It’s Up to Zemeckis— How Much Will Hollywood Director Choose to Reveal About Film’s Real-Life Hero in His Upcoming Film, “Welcome to Marwen?”

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High on His Heels— Artist/Photographer, Mark Hogancamp, makes no secret about his fandom for feminine footwear, as this portrait of him in stilettos “pointedly” reveals. (Photo: NYT) Click to enlarge.

The Truth is Already Out There—But Will its Inclusion Hurt Box Office Receipts?

This is all public knowledge, but please stick with us. If you’ve seen 2010’s fantasy-documentary, Marwencol, or read the 2016 hardcover book, Welcome to Marwencol, then you undoubtedly already know that real-life artist-photographer, Mark Hogancamp—the lead character depicted in Robert Zemeckis’ upcoming motion picture, Welcome to Marwen (played by actor Steve Carell)—enjoys wearing women’s high-heel shoes and stockings. There. We’ve said it. Hogancamp’s “most shocking” true-life personality “spoiler” has now been re-revealed.

What isn’t known to many however, is whether Zemeckis feels that Hogancamp’s cross-dressing is “script-worthy” enough to be included in his latest release. Would such intimate insight detract from the film’s main storyline—a man struggles with PTSD after a brutal beating by creating fantasy photo-stories with 1:6 scale action figures and dolls—or enhance it? Is cross-dressing simply too “racy” a topic for the holidays, only to end up on the cutting room floor? Time—as they say, will tell.

For those who are unaware of the differences between “cross-dressing” and the better  known term, “transvestism,” we consulted that oracle of all knowledge and things online—Wikipedia—which (rightly or wrongly) defines the two (oft-misunderstood) terms thusly:

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“Transvestism is the practice of dressing and acting in a style or manner traditionally associated with the opposite sex. In some cultures, transvestism is practiced for religious, traditional or ceremonial reasons.”

“Crossdressing is the act of wearing items of clothing and other accoutrements commonly associated with the opposite sex within a particular society. Cross-dressing has been used for purposes of disguise, comfort, and self-expression in modern times and throughout history.”

Okay, that cleared it up (right?) Regardless, questions with serious financial implications remain— Will audiences harbor negative feelings about Hogancamp’s cross-dressing? And IF the topic is included in the film (we still don’t know if it will be) and “word gets out,” will that affect ticket-buying, movie-going audiences who DO harbor negative feelings about the subject and thereby cause them to stay home? You can bet the entire entertainment industry will be paying VERY close attention to this film when it premieres in theaters across the country on December 21st.

Fortunately for Zemeckis and his film

A cross-dressing dance act dubbed Junior New System (JNS) has just come to the rescue. This all-male, high-heeled dance troupe from the Philippines, recently broke onto the U.S. national scene during a series of high-energy (and high-heeled) appearances on NBC TV’s ratings-smash hit, America’s Got Talent. Their success appears to have made men-wearing-women’s-shoes a little less “offensive” in many viewer’s eyes, and much more “publicly palatable” as well. During their aggressive, athletic performances, the JNS men routinely and effortlessly switch between wearing traditional high-top sneakers to high-heel stilettos. Then, to everyone’s surprise, they proceed to perform powerful BACK-FLIPS, landing solidly on their traditionally unsteady and pointy “pumps,” without suffering any apparent missteps or twisted ankles. It has to be SEEN to be believed!

juniornewsystem

It CAN be done!— Members of the Filipino dance group, Junior New System, proved that grown men can successfully perform backflips while wearing high-heeled, stiletto shoes. Here, they pose backstage with judge and media-mogul, Simon Cowell, during a taping of America’s Got Talent. (Photo: JNS)

As we stated at the outset, the subject of Hogancamp’s cross-dressing is largely “old news” to (most) 1:6 scalers, and has had little—to ZERO—bearing on the 1:6 community’s admiration and regard for the man’s artistic talents. His skills as an artist, photographer and customizer are obvious and beyond question. But how will non-hobbyist ticket-buyers react? That remains to be seen.

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Hogancamp’s Heroes Help Him HealMark Hogancamp, the creator of the imaginary and 1:6 scale town of “Marwencol” holds up his original, self-representational action figure—the “star” of Mark’s ongoing—and AMAZING—photo-adventures. (Photo: Mark Hogancamp) Click to enlarge.

Finally, other media outlets are also discussing this subject, largely reflecting the opinion that Hogancamp’s cross-dressing SHOULD be included in the film’s final script. The New York Times discussed it in an article HERE, and we found an overseas article about it in the UK’s The Telegraph, HERE. Clear “rumblings” of social expectation could be heard. Here’s one such quote:

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“The real truth behind Mark’s near-fatal attack is not something you’ll find in the trailer – he was set upon after admitting in the bar that he was a cross-dresser. When the film’s first American trailer landed, there was enough social-media kerfuffle to suggest that eliding this part of the story may well cause significant controversy.” —The Telegraph, UK

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Robert Zemeckis, Director of Welcome to Marwen (Photo: Hollywood Reporter)

Bottom Line: If the official Welcome to Marwen trailers are any indication of its final content, then it appears Mr. Hogancamp’s propensity for feminine footwear will NOT be made into much of an issue for the film. But, if you search the ‘net for further clues provided by Zemeckis himself, you CAN find short, inconclusive snippets about its inclusion (or exclusion) from the script. Make of the following quote what you will (especially the last line), but here’s his most telling —yet noncommittal—comment so far:

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“We can’t give everything away. There’s a lot more story than we were able to include. You’ve got to let the audience see something that they don’t know about.” —Robert Zemeckis, director, Welcome to Marwen

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One thought on “It’s Up to Zemeckis— How Much Will Hollywood Director Choose to Reveal About Film’s Real-Life Hero in His Upcoming Film, “Welcome to Marwen?”

  1. kneonknight says:

    Well, okay… Whatever Mr. Hogancamp does in his life really doesn’t affect me in any way. It’s disgusting that he got attacked and beaten for his personal choice, but it does underline the importance of being cautious when revealing anything about yourself to others.

    I know good and well that someone just read that and is now furiously typing a condemnation of me for “victim blaming,” but I really don’t give a damn. In this world, we are all responsible for ourselves, and that includes not only being courteous and not attacking others for views that may differ from your own, but also making sure that you have done everything you can to ensure your own personal safety, as well as that of your friends and loved ones.

    That being said, I look forward to seeing this movie. It may be shallow of me, but the ultimate reasons for the attack on Mr. Hogancamp aren’t my main motivation to do so, and I’m sure that the story itself will be just fine regardless of how much or how little is revealed about the protagonist’s lifestyle prior to his assault.

    I honestly think that the movie should focus on Mr. Hogancamp’s efforts to deal with the trauma and the methods he chose, which have given us a truly wonderful world created and populated by our hero as a means of dealing with his own demons. And that’s my two cents.

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