changing physical appearance without any medical treatment, to the more commonly-known "tossing your woodie through the chipper" as Emily did.)

janiice J carney | September 27, 2010 9:45 PM

It is some what funny , But self-mutilation is a serious issue in the transgender community. Encouraging chopping of one's penis is not a good thing.

janiice J carney | September 27, 2010 9:46 PM

It is some what funny , But self-mutilation is a serious issue in the transgender community. Encouraging chopping of one's penis is not a good thing.

The interesting thing for me is that of all the themes and stories in popular culture aimed at children, Pinocchio was THE story that held resonance for me growing up. What other story out there is centered on the theme of wishing to have your body changed to be a "real" XYZ and then to have the wish fulfilled? The moment at the end when the Blue Fairy transforms Pinocchio's wooden body to real flesh and blood was such a powerful scene to me. Up to the wood chipper scene, the College Humor video was delightful because it reminded me of my own engagement with the Pinocchio story. And I especially liked how Emily was insistent about Geppetto using the correct name, and how she has support from Jiminy and the Blue Fairy. But the ending is particularly degrading and also dumb (the Blue Fairy could simply transform Emily like she would have in the movie), thrown in for some sophomoric laughs (it IS College Humor, after all). Trans people are so often the butt of jokes that this video seemed to have the refreshing potential of validating a trans perspective, only to have it fall back to stereotype again. Also the act of mutilation is depicted as a rash and defiant act of rebellion against family (Geppetto).

Oh, lighten up! It was a cute vid with all the right things said in the right way. If it weren't for the last woodchipper bit, I would think it was a public service announcement for grade schools. We have to quit looking for the mean and spiteful, when there is no mean and spiteful. Hey, it's funny! Wood chipper? get it? Gippeto making penises in hos wood shop? Lighten up! It might be a little off-message on a couple points, but mostly, it's good. It had to go for the punch line, but getting there was half the fun.

That Emily decides to go to Pleasure Island in the end to degrade herself is likely the result of lack of acceptance from Geppetto.