Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk: Happy Valentine’s?

It’s been a couple of days since the episode aired and it’s still running circles in my mind. I thought I would have it all out of my system with my lengthy post about Mon-El, but I realized too late that I disregarded many things from the latest episode that bothered me. That’s why I’m coming back to it now.

mrmrs1Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk incited many a fan’s already simmering anger into a hot, white flame. Some of that was because Mon-El (Chris Wood) was EVERYWHERE, and it was annoying. After the show, I actually sat and wondered whether he’s had more screen time than Kara (Melissa Benoist) – I don’t think he did (yet), but he came close. If you don’t see anything wrong with that, let me remind you that the show is called Supergirl, not Krypton Girl & Daxam Boy Saving the World (or alternatively Krypton Girl Cleaning Up Daxam Boy’s Messes as that’s closer to what happens).

Yes, still salty. And not just about the ever-present intergalactic fuckboy (it’s my favorite insult for Mon-El; I’m not sure who coined it, but that person has my everylasting love). Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk should have been a light-hearted comedy with superromantic undertones, but turned into The Manchild Show with superawkward undertones of double standards. How could the powers that be plus writers have messed this up so badly when the premise was so promising? I’m still shaking my head in wonderment.

When I first heard about the Valentine’s Day episode, it was stated that it would center around Alex (Chyler Leigh) and Maggie (Floriana Lima). They’d have some trouble, but would ultimately celebrate their love for each other. That’s how I remember an early press release. That was weeks before the episode was about to air. I wasn’t superexcited because I already had an inkling that mrmrs2the episode would also include some intense Karamel bonding (because that’s how these things usually go). Still, I wasn’t overly worried either because this first press release stated that Alex and Maggie would be in the middle of this (with possible inclusion of some of Maggie’s backstory which I was and still am dying to see more of).

As the weeks passed, it got more and more obvious that there would indeed be some Karamel, that there was going to be a guy called Mr. Mxyzptlk (Peter Gadiot) raising havoc, but I was still not worried. Sanvers was going strong, I was good.

The episode aired and the collective Sanvers fandom scratched its head: that’s it? There were about, what, nine minutes worth of Sanvers scenes? And you call this ‘centers around’ – whoever thought this up should consult a dictionary sometimes. But, okay, what was there was… very well-acted… some of it was touching, sweet, cute, romantic… not really sexy, though, was it? I mean, even the moment that could have been sexy (Alex donning a sexy black nighty? my heart skipped some beats there, seriously) kinda turned awry because of Maggie’s issues with the romantic holiday. It’s not her fault of course, it was part of the story.

Or maybe, it’s part of a bigger problem the queer fans of the show are becoming aware of now – the double standard regarding heterosexual pairings and homosexual pairings. And the episode was a good example of that, ending as it did with Mon-El climbing on top of mrmrs5Kara without much ado while Maggie and Alex are always shown kissing standing up with all hands accounted for.

Don’t get me wrong, the way Maggie and Alex’s relationship progresses is all shades of adorable and sweet, it makes us all swoon. It’s lovely. But even after ‘Maggie spent the night,’ fans seemed unsure if Alex and Maggie had had sex. I never questioned that because the scene in Supergirl Lives prominently shows an unmade bed and that, dear fellow shippers, translates to sex having been had. But the confusion is there and one has to wonder why. The answer is that the relationship doesn’t really progress beyond the sweet, the adorable – not on the screen. We hardly get to see them kiss, but even when they do they’re not exactly making out.

Now, I know what comes next. The big argument of the ‘family show.’ There have been few instances on Supergirl where people engaged in any kind of romantic or sexual relations, I’m aware of that. The instances where these occured were more comically woven into the storyline with Kara getting and ear- or eye-full. But fact is, these instances showed straight pairings (Winn and his Banshee-girlfriend, Siobhan [Italia Ricci], and Mon-El and Eve Teschmacher [Andrea Brooks]). When it comes to intimacy between Alex and Maggie, sexuality it reduced to a few kisses and touches above the waist. It’s as if the actresses have been given schematics of anatomical hot-zones – may touch: hair, face, neck, arms, foreheads; under certain circumstances: waist (but only when hugging or dancing); may not touch: anything else; plus: hands must be visible at all times.

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While at first, this was okay because they were at the beginning of their relationship and everything was slow and sweet, now it becomes awkward. Especially considering the progression of intimacy between Kara and Mon-El in the latest episode, and also Winn’s relationship with his potential alien girlfriend, Lyra (Tamzin Merchant); they very openly made out on top of the bar. This double standard shouldn’t exist. Same-sex couples are not inherently more sexual and do not need to be policed into degrees of sexuality that may be okay for exhibition on a family show. This is homophobia, it’s also bullcrap! Gay teens are watching this and they notice that a difference is being made as to what kind of affections they’re allowed to show in public compared to heterosexual couples. I don’t care about the sensibilities of overprotective parents: love is love. If you advocate for equality, you need to show these relationships as equal; there’s no way to do this half-assed.

And while we’re on the topic of Alex and Maggie: do they still have jobs? Or were they maybe fired because they played hookie that one time in Supergirl Lives? I seem to remember a time when Alex worked for the D.E.O., but lately her whole existence revolves around her relationship. While I love most scenes involving Sanvers (who am I kidding, I love them ALL), I don’t feel comfortable with Alex being cut from the work she usually does with Supergirl. For one, her job has always been important to Alex and she’s good at it, for another, they’re using Alex’ seeming absence to insert Mon-El into that position where he’s the one to help Kara, where he becomes the strongest bond and replaces Alex. I don’t have to spell out to you how fu**ed up that is, do I? Remember when Kara voiced her concern that Alex prioritizes her new relationship over their sisterly bond? Of course you do because that was just two weeks ago. Now the show does the same with Mon-El, and it doesn’t seem to raise any red flags with them.

Alex and Maggie’s relationship seems forced into corners of twosome-ness, restricted by unvoiced rules of touching with a random kitchen counter forced between them to contain the Gay. Is this how queer people live? Is this how straight people suppose we live or want us to live? Is this the only way they feel comfortable with us being around at all?

Okay, this post got deeper than I thought it would. Useless to say, I got my issues with how Alex and Maggie are represented by the show. And I feel this is a good time to point out sanvers12that my issues are with the show runners and writers, not with the actors. Chyler Leigh and Floriana Lima show very nuanced characterizations of the characters and their relationship, even if the material is not always up to par. I was very moved by Maggie’s emotional explanation about her coming out and that was due to Lima’s acting. The scene on the whole was way too short to have any real impact. I hope they’ll revisit the issue on a later date with Alex being able to show the same kind of support that Maggie has given her from the start.

As I said, the Sanvers scenes weren’t really at the core of the episode, there was just not enough of them to compete with the couple that took center stage: Karamel. Insert your argument here that as Kara is the lead of the show her relationship should be at the center of the show, if you must – I said my piece about that. Now, this relationship is so fresh they didn’t even have a confirming kiss yet, but are interrupted by Mr. Mxyzptlk declaring his love for Kara. From the promos, I figured he would be a funny side-plot to bring Karamel closer together, but, ho boy, that was so not what happened.

The problem with that whole storyline starts with Mxyzptlk basically being an intergalactic stalker. As many of the villains so far on the show, he’s come from the Superman side of DC and while I haven’t read up on what caused him to first emerge and test Superman’s patience, I’m almost sure that he wasn’t making advances on the man of mrmrs3steel like he is here on Kara. You know, it’s kinda different when you’re a girl and some imp of the fifth dimension watches you while you change into your supersuit… Think about this for a little while before we move on.

So, Mxy is a stalker, Mon-El was right about that at least, but how does that help Mon-El’s own misogynist case? If Mxy was supposed to be the tool to bring Kara and Mon-El closer together, someone screwed up because most of the episode, Karamel was fighting. And not in a cute bantering way about little nothings they made up in their heads because they’re still unsure about the relationship. These were essential questions, hashed out so violently and annoyingly I had to drown some of it out with painful groans. Banter I get, but this was war between two people who don’t seem to like each other much. Mon-El accused Supergirl of being full of herself and not listening to him and she gave back about him being controlling and full of male ego.

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Well, kids, I hate to break it to you, but maybe you should have a sit-down and ask yourselves if these characteristics you find in the other are not a dealbreaker? You know, I’m not naive, at least not when it comes to cultural theory and tv, I know what this episode was supposed to do, the kind of mechanisms it was supposed to set in motion. As I said: Mxy tool to bring supercute straight couple together. While the end-result was somehow achieved, everything about their get-together was violently toxic and wrong! Mon-El posed as a slightly less dangerous version of Mxyzptlk himself. While Mxy tried to blackmail Kara into marriage with him, Mon-El is still pouting his way into Kara’s pants. He’s accusing her of things that are preposterous, doesn’t listen to her (though he promised he would) when it comes to his education as hero; he’s behaving alternately like a spoilt brat and a caveman and while Kara called him out for it (at least in this episode), she still saw no problem with getting hot and heavy on the couch after Mxy was finally gone.

You have to wonder if the writers know who Supergirl is, at her core? There’s no denying that Mon-El doesn’t know who she is because his case of the jealousies was so insane I don’t even wanna mention it (but I will come back to that later). Mon-El seems exactly the kind who accuses other people of things he would do if places were reversed. Maybe he wanted to be swept off his feet by Mxy? I don’t know. At this point, I’m so confused by this Karamel relationship and the mere existence of Mon-El on the show… I might either take a chill pill and ignore that whole part or stop watching. It’s fucking insane!

Another insane thing: how did Mon-El even get to work in the field with Kara? Yes, I saw those training montages, too; cute. But I also remember Kara being shot at with missiles and Alex having to train two years before J’onn let her out into the field. And Mon-El has made his share of mistakes which usually stem from not listening to Kara who’s kind of his superior, right? But somehow he gets to have an opinion. And his opinion on dealing with Mxyzptlk is killing him? Yeah, it seems like an especially good idea to let someone like that work for the D.E.O. Or not.

alex-kara-winn1I’m being sarcastic and you know why: the inconsistency within the basic workings of the show annoy me. Those inconsistencies usually occur where Mon-El is concerned. I know that some people are saying that Mon-El is still learning and all… but while he’s learning, people are dying. And yes, I quoted James back at these people because so far, Guardian has done a much better job protecting people than Mon-El who supposedly has some superpowers of his own.

Interestingly, in the comics Mon-El (and his differently-named variations) has the same powers as Superman. The only difference between them is that Mon-El is allergic to lead, not Kryptonite. They went a different way on the show, probably to not undermine Kara as the lead (which happened anyway), but maybe also to tone down Mon-El’s overbearance. Remember when Mon-El woke and choked Kara and threw her through a glass wall? Yeah. We’re always told that men are stronger than women, it’s a statement we barely question until it’s proven wrong. Kara defeats Mon-El by the end of the episode (Welcome to Earth) and we learn in Survivors that his powers don’t equal hers.

It’s one of the things that puts a strain on their relationship in Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk. Mon-El is questioning Kara’s approach to dealing with Mxyzptlk, claiming that killing him is the only way. He questions her abilities, and – not for the first time – her motives. At the end of the episode, this all seems to come to the point that he’s jealous of Mxyzptlk, for him being able to give Kara things Mon-El can’t give her. But his behavior seems to show a lot more than just jealousy aimed at an imp who doesn’t stand a chance with Kara (seriously, Mon-El, have you met Kara? the girl who made it her goal in life to protect people? the girl who loves potstickers and ice cream and kitten videos?). His anger redirects itself at Kara because she doesn’t share his point of view, even though he is the self-declared expert on creatures like Mxyzptlk. Now, what could possibly hide behind that?

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A male ego, maybe? Some inherent supposition that as a man he’s better equipped to deal with Mxyzptlk? He actually says that he’s trying to protect Kara’s honor. Can we acknowledge how ironic that is, comical even? This is the girl of steal, buddy, you’re not equipped to defend any part of her. Not even the part you think you own now that you’re dating. Because she can do that herself! Jealousy is not a cute or romantic gesture boys and men show in protection of their lady loves. It speaks of an inherent believe that men own the woman/girl they’re dating and no other man (person?) has a right to her or her time or her attention. And one may wonder where Mon-El even got the notion of that believe. Isn’t he the man who only the week before claimed that the romantic entanglements on Daxam included the catchy motto: The more the merrier?

It’s insulting that the deeper you go into the Mon-El narrative, the more inconsistencies you discover. The more throw-away lines and concepts you discover. For example, Daxam’s romantic and sexual culture seems to adapt to any kind of situation the writers of the show come up with. In The Darkest Place, Mon-El tells James and Winn that on Daxam they had arranged marriages, in Luthors we have that line about polyamorous love (or at least the implication, I’m pretty sure they didn’t think this through), and in Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk, Mon-El claims Kara as his lady and how dare you even talk to her, she’s mine! or something.

Is this just bad writing or don’t they really care about what they write about Mon-El? As I wrote in my other post, there’s a sense of schizophrenia surrounding Mon-El where he’s far bigger than his story allows, where there seems to be a meta-voice calling him out for who he represents as a stereotype (for example, when Mxyzptlk calls him ‘tall, dark, and blandsome’). I get a sense that the writers don’t care about or for him which would be sad if I did care, but is ultimately disruptive because the storytelling gets really bumpy. Inside the narrative, these inconsistencies could probably only be accounted for if Mon-El lied about mostly everything, outside the narrative… I don’t even know… is it bad writing? A character that was forced onto the writers and now they treat him like the scum he is? Is it gonna be explained or will we just have to live with Mon-El for the rest of the show? Is he set up to fulfill his comic-self’s narrative and get forgotten in the phantom zone?

The one storypoint (I’m not calling it a storyline because there’s not enough of it to call it a line) Kara has this season seems to be her fear of losing the people she loves. In loving Mon-El, is Kara set up to lose him to lead poisoning? Will she be the one forced to deliver him to the phantom zone once he’s poisoned or is this part of Mon-El’s story done and over with? I’m speculating, but since Mon-El isn’t really much of a character, could it be that he’ll just be a plot device the writers drag along until they plan to use him?

I have another speculation for you: regarding Winn’s new love interest and his lack of luck mrmrs6in love. The way he met Lyra feels like a certain set-up for me. Winn is attacked by random alien thugs for no reason and then rescued by a female alien who then shows an interest in him? I feel like those three were working together to get Winn’s attention. Maybe they’re looking for Mon-El (that intergalactic search party/death squad we’ve seen in Supergirl Lives?)? Maybe they want a shot at Supergirl?

I think I’m all thought out now. The Valentine’s episode wasn’t really my cup of tea. I’m also questioning the decision to have all the main players (except James) get coupled off. The superhero-tale gets drowned in all the love drama and since I didn’t see the same happening on Arrow, I wonder if this has to do with the hero being a woman (please, let me be wrong because if The CW pulls out this fucking trope, I’m outta here!).

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Well, thoughts and comments are welcome. I don’t claim to be all-knowing, this is my interpretation of what happened, and you’re welcome to disagree.

 

 

 

 

 

Of three white dudes and female casualties

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On Tuesday I watched one of my favorite tv characters die. Just minutes later, I defended her death on Tumblr. Today is Friday and I’m no longer willing to defend a woman’s death on tv.

poi9This is to say, of course, if Root’s (Amy Acker) death actually takes – I’m a Xenite, I know how these things sometimes go.

If you’re a tv junkie like me, you have probably heard about the tendency of tv makers this year to kill their queer female characters. I’m not even sure where the number is at right now, but with the latest addition of Root, well, you got me there. I didn’t watch any of the other shows where queer female deaths occured, but I do watch Person of Interest – and with only three episodes left, I will watch it end for sure.

To me, it’s one of the best written shows there is. If you look at how it all started, with two white dudes saving numbers from week to week. Then came Root and the Machine suddenly became vulnerable, hacked. And then the premise changed completely with a second A.I. – a more powerful A.I. – taking over… the story line is so compelling, and it all got so much worse that one couldn’t help but wondering if we’re not already there ourselves, with technology accompanying our every step.

And who could resist loving those characters. Given, I’m as always more interested in the female characters, but I also started to like Reese (Jim Caviezel) and Finch (Michael Emerson) early on. They tried so hard to make a difference, one number at a time. They could infuse a scene with necessary humor with just one look or a hand-off remark. And yet they didn’t lack depth as the show invited us to look into their pasts.

But what the show really needed – and the makers realized that – was a female character. poi6A strong, morally incorruptable female character. Joss Carter (Taraji P. Hanson) was that character. She was everything those boys (meanwhile there were three, even though Fusco [Kevin Chapman] wasn’t a main player yet) needed to keep them on track, to help, to criticize. She was a good guy where Finch and Reese’s organisation was a little shady.

And then she died. She was shot. She died a hero. And I thought to myself: why her? Why not Fusco? I mean, I accepted the fact that Reese and Finch were untouchable, even though both of them had plenty of times they could or maybe even should have died (‘should’ by probability, not because I don’t like them). But as the main characters of the show they’re untouchable. (As I said, I’m a Xenite. I grew up with a show that let its main characters die and die again. Same with Buffy, but I accepted that Person of Interest was not that kind of show.) But what about Fusco? He certainly wasn’t as likable as Carter. He wasn’t as instrumental to the story and with his corrupt past he was also a perfect sacrifice. He could have died saving Reese earning him a postmortem hero status. But it was Carter who died.

Yes, I know, Taraji P. Hanson went on to become the iconic Cookie Lyon on Empire but I was sad and I was angry, because I loved Joss Carter. Fortunately for the show, they’d introduced some other great female characters. Yes, I’m talking about Shaw (Sarah Shahi) and Root (Acker), but I’m also talking about Paige Turco’s Zoe Morgan. Her ‘disappearance’ was so gradual that we hardly even began to wonder why she was never seen again (and, yes, I’m aware of Turco’s role in The 100 – she went on to bigger things, too, and good for her).

poi8With Carter’s death, both Shaw and Root’s roles became bigger, their characters more important, more defined. Their relationship became one aspect of their characterization and it was an interesting and popular decision. They were canon – for about 5 seconds. Then Sameen was captured by the bad guys (and Sarah Shahi had her twins). Too little, too late? She could have been the queer character who died and started ‘We deserve better’ but she wasn’t. Because she didn’t die and the makers of POI made that clear by showing she was still alive – and held captive by Samaritan.

We were all elated. But there was also a piece of the show missing without her. Root’s sadness, the way everything grew over Team Machine’s head – they were desperate for Shaw who could save any day with her no-nonsense attitude and an eyeroll (plus some firepower but that goes without saying with Shaw). But somehow everybody survived that time… of course, in the case of Carl Elias (Enrico Colantoni) it was even more than that. We thought he was dead, but incredibly enough he wasn’t. Now, with our three white main dude characters we’re kinda used that they’re invincible, but why bring Elias back for another round, especially since his black counterpart, Dominic (Winston Duke), actually died? There’s no reason for this, really, other than it fit the storyline and he was white (and a bigger part of the story so far, I know).

I guess we can do a little math here if you want: Carter died, Fusco lived. Kara (Annie Parisse) died, Greer (John Nolan) lived. Quinn (Clarke Peters) was arrested and written off while his second Simmons (Robert John Burke) tortured us a little longer with his presence. Zoe (Turco) and Control (Camryn Manheim) were interesting supporting characters for a time but then written off, same with Grace (Carrie Preston). Martine (Cara Buono) and Dominic (Duke) died. If you add up – you were far more likely to disappear or get killed on this show if you were female and/or black. And then there was Leon Tao (Ken Leung) who acted as the comical relief in the first two seasons – never heard from again. There are more: Peter Collier (Leslie Odom Jr.), Cal Beecher (Sterling K. Brown), Alicia Corwin (Elizabeth Marvel).

Finch, Reese and Fusco lived through all 100 episodes (so far) – whether they’ll survive the finale, we’ll see. According to imdb.com, Amy Acker is still listed as Root until the final episode (though I think this might be a mistake and she’ll only appear as the Machine’s voice from now on – unless she’s indeed immortal), but she only appeared in 65 episodes.poi3

Looking at these number, I’m disappointed. It almost seems like Person of Interest fooled me into believing those great female characters had a greater impact on the show’s story than they actually did. Sarah Shahi only appeared in 47 episodes, not even half of the show, but her character seems so much more vital to what happened. But maybe that is the societal fallacy of how big women’s role is on tv. Maybe we all believe that when a woman talks half of the time in a conversation that she dominates it? I don’t know.

Person of Interest is a great show, well-written, with great characters, an evolving story. But it isn’t perfect as far as equal representation goes. It took one of my favorite tv characters from me on Monday (even though I watched it on Tuesday), and another with Joss Carter – a loss nobody seems to care about anymore, maybe because she wasn’t queer, maybe because she was black.

My current favorite show, and Person of Interest is that, is only exemplary of what is a main theme in Hollywood – films and tv alike. The main white dudes don’t die, minority characters are always at risk, female characters are expendable and rarely get their own show. If they do, it’s a show for women, because men couldn’t possibly be interested in all that drama. It kinda makes you miss the 90s, yeah?

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Let’s Talk ‘Queerbaiting’ – An Inquiry into Queer Shipping on ABC’s “Once Upon a Time”

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I was never sure about the validity of the concept of queerbaiting. As I understand the term, the powers that be put something queer in a movie or a tv show to get queer people to watch. They may not be following through on a story line, they may not make your OTP canon but something queer is happening which to me always meant: exposure, discussion, visibility. A win-win situation. That was until yesterday (Monday) when the strange intricacies of Once Upon a Time‘s (love) story lines hit me over the head and asked: do you think that’s okay?

I obviously didn’t or I wouldn’t be writing about it. What happened? SleepingWarrior happened, or maybe – more accurately – they didn’t happen, per se.

Once Upon a Time is a complicated story, I cannot go into the details of all the story lines, let’s just say every character has a complicated history with every other character and it so happened that Neal Cassady/Baelfire (Michael Raymond-James) came back to the Enchanted Forrest, met Mulan (Jamie Chung) and Robin Hood (Sean Maguire), talked about his love for Emma (Jennifer Morrison) and got Mulan to go seek her love to tell them how she felt. The next time we see her she is smiling at the sight of Princess Aurora (Sarah Bolger) and the hearts of SleepingWarrior shippers everywhere soared but weren’t quite sure whether it would happen, since there was – since the beginning of this story line – Prince Philip (Julian Morris) lurking in the shadows. But here, the producers followed through (kinda), they made Mulan almost confess her love to Aurora but before she can, happy Aurora tells her that Philip and she are going to have a baby.

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Mulan’s heart breaks (as do a gazillion shipper hearts still in flight) and she leaves to join Robin Hood’s merry men.

I guess, I could as well put an ‘the end’ at the end of this short paragraph. Because what else is there to happen? Aurora and Philip have their happy ending as those are still possible in the Enchanted Forrest and it is, after all, the plot device to end all other plot devices. At least, in fairy tales it is so. The question would therefore be: does Once Upon a Time follow the rules of fairy tales? I wouldn’t say so, at this point, I think, it is safe to say that this will turn into a Neverending Story – pun intended. And as we already know that Philip is prone to being cursed or disappear, Mulan might yet get her chance to become Aurora’s one true love…

This would mean, there is hope for SleepingWarrior, yes? I guess there would be if this wasn’t exactly the point where for the first time in my life I see queerbaiting. Before you, a valiant SleepingWarrior shipper, start throwing rotten apples, remember that this is a subjective opinion. I don’t own the copyrights to indisputable wisdom, and I’ve been wrong more times than I can count (and I would be happy to be wrong in this case). But let’s discuss this:

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Mulan as a character in her own story certainly has the potential to be a queer character – all gender-bending and cross-dressing characters are basically queer. But queering gender and having a queer sexuality are two different things. They are not necessarily exclusive but they are not the same thing. The gender bending, cross-dressing aspect holds true for the Mulan in Once Upon a Time. With her body armour and helmet in place she’s still able to pass, though once the helmet is taken off, there is no mistaking Mulan for a man – which is the desired effect for Mulan, her days of deliberately masking her gender are over. While she might still be queering the gender-range with her garb, her sexuality is supposedly straight (I’m referring to Aurora’s supposition that Mulan is in love with Philip. While Mulan denies this accusation, it is strongly suggested that she lies to keep her peace with Aurora and probably also because she knows that Philip loves Aurora and could never love her).

I’m talking about ‘assumed sexuality,’ here, and should know better. If I learned anything from being a fan and walking through fandoms it’s that any given character’s sexuality is fluid, if not in the canon then in the fandom. With Mulan, there are even more indicators (one might even talk of a stereotype) that she might be gay: the fact that she adopted a male identity in the past, that she is still cross-dressing to possibly appear as a man at first sight, and also the fact that she is Asian. I’m not trying to be racist, it’s a mere fact that women of color are more likely to be chosen as lesbian (or bisexual) characters by story tellers (at least in movies and on tv, I’m not sure if this holds for literature), and especially Asian (American) women have a tendency to be bisexual – or at least, assumed to be bi.

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The possibility of Mulan being indeed queer is great, even though the story-tellers (writers and creators of Once Upon a Time) have been coy to actually let her come out – until Sunday. Because on Sunday they basically shoved her out of it in what seemed like an aweful hurry. If you think about the whole plot device that led Mulan to (almost) confessing her love to Aurora, it seems really constructed. Neal gets shot, tells Emma he loves her and awakes… in the Enchanted Forrest. He explains that he thought of the Enchanted Forrest while falling into the portal but that seems awefully convenient. He’s about to die, has just told the mother of his child that he still loves her and then he thinks of the Enchanted Forrest with all the bad memories of his dad (Robert Carlyle)… well, I guess you can’t control your dying thoughts even if you’re not really dying. He meets Robin and Mulan (is it even explained what Mulan is doing in Rumple’s castle?), recovers really quick from his bullet wound and talks Robin into using his son as bait (which is so unbelievably stupid, I’m still trying to forget it ever happened). Then he releases his speech on love and how he wants to be with Emma because she’s the only one he’s ever loved, yadda, yadda and disappears with Pan’s shadow.

The two reasons why Neal ends up in the Enchanted Forrest are: 1) so that Mulan is discovered to be in love with Aurora and 2) to give the audience another look at the lion tattoo on Robin Hood’s arm, telling us that he’s a supposed love interest for Regina (Lana Parrilla). Holy plot device, Batman! Did the Once-creators just turn one character gay to ensure that another character is definately not gay – especially not with the lead character, and NO SWAN QUEEN, SUCKERS! (I’m sorry, sometimes tumblr-speech just takes over. Or rather: sorry, not sorry at all.) That’s how it looks like to me, at least.
You may ask: okay, what has Mulan’s coming out to do with SwanQueen? Maybe nothing at all. But while there are a lot of SleepingWarrior shippers out there, there seems to be a whole SwanQueen fleet that is slowly but surely taking over the fandom because the creators have failed to give Emma and Regina both a believable (and alive) love interest. Chemistry is a tricky thing but it’s painfully clear that Emma never had it with August (Eion Bailey) or Hook (Colin O’Donoghue) and I’m also pretty doubtful about whether she has it with Neal. And Regina may have had chemistry with Daniel (Noah Bean) but he’s dead and I doubt he’ll be raised from the dead a second time. But then Emma and Regina have chemistry together, which is something that is wanted and needed on the show. Without this chemistry, most of their actions would seem stupid and questionable, they wouldn’t be able to make magic together. But here is where it gets tricky: making magic together has become a wonderful euphemism for… being in lesbians with each other.

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The fandom is split on this issue, for sure. There are those who do not want Emma or Regina to be gay, and there are those who want them desperately to be together because it would ensure a happy ending for Emma, Regina AND Henry. There’s a shipping war going on but since the side of SwanQueen-opposition is devided into multiple ships, SwanQueen is relatively dominant. This poses a problem for the creators because they do not want Emma and Regina to be together either (this may be a supposition on my part but I really haven’t seen any indication that the creators are in favor of this ship – if I’m wrong, prove me so). What to do? Give the queer audience another queer character. And here we are back with Mulan and her broken heart. By giving us Mulan, they draw (bait) our focus from SwanQueen while introducing another love interest for Regina in the same plot device and have Neal profess his love for Emma – don’t tell me they did not do this on purpose, it’s simply a too convenient muddle of plot device to not be connected.

While giving us Mulan as a queer character, the creators are not giving us SleepingWarrior as a canon relationship. Given, at this point of the Aurora/Philip/Mulan story line it would have been stupid to do so. Aurora and Philip are a canonical item on the same level that Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin) and Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) are – their story as fairy tale alone gives them this status. Of course, if the creators had really wanted to create a lesbian relationship and had thought this through and not just jumped into it, they could have left Philip lost. But it really doesn’t feel like they ever wanted to do that – whether the story line was well thought-through or not. And here is where I come back to the queerbaiting aspect of this whole story line – a possible queer character, yes, a canonical lesbian relationship, no. And we all know how much queer action characters get once their status as gay/lesbian/bi/other is established: 0, that’s how much (I don’t think we need to dwell on the reasons for this, we have discussed those at length and the most common [and commonly stupid] for Once has always been the ‘family show’-exclamation of sensitive heterosexualists’ souls).

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There is one aspect in this whole story line that might actually become a redeeming factor for the whole show. When Tinkerbell (Rose McIver) uses pixie dust to conjure up a new love for Regina, one of the fundamental truths of fairy tales is put into question – that of one true love. Daniel has been introduced to us as Regina’s one true love, if there can be another, however, who is to say that this wouldn’t also be true for Aurora (or even Snow)? Of course, this could just be one of those not very well thought-through plot devices that the creators of this show like to throw at us – like how true love’s kiss sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t (unless, of course, as I am kind of hoping Rumple is not Belle’s [Emilie de Ravin] one true love). I would like to see this followed through, however. Not because I want to see Regina with Hood but because I like to see the fairy tale myth questioned and ultimately broken. The myth of one true love has created a standard human beings are not really born to live up to, it also holds us all hostage to a repetitive Hollywood theme that allows a whole industry to become lazy. And it makes Once Upon a Time cling to Snow and Charming as a representative tool for advertising heterosexuality as the norm – when the show could do so much better than this.

The New Lesbian

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The 1920s saw the birth of the “New Woman,” (Miller, 1992) a sophisticated breed, independent of men and free to explore love in all its facets. 60 years later, Donna Deitch took a novel that was already twenty years old and created a “new lesbian” for the American movie, a breed that claimed its happy ending against all odds. This “new lesbian,” however, did not replace existing lesbian stereotypes; it merely gave female homosexuals a mirror image they did not have to fear.

Until the 1980s lesbian representation in American movies was closely linked to the theories of scientists and psychoanalysts like Havelock Ellis and Sigmund Freud. While “congenital inversion” was seen as a hereditary disease and the invert therefore a victim, it still insisted on homosexuals being doomed to a life in misery. And lesbians – however few there were – in American movies before the 1980s were also doomed, often not even to live. (Rule, 1976)

In 1961 The Children’s Hour, a movie version of Lillian Hellman’s controversial play of the same title, was remade. The play, as the 1960s movie, is about two female school teachers who are accused of being lovers by one of their students. Though the girl who made the accusations is protected by her innocence the movie shows the cruelty of an adult society towards people who are (supposedly) different and results in the death of one of the teachers – because she realizes that the accusations may be right in her case. The lesbian dies, and a stereotype is born: the suicidal lesbian that is hopelessly in love with her best heterosexual friend, or teacher, or fill-in-the-blank. This lesbian stereotype is not exclusively linked to movies since it originated in literature but movies are the media that holds it up to this day. One has only to watch Lost and Delirious (2001) to be confirmed that lesbianism and suicide are still closely linked together.

Desert Hearts is based on a novel that was published just three years after The Children’s Hour was shown in American movie theaters. The novel, Desert of the Heart by Jane Rule, tried to eliminate some of the myths that were engraved in the American mind where lesbianism was concerned. Rule created female characters that discovered their homosexuality and embraced it. Lesbians finally achieved a happy ending – in literature.

But it took twenty years for the novel to reach the big screen; having finally reached it, however, it showed the same effect on movie-making as the novel had in its respective media: it established a positive image of female homosexuality.

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 In Comparison

Despite the similar accomplishments of novel and movie their differences are significant. Without even having read the book or having watched the movie one difference immediately catches the eye: the titles. Desert of the Heart. Desert Hearts. While the first one seems to poetically describe Reno, Nevada, as the place where marriage finds its final resting place in a divorce, the second sounds like a reno-vated version of “the Lonely Hearts Club.” And the titles also predict the endings of both: where Reno is romanticized the two protagonists stay, where it is trivialized the female lovers leave.

Though the movie claims to be based on the novel it pretty much changes all essentials, even down to the names of the leading characters: Ann Childs becomes Cay Rivvers, Evelyn Hall becomes Vivian Bell. But there is a reason for this as the novel uses several biblical images that the movie erases. The names are a not very subtle hint toward Adam and Eve with Evelyn saying at one point to Ann: “You could almost imagine there were no other people.” The desert surrounding Reno leaves the English teacher in “catholic desolation,” although she is of protestant upbringing. Christian symbolism is a cross Deitch does not care to bear on her shoulders and she eliminates it together with the criticism of Freudian theory which Jane Rule has once called “a religion to parallel, without needing to replace, Christianity.” Evelyn’s interdependent marriage to George had provided this criticism but in the movie Vivian says of the reason why her marriage to Martin failed: “[It] drowned in still waters.” There is nothing left of the dominant figure that terrorizes his wife because he cannot compete with her professionally. Vivian has to find her own way our of a marriage that left her unfulfilled without her knowing why, while Evelyn is more or less forced to end her marriage. “The new lesbian,” therefore, has to find her way out of dependencies on her own; she has to choose to free herself of male dominance. For very much the same reason, Deitch explains Cay’s father’s death with a heart attack, not as a suicide. Ann’s struggle with the way her father died is the reason for many of her decisions – or indecisions – but it ties her to a dominant male figure, a provider. In the movie Frances is the only one obsessed with the absent Glen, and it makes her cling to Cay who is a female version of her father. Deitch inserts a slightly incestuous theme through Frances’ lingering love for Glen through Cay and puts Frances’ intolerance towards homosexuality in a hypocritical light showing her own homoerotic feelings toward Cay. In the novel, Frances does not even disapprove of the relationship between Ann and Evelyn; she only wants her step-daughter to be happy.

These differences are the most striking but not all of them are listed. Only the basic frame of the story is left intact: A woman comes to Reno to get a divorce and falls in love with a younger woman. They stay together. Apart from that the movie interprets the novel freely and becomes a piece of modern interpretation of homosexuality because of the changes made. Desert Hearts would not have become a lesbian classic had it clung to Jane Rule’s original ideas; it needed to become a movie about “the new lesbian” for “the new lesbian.” And this is why, though the plot takes place during the 1950s, Desert Hearts is very much rooted in the 1980s.

Let us have a closer look at this “new lesbian” the movie provides us with: deserthearts2

Introducing Cay Rivvers

On their way to the ranch, where Vivian Bell (Helen Shaver) will spend her six weeks of residency that are required to get a divorce in Reno, Frances’ and Vivian’s conversation is interrupted by the introduction of Cay Rivvers (Patricia Charbonneau), Frances’ “daughter.” The scene is induced by Frances Parker (Audra Lindley) exclaiming: “Oh, brother,” then we hear a car go by, before the scene is cut from Vivian’s turning head to Cay’s – giving it the indication that they turn towards each other – as she puts her own car into reverse with screaming wheels and in the following cut pulls up next to Frances’ car driving backwards. Vivian and Cay are introduced by Frances, a bizarre setting for a first meeting but taken in strife by Frances who is quite used to her step-daughter’s exuberant nature. Cay makes a quip about having to call Vivian “professor” but has to put her car back into drive due to an oncoming car.

As soon as Cay pulls up to Frances’ car we hear Buddy Holly singing “Rave On” as if out of Cay’s radio. Her car itself is a black convertible that misses its backseat, as we are to learn later on. Everything about Cay is young and daring and modern. Most of her clothes leave the viewer wondering if the actress left her own clothes on when she entered the 1950s movie set, this especially applies to a set of cut-off jeans. With all these indications it really is no surprise when the audience learns that Cay is not only a lesbian but an out lesbian. Her self-assured attitude toward her sexuality frustrates Vivian later in the movie when she herself is struggling to be out in Cay’s presence. She exclaims: “No fear, no confusions, so self-assured…” Only to be interrupted by Cay shouting: “I don’t act that way to change the world. I act that way so the goddamned world won’t change me.” It is their only real argument, their conflicting views stem out of their different experiments with homosexuality and the fact that though Vivian is older she does not have Cay’s sexual experience. And she never had to fight with the kind of social marginalization Cay hints at in this scene.

It is also another car-scene. There are quite a number of scenes that take place in a car – not the least of them the first kiss of the two leads –, the one between Vivian and Frances being the first. It puts the people in the car into a frame, one could also say a cage, as the audience’s perspective becomes a voyeuristic one. In the scene with Frances the close confines make Vivian, who is a private person, uncomfortable. She is forced into an intimate setting and a conversation with a stranger. Frances’ easy-going nature is a direct contrast to Vivian’s awkwardness; the two women could not be more different. The car represents Vivian’s situation: she is trapped in a strange place she does not want to be in. Her only shield from the outside world – and the blazing sun – are her sunglasses. She puts them on just before she meets Cay. However, both women take their sunglasses off as they are introduced.

The glimpse we get of Cay is the same Vivian gets: it is quick, it is loud and it is wild. In the commentary to the movie, director Deitch tells us that there had been a couple of actresses who wanted to play Cay just to be in that scene, doing what Cay is doing. It is a daring introduction, but it is also a superfluous one. We are yet to learn that Cay’s “wild streak” is an act she puts on, often to impress women. But this is not the person Vivian falls in love with; Vivian falls in love with a young woman who is sensitive and thoughtful and does not dare to step out of the confines of her surroundings. She also falls in love with her friend, because that is what Cay becomes to her after she sheds the aggressive act.

Female relationships

As I have already written, Deitch focuses her attention much more on the female relationships than Rule did by eliminating dominant male figures. Walter (Alex McArthur) is pretty much the only man who is tolerated in the midst of strong female characters. The combinations of the female encounters are an interesting mix of friendship, comradeship born out of necessity, but also antagonism. Lucille (Katie Labourdette), another divorcee in Frances’ care and painfully reminiscent of Lucille Ball, verbally attacks Vivian early on but cannot compete with the quick intelligence of her opponent. However, as time on the ranch passes slowly, Vivian finds herself in Lucille’s company yet again when the two are out riding with Cay and Buck (Tyler Tyhurst), the ranch hand. Lucille relates to Vivian that she had been in a mental institution because she could not cope with the guilt she felt over the failure of her marriage but that Buck is helping her getting back on her feet. Vivian agrees, saying that Cay’s friendship is helping her also. This revelation compels the redhead to warn Vivian about getting too close to Frances’ daughter as she was “kicked out of college for unnatural acts, as they say.” The English professor is not to be deterred, however, and Lucille makes it clear that she does not approve of homosexuals, which only earns her another witty remark by Vivian that she is not above criticism just because she is straight.

As with many of the one-on-ones between the characters the pace of this scene is deliberately slow. The characters talk, relating not only their opinions but also their inner selves. Vivian is not shocked by Lucille’s revelation of Cay’s sexuality as Cay has been far too open about it, already, even if not in words. At some point in the novel, Vivian’s stance toward homosexuality is described: “If she had never actually made love to another woman, she was intellectually emancipated in all perversions of flesh, mind, and spirit. Her academic training had seen to that.” I do not necessarily approve of the choice of words here but the short passage accurately pinpoints what some writers of lesbian fiction try to ignore: you do not have to have slept with a woman to intellectually know how to do it. In the movie, Vivian’s knowledge is expressed in boredom with Lucille’s intolerance. In her line of work, Vivian has probably encountered quite a few lesbians – among faculty as well as students – and she cannot even pretend to be shocked anymore. But her knowledge is theoretical and does not prepare her for the force of her own or Cay’s feelings as they are later discovered and explored.

The desert acts as the local setting of the conversation but the backdrop is a metaphorical one. Lucille is eager to share with Vivian the nature of her relationship with Buck. She says: “Amazing what a little understanding will do.” All that is missing at this point are her fingers making quotation marks as she is clearly not talking about “understanding” at all. Vivian does not take the bait, though. Her reluctance to talk about any intimate details of Lucille and Buck’s relationship is clear and she steers the conversation to seemingly safer grounds mentioning her own friendship with Cay. But this leads Lucille to talk about Cay’s sexuality instead. We have a recurring theme in this sequence: Homosexuality before a heterosexual background. The whole movie seems to work on this premise as the setting is Reno, which is known for three things: marriage, divorce and gambling. Though gambling may not necessarily be a heterosexual institution, marriage and divorce are. In detail these scenes emphasize the aforementioned theme: Frances and Vivian watching a romantic movie and talking about Cay, Cay and Silver (Andra Akers) in the bathtub with Joe (Antony Ponzini) preparing dinner in the kitchen, and, of course, Vivian and Cay leaving the courtroom after Vivian’s divorce is finalized. But what is accomplished with these scenes? Are they an indication that “the new lesbian” has to stick out, or come out, against heterosexual conventions? Or are they merely underlining what is obvious: the majority of people is heterosexual and will always be the background before which lesbians and gays have to live their life? And does that have to inevitably mean having to put up with intolerance from people who are not educated enough to see that love is love whether it is between a man and a woman or members of the same sex?

The Party’s Over

After an evening spent at Silver’s and Joe’s engagement party, with heterosexual love but also convention surrounding them and not even the possibility to dance with each other, Cay and Vivian are yet again in deep conversation in the private confines of Cay’s car. Both are a little drunk but unwilling to end the evening and because they are a little drunk the conversation between them takes on a flirtatious note. They drive out to the lake where they continue their conversation and Cay finally confronts Vivian first with her supposition that the professor is attracted to her, later with a kiss.

The focus of attention at this point is not on Cay’s frank intentions toward Vivian; it is on Vivian’s inability to rein in her own feelings. She struggles with her reasons for divorcing Martin, her feelings for Cay, and the chaos that is raised in the aftermath. Helen Shaver gives the audience a first glimpse at her character’s vulnerability, but also of the passion that lies underneath the surface. The fight within Vivian is an old one of conventions one was brought up to and the pursuit of what will make one happy. If these two clash, and they usually do when one discovers one’s homosexuality, one has to chose. For the drive in the car Vivian lets her inebriated state take the blame but this does not work when Cay finally kisses her. And she kisses her back. Vivian is coming out and this is a process that director and actress show in a teasingly slow development. But it is believable, because one does not cope with one’s own homosexuality over night.

Although not the center of attention, Cay’s life alters as well. She relates to her best friend Silver that she may have “found somebody who counts,” a phrase she had also used earlier with Frances. While her behavior – and Frances words – attests to the fact that she is sexually active with a number of women, though we are only introduced to Gwen, her words assure the audience that she is looking for love, a convention that was hitherto a privilege granted only to heterosexuals in movies.

Love as a privilege of heterosexuals. This may seem odd to viewers of today’s generation, a generation that has seen two cowboys fall in love on Brokeback Mountain and women sharing their lives on The L-Word. But up to Desert Hearts homosexuality in the movies was reduced to sexual acts, often linked to violence and social outcasts. Lesbians in the movies before 1985 were prison guards, criminals, or other manipulative women in a power position to another woman who was than exploited by the lesbian character. These lesbians often had to use force to get what they wanted: sex. Love was not part of the equation.

It is, however, in Desert Hearts. And it is even put in the context of the heterosexual stereotype of “the one.” It is not any woman Cay falls in love with, it is Vivian, and she tells her new lover frankly that she has never been in love before. And one could at least assume that the same holds true for Vivian also. Has she been in love with Martin, or did she merely bow to conventions in marrying him? The novel says she did. But even if she had been in love with her husband once this feeling is long gone. And as the desert can be seen as a metaphor for her life with Martin, the lake, Cay leads her to, signifies the end of it; the end of her marriage, the end of her life without love, the end of the cruel dryness of the desert. The rain acts as the surprising effect of recognition and leaves her drenched and kissing Cay. And as much as this moment signifies the end of order for Vivian, which she is afraid of, it is also a beginning she does not recognize as good at first – though she does not see it as a total disaster either.

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Lovers and Critics

In 1986 Vincent Canby wrote about Desert Hearts in “The New York Times”: “The film is the first fiction feature to be directed by Donna Deitch, whose previous experience in documentaries and commercials appears to have left her with a terribly literal idea of what movies should be. ‘Desert Hearts’ has no voice or style of its own. It’s as flat as a recorded message from the telephone company.”

In 2003 Sarah Warn, then chief editor of Afterellen.com1 wrote about the movie: “But overall, Desert Hearts is just as interesting and compelling as it was almost twenty years earlier when it won a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 1986, and serves as an example of the heights you can achieve without a big budget if you have strong actors, the right story, and a director who knows how to pull it all together.”

One of the differences between these two reviews is that the first one was written by a man and the second by a lesbian. Is that also the reason why the second is so clearly in favor of the movie and the first one is not? There is no question that Desert Hearts has its value in American movie history, but is this value limited to its accomplishments for the lesbian audience?

The focus of this paper lies on proving that Desert Hearts created a “new lesbian” (as I have called her). A female homosexual that was neither a sexual predator or a social outcast, a woman that, recognizing her difference, does not despair and commits suicide. It is the most important aspect of the film and probably the reason that it is still recognized today – even if predominantly by the lesbian community. But I would not have written a paper about if I had thought that it was a bad movie. The criticism in “The New York Times” is harsh. It reduces the movie to parts of the dialogue that even Sarah Warn admits is “clunky and corny.” The features that make Desert Hearts a compelling story, the acting and the groundbreaking love-scene, are dismissed or left out.

In his review for the “Chicago Sun-Times” Roger Ebert calls the movie: ”[a] spiky debut, with a tumultuous love scene, which is more than a nostalgia trip despite the redneck 50s setting.” And although he does not entirely praise the movie as many reviews by lesbians have done and still do he acknowledges the strong acting, especially of Helen Shaver, and the “undeniable power” that for him comes “from the chemistry between Shaver and Charbonneau.” His conclusive statement is the following: “The movie makes no large statement; it is not a philosophical exploration of lesbianism, just the story of two women and their attraction. It’s not a great movie, but it works on its own terms.”

I think, I can almost agree with that assessment as I can also agree that some of the lines are indeed “corny.” But does that answer my question of the significance of the movie for non-lesbian viewers? No, it does not.

The DVD cover quotes the “Sunday Times,” that stated that the love scene in Desert Hearts far exceeded the eroticism of the love scenes between Kim Basinger and Mickey Rourke in 9 ½ Weeks. This comparison is a strong one as I can still remember having read a lot about 9 ½ Weeks and its effect on representation of sexuality in movie encyclopedias. So is this Desert Hearts ultimate value for the heterosexual mainstream movie-goer? A love scene that has a greater appeal than the ones in 9 ½ Weeks? As sad and bizarre as it sounds, yes, that seems to be the case. In preparation for this paper I have read that the actresses who were signed up for playing lesbians on The L-Word, a television show that bows a lot to stereotypical representation of lesbianism despite the fact that it is done by lesbians, were required to watch the love scene between Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau because of its authenticity as well as its erotic power. Sad and bizarre, indeed.

24 Years Later

“The new lesbian.” She is strong, independent, out, and proud. And she is also beautiful, which she has not always been, especially in the prison movies of the 60s and 70s. But where is this lesbian that was new in the 1980s now? She’s still there, and she has not changed much. The L-Word is yet again a perfect example of the representation of “the new lesbian,” but we can also look at some movies that would probably not have been done if it had not been for the groundbreaking Desert Hearts, or at least not in quite the same fashion:

In It’s in the Water a Texan socialite falls for a lesbian nurse of a hospice for AIDS-patients. The story is eerily familiar as the dark-haired nurse is a little tomboyish, and the blonde socialite struggles with her unfulfilling marriage. Luckily, director Kelli Herd adds a gay couple and a cast of Texan originals to the plot or it would probably have been called a rip-off of Desert Hearts.

Another set of the tomboy and the beauty is The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love, where two teenage girls fall for each other, the tomboy being a daughter of lesbian upbringing, who has to work at a gas station after school. Young women are also in the focus of the plot of Better Than Chocolate. Luckily, in this comedy both women are already out and nobody has to struggle with the drama of recognition. But once again, we have a tomboy who struggles economically.

The bottom line of lesbians in movies seems to be: you have two beautiful women with one of them being a tomboy, but by no means a butch. The tomboy is the out lesbian, while the femme of the duo often struggles with her sexual identity but never financially. She is usually also the one with the higher education level.

The new lesbian” has become an old stereotype in the more than twenty years since Desert Hearts. But she is still the one positive representation of lesbian life we have. She stands out among the lesbian killers of television crime shows, the suicidal lesbians of the teen drama, the experimental straight girls caught in a lip-lock that one can see on most television programs during sweeps weeks. Desert Hearts has introduced her and she is here to stay.

Sources

Articles:

Miller, Nina, “Making Love Modern: Dorothy Parker and Her Public,” In: American Literature 64.4 (1992) 766-784

Books:

Rule, Jane. Lesbian Images. New York: POCKET BOOK, 1976.

Rule, Jane. Desert of the Heart. Tallahassee, FL: Naiad Press, 1983.

Sobek, Daniela. Lexikon Lesbischer Frauen im Film. München: belleville, 2000.

 

Movies:

Desert Hearts, produced by Donna Deitch, directed by Donna Deitch, screenplay by Natalie Cooper, based on the novel “Desert of the Heart” by Jane Rule. Cast: Helen Shaver (Vivian Bell), Patricia Charbonneau (Cay Rivvers), Audra Lindley (Frances Parker). Samuel Goldwyn Company. 1985.

9 ½ Weeks, produced by Mark Damon, directed by Adrian Lyne, screenplay by Sarah Kernochan, Zalman King, Patricia Louisianna Knop, based on a novel by Elizabeth McNeill. Cast: Mickey Rourke (John), Kim Basinger (Elizabeth), Christine Baranski (Thea). Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM). 1986.

Better Than Chocolate, produced by Sharon McGowan, directed by Anne Wheeler, screenplay by Peggy Thompson. Cast: Christina Cox (Kim), Karyn Dwyer (Maggie), Wendy Crewson (Lila). British Columbia Film. 1999.

Brokeback Mountain, produced by Diana Ossana, directed by Ang Lee, screenplay by Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana, based on a short story by Annie Proulx. Cast: Heath Ledger (EnnisDelMar), Jack Gyllenhall (Jake Twist), Randy Quaid (Joe Aguirre). Paramount Pictures. 2005.

It’s in the Water, produced by Dee Evans, directed by Kelli Herd, screenplay by Kelli Herd. Cast: Keri Jo Chapman (Alex Stratton), Teresa Garrett (GraceMiller), Derrick Sanders (MarkAnderson). Kelli Herd Film Company Inc. 1997.

Lost and Delirious, produced by Greg Dummett, directed by Léa Pool, screenplay by Judith Thompson, based on the novel “The Wives of Bath” by Susan Swan. Cast: Piper Perabo (Pauline “Paulie” Oster), Jessica Paré (Victoria “Tori” Moller), Mischa Barton (Mary “Mouse” Bedford). Lions Gate Films. 2001

The Children’s Hour, produced by Robert Wyler and William Wyler, directed by William Wyler, screenplay by John Michael Hayes, adapted for the screen by Lillian Hellman, based on a play by Lillian Hellman. Cast: Audrey Hepburn (Karen Wright), Shirley MacLaine (Martha Dobie), James Garner (Dr. Joe Cardin). United Artists, 1963

The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love, produced by Dolly Hall, directed by Maria Maggenti, screenplay by Maria Maggenti. Cast: Laurel Holloman (RandyDean), Nicole Parker (EvieRoy), Kate Stafford (RebeccaDean). Fine Line Features. 1995.

The L-Word, produced by Ilene Chaiken and others, directed by Rose Troche and others, teleplay by Angela Robinson and others. Cast: Jennifer Beals (Bette Porter), Mia Kirshner (Jenny Schecter), Pam Grier (Kit Porter). Showtimes Networks. 2004-2009.

 

Informations on Movies

http://www.imdb.com

Reviews

Canby, Vincent, “Film: ‘Desert Hearts,’ About Women in Love.” The New York Times: <http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9A0DE5D9133FF937A35757C0A960948260&gt;

Ebert, Roger, “Desert Hearts.” http://www.robertebert.com:

<http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19860606/REVIEWS/606060301/1023&gt;

Warn, Sarah, “Review of ‘Desert Hearts’.” http://www.Afterellen.com:

<http://www.afterellen.com/Movies/deserthearts.html&gt;

1 AfterEllen.com was founded in 2002 by Sarah Warn and has since “become the leading entertainment site for and about lesbian and bisexual women, with news, reviews, interviews and commentary on lesbian and bisexual women in TV, movies, music, and more.”