At least with this special there's some new insight to be gained. Stories that go "behind the music" are a dime a dozen, but a 90-minute film about a person changing gender is rarer.
"Becoming Chaz" (9 p.m., Tuesday) compassionately and pretty thoroughly explores the decision and process that Chastity Bono -- daughter of Sonny Bono and Cher -- undertook to become a man named Chaz.
The film gives viewers a brief history of transgender milestones and introduces viewers to Chaz's partner, Jenny, who has been with him for five years, since before he began the physical transformation from a woman to a man.Knight (at Windy City Times -- I don't know his or her first name, sorry) reviews the documentary and here's an excerpt:
What we do get a lot of—and I mean a lot of—is Chaz's girlfriend, Jennifer, who wears out her welcome long before she and Chaz start to have problems because his testosterone shots find him acting more aggressively and with less "softness." By default, she becomes the go-to girl for the filmmakers and the movie feels padded because she's always there cajoling, kvetching, explaining hers and Chaz's feelings. Best are the instances where the filmmakers stick close to their shy central subject, capturing some of the most genuinely moving moments in the process—when Chaz's driver's license, with his new gender classification, arrives in the mail; when Chaz alone attends an Atlanta conference with other transgender people; or watches his mother on TV explaining her feelings about his sex change on The David Letterman Show. (Talk about surreal.)And Chelsea Handler (E!) writes about what a friend of Cher's is saying.
I'm not an Oprah fan and don't plan to promote her offerings. But I have written about Chaz before so I will note this documentary.
What Chaz did -- being true to himself -- took a lot of guts and I applaud him. I haven't seen the documentary. I'll probably Tivo it if I've got Oprah's new network (I'll call my cable provider tomorrow to find out).
Chaz had a difficult life. Not in the sense of having Joan Crawford for a mother or Bing Crosby for a father. By all accounts, Cher and Sonny loved Chaz a great deal. But Chaz had to fit into the notion of what their child would be -- especially as a young child. And then Chaz had to figure out his own identity and do so in public. So I have a lot of respect for him and for his pursuing his truth.
Here's C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot:"