As part of our guild meet-up last Saturday, we checked out Charliebebs Gohetia’s ‘The Thank You Girls.’
Tired of losing in all the beauty competitions in Davao City, six dysfunctional gay beauty pageant veterans decide to travel north to Cagayan de Oro City, in the island of Mindanao, with a mission to conquer the grandest competition of beauty, personality and brains in the province. They believe that being city dwellers, gays in the province will never stand a chance against them.
Passing through the breathtaking landscapes and cultural vignettes of the Mindanao provinces, each queer needs not only struggle to win a single title but also battles against his individual internal demon rearing its ugly head behind their pink masks.
During their travel, the ultimate gay adventure of the characters brings them to back to the basics of themselves and of each other.
While they are blinded by their belief in the power of their so-called beauty, they still have to prove that whether on or off stage, beauty doesn’t just come in packages wrapped in foundation, mascara, eyeliners and witty beauty pageant answers. What they will discover about themselves could be fitting and that being a run-away loser is not at all ugly.
Because what is essential is VISIBLE to the naked eye.
While most people talk about how funny the film is, let me offer an opposite point of view. The movie is about the lives of six beauty pageant rejects who keep on joining these contests because it is a way of life for them. They are not afforded too many options nor do they know what else to do with their lives. They wander to wherever there’s a new pageant to join. Their only goal is to maybe win a few thousand pesos for gas and make-up so they can move on to the next pageant.
It seems endless. And we see them all wanting to stop at one point or another. To do something better with their lives. But in the end, they keep on doing the same thing because it is safe and it is what they know. They are trapped and they all know it too.
In the bits and pieces presented of the characters’ lives, we encounter themes that are all too familiar with each of our own lives. We see the aging queen who is holding on to a piece of her past, an ex-lover who reminds her of her youth and of a time when she was in love in a way that she may never experience again. We see that klepto queen who never learns her lesson because she doesn’t think that what she is doing is wrong. When we see her running after the snatcher who took the phone that she may also have stolen, she adamantly yells after him. She knows that what the guy did is wrong but she doesn’t see that parallelism to her own acts. There’s the kid who seems to be mad at the world and what she has become and finds solace in sleeping around with everyone including her father’s lover so she can validate her own worth. And finally, there’s the gay father and former thank you girl who drives around her ‘ladies’ to all these pageants. She is the one person that holds them all together but she is also a mess. She is clinging on to a lover who doesn’t want her anymore and she talks about changes that she wants to do with her life and yet she never acts on them. She knows that she is long overdue to make these changes and make her life better but in the end, she succumbs to what is familiar. Their life is about traveling around to face new challenges and yet they also travel to run away from the challenges that matter.
The Thank You Girls is an interesting look at the safe route that we all take in life, the things that we put on hold because we are too afraid to wander from the path that we are used to taking. In that last scene when the ‘girls’ decide to go to Mindanao to venture to yet another pageant, people laugh at their comic display of determination. I thought it was freaking sad.