It’s becoming increasingly difficult to make distinctions between real-life tragedies and works of art when the most valued ethical characteristic of our YouTube-era selves is boundless narcissism. In other words, getting yours and anyone else’s suffering noticed and attended to depends on how good one is at marketing.
Young Shane Bitney Crone’s YouTube video, It Could Happen To You, had already proved his and the issue’s staying power. They had the eyeballs. So it was with a mixture of distaste and, yes, the requisite outrage that I watched this documentary about a young gay man who is denied access to his lover’s funeral by his parents.
The film is divided up between talking heads testifying as to the closeness and adorableness of the couple and an endless sea of selfies and candids, the repetition and sameness of which constitute a large part of how this film gets its job done. Of course, it’s an injustice. Of course, if the couple had been able to get married, then that final cruelty would have been impossible. Of course the homophobic parents are assholes and probably deserve whatever public shaming they’re getting because of this film.
Or do they? They lost a loved one, too, and ignoring that is one of the moral choices we must refuse to face in order to make this film work. The film doesn’t allow that to be contemplated even for a second. I also doubt anyone would have given as much of a shit if the young men had been fat, ugly nerds with cheap phones.
Shane Bitney Crone's plans to marry Tom Bridegroom in California after the same-sex marriage law is passed takes a tragic turn when his partner of six years accidentally dies and Tom's family refuses Shane from attending the funeral.
BRIDEGROOM tells the emotional journey of Shane and Tom, two young men in a loving and committed relationship - a relationship that was cut tragically short by a misstep off the side of a roof. The story of what happened after this accidental death - of how people without the legal protections of marriage can find themselves completely shut out and ostracized - is poignant, enraging, and opens a window onto the issue of marriage equality like no speech or lecture ever will. On May 7, 2012, the anniversary of Tom's death, after a year of documenting his own grief, Shane decided to make a video tribute to his partner entitled "It Could Happen To You." This film, posted on YouTube, received over 3.2 million hits and inspired over 50 thousand e-mails and comments on YouTube and Facebook. The impact of Shane's original film and the raw nerve it touched, tells us this is an important story that needs to be brought to the world stage.