Good morning starshine!

As you can tell from the title of our blog, we are interested in the portrayal of lesbian characters and relationships in books and on screen.  While we are not experts in either literary or film theory, this first post will hopefully explain our basic position (and biases) that we bring as readers and/or viewers to any story.  As an audience, we are always on the look-out for a good story about lesbians—“good” in the sense of connection to characters in whose shoes we can, or would like, to place ourselves.  But there is a disparaging lack of “good” books and movies, and we are often left to choose between well-written lesbians or a well-written plot.

Thus far, almost all stories involving lesbians are dramas or tragedies.  There seem to be no happy endings, or at least none that outweigh the conflicts that characters must overcome to get to them.  Though we don’t aim to group these stories in categories of “right” or “wrong”, we will be looking for patterns with a critical eye out for harmful tropes/inaccuracies, as well as stereotypes, that seem to play a large role in the “no happy ending” formula.

Here are some of the tropes and devices that tend to ruin a lesbian movie or book:

  • Unnecessary death (as seen with suicides or murder of a lesbian character)
  • Lesbian predators
  • Sex, sex, SEX!!! (because that’s all lesbians do, didn’t you know??)
  • Heteronormative assumptions (a lot falls under this including gender roles, parallels to straight relationships, and presumptions of “coming out” drama)
  • Heteronormative agendas (e.g. lesbians/gays as outsiders, assimilation, and the need for a monogamous relationship)

There are many more story elements that can hurt a film or novel and are sure to appear in our future posts/critiques. Although it should be kept in mind that these elements are not, in themselves, always problematic, their use in lesbian stories (which are not very prolific even when compared to stories featuring gay men) both negatively affects the view of lesbians and also reflects the more harmful, existing perceptions and prejudices.

BUT…there are several excellent stories we will be discussing as well, and even some of the problematic books or movies have many good elements, as you’ll see (if, indeed, you are still reading).

Look for our upcoming post and critique of Chloe, a thriller featuring Julianne Moore, Amanda Seyfried, and Liam Neeson. We encourage you to watch it whether you come back for our next post or not.

~Katy & Stacy

~ by Stacy on March 11, 2012.

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