What if straight were gay and gay were straight? The short film Love is All You Need? directed by K. Rocco Shields makes us think: what if? One might stop and wonder all the possibilities and frantically press play to get the answers to such a question, but this parallel universe may not be as complicated as we thought. In the film we follow a young girl growing up in a society where homosexuality is the norm. She is made fun of, ridiculed, and bullied to the point of suicide. Boys dance and do theater, while girls play sports and be tough. Her two moms even sustain the stereotypical “masculine and feminine” roles. One works and wants her daughter to play football, the other stays home and is more “emotional”. While this film is powerful in terms of emotional content, the film is not really telling us anything we don’t know. Stereotypical behavior is still present. The film just swaps the bodies playing the roles of society. It would look a lot different if one of the theorists we studied, like Judith Butler, was sitting in the director’s chair.
The switch is cut and dry in this film. The world basically looks the same as it does in real life, only gender is swapped. But is gender really swapped? Gender roles play a significant part in this film and by the looks of the script, they don’t really change as we might expect from an alternate world. If Butler were the writer, the gender presentation of this script would not look so familiar to us. Butler tells us that gender is performative. It is a regulatory regime created by the effect of discourse norms. Butler talks about gender as a repetitive performance which gives it authority. With this idea in mind, Butler directorial vision would look pretty different. These gender performances we see in the film would not hold up in this parallel world. The discourse in the film is completely changed in regards to whom it is being directed, therefore according to Butler, stereotypical gender performance would not have authority. Women would not necessarily still look feminine. They would be performing the discourse in which was directed to them, and the same for men: men are soft and women are hard, according to the film. Butler would make sure gender performance was done “correctly” based on the discourse, the script, of the film. Women would not still be presenting feminine nor men, masculine. Women in the film might wear suits and ties while men would wear dresses and heels; the classic gender performance in which the script is giving us. This would make the film a lot more realistic and it just shows how impactful gender performance is.
While the film, in my opinion, achieved great success in appealing to the audience’s emotions, it did not really show anything unfamiliar to us. Gender stereotypes and a very clear binary was still present. Thinking about Butler as the director/writer instead, offers us a completely different outlook and probably much more realistic look into what this kind of world would look like.