Faking It

Faking It is a television show that first premiered on MTV in April, 2014. The show takes place mostly at and around Hester High School which is located near Austin, Texas. Unlike every other high school in America, at Hester High School being weird or abnormal is what lands you a seat atop the schools hierarchy of popularity. The show follows a series of main characters, all of which are struggling to not only gain or keep their rank of popularity, but are also struggling to identify their own personal selves throughout the tough journey we all undergo through high school. Throughout the series, the characters display several aspects that pertain to a lot of what we discuss in class, which is queer culture.

When the show begins, we are introduced to two of the main characters, Karma and Amy. They are sophomores at Hester High School and are also best friends. The dynamic duo is portrayed as being willing to do anything to gain a spot amongst the popular crowd. This aspect is tested when Shane Harvey, who is also a main character, accidentally assumes Karma and Amy are a lesbian couple, when in reality they are just best friends. Initially the pair’s reaction was to state that they were not actually a couple; however, when the two of them realized how popular they became from being known as Hester High School’s first out lesbian couple, they decide to hide their true identities rather than losing their new found popularity. Shane Harvey, the boy who ‘outs’ Karma and Amy is one of Hester’s most popular students and plays the role of an out and proud male student who loves unveiling the skeletons hiding in the closets of his fellow classmates. Later on in the series another main character, Liam Booker, who is Shane’s best friend ends up falling for Karma and throwing kinks in Karma and Amy’s attempt to keep their popularity by prolonging their charade of being a lesbian couple. As the series goes on, the show displays many of the struggles faced by students in high school. From Amy falling for her best friend Karma, to Karma falling for Liam and likewise for Liam himself, the show depicts the main characters as finding out tremendous amounts about themselves through the relationships and friendships which they experience throughout their encounters with their classmates. The last main character that is really of relevance to the aspect of queer culture is Amy’s step sister, Lauren Cooper. Lauren is initially depicted as the new girl who is quickly very popular but soon faces her own demons when she is ‘outed’ as being intersex.

I first began watching Faking It when the series first premiered on MTV. I related to the show and even though I found myself constantly thinking, “Wow, this would never actually happen in high school.” I could not help but to fall in love with the show because of the fact that the show handles a lot of issues and is not afraid to throw awkward situations into the audience’s face. The show not only handles issues such as Amy struggling to determine her own sexuality, but it also shows the struggles of Amy’s sister Lauren who is intersex. In many ways the struggles Lauren is depicted to have resonates with our classroom discussions of the struggles which members of the transgender community face. Though Lauren is intersex and not transgender, I found it interesting that she was depicted to suffer from such similar circumstances as those who brave the ridicule that is associated with being a member of the transgender community. Another aspect of the series that I found to be quiet interesting was that many of the struggles the characters where shown to go through made me think back to when we read Martha Shelley’s. “Gay Is Good.” I recall that she spoke about how one of the worst parts about being a homosexual was not the way that they are punished by law enforcement or by society as a whole, but the fact that those who identify as being homosexuals often believed that the fact that they as individuals identified as being gay was something that was not to be revealed. Martha Shelly basically states that it is the general knowledge that being a homosexual means that you are something that is so bad that is should not even be revealed or shared, and I feel that many of the characters in this series show characteristics of identifying with Martha Shelley’s statement. All of the main characters have resentment towards themselves because in some way or another they do not feel that who they truly are is someone or something that can be openly discussed. I feel that many of the characters are shown to  believe that who they are as people is something that they are ashamed to show others which as stated, is how Shelley talks about how it feels to be a member of the homosexual community. I love the manner in which the show depicts the struggles members of the LGBTQ+ community face on a daily basis and how it affects them as people, and I also love how much it pertains to the day to day discussions and readings we have for class.

 

Bumblefuck, USA

The movie opens with the suicide of Matt, a character that we do not know anything about at first. Alexa, a young Dutch woman from Amsterdam who was a close friend of Matt travels to the US in search of answers regarding Matt’s life. Alexa rents a room in a man’s home in Iowa where Matt grew up. Throughout the movie, Alexa makes a documentary which is comprised of interviews from people in the queer community who have come out. Alexa believes that Matt killed himself because of his sexuality because shortly before committing suicide Matt came out as being gay. The interviews we see throughout the movie discuss things that range from first kisses and dealing with their sexual identities to suicide attempts.

Throughout her interviews and exploration of Matt’s death, Alexa meets Jennifer. Actually, Alexa wakes up in what appears to be Jennifer’s living room after a night at the bar. When Alexa first opens her eyes she sees Jennifer who is working on a piece of art she is putting together from recycled materials. Jennifer offers Alexa a cup of coffee and in her rush to get out of the house, Alexa leaves with her coffee in hand. Then a few days later Alexa returns to Jenifer’s window with a fresh hot cup of coffee in hand and apologizes for running off so quickly. She then invites herself in through the window and insists that she go along with Jennifer to help her look for materials in the junkyard. From there, their friendship grows and soon Alexa realizes that she might be finding out more about herself from this trip than she had intended. Through rough questioning of herself and her sexuality Alexa finally comes to the conclusion that she likes Jennifer. This is commonly experienced by members in the LGBT+ community and it relates very strongly to the overall content of our class.

Though the questioning of her sexuality that Alexa, as well as many of the people she has interviewed are shown to have experienced fall in line with many of the readings as well as discussions we have had in class, this is not what stood out to me the most in the movie. There was one particular line during one of Alexa’s interviews with a lesbian woman that really caught my attention and made me think back to our very first readings. The woman being interviewed said something along the lines of how she thought it was ridiculous that women are only conceived as an idea so long as a man is involved. She then went on to talk about how society sees women only as compared to men and she asks why women can’t just be seen as women, and as stated it made me think all the way back to when we read “One Is Not Born a Woman” by Monique Wittig. Throughout which Wittig talks about how women only exist as a concept of the society which they live in. Wittig also talks about how if we could somehow no longer have the classification of man then we would no longer have to have the classification of woman and maybe things could be equal rather that men being superior simply because of their classification as a man.

A Marine Story- Don’t Ask Don’t Tell

A Marine Story, is a 2010 drama film about a female marine officer, Major Alexander Everett, who was honorably discharged from the military. She unexpectedly returns home (a southwestern desert town) from the Iraq War due to the charged filed against her for “Conduct Unbecoming of an Officer”. She accosted a young woman, Saffron Snow, and her boyfriend for illegal drug and theft at a convenience store. Saffron, a disturbed woman turned out to be her neighbor’s granddaughter, who requested her to prepare Saffron for boot camp as the Judge gave her one week to prepare or else she was going to jail. The film is set in 2008 and was filmed in Los Angeles in 2009. A Marine Story is directed by Ned Farr and was premiered at the Frameline Film Festival on 2010. It also won the “Grand Jury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Feature in 2010.

I chose this film because the film is a good example of the United States “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy and the damage it does to the troops. The film focuses on Lesbian feminism and Native Concept of Gender and it targets audience of all gender and sexual orientation.

Lesbian Feminism: Everett reconnected with her old friends from past, Leo and Holly after returning. She could easily come out to Holly and explain why she was discharged and her sexuality and was accepted immediately with open arms. However, she couldn’t explain it to Leo until later and was surely not pleased to hear that. This shows she is not accepted anymore, because according to the society a “woman” has to be heterosexual. Also she is not a one dimensional soldier, even though she is tough she has a softer, maternal humorous side as well which is often seen when she is around Saffron or her close friends. This concept is also demonstrated by Monique Wittig’s “One is Not Born a Woman” where she says if someone if not heterosexual they refuse to be either a man or a woman and lesbians have to be something else, not-woman or not-man.

600full-a-marine-story-screenshot

Native Concept of Gender: J. Jack Halberstam said “In other words, female masculinity are framed as the rejected scraps of dominant masculinity in order that male masculinity may appear to be the real thing” in “An introduction to Female Masculinity: Masculinity without Men”. This concept focuses most part of the movie. There was a scene where Everett and Leo went to a bar with Leo’s friends. The egoistic males were criticizing women marines as ‘WM’ (waste of money). According to them they are only good for secretarial work. Someone then said, “Males are better at most jobs due to muscle mass and that females are only as strong as the weakest males”. Leo then suggested the weakest of them should arm wrestle with Everett, where she easily defeated him breaking the traditional norm of men being stronger and masculine.  Even Saffron, who was first shown as a disturbed, brooding woman proved herself to be a capable woman and endure all the pain and hardships to achieve her goal.

The movie goes back and forth between Everett’s present and future leaving the audience in suspense. The flashbacks were about her deployments, her drills and her pride for being an American Soldier. The present was mostly about how she trained Saffron to be tough and pushed her off of her limits to make Saffron like her and the about the conflict she had to face for not being enough feminine. When her Commanding Officer interrogated her, Everett lied the whole time by referring to her marriage (which was basically a sham marriage) to hide her identity. This shows how dedicated she is towards her country. Throughout her life Everett tried to hide her sexual preference in order to be a marine. Her commanding officer advised her to resign before they can find something solid against her, in order to be honorably discharged. This whole situation was horrible to me because for any soldier, regardless of their gender, goes through inhuman training at boot camp to serve the country are advised to leave their passion based on their sexual preference. She was an officer, a drill instructor and Amphibious Warfare School graduate, yet she was looked down as someone weak who could be a potential threat to the military family when it came down to her sexual orientation. The Commanding officer also asked whether she had an affair with any ‘male’ soldier. She replied adultery is also forbidden in military, however, her commanding officer replied it was lesser of the two evils. One of Leo’s friend Dyke was so angry at her that he secretly took pictures of her being intimate with other girls and posted flyers all over the town which jeopardize Saffron’s future of getting into the boot camp. As people assumed she was having an affair with Everett.

The script writer’s main point was we should support troops regardless whether they are homosexual or heterosexual. Everett was punished under the United States Military’s discriminatory “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy for who she was. She lived a closeted life with secrecy throughout her life. The movie portrays what other queer soldiers have to endure unfortunately. The following statement was posted at the end of the movie which represents discrimination to a whole new different level. Discrimination against queer soldiers and further more discrimination against ‘women’.

“Women are far more likely than men to be kicked out of the military under the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” Policy against gay personnel, according to government figures of 2010. Gender aside, more than 13,500 service members have been fired under the law since 1994”.

 

Blue Is the Warmest Color

A French queer film produced, written and directed by Abdellatif Kechiche, based on the original 2010 French graphic novel with the same name by Julie Maroh.  Released in 2013, the same year in which same-sex marriage became legal in France, making it one of the most controversial films of the year. This film won the Palme d’Or from the official jury and the FIPRESCI Prize at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.  The film was also nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Foreign Language Film and the BAFTA Award for Best Film not in the English Language.

“He’s not the problem. I’m missing something. I’m all messed up. I’m crazy.”

The film revolves around the sexual awakening of Adele, a 15 year-old high school student, and a love affair with Emma, an older art student. Adele begins to explore herself as woman at a very young age. She begins to hear her classmates talk constantly about boys so she forms a relationship with a classmate from school with whom she ends up having sex. After having sex with her significant other she discovers no sexual satisfaction with him at all. She continues her daily schedule like always until one day while crossing the street Adele’s eyes catch a blue-haired woman (Emma) which captivated her and made her start having sexual dreams with her. Later on they meet each other at a lesbian bar where emma went after leaving a gay bar where her friend Valentin had taken her. After Emma interviens due to other woman trying to pursue Adele she begins to talk to her and finds out that Emma is a much older graduating art student. They become close friends and begin to spend more and more time with each other making Adeles friends from school suspicious and makes them think that she is in a lesbian relationship with the “blue haired woman”. Ignoring her friends comments and ridicule Adele continues to talk to Emma and begins to get to know her more and more until eventually one day during a picnic they kiss for the first time. They begin to have a more romantic relationship and eventually have sex for the first time. They begin to live together and the years pass before they begin to realise how little they truly have in common. Emma begins to grow emotionally and physically distant to Adele making it impossible for the two to live at ease and eventually Emma decides to kick Adele out of the apartment leaving Adele devastated and heart broken. Time passes and eventually Adele and Emma meet up again in a restaurant, Adele still in love with Emma continues to feel the strong connection that they have with each other but finds out that Emma has not only moved on but is in a committed relationship with a woman by the name of Lise whom they had both meet before in a party they had hosted not to long before they split up. At the end of the film Adele visits an art show that is exhibiting Emmas work and not so coincidentally runs into Emma. They begin to talk but the conversation remains brief due to the fact that Emma is much more focused on the art show than on the conversation with Adele. Eventually they both part ways and continue on with their lives which concludes the romantic relationship that neither Adele nor Emma will ever forget.

Lesbian Sexuality is one of the strongest themes in the film, starting from Adele exploring her sexual identity, to discovering her sexual desire through Emma. In the beginning of the story we see Adele following the crowd of her classmates and begins to engage in a heterosexual relationship with one of her male classmates but after the realization that she was not feeling fulfilled sexually with a man she begins to get involved romantically with “the blue haired girl” named Emma. The ten-minute sexual scene between the two teenagers demonstrated that Adele was clearly not feeling the same emotions or satisfaction with the male classmate as she was feeling when she became sexually involved with Emma.

“I miss you. I miss not touching each other. Not seeing each other, not breathing in each other. I want you. All the time. No one else.”

As Sue Katz said on Smash Phallic Imperialism “Lesbianism is not a sexual perversion: it has nothing to do with sex.  It is not another way to “do it”: it is a whole other way to have contact” Adele discovered in Emma more than just sex, rather she found another way to have contact, something she couldn’t find with anybody else.  A different quote from the same reading,  “Lesbian sensuality is a form which I myself am helping create. It is not an institution existing outside of me, like sex is.  It is me, us, as it comes out of our new consciousness.” This quote is also relevant to the film because Adele had to discover her sexual preference through this long journey and she had to do it alone by her truly getting to know herself and what she truly prefers as a woman unlike how many others simply follow the institution that is sex and continue to engage in these heterosexual relationships that they may not even like. Both women and men go through their lives constantly struggling to find what they prefer sexually, for some it may take the first sight of a man or a woman that may convince them that they are lesbian or gay, but for others like in the case of Adele it may take some time to discover who you really are and what you really want.