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Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Best. Musical. Ever.

I actually have all of the music from it, including an album of covers, from Stephen Colbert to Rufus Wainwright (amazing). This is my favorite song, though. So much of the film is about Hedwig finding herself, trying to empower herself through her own personal beauty and her creative drive.

A quick synopsis: Hedwig was born Hansel, a pretty boy living in East Berlin. An American GI, who wishes to marry him, convinces him to get a sex change. Hansel takes his mother’s identity and becomes Hedwig. Before they even arrive in the States, Hedwig’s surgically constructed vagina heals closed. Her husband leaves her. She starts to write music to heal herself. Tommy, her true love, steals her music and becomes famous. She takes her band around the country, following Tommy’s tour.

Aside from how inconceivably good the music is—it’s a way of showing Hedwig’s life and emotions in a way that is even more accessible than most standard musicals. When the band performs “Exquisite Corpse,? you really get an idea of what it’s like for her. Hedwig’s surgical complications have left her with no “true? genitalia, only an inch of skin—hence her band’s name. She stuffs her bras, wears make-up to sculpt her persona of beauty, and rocks out.

There are moments when people react to her with torturous hatred, when they ignore her (which might be worse), and when they show her love and loyalty. She loves attention, and keeps herself elevated as the queen, the diva, the glamorous one. She overshadows her second husband, Yitzhak, who is actually played by a woman, and who longs to be a beauteous drag queen.

Not only does the film confront gender as forcefully as the lady herself attacks the stage, but a theory on love and relationships is presented. Despite her strength as a performer, Hedwig is manipulated by all of the men she truly cares about. Yitzhak secretly despises her. Luther leaves her, destitute and sexless, for a young man. But she still believes that she and Tommy are soul mates, despite his callousness and the fact that he could never truly accept “the front of her.? See the song “Origin of Love? and Aristophanes’s tale. Hedwig and Tommy are two halves, she believes, that have been torn apart. She hates him for what he did to her, but still loves him, which is the greater reason why she shadows his tour. Is this foolish submission, or is she right that they need each other?

I don’t think that’s a question that can any relationship can answer.

“Suddenly I’m this punk rock star of stage and screen,
And I ain’t never,
No, I’m never going back!?