After fifteen minutes of Saving Private Tootsie, I realized that I was watching something for which I had very few if any cultural touchpoints. So, um, yeah — it’s a bold statement about the acceptability of Thai queer culture framed by a Steven Spielberg pastiche and beyond that I am not competent to say. I liked it, I think, but it was a strong reminder that our understanding of film relies on a shared vocabulary.
The ground the transvestites and soldiers travelled on their way back to Thailand, even, was unfamiliar. Landmines were a huge concern, the focus of much of the tension in the movie. That doesn’t resonate the same way with me. There were assumptions about hill tribes that I missed, I think, because I was too busy going “Huh, it’s a world in which it’s completely normal to expect tribes up in the jungles to be heavily armed and autonomous. Also, that kid is wearing a Liverpool shirt. Wow.”
On the other hand, the basic theme of intolerance defeated by simple forced contact is pretty universal, and the sergeant who was unhappy about his gay son was an easy character to follow. So it wasn’t as odd as I’m making it out to be. Just — different.