We Need to Talk About "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
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We Need to Talk About "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"

"There ain't much of a difference between a bridge and a wall."

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We Need to Talk About "Hedwig and the Angry Inch"
Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001)

"Hedwig" is a musical that opened Off Broadway in 1998, a movie adaption in 2001, and had a Broadway revival in 2014. "Hedwig" tells the story of Hedwig Robinson, and is told in mostly flashbacks through song. Before known as Hansel Schmidt, they believe strongly in the "The Origin of Love," based on Aristophanes' speech in Plato's Symposium, and is convinced their other half is beyond the Berlin wall. In a desperate attempt to escape Germany, Hansel falls in love with a U.S. General and they decide to marry. But there's a catch- Hansel must have a sex change operation, as they cannot marry another man in a male body. Hansel, now Hedwig, has the sex change operation and gets married, but days later Hedwig's botched sex change operation goes awry, and their surgery constructed vagina closes up- leaving them a "barbie doll crotch" and the titular "angry inch".

Hedwig's life takes a different turn when their husband leaves Hedwig for another man on the same day the Berlin Wall collapses- meaning Hedwig's sacrifice was for nothing. And then, Hedwig starts up a rock band, falls in love with Tommy Speck, who becomes Tommy Gnosis, only to be rejected by him because of their genitalia, gets their songs stolen by Tommy Gnosis, faces public disgrace following being caught giving oral sex to Tommy during a car crash, and rises to the public eye after exposing Tommy for stealing her songs. The show ends with Hedwig accepting the fact that they will never fully be male or female, and the "other half" that they have been searching for was in themselves all along, and the play ends with Hedwig giving up their wig- their "security blanket" throughout the musical- and wandering off, fully embracing themselves.

"Hedwig" deals with heavy issues involving the LGBT+ community, self acceptance, blurred gender lines, and the yearning everyone has to find their "other half". But there's one reason why "Hedwig"- specifically the character of Hedwig, is so special to me. That being their one of, maybe even the first, portrayal of a (canon) genderqueer character in media.

Hedwig's genderqueerness is literally represented in the musical as Hedwig's botched surgery, leaving a mound of flesh and no distinct genitalia, As Hansel, they took a more androgynous appearance, whereas as Hedwig, they took on a extremely femme appearance, with the wig being the centerpiece of it. At the end of the musical, Hedwig goes back to their androgynous appearance, finally content with themselves and no longer feeling the need to hide.

As a genderqueer person, I relate strongly to Hedwig- not quite male, not quite female. I struggled with my gender identity for years, identifying as a transgender male for a period of time because I had never heard of gender non-conformity. Hedwig, while not introducing me to gender non-conformity, gave me and many others the courage to live out and proud as people who don't identify as male or female. We need to talk about "Hedwig and the Angry Inch" because it gave people the courage to give themselves their best chance at living their life.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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