Or in short, here’s my elaboration on my disbelief about why why why whyyyyyyyy this film is thought to be great! AND AND AND if you haven’t seen this, don’t read this because I’m giving spoilers. Boo hoo you.
THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
d. Lisa Cholodenko
s. Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg
c. Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo and the two kids with cool character names (Joni and Laser – and dykes name their kids in a cool way huh hmmm)
Pitch: Longtime lesbian partners (alpha female-ish — yes, there’s one in any lesbian partnership) Nic and (artsy kinda insecure-ish — yes, there’s one in any lesbian partnership) Jules experiences a rocky ride in their relationships when their birthed kids find and connect with their sperm donor of a dude who then ends up disturbing the “alternative” family’s equilibrium shitz.
Catch: A lesbian is unsatisfied with her relationship and begins to have sex with a heterosexual man, just because. I.Rest.My.Fucking.Case.
Once upon a time in a magical writerly place called Dumaguete located in the south of the Philippines, a poet once told me while conversing, “Uh-oh, here comes Libay…” in reference to what others in our literary community have seen me as “the angry feminist so don’t dis lesbianism in front of her or you’ll never hear the end of it” when he uttered something not-so-nice-to-hear about something we were talking about which irked my lezfem writerly self blah that time.
You know what? I only get tense about lesbianism when there seems to be something derogatory attached to it. So yes, with the state of the patriarchal world then, and now, I am still angry.
Especially about this film. And it doesn’t matter that the filmmaker made a positive dent in the queer cinema movement before. (Insert dramatic irony here — duh, yes it matters! She’s one of us haller!!!) Well, people reinvent themselves all the time, so fine, sige. Yes, Cholodenko directed that dykey film HIGH ART. Just google or imdb it.
But we’re not talking about that dark, depressing but still a good dyke depiction-film. We’re talking about this one where the story focused on a very homonormative family in a very cool and seemingly contented homonormative set-up (meaning that population of the queer community which also strives to parallel the heteronormativity we see in society — oh you know, the whole get-married-with-one-life-partner-and-live-in-a-house-with-a-picket-fence-and-raise-kids-while-having-fabulous-careers thingies). Nothing wrong with our fellow queers who want to achieve this homonormative set-up, hey. To each their own. If this works for you, this works for you. And for me, too, meaning I could be happy for you but don’t pull me in to live that way because I’m through with all kinds of hetero/homo-normativity or any kind of that kind of normativity in general for that matter. But that’s another blog post.
What doesn’t work for me is when people outside the queer community are given tools to dissect us queers with tools we ourselves created. And this is what irks me the most with this film. Sure, Cholodenko said some parts are loosely based on her life, but which parts? The part where she also got a sperm donor and got pregnant and had a child? Yey that’s great, good for her. But why throw in a heterosexual-based tool that has been used over and over and over and over and time and time and time again to bash us queers in the fucking head????? And what am I talking about? The disgruntled artsy insecure-ish one of the lezzies — Jules or Julianne Moore’s character which is by the way the femme-ier looking of the two so is perceived as “more girly” by the outside world (meaning yay she can still be “saved” and get turned back to the more enlightened way of heterosexuality because she doesn’t look totally like a dyke naman e) — releases her frustrations with her relationship with the alpha female-ish kinda butchy-looking partner of hers by “accidentally” smooching with a heterosexual man. And not just any garden-variety heterosexual man (but okay, she was literally working on his garden actually as his landscape architect so hmmm film semiotics symbolical pun intended there? Peut-etre.) but the sperm donor whose genes run inside their kids. And the smooching began when she said “You look like my kids in that angle” or something shitty like that. Um, so if I see someone resembling the genes of Angelina Jolie in someone inside a jeep, can I freely smooch her then? I’m just sayinnnnnnnnnnn’…
See how ridiculous that start of a premise was? Sorry but I just reread Audre Lorde’s essay about how we can never dismantle the master’s house by using the master’s tools. The thing is, the heterosexual masters here just bashed us again in the head because the filmmakers gave them heteros the tool to bash us with. I thought we were all about emancipation, folks? What gives???
So okay, given that Jules had a momentary thingie with a hetero man, maybe we have to overlook it because it was momentarily, plus in the film, she repeatedly says that she’s gay, she’s gay, it can’t happen (the dude fell in love with her and wants her to go with him — yay another tool! Bash! Bash!) so clearly she’s not bisexual (and there’s no actual reference whether she has been with guys before though, so weird characterization too — dramaturgical tools fail! Which the women at afterellen had fun dissecting hehe.), and she sincerely wants to fix up her booboo with her family. But then again, the momentary thingie actually escalated because they had sex several times and they both obviously loved it (and it started weird because she obviously was depicted as sooo hungry for dick that when she finally zipped the dude’s fly open, she had that strange and ridiculous “welcome gasp and utterance” blah — frak! Sucks!). So was it a sex thing? Meaning if a lesbian is dissatisfied with her partner in bed, she will then run to or turn to… a man!!! Like a “real man” with a dick! (Fucking a woman with a strap-on is not an option here! Woooo! Where are the other lesbians in their community then???? None were shown! They are alone! Wooo!) Nothing wrong with choosing a sex partner or queerily blurring the gender/sexual orientation/hetero-homo desire divides–by choice!–as long as you set it up properly in the story but the parameters of choosing (read: jumping?) a sex partner here was so off here that I was just enraged. Why? Hay, need I elaborate? In a world where lesbianism is still regarded as a phase which girls would outgrow once they have had a real man (read: sucked a dick or was fucked by a dick or worse — they just need to get raped to snap out of it, hey, nothing to it), then story set-ups like this one proves to be very problematic as it reinforces several problematic discourses that we have been trying to counter over the freaking decades. Hay naku… Emancipation, where art thou???
More bashing tools? Okay, how about that bit when the kids suddenly resented their parents — the butchy one in particular — because, as the kid said “The lesbian family set-up was destroyed/not working for you!” or something to that effect. Oh.My.Fucking.God. If a child is raised and reared in a very loving and caring lesbian family like theirs, how come she will all of a sudden treat herself as an outsider of that happy family set-up just because she was happily-rebelliously bonding with the sperm donor dude. Was she looking for a “father figure” then? Or was she looking for a “mother-father” family set-up then? In this fucking film, yes, the kids were somewhat depicted as such although it wasn’t verbally articulated. But film is a visual medium, and that tool was set up very well — the kids’ homophobias against their own lesbian parents were clearly felt and seen, two things that cinema does well than spoken words. *bash!* *bash!* Even if one argues that that reaction was just “typical” of any teenage kids against any parent, no way, Jose. This set-up is different AND WE ALL KNOW IT. Now why didn’t Cholodenko?
So this is why I think this film is so problematic in terms of setting up its scenes. Sure, these things might happen in real life — and some of it actually do happen/did happen to lesbians/queer women out there — but legitimizing homophobia and promoting it in this way, in this day and age, just purely sucks.
And then the film ends with the dude saying sorry sorry sorry so boohoo we should feel for him because he wants redemption after fucking the dyke, encouraging “his kids” to be a bit rebellious and going to their house to say sorry? Boo! And then when things are slowly settling down, one of the kids say to the lez parents “I don’t think you should split up. Because you’re both too old.” Parents look at each other, hold hands, and drive off. Roll credits. Yehey. So lesbians should stick together because they’re too old to score a new partner out there? Again, maybe it’s because there are no other dykes in this community where this family lives!!! Anubeh!!!!!!!!!!
Kill me now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Winner ang premises ng film na ito! *laslas*
O siya ayoko na. High blood na ako. The thing to do is hope that this film doesn’t win any Academy Award come Oscar night. Because frankly speaking, Hollywood would then be legitimizing homophobia again when they do that. I hope that doesn’t happen.