Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Plot Twist that Twists Me

My partner Anne and I finally got around to seeing "The Kids Are All Right" the other night. We ran into several friends, proving we weren't the only ones slow in getting to the theater.

Slow, yes, but what lavender-blooded gal would miss the chance to see beauties Annette Bening and Julianne Moore play gay in a film written and directed by an actual lesbian? Puh-leeze.

I had steadfastly avoided reading any reviews of "The Kids," so they wouldn't influence my take on it. In fact, I'd done such a good job of avoiding reviews, blog posts, even ads that all I knew about the movie was this: long-term lesbian couple, two teenagers, sperm donor newly on the scene, attractive stemware.

In this age of souped-up media, how do I manage to insulate myself from information? How do I keep myself thoroughly ignorant? Downright stupid? It's a gift.

I realized just how little I knew when Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo hit the sheets. I had managed not to hear about THAT little plot twist.

After the film Anne and I stopped to talk with another lesbian couple outside the theater. "Why does the femme always sleep with a guy?" one of the women promptly complained.

I hadn't seen the affair in terms of butch/femme. In truth, I was lucky just to see the screen, because the moment the lesbian and the straight guy bedded down, I found myself in a bubble of my own, little prickles going up and down my body. It was like someone had electrified the popcorn.

I was having a flashback. No, not the kind you're thinking. I was with men until I was 30; getting sexual with a man now seems redundant.

I was propelled back to a weekend eighteen months ago, when I sat, terrified, in a screenplay seminar. The instructors, two straight men, cut to pieces the screenplay synopses before them.

My synopsis also got the Ginsu-knife treatment, which it deserved. The instructors managed to find a few bits they liked, and they didn't agree with each other on everything. But one thing they did agree on: My lesbian character should have sex with the guy who wanted her.

That would be a "true reverse," it would bulk up her character and the plot, it would . . . make me sick to my stomach.

My innards churned as they talked. In my head I heard "No, no, no!" Whether the casually dispensed advice came from their brains or somewhere well south of there I'll never know, but I sure felt alone in that room.

When I saw Moore and Ruffalo trysting on screen, the emotion of that experience came back, along with the conviction that for me, a dyke doing a het is last resort. We've seen too many movies where lesbianism gets the shaft because a lesbian couldn't say no to a shaft.

That said, the affair in "The Kids Are All Right" made organic sense in several ways. And that said, had I known ahead of time the movie hinged on an affair between a coupled lesbian and a straight man, I probably wouldn't have gone. No matter what stunning lesbians Bening and Moore make.

Since seeing the flick, I've checked out the blogosphere and found that some lesbians are angry about the affair, others find it completely believable, and others, like yours truly, feel some of both. We're the pretzels.

My partner takes the long view about lesbians on film: "It's a progression. We moved from suicide to having heterosexual sex in the movies."

Next stop, homosexual sex. Then I'd like a lesbian Indiana Jones . . .