Speaking of Women's Rights: Hollywood: Not So Homo For The Holidays

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hollywood: Not So Homo For The Holidays

Last week, I came across a video clip of a little girl ranting against marketing and gender stereotypes while she is surrounded by blue and pink toys in a toy store. When asked why “they”—the marketers—do this, she responds with “they try to trick the girls into buying the pink stuff instead of buying what the boys want to buy, right?”

This very young feminist reminded me of my own rant that started after watching numerous bad DVD rentals during the holidays: “Why do mainstream Hollywood movies insist on selling us the heteronormative stereotype of love, while passing off homophobia for a few cheap laughs?” In a two hour film, lesbians, gays, bi-sexuals, and transgender individuals largely remain invisible unless used to promote stereotypes through two classic means: Comedic relief ala John Krasinski’s side character in Something Borrowed, who gets many LOLs in rejecting a woman by pretending to be gay; Or to explain a strong female character’s possible singlehood, depicted recently in The Help during a superfluous scene where Emma Stone’s white female lead character has family questioning whether she is a lesbian, since she is unmarried and career focused. Note: it would take another blog entirely to discuss the problems and myths perpetuated around race and the notions of colorblind “equality” put forth in this film.

As a mixed-Latina, I won’t accept the fact that the screen does not represent the actual racial and bi-racial world I live in. As a queer female, I am also unwilling to accept the fact that Hollywood fails to properly represent the queer relationships that are all around us.

I think what the young girl proposes in the video also applies here: They try to trick people into believing only certain relationships are valid, viewable, and marketable, right? Am I wrong to believe that Hollywood’s inability to include realistic LGBTQ characters in mainstream films works to maintain heteronormativity and thereby set up the idea of “good” relationships and “bad relationships”? Does this dynamic not work to discredit and devalue the many LGBTQ individuals in our world who are sustaining and maintaining healthy relationships?

Tis’ the season of movies, and as David’s recent blog discussed, mainstream movies can’t get past nasty gender stereotypes and relationship myths. Thus, there's a danger that inclusion will result in Hollywood swapping the straight relationships we see for same-sex relationships, while promoting the same myths such as needing someone to “complete you” (think of the famous Jerry Maguire line, although I prefer the Dr. Evil version in Austin Powers). Thanks Hollywood, but I’ll take responsibility for my own happiness.

What I’m asking for is not a replication of the dysfunctional hetero relationships portrayed in mainstream film, but a realistic depiction of healthy queer relationships. I am also asking for the differences represented in queer relationships to be valued, celebrated and recognized. Am I too naive or hopeful to believe that there is a gender empowering, anti-racist, and queer and trans positive, sex-positive, and body positive film consumer with buying power out there? For now, I will opt for the less popular but amazing films that provide a lens into the ways LGBTQ relationships are unique and valued, such as Beginners or Antonia's Line.