The horror genre is full of tropes designed to make you crazythings that have been used for decades to terrify the public. The fright, the face in the bathroom mirror, the chase scene – should I continue? It seems that there is nothing left to scare us, that everything has already been done hundreds of times. That is, until one movie dared to implement the scariest of all: self-empowering anthems.
she she (or she Slash Them”) is the new slasher movie Friday out on Peacock, billed as “an LGBTQIA+ empowerment story set in a conversion camp.” It tries to bring some originality back to mainstream horror. Aside from a few bigger names, such as Kevin Bacon, to be credible and attract a wider audience, it features a cast of fully queer actors, which is a huge step for a movie produced by a major studio.
The conversion camp setting is certainly one that could hold a great deal of horror movie potential; conversion camps are very real, horrible places where bigoted, ignorant families send children to be mentally and sometimes physically abused to they are so broken that they are “turned straight”. To put a slasher here and unleash a killer on the camp leaders could be a genius idea if done correctly.
It is therefore a pity that all the potential in she she is wasted by wafer-thin characters, nonsensical writing, and a genuine misunderstanding of the real horrors that exist within those camp gates. Not even his masked killer gives a single tremor. The real fear in she she can be found in the horrifying scenario, especially one that I will never be able to shake off. The only thing scarier than a conversion camp is one where your fellow campers start a P!nk sing-along.
During a touching scene in the middle of the film, two campers, Jordan (Theo Germaine) and Alexandra (Quei Tann), discuss the difficulties of young transgender people and their experiences living openly after coming out. The scene is rightly poignant and left me thinking for a moment that: she she would have some worthy takeaways anyway. And then, to my astonishing shock, Alexandra starts singing P!nk’s “Fuckin’ Perfect” for Jordan. Moments later, the other campers join up one by one to make a full music track.
Oh, how naive we were to think cheerfulness was gone and buried. The dead always come back for one last fright.
In case you might not know, “Fuckin’ Perfect” is a self-empowering anthem created by P!nk specifically to be a dastardly, chorus-heavy earwig. It’s full of bare, platitudinal texts (“Change the voices in your head/make them like you instead”) and banal messages. An insincere attempt at connection.
I’ve spent a third of my life trying to escape this song, dodging bad Pride playlists and Midwestern radio stations when I go home to visit my parents. So to face it in she shehaving nowhere to run after being off guard watching the one emotional moment of the movie was like being pushed into a horror movie of my own.
There is a special kind of chills my body gets when I experience unbearable shame. They usually pop up at a movie theater when a trailer comes out that’s so incredibly stupid – or, on the other hand, was meant to be so big, but completely misses the mark (Avatar 2!) – that my body can’t help but form a physical response to try to warn me to go into fight or flight mode. I got chills from head to toe watching this scene. I nearly passed out when a camper jumped on a bed to sing P!nk’s pseudo-rap verse.
I had to watch it several times to write the piece you are now reading, a task that seemed almost unbearable. I even kept my Peacock subscription for a month after the last episode of Real housewives ultimate girls Travel season 2 so I could access it she she one more time on the day of publication to write an accurate article – journalism is not dead, folks.
This scene is what some phobia therapists would call immersion therapy, except I’d rather be covered in a tank of snakes. And I hate snakes.
Even more shocking is that she she is directed and written by John Logan, who has not only written fantastic films such as skyfall and Aviator, but is also openly gay. “I love that song, I love P!nk,” he told Available soon. “I wrote [the script] to the stage version of Moulin Rouge, where we used P!nk, so P!nk was in my head a lot.” That, my friend, is what we call a gay fever dream. We all get them after falling asleep listening to Britney Spears or Toni Braxton, but the chaos they wreak in our subconscious has no place on the screen, at least not in this way.
In addition, “Fuckin Perfect” is taken from P!nk’s greatest hits album, which has the bold title: Greatest Hits…So Far!!!, including exclamation marks. While I appreciate the wanton ambition of that title and how it reads like a tweet I made in a state of mania, that album also features a little song called “Stupid Girls,” the hottest slut-shaming song of 2006. So. Forgive me if I’m not one to sympathize with P!nk’s perspective on seemingly troubled life, when one of the most popular songs in her body of work focused on tearing women down for shopping and dating.
Or how about when P!nk took the stage at a Human Rights Campaign event (already questionable) and began her speech by saying, “I’m gay… actually I’m not.” Personally, I think it’s really cool and fun to treat coming out like a silly joke. As a thank you, let’s throw a few thousand dollars in movie royalties her way.
I can think of half a dozen songs that would have suited this scene better. A little song called “Brave” by Sara Bareilles. Maybe something off Born this way. My goodness, Britney Spears’ “Lucky” could even have done the trick in context. That is in any case a song that the audience would like to join in the conversation instead of audibly moaning. Those songs may not be any less cringe-inducing, but they’re at least half way listenable.
she she the needle does not move. It has nothing new to say, and therefore nothing to lose. It may have put its fictional campers in a conversion camp, stalked by a (non-scary) masked killer, but I was a strange person who faced real coercion when I was confronted by a mohawked auditory attacker whose real name is Alicia Moore . P!nk has been stalking me for years with this song, blasting through the roof of my car doing aerial acrobatics every time it’s played on FM radio.
When she she finally shrieking and turning black, I thought I had escaped this nightmarish world for good. No more weird scenes where counselors hook people up to electroshock machines and show them what look like images you’d pull from screensavers dot com if you searched “muscle man.” No more bad haircuts and paint jobs. No more sing-alongs.
And then there was one last jumpscare: “Fuckin’ Perfect” played over the credits. she she I may not have been scared once, but I will have nightmares for weeks to come.