Got Game?

Khudejha (Kauser Mohamed) has a problem. She’s wearing too much clothing—or rather the wrong type of clothing. Upon arriving at a sex party that she was invited to by a friend, she’s told her “power shirt” is in fact lame and that she should undress appropriately. We learn through her friend Natasha (Aasia LaShay Bullock) that it’s been a while since Khudejha got some (or any) and this kink party is going to be a reset.

Got Game?, a new short film written and directed by Fatimah Asghar, is a unique look at one woman’s experience at a sex party and the trials and tribulations of sexual and social etiquette in queer spaces. Our protagonist, Khudejha, is a Pakistani-American queer woman who’s out looking for some strange, and is joined by her friend Natasha for the ride.

Asghar is known for creating the acclaimed web series Brown Girls with Sam Bailey, who serves as executive producer on Got Game? Other notable Brown Girls alums include star Sonia Denis, who has a guest appearance as an astrology-obsessed partygoer, and Jamila Woods, poet, musician, and Asghar’s real-life best friend, who serves as music supervisor.

Throughout the film, vivid graphics show Khudejha’s power, thirst, and defense levels going up or down depending on the situation. A demeaning comment decreases Khudeja’s power, a flirty smile from a cute girl across the way raises thirst. In this time of social distancing and isolation, a party like this is impossible for the foreseeable future, but the stress and anxiety brought on by trying to initiate flirtation, a date, or sex, especially in a queer setting? That’s always relevant.

GOT GAME? (Short Film) from HDDN POOL on Vimeo.

In one segment of the film, Khudejha needs to avoid turtle shells and bananas, a clever metaphor for people who under the guise of flirtatious behavior are just weird and creepy, to get to the star—someone worth pursuing. Like Khudejha, I’ve been surrounded by people at parties and made polite conversation when really there was only one person I wanted to talk to. At a friend’s party last summer, I talked to friends and acquaintances alike before gathering up the courage to speak to a beautiful, platinum blond friend of a friend. I complimented them, they complimented me back, and all the time I spent maneuvering conversations with familiar people suddenly seemed to not matter. At that moment it was just us two.

Sex and dating, like anything, is difficult, mostly due to the fact that everything is implicit and especially when those signals and roles which seem to be clearer in heterosexual dating and relationships are vastly different from queer dating. Asghar’s decision to include video game graphics is genius because it makes the implicit explicit. We see Khudejha’s various moods dictate the combination of thirst, power, and defense, but also we can tell by Mohamed’s expressive reactions to situations how Khudejha is responding to sexual and romantic rejection and numerous advances by multiple people—her acting beautifully complements the video game graphics.

At one point, Khudejha is in the pool, surrounded by people but still utterly alone, appearing to be a floating head in water. It’s a common feeling, to feel alone after a conversation ends with “I have a partner,” or your friend is nowhere to be found. The irony of feeling that way in a space that is supposedly inclusive is not lost on me, because I’ve felt that way before. At a friend’s birthday celebration, at a Brooklyn house party, at Pride—just because you are sharing space with people who share the same identities and values as you doesn’t take away the fact that social and sexual interactions are daunting and scary, even more so when you can be rejected by “your people.”

In the end Khudejha finds someone and she shares stilted, awkward yet triumphant conversation with her about how parties and especially sex parties are maybe not their speed. She eventually gets to hold said person’s hand—known only to us as crush—the ecstasy of that moment which is denoted by a crush bar gleaming rainbow colors with pixelated avatars of Khudejha and her crush above it. This moment is of course ruined by Natasha who tells her it’s time to go, while the phrase “PUSSY BLOCKED” flashes across Natasha’s face. The interaction is beautiful and messy and awkward. It reminds me of stolen moments with my first girlfriend and moments since with other queer people. The euphoria comes not from finding someone to have sex with or even make out with, but from the realization that “winning the game” is something that you can define for yourself.   v