We deserve better, dammit

I’ve got a bone to pick with lesbian cinema. I use that term extremely loosely. Now there are adorable lesbian movies that I find really sweet and funny and enjoyable. Such as these two!

(so begins everyone complaining about how the actresses aren’t lesbians. Bullshit. Piper Perabo is a tweaner. Totally counts. And Lena Headey should be gay.)

But here’s the situation. You go to Netflix, search for lesbian movies, and you say “oh this is so highly rated, it must be great!” And the vast majority of the time, it’s not great. It’s, in fact, awful. I understand that lesbians are super excited to see movies about US. About things that we deal with on a regular. But from what I’ve seen, most of that means people (that really don’t have the talent for it) write movies and make them with people that have no talent for acting. So, you get a bad script full of overdone, supremely overacted lesbian stereotypes that make me cringe. (I’m looking at YOU Better Than Chocolate…)

Instead of just making a movie that happens to have GLBT characters (but has an actual plot aside from that) they turn it into a 90 minute instructional video on how to be a lesbian. You get the Uhaul joke (guaranteed) on top of lots of references that “you’ll totally get if you’re a lesbian.”

How does this happen? Do other lesbians sit around and say “hey, let’s just make a movie since Hollywood isn’t doing it for us”? Which is great, really! We need more lesbian movies! But instead of just writing one yourself, go find someone that is actually good at it. Please. And find actors that are actual actors. Not your friends, not the other neighborhood lesbian you know. That’s fine if you want to make something that you and your friends can sit around and appreciate.

But what really gets me is, why so many high ratings? The movies are objectively poor. I don’t know whether people see a movie at a specific time in their life so it holds a ton of meaning. I get that. But overall, I think all of our standards need to be better. Instead of just thinking something is good JUST BECAUSE it has lesbians bang, we absolutely need to applaud movies that are really well done. Or even mediocre! I’d totally take mediocre shit! Foreign countries do it all the time! There’s tons of well done GLBT movies out there. Step up, America!

ok /end rant

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We deserve better, dammit

12 thoughts on “We deserve better, dammit

  1. I’m certain that I like lesbian movies, in general, more than you do. Although, I think if we had a list of them, you’d probably say that you liked more than you think you do.

    However, I do agree with you. I’d also like to point out that it happens in lesbian fiction, too. I actually think it’s worse there. In addition to the whole “ooh! There are lesbians doing lesbian things and talking about lesbian realities!” there’s the whole tiny community of readers and writers. I wonder how many other genres (sub-genres? niches?) have so much interaction and friendship between writers and readers. I’ve never seen so many 5 star ratings for piles of shit in my life. I would love to contact some of these ratings givers and demand that they give me some of my money back after I bought books they’ve suggested.

    1. I think that problem is huge in a lot of lesfic. And I think it has a lot to do with the close relationship between readers and authors. Also, there might be a lot of readers of lesfic that really don’t read anything aside from lesfic. So maybe their standards are skewed?

      1. Only reading lesfic may be part of the problem. Another thing that I think contributes to the high ratings is that many of us started out reading lesbian fiction – because of the lack of published fic or lack of knowledge of the published fic – by reading fan fiction or online original fiction.

        I think it’s from there that many of us have developed our ability to completely ignore writing quality and see the story – or the intended story – that the author was trying to share. I know that I’ve overlooked some atrocious writing because the plot and/or characters just spoke to me.

        Again, the fan fiction thing also ties into the writer/reader relationships. Many fan fic writers post in chapters or chunks and then get feedback from readers on message boards and email. I think that makes the reader feel more “ownership” of the story. Then when some of those same authors get published, the readers hold them to the same standards they did when they were posting online. And they shouldn’t.

      2. I think that makes a ton of sense. I never discovered online fiction until last year. I started off only reading mainstream fiction and then got super excited about lesbian fiction in the last 3-4 years. The longer I read it, the pickier I get about my ratings.

        I see a lot of lesbian fiction similar to Harlequin romances. But Harlequin romances are edited pretty well (from what I can recall). So I’d like to see that kind of improvement. I don’t think I’m asking for too much there.

  2. Sunny says:

    Great post, Nikki. I think it does have something to do with supporting the ‘community’, but you’re right in that we seem to settle for not-very-good movies (and books) just because they have lesbian content. I think there’s a definite mindset that we must support our lesbian sisters in their writing and cinematic endeavors, but at the same time we seem to be shooting ourselves in the foot by accepting and even promoting substandard content.

  3. I’ve made similar rants quite often. I wish I could find better movies out there. Sometimes I feel like I’ve already seen all the decent ones. Worse even I feel like there are too many movies and television shows that give us and the community a bad name.

  4. Yes – we deserve better! But why bother to make/write better when the mediocre is so extravagantly praised? Okay – I know the right answer is “because you should always try to do your very best”, but if your very best is crappy and people keep telling you it’s wonderful rather than saying “STOP!” …

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