Written by: Mich Medvedoff

Before we wore clothes, before we drank milk, before we shaved… we told stories.  And the same stories continue to circulate and confront us.  Like a cinematic Tootsie Roll pop, there is sometimes a hidden story inside the very movie you are watching.

A boy? A girl? It's Pat!

A boy? A girl? It’s Pat!

“It’s Pat” is the second movie to go under the knife. Based on Julia Sweeney’s wildly popular SNL character Pat o’neil Riley, the film was released in 1994.  Let’s peek under the skirt (or pants?) and examine the anatomy of “It’s Pat.”

WHAT HAPPENS: Our Western-wearing hero falls in love with a sweet and equally gender ambiguous partner named Chris. Marriage is proposed… simultaneously. The engagement party is a triumph. The couple move-in together. And just when you think the story couldn’t be more erotic, we learn the boy next door, Kyle, also has the hots for Pat. “Hot” as in hot coals on Mercury hot. Downright obsessed. Frustrated by many failed attempts to uncover Pat’s sex, Kyle descends into madness.

“It’s Pat” is a clever tale of guessing the tail. Surprise, we’ve seen this story before.

But where?

That’s right, you guessed it!

It’s Pat” is actually… “M. Butterfly.

Postman? Postwoman?

Postman? Postwoman?

Madame Butterfly Fan
SIMILARITIES: In “M. Butterfly,” beautiful Opera singer, Song Liling is the object of desire for French diplomat Gallimard. Likewise, Pat is the object of desire for Kyle. Gallimard ignores all logic and insists Song Liling is a woman even after she is proven to be a Man. When Kyle fails to determine Pat’s gender, he self-destructs. Both men lose touch with reality over these adorable androgynes.
It's Pat SNL Movie

Now Pat will leave my towels alone!

Madame Butterfly Hug

Come here… You.

UNIVERSALITY: Traditional gender roles can be restrictive for both men and women. Over-investment in one’s gender identity instead of personal identity often has negative consequences for the individual as well as for society. When Pat o’Neil Reilly or Song Liling skirts the boundaries of masculine and feminine stereotypes, we’re fascinated.
It's Pat SNL Movie
Madame Butterfly Movie
MESSAGE: Stories are social mirrors.  Their purpose is to broadcast messages we can’t admit to ourselves.  So why does the gender bender narrative recur in our stories?

Because we secretly admire these individuals. Like magicians, these characters are gender fluid – gliding from one side of the spectrum to the other… embodying a fem-men-inity that we lack. Perhaps that’s why we forgive Pat for being self-absorbed… or Song Liling having no qualms turning in Gallimard; for whom a romantic relationship was shared for 20 years. These individuals act from the heart and not from the gender roles society imposes. And we love them for it.

The gender-genre will continue to enthrall us; taking different shapes and forms – sometimes in the form of a beautiful Opera singer masquerading as a woman… and other times in the form of a khaki-pants-ed, four-eyed brunette… these not-so-tender gender benders will continue to teach us lessons… or something…

It's Pat SNL Movie

I played with the “Ween!”