“Television is the second best to sex.”–Lauren Harries
Well, in this case it’s a far second-best. Or maybe the sex just isn’t that good.
I was looking for Internet fuckery on a weekday night and ended up watching British Channel 4 documentary Little Lady Fauntleroy. As a child in the 1980s, documentary subject James Harries was famous for being a bowtied, velvet-suited child prodigy who judged antiques on British television—the “Little Lord Fauntleroy” type. He even “wrote” a book about becoming rich through antiquing. She is now famous for being Lauren, a transsexual (who went on Celebrity Big Brother after this documentary’s release). I had seen James Harries in action on YouTube or somewhere and wanted to know more about the life of this scary, tiny Tory being, so yeah, I watched this documentary, which follows Lauren and her messed-up family as they go about their daily lives. And goddamn it, it disappointed me.
First of all, Little Lady Fauntleroy is tiringly transphobic. I feel that there’s no way that anyone could see that strange little boy and not think anything other than oh, thank fuck, he grew into a normal woman,* but the narrative disagrees with me and is alternatively fascinated by Lauren’s transsexualism and dismissive of the obvious shit and hatred that she gets from everyone outside her immediate family. It’s especially egregious because the whole family is obviously just a trainwreck and there’s so much wreckage to sift through. Lauren roams around attempting to sing Andrew Lloyd Webber with a voice that could break eardrums, the mother used to be a madam, and the father and one of the sons attempt to move crystals with their minds. They are all doctors of metaphysics with degrees that they awarded to themselves. It turns out that all of them, not just Lauren, have pimped themselves out to various television shows over the years. But it’s supposed to be fascinatingly strange that Lauren has tits and wears ladies’ clothes. She had a sex-change operation, that’s what happens afterwards.
Also, Keith Allen** is the host and he just fucks things completely up. He tries to position himself as the anti-Louis Theroux, providing self-referential narration and inserting himself into the process by screaming at the Harries family about what frauds they all are. I think this is supposed to make him seem edgy and different, but just reveals a sad insecurity at not being in the absolute center of the camera eye and wastes time that could be better spent watching Lauren’s mother talk about the powers of crystal transference and Peruvian yogis or whatever. At one point Keith tries to give us a tidy moral, pontificating that it’s sad that the medium of television allows Lauren Harries, et al to act like freaks for an audience. Well, yes, I am the audience and I was watching this to see freaks, and then you ruined it by shoving your boring face in there, you idiot. Thanks for the little lesson, Keith. You moaning fuck.
The music and effects don’t help, either—lots of organ stings and weird, wavy side effects in case you’re not sure that what you’re watching is odd. The whole thing ends with Keith Allen singing karaoke, a sort of admission of failure by the producers, I hope.
* Lauren now looks completely ratchet, alas—age? hormonal issues? dieting?—but 10 years ago, when the documentary was filmed, she looked a lot better.
** Father of Lily and that guy who plays Theon in Game of Thrones and also he did some other things. It doesn’t help that Louis Theroux is substantially more attractive than Keith Allen, who looks like a puddle of sick.