When not faced with immediate threats to our safety or consumed with the prospect of Trump as president, we New Yorkers are wont to turn our energies outwards, championing the city’s progressive values in places where they’re still doing it wrong. Like North Carolina, hey, remember that?
It was just this earlier this year that North Carolina lawmakers passed HB2, the horrific anti-transgender law, and wouldn’t you know it, that goddamn thing is still standing. A handful of bands cancelled their North Carolina tour dates to speak out against it, and college athletics programs pulled out earlier this month, but no progress on repealing the law has been made.
In an attempt to revive awareness about HB2, a small film production company in Brooklyn is taking a stand in the best way: with satire. The Dumbo-based company, XY Content, made a mockumentary-style film called Boycott Band, which proposes the following: What if, in light of the series of artists boycotting shows throughout North Carolina after HB2 was passed, a ’90s boy band made a comeback?
“I guess we’re… boycotting boycotting,” says one band member in the trailer. “It’s just like, we’re here!”
Boycott Band dropped last week, and you can watch the full, 23-minute movie for free on Vimeo. In a refreshing departure from the dated social parodies of Jimmy Kimmel, this film actually winks. It plays up mockumentary to the extreme; it even has a fake band website. It’s irreverent in all the right ways, and takes on a pretty heavy issue with enough levity to appeal to the masses — hopefully, the masses in North Carolina.
“Before living in Brooklyn I played in a pop-rock band in North Carolina, and met other small bands with big aspirations,” Habib Yazdi, the film’s director, told Brokelyn. “It seemed fitting … as way to blend a struggling band story with satire, and suggest that, here’s a ‘good’ thing that can come from HB2: a terrible, fame-obsessed band that otherwise would never make it now has a shot. And by that I mean that HB2 can only be good for bad things; which is essentially the point of the film.”
A little fuzzy on House Bill Two? Here’s a refresher, and the gist of it:
(b) Single-Sex Multiple Occupancy Bathroom and Changing Facilities. – Local boards of education shall require every multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility that is Page 2 Session Law 2016-3 House Bill 2 designated for student use to be designated for and used only by students based on their biological sex.
(c) Accommodations Permitted. – […] in no event shall that accommodation result in the local boards of education allowing a student to use a multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility designated under subsection (b) of this section for a sex other than the student’s biological sex.
But how do you fight hate from across state lines? New York boasts a level of tolerance and forward thinking that makes the other East Coast states blush, but it’s hard to get that message past our own liberalized news feeds. With Boycott Band, the BK creatives behind it — the bulk of whose work is commercial — decided to go grassroots by flying directly to North Carolina and getting as many arteries of the NC community involved in Boycott Band as possible.
“We had to do a lot the old school way,” explained Frank Sun, the film’s executive producer. “For locations and food, cold emails and phone calls. … And for the most part, once people found out what we were doing — criticizing HB2 through some fun and boyband satire — they were quick to jump on board, since many shops in North Carolina oppose HB2. We had more vendors that were willing to support us than we had shoot days.”
It’s a useful blueprint for any artists out there looking to start making their art for a social cause without a whole lot of funding, and a reminder that art can be as much a catalyst for change as a protest.
“All those times you talk to your friends and say you wish you could do something, you should” Yazdi added. “In whatever way that you can.”
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