The Shiny Shrimps director Cédric Le Gallo: ‘Masculine gay guys can be really disturbed by trans people’
The Shiny Shrimps are the worst waterpolo team in the world and they’ve been given a homophobic swimming champion as a coach to get them to the Gay Games.
This is the premise of new comedy The Shiny Shrimps, based on the real-life story of co-writer and co-director Cédric Le Gallo’s experience in the Shiny Shrimps, or ‘les crevettes pailletées’ – for this movie is French.
Billed as a cross between Cool Runnings and The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the film follows the team as they train for, travel to – they cross Europe, from France to Croatia, in an open-top bus, obviously – and compete in the Gay Games.
And our insight into their antics comes via trainer Mathias Le Goff, a French champion swimmer whose punishment for making homophobic remarks on live TV is to train the Shrimps. Luckily, this is not another redemption story of a homophobic straight white man taken in by a bunch of gays.
In fact, whether or not Le Goff is actually homophobic is rarely the point of the film, which is a celebration of LGBT+ culture that firmly includes all of the drama, infighting, casual transphobia and lip-syncing to Celine Dion you might expect.
The jokes are not politically correct and the stereotypes are abundant but, as Le Gallo explains, this was on purpose.
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“I do exactly the same jokes with my friends in real life that you see in the movie,” he tells PinkNews. “And like in real life, we are playing with the stereotypes, especially when we are in a group. We are not very feminine in real life, but when we’re all together we become very crazy.
“It’s a group effect, whether you’re gay or straight, you exaggerate your personality a little bit.
“With my Shiny Shrimps friends, we love extravagance, we love playing with the cliché – it’s fun. Some of us are a bit feminine, some of us are big queens, and some of us are quite masculine, so it’s a mix of every aspect of masculinity, femininity… we are not all the same.”
Romain Brau, the actor who plays Fred in The Shiny Shrimps, asks: “Aren’t we all a stereotype?”
There’s a scene in the movie when Fred – the transgender woman played by Brau – enters, and one of the older gay men accosts her. Gay men didn’t “fight for 50 years”, he says, for “plastic surgery divas” to come along and ruin everything.
Was this casual transphobia supposed to be reflective of the LGBT+ community, particularly the gay male community?
“For me it was very important to show that there is also discrimination inside the LGBT+ world,” Brau says. “It’s not only LGBT+ people against the straight world. Also inside the community, there is a lot of tension.”
“You see the typical, sexy masculine gay guys being really disturbed [about transgender people],” Brau adds.
“They all want to be so bourgeoise and straight-looking, they want to fade into the world and be able to have children and get married.
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“Today I think everybody wants to be all the same. We should all wear black and navy blue, all do the same financial studies… gay people are dividing, and I find it so sad.”
Le Gallo adds that it’s good to be able to get married and have kids, but the LGBT+ community needs to not forget the past.
“[We need] to embrace our extravaganza because sometimes we forget where we came from. And all this exaggeration, it’s part of the gay life as well – a lot of joy, as well, and I want to keep it,” he says.
Brau agrees: “We are fighting for rights and equality, but we have to think about how to care for people who are around us. Today that’s something that’s slowly disappearing – it’s about the humanity. We need to take care of what’s around us – nature, humans – and it is crucial today, because otherwise, everything is going to fall apart.”
The Shiny Shrimps is in UK cinemas now.