Fringe Theory – Why We Don’t Need the Man

Angela Robinson, who directed Disney's Herbie: Fully Loaded and wrote and directed D.E.B.S., is currently working as a producer, director and writer on Season 4 of The L Word. She is also at work on New Line's upcoming film Jenbot and Disney's Witches.

Hello. My name is Angela Robinson, and this is my first column. I'm a lezzie pop culture freak and spend an inordinate amount of my day hunting down random lady trends (much of it spent on this very website), so when Sarah Warn called to ask me if I'd do a monthly column for AfterEllen.com, I said yes!

I recently attended a queer conference, Persistent Vision, that coincided with San Francisco Gay Pride 2006. The panel I was on was called “Where's Our Dykeback Mountain?” It was moderated by Lisa Thrasher of POWER UP. The other panelists were my two friends Jamie Babbit (But I'm a Cheerleader, The Quiet) and Guin Turner (American Psycho, Go Fish).

But I'm a CheerleaderA panel, for those of you who have never been to one, is an event where you and a few other guests are interviewed on a variety of film-related topics in front of an audience. The idea is that each of the panelists will have a different opinion on the topic and that (hopefully) they'll get into a big argument. I'm asked to be on a lot of panels, because I qualify in a lot of categories. I'm what's known as a triple threat — not in the actor/singer/dancer category, but in the lesbian/black/woman category.

So I get asked to be on black people panels and gay people panels and women director panels, and black gay people panels, and women who consider themselves handicapped if they have asthma panels, etc. You get the picture.

I enjoy participating. You get free bottled water, which I'm always down for, and occasionally some lip balm in a giveaway bag, and if you're really lucky, you get a flight and a hotel somewhere interesting, which is the pinnacle of paneldom.

The first question posed by the moderator was: “Where's Our Dykeback Mountain?” That is, where is the lesbian film that will achieve box office success and critical acclaim? I sigh. In life you come to realize that there are certain unanswerable questions, such as:

1. Is there a God?

2. Where did we come from?

3. Why are there so few women directors? (I've been on dozens of panels about that.)

4. Where is the lesbian movie that will cross over? The holy grail, the one movie that is so awesome, so transformative, so friggin' cool that people in middle America will suddenly wake up and say, “Oh my goodness, I was wrong about gay people all along! What was I thinking? I love the gays! I'm going to go out and invite a lesbian over for dinner, all because I saw this movie!”

For the gay filmmaker, “crossing over” is described as nirvana — the Promised Land of Box Office Success, Famous Movie Stars and Favorable Press Coverage. We think: If we can only cross over, everything will be OK. George W. Bush will come to his senses. We'll really get a handle on this global warming thing. The Israelis and the Palestinians will chalk the whole thing up to a misunderstanding. Bygones, you know.

If we could only cross over ! If we could only make the movies we want to make and make a lot of money too! What's so wrong with that?

I digress. I'm still on the panel. The audience is getting a little ornery. The news is depressing. The state of the lesbian movie is bleak. Plus, it's a San Francisco audience, and they are unimpressed by Hollywood whining and excuses.

In San Fran, it's really Miss Jackson's “What have you done for me lately?”

John Cameron Mitchell (director and star of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and Shortbus) was on a different panel, and he had the audacity to make a joke about how many letters there were in the LGBT-M-O-U-S-E acronym (that was his joke, by the way), and he got a can of what-for from a dyke in the audience. (Trans guy? Not sure). The San Fran gays are not messing around.

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