Publicized transitions are hard. Just ask Chaz Bono, Laura Jane Grace, or any other trans person in the media who has had to deal with the three-tiered process that begins with an onslaught of rumor, followed by the gossipy, photo-rich titterings of the press, and ends, inevitably, with a Dancing with the Stars appearance (Laura Jane, thankfully, has not yet gone down that road.) In the case of Lana Wachowski, who made her first post-transition appearance this week in the short video she made with Cloud Atlas co-collaborators Tom Twyker and brother Andy, a more interesting route was taken.
There were the rumors and there were titterings, but the blasé nature of Lana’s unveiling suggests a kind of maturity about Hollywood that one would never have guessed at, from the kinds of films it tends to put out. Wachowski’s Cloud Atlas adaptation is poised to be a groundbreaking film, as her and her brother’s Matrix series was back in the early days of the millenium. It’s always been a distinguishing characteristic of the Wachowskis, besides the grand, techno-rich aesthetics and manga-esque action sequences of their films, to aim for a wider spectrum of diversity in a way that most Hollywood offerings do not. The cast of the Matrix was seamlessly diverse, with a great deal of its cast consisting of people of color who were also figures of power in the film. The feminist sensibility of both the Matrix franchise and V for Vendetta (produced by the Wachowskis) was almost shockingly non-exploitative. In a genre (fantasy) where few non-white males have ever fairly or extensively treated, the Wachowskis utopian vision prevailed, and set the bar high.
Some years later, the genre has returned to form, with the conspicuous lack of both feminism and people of color catching heat in the form of passionate debates over what Game of Thrones owes to its public and what readers of The Hunger Games do to whitewash that series, Cloud Atlas promises, with its diverse cast and ponderous, intellectual narrative, to right at least a few of these wrongs.
So we’re glad to have a representative of progress in Lana Wachowski. We’re even more proud, what’s more, of her hair. It could have gone so wrong. White girl dreads? Almost always a bad idea. In the words of “Awkward Black Girl”‘s J: “Great friends are like nice-looking white dreads: hard to find”. But hot pink white girl dreads? That takes true chutzpah.