While gays and lesbians continue to gain strides in equality, there is still one place where we still struggle for equal quality of life. For the joy and satisfaction that is readily attained by our heterosexual counterparts. The movies. There are just a whole lot of terrible, terrible lesbian films. So much so, that it’s pretty much a running joke in the community. What does a lesbian bring on a first date? A shitty DVD.
OK, so I made that up, but there is no denying that films for lesbian audiences leave a little to be desired. Ask any gay lady to name her favorite film, and she’ll also offer up ten that sucked a little of her soul away. I’ve been thinking a lot of about lesbian cinema lately, which is a change of pace from what I usually think about: Lesbian television. Next week I’m starting a new vlog, which will be featured on AfterEllen, all about lesbian films called Girl on Girls on Film. So, like any good chick flicker — I mean patron of the cinematic arts — I decided to look into the matter. Why do so many of our films blow? And more importantly, why do we still watch them?
Well my friends, the major reason we have so many bad movies is because we have so few movies to begin with. It’s a numbers game. Major movie studios alone release hundred of films a year, mainly aimed at general audiences. That means light on the gay. Lots of those movies are terrible too, but the sheer number of releases is bound to produce enough content that doesn’t make us want to choke to death on our Milk Duds. Very few movies each year are geared towards, or focus mainly on lesbian characters. So our law of averages is pretty abysmal.
We luck out sometimes and get a gem like Kyss Mig, but more often than not, we find ourselves waiting around for the next great film. As Trish reported yesterday, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding the French film Blue is the Warmest Color, which was picked up for distribution at Cannes. Could this be the next, great lesbian movie? Critics seem to think so, albeit they may have just be blinded by the film’s 10 minute long, ultra graphic sex scene. Sundance Selects, I’d be happy to take an advanced look if there’s a screener copy lying around. For research of course, on behalf of all lesbians, everywhere. Seriously.
Another reason our movies are so bad? We are stuck in a creative rut. Yes, it’s true, movies are formulaic and there are tried and true tropes, but how about a little variety? Is that too much to ask for? OK, screw variety: How about a good old fashioned, well-written love story with a happy ending. Call me Doris Gay! I have a strict, no dead lesbians policy.
If these movies are so bad, why do we still watch them? Perhaps it’s because we still so desperately want to see ourselves in entertainment. We want to see romance and adventure and women making out, even if it’s terrible. Thankfully the tide is changing and we are evolving from a community that has long accepted whatever it was given without question, because we were simply were grateful to have it. When I was in college, the ladies room at the gay bar in town had a broken sink for years. We never complained because we just accepted that the things we had would be subpar.
The quality of our films has gotten steadily better in the last decade. We still have a ways to go, but I’m optimistic about the future of lesbian cinema. New writers and studios are taking chances and producing daring projects on all levels of budget. Some miss the mark, but the direction and level of talent is promising. In the meanwhile though, let’s revel in the den of mediocrity we call, lesbian films. Here are a few movies we love to hate.
Everywhere Loving Annabelle gets it right, Bloomington gets it wrong. Teacher Catherine Stark spends the whole movie looking at her student Jackie, like she’s a juicy lamb chop. It’s unbecoming. It feels like a movie you just shouldn’t be watching. So don’t.
You Will Be Mine (aka Je Te Mangerais or Highly Strung)
No I will not, Pushy McCrazypants.
Flannel, bed hopping, processing, cartoons. You’d think a movie with all that would be great! It isn’t. It’s Bar Girls.
This bodice ripper takes itself so seriously, even the horses wish they could fire their agents. There is poetry, and motion, so the poster is technically telling the truth.
Have you ever watched a movie where there wasn’t one, likeable character? No, well, let me introduce you to Mango Kiss.
What are some of your least favorite lesbian movies? Do you secretly own any of them on DVD? If you love movies, please check out the debut of my new vlog, Girl on Girls on Film, next week on AfterEllen. More films, more snark.