Titane is a film about human evolution, identity, and connection. This unique film is so much more than you'd imagine.
Media from this week's episode:
Following a series of unexplained crimes, a father is reunited with the son who has been missing for 10 years.
The Human Evolution of Body, Mind & Soul in Titane by Gabe Castro
RED: Quotes, someone else's words.
Today’s film is about sexy cars and wild rides. But at the heart, it’s about family. No, I am not talking about the Fast & Furious franchise.
Titane follows Alexia/Adrien as they find themselves. This journey and transformation inspires the next step in human evolution, combats patriarchal gender norms, and highlights the importance of found family. We are introduced to Alexia when they are young, riding in the backseat of the car they hum along to the sounds of the roaring engine. Their father is obviously annoyed and turns the music up louder. Alexia then kicks his chair. They then unbuckle their seatbelt and goes to move, resulting in their father taking their eyes off the road and causing an accident. Alexia is then seen with a titanium plate in their head and a brace. This marriage between metal and their physical body is important. They seemed to always have some connection to cars (given the humming) but it’s only made stronger when they have metal in their body. Alexia leaves the hospital and immediately strokes the car and hugs it.
Flashforward, Alexia works as a dancer at a car show. They dance seductively on top of beautifully detailed cars for a crowd of men. These men think they have some ownership over the performers (ain’t that the way) and one man follows Alexia out after the show is over. This man throws himself onto Alexia, by their reactions it seems to be something that happens often. Alexia, in viscous self-defense, murders this man by way of a chopstick to the ear. This adrenaline rush leads Alexia back into the car show area where they then…have sex with a car. It’s a peculiar scene but there’s no question about what’s happening.
Alexia is then believed to be pregnant, with a car baby? A monster? A ghost? And while exploring their sexuality further, end up on a bit of a killing spree. It’s comical and odd, like most of this film but it serves to paint a soulless, careless, and monstrous Alexia. Desperate after the murders that seemed to keep piling up, they kill their parents and then run away. They change their appearance and assume the identity of a missing boy.
This choice leads Alexia to become Adrien, the son of Vincent, an overly masculine empty shell of a man who has been seeking something to fill the void his son’s disappearance left. Over the rest of the film, we watch as Vincent embraces this obvious imposter, understanding that this isn’t Adrien but they are still his son. Alexia/Adrien become themselves, exploring their identity and growing out of the isolated and broken life they’d been forced to live with their real parents. With this newfound family, Adrien is given the space to evolve. As their stomach grows, their gender identity, humanity, and more force them and Vincent to confront their own biases and expectations.
Masculinity/Feminity/Humanity - Metamorphasis of Gender Identity
In the beginning, Alexia is an incredibly sexualized femme body. She appears to derive pleasure from the experience of dancing. Connecting and performing on top of this vehicle gives her a freedom she is denied in other venues. However, she is never overly feminine. After the accident, her head is shaved for the plate which gives young Alexia the appearance of a young boy. In adulthood, they sport a mullet and when not dancing scantily clad on cars, they wear gender-neutral clothing.
After their intimate act with the car, Alexia is pregnant. Not wanting to share this information, they begin binding their body to hide the growth. Binding is a process many with gender dysphoria may use to form their body into the shape they know their body should be. Throughout this film, there are many gender-specific actions that occur in contradictory ways to gender expectations. At one point, Vincent shaves Adrien’s face explaining that it’ll help the hair grow.
In a video by The Oscar Expert on Youtube, What TITANE is really about | Explained, they explain the interesting evolution of Alexia/Adrien’s gender ambiguity.
“As she becomes more and more disconnected from who she is and experiences gender dysphoria, the feeling that her body does not match her gender identity. That is where the body horror genre comes into play. It expresses this disconnect from one's body and one's gender as a horrifying experience. She cannot control the changes her body is undergoing, even as her identity moves away from that, but it's not that Alexia wants to be a man necessarily. We see later when she's dancing on the firetruck how that feminine part of her still exists, and that she wants Vincent and others to see it. Gender identity for her is often just this burden…The way others perceive her gender affects so much about the way she goes about the world how she can be loved.”
Both Alexia and Vincent suffer from body dysmorphia and in constant battles against society’s gender expectations of them. There’s a scene where Alexia is on a bus as Adrien. They are seated across the aisle from a woman. In the back, there is a group of boys who begin harassing the woman. There’s discomfort on Adrien’s face but they don’t intervene. They experience for a moment, the freedom of not being disrespected for existing while passing as male.
For Vincent, he is someone who is at the mercy of masculinity. He uses steroids to push his body and transform it into the masculine figure he feels he needs to be. Though always cast in a purple/pink light, he exudes rugged male energy. He is also soft and kind, he dances and sings. The obsession with muscle to the point of hurting himself is a symptom of gender dysmorphia as well.
In an article on Them titled, Titane Prove No One Has a Body, Author Sasha Geffen explains that the film goes farther than simply telling a trans story. We don’t have one gender that is supposed to be another, instead there are no genders to be had at all.
“Ducournau’s imagery reframes tropes of transphobic cinema to illuminate the monstrosity of all gendered bodies, cis or otherwise. She suggests that transness is not a contained error within an otherwise pristine system, but the key to understanding what it means to have a body in the first place. All humans twist disobedient flesh into communicative social forms. Everyone falls short of gender’s fragile scaffolding in life, and everyone ultimately denatures into entropy through death. These failures and collapses don’t indicate a deficiency in humanity; they are central to what it means to be human. In Titane, there is no such thing as a transgender body because there is no such thing as a cisgender body.”
For me, the messaging and approach feel like what Garland was possibly trying to convey in Men but failed drastically because they didn’t understand that one point. Your body isn’t wrong, it’s the expectations we put upon them that is.
The relationship between Vincent and Alexia/Adrien is so important. Alexia becoming Adrien and thus finding themselves as well as their ability to be loved allows the to become more human. In their life before, you can see the uncaring nature of their biological father. He is annoyed at them in the opening scenes and later, he refuses to look at them. He is mechanical and muted in his interactions with them. Their mother is forgettable, a spector. When Alexia first becomes Adrien, Vincent looks at them and sees them. He continues to do this throughout and is set on having Adrien understand that they will be loved no matter who they truly are.
Later, in a scene where Alexia is affirming their identity, they are dancing atop a firetruck while presenting as Adrien. It’s a confusing moment for the fireman, who believe Adrien to be male, to see them dance in the feminine way they had at the car show. For Vincent, it’s a particularly challenging scene that forces him to reconcile with the new Adrien. In that same video they explain, “And the challenge for him is that in order to give that love, he needs to surrender all expectations that he has for his son. He needs to see them through all the constructs and social categories that he has bought into his whole life. He can't project any desires or expectations that he has onto her. This resembles in many ways a coming out tale.”
By releasing those expectations, he is then allowed to love them completely and to a further extent, love himself. If he can love a son who contradicts societal masculinity then could he love himself for who he is and no longer need to push his body past its limits for validation he’s put upon himself
Acceptance and Human Evolution
As incredibly interesting and unique this film is in its entirety, the most impactful piece of this film is the ending. SPOILER ALERT. Alexia gives birth a child. I use Alexia because it’s in the midst of giving birth that Vincent is forced to contend with the person Alexia truly is. His “son” is on his bed, on all fours, clearly mid-labor. He makes to leave but stops when asked for help. Vincent weighs this reality, leave and remember his son as he has - returned to him a bit changed but his son nonetheless, or stay and accept the being that isn’t his lost son but instead a son he found and needed. Choosing to stay, he agrees to help. They tell him their real name, Alexia, to which he reaffirms. While they push forth this new creature, Vincent comforts them and says, “I’m here. I’m here.”
Alexia ultimately gives birth to their child. In this act, they’ve sacrificed their own life and die in the process. In one way, they’ve shed this current skin and allowed for the next step in human evolution. In their final moments, they were allowed to be and accepted as the true form of Alexia. Vincent now has this new child to care for and one that is unique. The child has inherited their parent’s titanium plate and exhibits other car features.
We’ve discussed the Digital Apocalypse on our show in the past and the understanding we walked away with was that the world won’t end with the Digital Apocalypse but it certainly will change. The next logical step in human evolution is only possible with a blend of technology. This can take many forms from physical such as implants and prosthetics to the more abstract, such as our reliance on technology and the effortless blend of technology in our lives. Humans are in the midst of that evolution and so, this idea of our next series of humans being techs makes sense. Further than the technological evolution, is the film’s movement from and shedding of gender norms. As a society, we’re becoming more understanding of the limitations our gender constructs have put upon us. We are deconstructing our own understanding of self, identity and being. With it we have an evolution of the body and mind, as expressed in this film.
Furthermore, to have this evolution occur with body, mind, and spirit is powerful. In the end, we’re left with a physical anomaly born of a finally accepted person who learned to love and be loved. We expect Vincent to go on loving and caring for this child who will undoubtedly cross more lines than gender with its newness. In the end, Titane is a story about our evolution and acceptance, loving ourselves and others, and allowing or accepting that change is coming.
Ducournau said in an interview about Titane, “The idea was to create a new humanity that is strong because it’s monstrous — and not the other way around. Monstrosity, for me, is always positive."
Titane & LGBTQIA+ Life Resources by Kat Kushin
RED: Quotes, someone else's words.
At first I had a bit of a hard time processing the million things happening in this film, but the more I thought about it the more I found it fascinating. Both from a neurological standpoint, in how neglect shapes the developing brain, as well as the many pieces of this film that I related to - outside the serial murder, and obsession with cars.
For the resource section today I focused in on a collection LGBTQIA centered resources, with some call backs to resources found in our previous F the Patriarchy episodes. There are some sprinkles of intersectional feminism as well. As I've said in previous episodes, if you know of any resources you want me to add to these lists and share outs send us an email at email@example.com .
I got many resources from this list from GLAAD: https://www.glaad.org/transgender/resources
Legislative Tracker: https://freedomforallamericans.org/legislative-tracker/anti-transgender-legislation/
As the national campaign to win LGBTQ-inclusive nondiscrimination protections, we want to be sure anyone who cares about securing these critical protections nationwide is equipped with everything they need to know to be strong advocates:
The National Center for Transgender Equality advocates to change policies and society to increase understanding and acceptance of transgender people. In the nation’s capital and throughout the country, NCTE works to replace disrespect, discrimination, and violence with empathy, opportunity, and justice: https://transequality.org/
Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund is committed to ending discrimination based upon gender identity and expression and to achieving equality for transgender people through public education, test-case litigation, direct legal services, and public policy efforts: https://www.transgenderlegal.org/
The Trans Agenda for Liberation is a community-led guide towards the world we deserve: https://transgenderlawcenter.org/
The Sylvia Rivera Law Project works to guarantee that all people are free to self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence: https://srlp.org/
At Trans Women of Color Collective, our work centers healing and restorative justice through development, empowerment, power, but most importantly, leading with love: https://www.twocc.us/
The National Black Trans Advocacy Coalition works with communities in the U.S. and across the globe to foster diversity, inclusion and equality for all people and is lead by the Black Transmen, Inc., Black Transwomen, Inc and Black Trans MX non profit organizations: https://blacktrans.org/
The vision of The TransLatin@ Coalition is to amplify education and resources to promote the empowerment of Trans leaders:
Gender Spectrum hosts online groups for pre-teens, teens, parents, caregivers, and other family members: https://www.genderspectrum.org/resources
Welcome to our one-stop hub for name and gender change information. Find out how to update your name and gender on state and federal IDs and records: https://transequality.org/documents
The following resources explain up-to-date transgender people’s rights: https://transequality.org/know-your-rights
Getting Your Health Care Covered: a Guide for Transgender People: https://transequality.org/health-coverage-guide
Understanding the Gender Affirmative Model of Care:
Trans Day of Resilience: https://tdor.co/
The Trans Youth Equality Foundation provides education, advocacy, and support for transgender children, youth, and their families: http://www.transyouthequality.org/for-youth
TransTech’s mission is to empower, educate, and employ those facing barriers in education and in the work place, as well as to reduce instances of discrimination, with a concentration on trans and gender non conforming individuals: https://transtechsocial.org/
Below is an explanation of the bills that are trying to prevent transgender athletes from participating in high school, and in some cases, college and elementary school sports. For each state, we've provided a list of emails or links to contact lawmakers. In some cases we can provide a script to use to make it easy: https://www.transathlete.com/take-action
Trans Doe Task Force finds and researches cases of LGBTQ+ missing and murdered persons, especially focusing on unidentified individuals who may have been transgender. TDTF advises and educates the public, media, and forensic professionals about the needs of and differences between Trans Doe cases and other Doe cases. The TDTF can also assist law enforcement departments, medical examiners, and forensic anthropologists with getting their cases worked on by forensic genetic genealogists and has a Trans-led forensic genetic genealogy team in house: https://transdoetaskforce.org/
Resources for transgender (FTM, genderqueer, non-binary, genderfluid, gender non-conforming, and every other non-cis identity within the trans umbrella.):
Apply for surgery funds: https://www.pointofpride.org/annual-transgender-surgery-fund
Hormone replacement therapy funds: https://www.pointofpride.org/hrt-access-fund
Electrolysis Support Fund: https://www.pointofpride.org/electrolysis-support-fund
Free Chest Binders: https://www.pointofpride.org/free-chest-binders
Free Femme Shapewear: https://www.pointofpride.org/free-femme-shapewear
Trans Housing Coalition Fund: https://www.gofundme.com/f/trans-housing-coalition-fund
Fund crucial, affirming, life-saving programming and support for people impacted by incarceration and oppressive systems: https://www.blackandpink.org/DONATE/
Invest in the radical imaginations of trans people of color!: https://tdor.co/donate/
The African American Policy Forum: https://www.aapf.org/donate
POC Online Classroom - Intersectional Feminism (This resource provides free access to reading material - please provide financial compensation to the authors listed in this resources if you have the means to do so): http://www.poconlineclassroom.com/intersectional-feminism
Resources for Health Care Professionals serving intersectional women, and gender non-conforming communities: