Interview with Michelle Ehlen

 
 

AE: So, on a slightly
more serious note, I’m wondering what your take is on the differences in the
ways in which butch lesbians and femme lesbians are presented in film and other
media.
ME:
Well, butch
lesbians, even in lesbian films, are more rare. And even if they’re supposed to
be butch, they’re generally very “soft” and feminine.  

I think butch lesbians will become more “in the mix.” I
think right now, it’s just new and I think people are a little scared of it. [They’re
scared] that others won’t be able to identify with [a show or film] because of
it, or that people think that butch lesbians are ugly or unattractive, and [audiences]
just want to see femme lesbians, or whatever. So, definitely, I think it’s
skewed toward the femme lesbians in representation and such.

AE: Do you think
there’s a difference in the ways a lesbian audience perceives butch versus
femme lesbians, say, at a queer film festival, where audience reactions are
obvious?
ME:
Well, I think
because things are the way that they are, I think that audiences really
appreciate butch characters — because we don’t see very many of them. In terms
of lesbians, there are a percentage of lesbians that are butch, and then
there’s another large percentage of lesbians who are attracted to butch
lesbians. Overall, there are a large percentage of lesbians who have some
interest in seeing butch women onscreen.  

AE: In uncertain
economic times, do you think queer films will be more important to queer
audiences, as opposed to times of relative stability?
ME:
I suppose so.
I never thought of it that way, but I could see it that way in terms of people
not participating in queer culture as much — just for money reasons, not being
out there and connected as much. Films might be a way to do that. I have heard —
and I don’t know how this will impact queer films — but, I have heard that in
times of economic depression, that … as a general rule, people will always
spend money on entertainment. It’s true, people want an escape. If life’s
crappy, they’re still going to pay money to see a movie or whatever.  

Overall, I have to say probably yes, because seeing a movie
is obviously not an expensive thing to do, and if people aren’t able to travel
and do other things to feel connected with the community, if they live out in
the boonies, outside somewhere, and they can’t go to a big city or something
like that, then it’s a good way to still be a part of what’s going on.

AE: So, what’s next
for you — you mentioned that you’re working on a script?

ME: Yeah, I’m
writing a script right now, Heterosexual
Jill
, which is kind of like a sequel/spinoff/follow-up to Butch Jamie, with Jill dealing with her
ex-lesbianism, in a romantic comedy. Butch
Jamie
is kind of a satire on gender, and I see Heterosexual Jill as a satire on sexuality as a whole. I’m writing it now. It hasn’t been as quick as a process as I would’ve liked, but I’m
hoping to finish up in the next few months, and hopefully, if all goes well,
find money [to produce the film] next year.

Butch Jamie comes out on DVD on Nov. 18, 2008. For more on the film and Michelle, check out butchjamiel.com.

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