In the summer of 2013, filmmaker Alli Coates, and performance artist Signe Pierce, made a short video of a “social experiment” they conducted, in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The video is a shocking commentary on American intolerance, and fear of things that we cannot identify or categorize.
The video, called “American Reflexxx,” features Pierce, dressed in what Coates calls “stripper attire,” and a reflective mask, walking around the streets of Myrtle Beach. People begin to take notice, and, while most offer a look, or a comment, and move on, a small crowd develops, following her around. There is a good deal of dialog amongst the crowd, about whether Pierce is a man or a woman. “That’s a dude!” can be heard a number of times. It is obvious that some of the onlookers are disturbed by their inability to see Pierce’s face. One man says, “Your body bad, but I can’t tell what you look like until I see your face.”
As the 14-minute video progresses, some in the crowd become more aggressive towards Pierce. Things are thrown at her. A woman runs into the picture, and shoves Pierce from behind, knocking her to the ground. The crowd surrounds her as she lies on the ground, but only one man even attempts to see if she is alright, and even he doesn’t try to help her up. Some call for him to take off her mask. Eventually, Pierce sits up, gathers her things, and resumes walking down the street, with the crowd in tow. If you think that intolerance is dying out with older Americans, think again. The crowd that follows Pierce is made up of mostly young people.
Director Coates describes “American Reflexxx” as “[A] heart wrenching technicolor spectacle that raises questions about gender stereotypes, mob mentality, and violence in America.” It is a disturbing commentary on American society, and our reactions to things that are different, unusual, or that make us uncomfortable in some way.
Here is “American Reflexxx,” via YouTube (Caution: Strong language)
Featured image via YouTube screen capture