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this new short film is deeply unsettling

art
Photo: Courtesy of Signe Pierce/Alli Coates

and it has every right to be

Two years ago, performance artist Signe Pierce and Alli Coates, an artist, screened a project called American Reflexxx. The premise was simple: Pierce was to don “stripper garb and a reflective mask” and saunter down a touristy part of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Only after the experiment was complete were they to communicate. What followed was a sobering—if not downright terrifying—example of how transphobia, transmisogyny, and misogyny fuel crowd mentality.

The video, which was released earlier this week on YouTube, is a tense 14-minute watch. Pedestrians are confused by Pierce’s presence. Some immediately sexualize her and blatantly say they would “love to make love to you with that on” to her reflective masked face. Immediately, a woman off camera can be heard telling the man that Pierce isn’t a woman. From there, transphobic slurs like “shim” are thrown at Pierce. Her gender is continually questioned as more and more tourists follow her. But Pierce remains silent the entire time, and instead rotates between sexually suggestive “feminine” poses and squared-off, forward-facing “masculine” ones. Only after the deeply unsettling climax does the crowd begin to back off—away from themselves, really, considering the mirrored mask.

Though conditions for the transgender community have improved in the two years since American Reflexxx was filmed, transphobia still exists. Misogyny, too, is still very real. What Pierce and Coates have done is create a complex commentary on both. At one point, a street preacher yells that God “will laugh at your calamity.” He was speaking directly to Pierce at the time, but perhaps he was really speaking to us, the crowd. It’s fascinating how inhumane humans can be.

Cardi B, Avril Lavigne, and so much more

Every weekend, we bring you #SOUNDCHECK—your destination for the best of the best new music that hit the web over the course of the week. Because you should always be prepared when someone passes you that AUX cord. This week's round features 21 of our favorite emerging and established artists including Cardi B, Avril Lavigne, Tacocat, and so many more. Turn up, tune in, and tune out.

"Please Me" - Cardi B and Bruno Mars
"Please Me" will pair perfectly with all of the Valentine's Day candy you just bought on clearance. Trust me, there couldn't be a more perfect time to listen to this ultra-'90s R&B track.

Head Above Water - Avril Lavigne
I'm honestly jealous of whomever Avril is singing about on "Goddess."

Tacocat - Grains of Salt [OFFICIAL VIDEO] www.youtube.com

"Grains of Salt" - Tacocat
When I realized Tacocat was back, I literally turned around at my desk and yelled. It's a miracle.

"Can I Talk" - Caleb Steph
Caleb Steph's debut single proves that he's ready for the spotlight.

Betty - Betty Who
"You better recognize/ That you're wasting all my time" from "The One" is my new favorite response to every "photographer" on Tinder.

"Butterfly" - Kehlani
The only thing more beautiful than this cover art is Kehlani's voice.

SASAMI - Free (feat. Devendra Banhart) (Official Video) www.youtube.com

"Free" - SASAMI feat. Devendra Banhart
I would have never predicted a SASAMI and Devendra Banhart collaboration, but I am 100 percent not complaining.

Rex Orange County - New House www.youtube.com

"New House" - Rex Orange County
Alex O'Connor never fails to impress me with his soulful bedroom pop, and "New House" is no exception.

YouTube www.youtube.com

"Cuz I Love You" - Lizzo
Distorted guitar paired with Lizzo's belting vocals? Chills, literally. She did that!

"Heads Gonna Roll" - Jenny Lewis
Like if Stevie Nicks' voice met Father John Misty's lyrics.

"Get Well" - Donna Missal
Donna Missal tells me everything I needed to hear about breakups on "Get Well."

"Patient" - Monica Martin
Sultry and sweet.

"Whorey Heart" - TeaMarr
TeaMarrr's bouncy new song is an excellent roast of the kind of fuckboi we all know and hate.

"Ice Me Out (Remix)" - Kash Doll
Kash Doll shows that she knows her way around a beat on "Ice Me Out."

"Lips of Lips" - Tiffany Young
Definitely catch me driving around with my windows down this summer blaring "Lips on Lips."