What a title for a blog post, right? This is my first topic that was given to me by a friend as something they wanted to see me write about. Seriously, that’s what she sent me in a message – “Gay movies and why they suck.” I wasn’t sure where to go with it, initially. But after contemplating it for several weeks, I think I know where I want to go with this. At least, I know for sure what my opinion is on it.
I’m going to be honest – I haven’t seen a lot of “gay” movies. I wrote a novel-length story last year for National Novel Writing Month that, if I want to get it published, will most likely be considered to be in the “gay” genre. Which is so interesting to me, but that’s a topic for another post entirely.[i] But, alas, I’ve seen very few “gay” movies. Mostly because I’m not gay, but also because I don’t think very many of those movies are mainstream.[ii] In any case, here are some of my thoughts about gay movies, and why they suck.
First of all, I hate that there is a separate genre in the movie industry for gay movies. I realize that they probably have to do that, because it is still a political issue in this country.[iii] But really, they’re just romances, like everything else. So it’s two girls who fall in love, instead of a guy and a girl? So what? Well, it’s a bigger deal than I think it should be. People are narrow minded, stuck in their ways. And, on top of that, it’s a bigger deal when it’s two men than when it’s two women. Why? Porn. Seriously, I think that’s why. How stupid is that? Should things really be decided based on the taste of men who frequent pornographic websites on a regular basis? Anyway. I digress.
The reason that I believe gay movies suck is because they are labeled “gay movies,” and therefore, that has to be a plot point. You’re not going to enjoy an action movie with no action, right? Because they are labeled that way, they have to include it as the main plot in the movie. So, gay movies are centered on the fact that someone is gay. That’s what I’m saying, in case you’re confused.
How stupid is that? Is that really a good main plot point?
No. It’s not! And that’s why gay movies suck.
Don’t worry, I’ll try to explain.
These days, I watch a lot more TV than movies, simply because it’s easier to find time for a 22 minute episode on Netflix than it is to make time to watch a 2 hour movie. And let me tell you, TV shows are getting it right.
Take Grey’s Anatomy, for example. Two of the main characters on the show are in a lesbian relationship. Cool, right? But remember, this is Grey’s I’m talking about. Do you think that’s the main storyline every episode? Of course not! It’s a medical drama! Callie and Arizona are a side plot, and they have their ups and downs, just like every couple on the show. But that’s just it! They are like every other couple on the show! It is one of the reasons Shonda Rimes is very well respected in the television industry – she treats all of that stuff the same.[iv]
Another example – Pretty Little Liars. In the first season, it was a main plot point that Emily was gay, because she was in the process of trying to come out. Okay, cool! What an interesting device to use in a show about high school students – very true to life. But now we’re in season four of the show. Is it still a main storyline? No! The show is way more focused on the fact that some secretive psycho is trying to kill some high school girls. Yes, it sometimes comes up, but Emily’s relationship with Paige gets equal screen time to the other girls’ relationships with their respective boys, and the other girls are quick to jump to Emily’s defense when someone slurs something about her. It’s well written.
I have more examples, but I will leave it there.
The reason that gay movies suck is because they are so focused on the gay that they forget about the rest of the plot. Sometimes, there is no other plot. So they have to make the “gay” plot more dramatic, more able to fill the space that the absence of a true plot leaves behind. Movies should be about characters, about stories, about things that are happening! They shouldn’t be focused entirely on the fact that someone is gay.[v] Which, seriously, is not that big of a deal.
I am going to leave you with another example about someone who got it right. J.K. Rowling. Yes, the master herself, author of the Harry Potter series. Did you know that Dumbledore was gay? Yes, in fact, Ms. Rowling said so herself at a book signing at Carnegie Hall in New York City in October of 2007.[vi] Why didn’t you know that Professor Dumbledore had fallen in love with his childhood friend Gellert Grindelwald? Because Rowling never explicitly said so. Which just proves my point – why does it matter? The story went on with none of us knowing, and Dumbledore is a much beloved character. The story of the Boy Who Lived did not revolve around the fact that Dumbledore was gay – that’s a sidenote, something an author wrote intentionally without drawing explicit attention to it. Well done, Ms. Rowling. You are the rightful queen.[vii]
So. Here’s to hoping that gay movies, TV shows, books, etc. don’t always suck.
[i] I’ve had really good reviews on that story, by the way. But I haven’t found a publisher for it yet. It’s a work in progress!
[ii] And the ones that are mainstream cause the hugest of hullabaloos. Think Brokeback Mountain.
[iii] I am so proud of my home state right now for legalizing gay marriage. So proud.
[iv] I recently read that her shows are the only ones on television who regularly include biracial couples without making that a plot device at all. She’s badass, man. I love her.
[v] I realize that “coming out” stories sometimes are really good. But can you tell me that that’s the only thing going on in a person’s life at that moment in time? Probably not, unless they live in a bubble. In which case, how would they know they’re gay? This is what I’m trying to say!
[vii] If you want an earful about storytelling, ask me how I feel about JK Rowling and the Harry Potter series sometime. She’s a genius.