Gender is an important topic in rogue films. Gender has been a controversial topic since the rise of feminism. The strength of the feminist movement allowed an open dialogue about how harmful traditional gender roles can be. Rogue films intend to create a powerful reaction, and controversy is the perfect conduit. Challenging conventional gender roles is rogue because it challenges the heteropatriarchal status quo. Presenting a film with an intrinsic challenge thus challenges the viewer, and that is the essence of rogue films.
Tralala, a female character from Uli Edel’s Last Exit to Brooklyn, is one of the most challenging rogue figures. Last Exit to Brooklyn does not have a main character, thus the viewer bases their initial interpretation of Tralala on a very narrow introduction. Tralala is presented as a simple prostitute. Tralala appears as a hollow character that lures vulnerable servicemen into dark areas for her delinquent friends to rob. At first, it may seem like Harry is the film’s main character. The camera follows him at his union job and to his home. The viewer is allowed to see the desperation in his eyes when he is home with his wife and child. This intimacy between viewer and character creates sympathy for Harry. Yet, once the viewer becomes comfortable with Harry, they are jerked into Tralala’s experience.
Tralala attempted to leave her extralegal lifestyle. Instead of robbing another serviceman, she decides to ditch her ruffian friends and actually allow herself to experience her time with a man, on her own terms. This is Tralala’s first individual choice that the viewer sees. Once Tralala and her date get to their destination, she realizes that he is in no shape to have any more fun. He is too drunk to engage her, so she takes advantage of him. Of course, most relationships in this context are a power struggle, but the viewer is most likely not to side with Tralala because of the cheap way she was initially portrayed. Despite Tralala’s apparent opportunist behavior, she ends up meeting another serviceman, a lieutenant, who she likes. Tralala allows herself a vacation from the harsh reality of her life by spending time with the lieutenant who takes care of her. This lieutenant buys her things and shows her the genuine affection that she lacked. Of course, this suspension from the real world ends when he is forced back into the reality of war and leaves her for deployment.
Tralala, accustomed to her harsh reality, tries to act as though this loss did not affect her. However, by her impulsive decisions at the dive bar in her neighborhood, it is apparent that she is coping in her own way. Tralala, immediately after losing the lieutenant, rushes back into her old life with more vigor than what was seen before. Tralala throws herself to the men at the bar with suspicious fervor. Here is where the viewer will begin their judgmental assessment of Tralala’s character. Either the viewer will have sympathy for her state of mind, or the viewer will look down upon her. Here is where Uli Edel tests the viewer. Although Harry has not been seen for sometime, his narrative crosses paths with Tralala’s. Harry tries to sexually force himself upon a young boy around the same time that Tralala is gang raped. This cross section of events demands that the viewer choose the direction of their sympathy. Will the viewer decide to sympathize with Harry or Tralala? This is endemic of the gender struggle between man and woman. Would the typical viewer, regardless of their personal gender, rather choose to sympathize with a child molester or a prostitute? Edel uses controversial characters to test the character of his viewers. Although Harry made choices that were unsavory, is the audience more likely to side with him? Harry, unlike Tralala, had gainful employment. Harry, unlike Tralala, had a supportive family at home. Harry took his privilege for granted to impulsively engage in his desires, while Tralala engaged in her lifestyle for survival. Still, will the audience chose to sympathize with Harry because of Tralala’s immoral decisions? Through these rogue techniques, this film illuminates the difference between sexes, showing the gender disparity in America. It is not a comfortable dialogue to have, and that is exactly the purpose of all things rogue.