Tropfest Winner ‘Bamboozled’ Accused Of Being Anti-Gay; Petition Started To Force Matt Hardie To Apologise

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By Anne Lu | December 11, 2013 1:47 AM EST

Tropfest 2013 winner “Bamboozled” is being accused of homophobia. Some viewers were so offended by the short film, which is a comedy about gay sex, that they are petitioning for the film festival and filmmaker Matt Hardie to issue a public apology.

The seven-minute film bagged the prize at the 2013 Tropfest film festival in Sydney on Sunday. Not only that, Hardie, the writer/director/producer of the film, also shared the Best Male Actor trophy with co-star Aaron Tsindos.

As the winner of Tropfest, Hardie won a car, a trip to Los Angeles, and $10,000 prize money.

“I feel ecstatic. I’m losing my mind,” Hardie was quoted by the Sydney Morning Herald as saying.

But while he was obviously proud of his work, there are viewers who didn’t feel the same way. The film has been bombarded with criticisms from social media commenters who claim that Hardie’s winning creation degraded homosexuals and transgender people.

The short film depicts same-sex relationship between a man and his former girlfriend who has had a sex change. Pete, played by Hardie, was chanced upon by a stranger at a bus stop. The man recognised Pete and introduced himself as Helen, whom Pete had dated for a while in the past.

Apparently, Helen had a sex change, and is now called Harry. The two former lovers then went on a drinking spree together, having fun while reconnecting with each other. They ended up in bed together, and the realisation came up the next day when it was revealed that Pete was “bamboozled” by a film crew. It turned out that Harry wasn’t Helen, and Helen set him up to sleep with a man.

Pete was clearly mortified as Harry, Helen, and the film crew laughed at him.

Critics of the film were incensed at its alleged treatment of gay and transgender people.

There were some defenders as well.

And as Scott on Tumblr wrote, “Pete isn’t ashamed he had sex with a guy; he’s hurt that he’s been duped.”

But the offended viewers wouldn’t want to Hardie get away with it. An online petition started by a S Hodgins on Change.org wants Tropfest and Hardie to issue a public apology for the film.

“The Sex Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to discriminate against and/or vilify someone on the basis of their sexuality, gender identity or intersex status. Regardless of whether this was Mr Hardie’s intent and whether TropFest and the judging panel intended to condone it, it is clear that this film has caused many people in Australia’s GLBTIQ community to feel further marginalised and ridiculed.”

Hardie is aware that his film is creating massive backlash on social media, but insists that he was driving a point.

“I’m copping it hard from some people. I guess that just going to happen with such a controversial subject matter,” he told If.com.au.

“But I’m not homophobic and I don’t think the movie is homophobic or transphobic. People are completely missing the point. The main character decides to sleep with the transgender person because he loves that person for who they are. But it’s not even a transgender character... it’s someone playing a trick on him. It’s more a comment on media and the extremes to which reality TV could go... It’s satirising.”

Watch the short film here:

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