A picnic on a bed in Paris
It’s summer time in the Northern Hemisphere and that means summer movies. A look at the popular movie listings is a bit discouraging to my film-going tastes.
I’d like to see something that takes my breath away, something that is about women loving women. Something that’s not a soap opera, something that’s not cliché, something that’s not porn. That’s not to say there haven’t been good or fun or titillating movies: Tipping the Velvet, High Art, When Night Falls, I Can’t Even Think Straight, Fire, Saving Face and a few others come to mind but nothing truly timeless, universal and outstanding.
Why is that? It’s not as if there aren’t lesbian film makers, lesbian writers, lesbian actors and important lesbian relationships. Why hasn’t there been an outstanding, well-written, finely acted, well-composed film about a love shared between two women who happen to be lesbians. Why is it that a recent lesbian film was promoted as having the longest-ever onscreen kiss? Because that’s what makes a film? Or that’s what makes money?
And so, I wondered about love between women, as experienced by women other than me and why it might be so difficult to capture and translate into art.
Is love the same? A certain number of similar scenarios played out across all sorts of partners whether the partners are same-sex or opposite sex? And who said men and women are opposite? Opposite to what? Each other? Male is opposite female? Really? How quaint is that? But I digress. Again.
In films, there are formulas. Boo to that. Don’t give me that Hollywood/Bollywood storyline. And please: all that lesbianic, Bound-style noir stuff is oh so boring. I want the telling, revealing slice of life, the wacky, happy, sad, intense, iconic moments that tell me what love is, why it is, when it is, how it is and where it is and what that line is; between what love is and love isn’t and what it could be and why it will never be.
I want glimpses that hint at what brings love into existence and what makes it go away, arrows that point to those soaring emotions and the feelings that make you want to rip out your heart and your guts and throw them on the floor and for good measure, jump up and down on them, to prove a life and death of love, and then to see them shoved back inside, to see those guts move and that heart start beating again.
I want the stories that tell me why we bother with love and loving, why we do it, what we do it for, what we get, what we give, what we feel, where we feel it how we feel it and what it means, if it means anything whatsoever.
And because we do not come into the world as disconnected, isolated capsules of skin and water and blood, I want to see what friendship love is, what family love is and why it is and what it is and what, what, just what does love mean with these non-lovers: what is it from those we call friends and those we call family? How do these loves influence the other love, the love between two, and especially, love between two women? Don’t give me those pat pop-psych Dr. Phil, Oprah, Rumi, Sylvia Plath, Pablo Neruda quotes. I’ve heard them all. Whisper a truth about love and loving instead.
About love between women…
Women are not men. Straight women are not lesbians. Do we, as lesbians or bisexual women think the same or feel the same as straight women do? Do we see things the same way as straight women do even if we have things in common like periods, and ovulation, and worrying about, oh, everything. Do we think and feel the same about love and loving?
Tell me, tell me, tell me. What about lesbian love? I know about mine. I want to know about others. I want to know what they think and what they feel and why and what and how and where and who and when, because we are not like other people, are we, us lesbians? Are we? And what of the notion of lesbian mates?
We don’t go looking for that mate that will give us the good-looking children, that (manly)man whose genetic material we think will confer some special benefit to our offspring; someone who will protect us, give a good home — do we? We aren’t like everyone else — yet. How does an evolutionary biologist explain us? Do we need to be explained away? Does anyone besides me think that maybe just maybe some evolutionary biologists are jumping to conclusions? Some might put it down to affiliation needs because goddess knows, women can’t have raw-need-you-now love feelings that are just as much a part of loving as holding hands at the movies. Just sayin’.
So tell me. And for those of you who eschew love as an old-fashioned notion, good for nothing except misery and music, I will tell you this — with all due respect to W. Somerset Maugham: that love and loving is an exhilarating, breathtaking, heart-stopping, life and mind expanding thing, interspersed with waves of calm, affectionate heartbeating experiences. And my advice to you is to have everything, anything whatsoever to do with it, everywhere and everywhen that you can when it’s right and maybe even once or twice when it’s wrong.
Love answers? Love conquers? No. Maybe. Sometimes. Love is forever a question, a call; a shield, a garden. Love is art and sky. It’s the alphabet and words arranged just so on a page; love is water, sun, sky, moon, morning, ground, house, train, wings, car; it’s the park, rocks and stones and the sand, the night; the kiss on the forehead, the book, the story and her arms around you and your arms around her. Love, when it’s in the form, the sound, the shape, the taste, the feel, the proof that 1+1=3, matters.
Maybe it’s not time for an outstanding film of a lesbian love that works. Maybe the money and talent and interest just isn’t there for a film that tells a timeless, universal lesbian love story. Maybe in the world of entertainment, being a lesbian is reduced to a weird trinity of coming out, crazy-assed drama and sex depicted as comedy, sad drama, three-way murder mystery or porn.
Somebody please: make a great, outstanding film about a lesbian love.