Target audience fires back

Sometimes I wonder if lesbian film-makers ever visit the The L Chat message board. If they did, they would have noticed comments such as these…


2012:


I absolutely don’t consider Circumstance one of the best movies. I consider it a posterchild for lesbian movie clichés, it’s just another one of the depressing ‘punish the lesbian’ crap that’s out there.

You want a posterchild for lesbian movie cliches? Watch the Bollywood movie Girlfriend. It is positively the worst, most insulting piece of trash I’ve ever viewed. Literally every lesbian stereotype you could possibly fathom is in that movie, and it comes out of nowhere – it’s so disjointed. I’d recommend everyone see the film if only because it’s so bloody atrocious. Lessons should be developed around this film as an example of how/what not to write or produce. So given the previously detailed subterranean low, I have a whole new appreciation for lesbian film as I’ve seen what trivial extremes it can be taken to even in the 21st century.


A Perfect Ending (2013):


Four stars? What kind of gawd awful movies have you been watching in order for you to give this one 4 stars?  The movie was like some student project. The ending with that butterfly painting – such a cliché, I can’t even.


2014:


Lesbian films made by lesbians with lesbians always turn out like a student project with a woeful script and a soundtrack consisting of cello music, one song by a friend played over and over, one Ani DiFranco song and one Indigo Girls song.


I liked La Vie D’Adele but I agree we need more light romantic comedy. I don’t care if it’s cheesy, why are there so few? Imagine Me and You, I Can’t Think Straight, etc. are almost a decade ago… come on! We need new stuff, especially if it’s light and funny for once.


I want to see a lesbian rom-com where the lead isn’t conflicted about being gay, or coming out or whatever. I want to see a lesbian lead who is cute, awkward and looking for love in the same way that Meg Ryan did in You’ve Got Mail or Sandra Bullock did in While You Were Sleeping. I don’t want a movie with a message; I just want to be entertained for an hour and a half.


Then you have to consider writers responsible for TV shows such as Venice (created by Crystal Chappell):


Maybe it’s because CC has resorted to the cliché “lesbian sleeps with a man and has a baby” crap storyline. Maybe they can’t believe CC went down that insulting stereotype lesbian storytelling route and expected much better from her, I certainly did.

2013:


I just want to add I didn’t care for Quinntana for the simple reason that it was just for shock and a joke in the end. They didn’t even show anything. I would like to see two girls really kiss, talk and interact in a relationship not just more girls have sex because it’s fun. Then again, Glee sucks so bad that I can see why people only liked this plot because it had two girls sleeping together. So many shows do this and it’s sad once again glee pro lgbt fell into this cliche like they usually do. This whole season is bad imo.


Clichés pinpointed in 2014:


Trope 6: a woman, presumably straight and satisfied with her male partner magically becomes lesbian with no evidence that she was or had been remotely attracted to the same sex.


5.  Lesbian falls in love with a woman who has never been with a woman before/who has never pictured the possibility of being with a woman before.

9. The T.V. show builds up the viewers’ excitement over the fact that there is actually a Lesbian couple on the show and then kills that excitement by making the couple disappear once Sweeps Week is over.


East Los High:


Cliche storyline – poor straight slut is hurt by men who treat her like trash, so she falls for her lesbian best friend who is good to her.


Also taken in account is criticism aimed at novels:


Miseducation of Cameron Post is really good. It was sort of cliched but the way it was written made it refreshing.


The world needs more quality lesbian fiction. There’s some brilliant gems out there but a whole lot of it is clichéd trash where the girls have awful names like Trina.

On another site, this comment sums up the most obvious of film clichés:


The cliché that bothers me the most is the dreadful angst-y acoustic girl soundtracks that all sound like they’re from 1996. I think that may be because a lot of directors came out during that time and have fond memories of it, but the only instance it was ever acceptable was Better Than Chocolate. The most egregious offenders in this category (and many categories) are Room in Rome and Elena Undone.


As for TV shows being discussed back at The L Chat, here is a complaint about The 100:


If you keep giving attention to shows that treat our characters as disposable and ignore the ones who give non-cliché prominence to their LGBT characters, you’re not exactly sending the message that you deserve better representation. You are sending the message that you just as easily manipulated as Jason Rothenberg had assumed you were – continuing to give him and his show endless attention. The next showrunner who comes along – why would they be motivated to do any differently when you keep giving them attention instead of focusing on books, shows and films that have actual good representation? They exist. But if you think it’s better to trend empty words which you don’t really mean while your actions tell everyone the opposite then you’re kind of letting everyone know what you deserve.


These are taken from the online-no-more IMDB message board for Ellen:


I think the coming out season (4) was really good, but season 5 just had the worst scripts ever. I am a lesbian and even for me – it was too much, over the top and it didn’t feel right. She and her girlfriend had no chemistry at all. Everything felt forced, probably because they tried pleasing the gay community without peeving Joe Straight. Ellen was also under fire by Elton John who was quoted as saying Ellen should just shut up and be funny. Even Chastity Bono said the show was too gay. However, the show’s final season was groundbreaking.


I enjoyed the show for the first few seasons and thought it was very funny. I also thought the coming out episode was funny as well, but right after that – suddenly, everything was just gay this and gay that. I just got completely fed up with it and stopped watching. Even I am gay! I don’t think the show’s cancellation had anything to do with homophobia or political reasons or any B.S. like that; it’s just because the show started to suck really bad in its final season!


It was all about being gay, learning to be gay and date gay. The supporting cast were all shoved to the side. Almost disappeared. Instead of being an ensemble, it became a very different show. Ratings plummeted. They started strong at the beginning but as people realized all the changes it dropped week after week Some people think it was because it was gay but it was more because it changed too much. It gets me angry knowing they ruined it. I love Ellen and I’m gay, but the series should never have been altered as much as it did for year 5. For a show that was hitting its groove, it was really bad timing to change things up. All that pressure must have all gone to her head.


If the ratings did indeed fall because she was a lesbian, then that’s still not the network’s fault. Ratings fall because people stop watching. I know that I personally wouldn’t watch a show whose sole purpose is to tell the world “I’m here, I’m queer, get used to it!” Even The L Word, in this day and age, rounds their characters out enough that you enjoy watching them as people with real life problems, joys, fears and successes. Ellen (who I believe is THE funniest woman alive) squandered not only a passable sitcom with likable actors (i.e. Joely Fisher and Jeremy Piven, to name a couple), but she also squandered an opportunity to further her cause. Tragic, really.


On that note, there will probably never be series like The L Word. Orange is the New Black is more like the female equivalent to Oz.


Ellen Page being discussed in 2013:


Ellen’s a cute little character actress but it seems Ellen nor the general public is in any rush to propel her to it girl status. She had a nice little run as the snarky smart mouth tomboy during Juno fame but she didn’t exactly run with that spark and we weren’t exactly knocking down her door to get more of her. Ellen found herself a comfortable niche market that she enjoys and if she had any interest in becoming superstar status, she would have done it by now.


Ellen being discussed in 2014:


What baffles me is that Kelly wants Ellen to do well. If she didn’t, then why is she investing so much time into protecting her public image, investing money into the (so far) two films she is producing, and managing ONLY her. Yet, where has Ellen’s career really gone from Juno? If Kelly is so good at what she does, wouldn’t the work start speaking for itself? And I don’t want people to say that it’s because she is a publicist first and was never a manager type because Kelly is someone highly connected in HW and it shouldn’t be that hard to manage one client. Right?


I don’t want to blame it on Ellen absolutely sucking at auditions because I think she possesses talent in the acting department, but is that the reason? That she is sucking more and more in her craft? The other side to this is that Kelly is keeping Ellen from the higher-tiered projects for some unknown reason of her own messed up psyche, but that might make sense considering it could fuel more dependence on Kelly and reliance on her. Unless something drastic happens in the future like Ellen nominated for an Oscar again, she’s stuck here. With an Oscar nom, she can slowly start branching out to other people in terms of loosening the reigns a bit.


Lesbian #2:


I thought about your post a bit, and I think you’re getting at the heart of it. I think there’s a real possibility that casting agents do not know what to do with Ellen Page. She’s at the age where Hollywood likes to cast women as leading ladies and little starlets, yet she doesn’t have the feminine curves or air of mature sexuality that a starlet has. I think she was miscast as the seductress in To Rome With Love, and I’ve read a handful of reviews that agreed on that point.


She’s at the age where Hollywood likes to cast women in dopey rom-coms and chick flicks, and she’s stated she isn’t drawn to work on those kinds of films. I think Juno and Whip It are her best-liked films because they have, at their cores, very sweet, young love storylines.


She’s in an industry that aims to ultimately reduce most of its players to aesthetics and objectification that exists for consumption, yet she seems to clearly want to be involved in something with a deeper or higher purpose, like her ecovillage, her freeganism, her bees and her food politics.


I don’t know how comfortable she is being foremost an entertainer and not an idealistic world changer; I’m thinking of her tweeting that movies should be called motion dicktures.


I think the woman is kind of a dark horse runner in Tinseltown. I personally find her beautiful, I like her body type, and I adore her brains. But what TLC likes is not what casting execs or Middle America go for.


Lesbian #3:


She’d have to really convince people in any action/physical roles (Queen & Country being an obvious example) because of her height/build. There are scenes in Beyond Two Souls where she takes down the FBI goons and I actually laughed. It would be like a WWE Diva taking down Cena or something. She must only weigh about 90 lbs, so overpowering some 6’2″ brick shithouse was just hilarious.


I agree that 2 movies per year is pretty much her post-Juno workload but apart from an obvious blockbuster (Inception) and two installments in a franchise, one of which has her character’s role scaled down from the source material, none of those films do well at the box office or even with critics. I can’t see Into the Forest doing much, but she needs Freeheld to at least do well with critics, if not at awards ceremonies, to get her back on the map a bit more.


She’ll never be a big HW leading lady, and I doubt she wants to, but supporting roles in successful studio films would enable her to take more interesting leads in indie ones because she’s be able to get backing for projects she wants to do. If ITF and FH don’t do much, she’ll start to be seen as an actress who stars in mostly unsuccessful films. There are always other young actresses out there like JLaw and Shailene Woodley who are far more bankable (and worth backing in smaller films to keep them happy). That’s unless she wants to keep relying on KBN to fund her films.


If her career continues on its current trajectory there’s a good chance some people will see her as that girl who was great in Juno, and whose career went South because she came out. That wouldn’t really be true but it would reinforce the perception that coming out isn’t a good career move and dissuade other actresses from coming out. And that would be a real shame.


Lesbian #4:


I just don’t think she’s cut out to be a big A-lister. Heading up interesting indie films and getting good supporting roles in more mainstream ones, plus maybe some (cable) TV series is what I think she should be doing, and what I think she’d be good at. The public want the likes of JLaw at their big A-list female stars, not Ellen Page, and (given her recent track record) I doubt HW is going to start throwing all the top 20-something female roles her way either. She almost needs another Juno-style breakout role/film.


As for KB – agree, but if this is what they both want they seem to have gone about it in a bizarre way. While some of JLaw’s award ceremonies behaviour is getting tiresome, she’s kicked her career on since she broke through. Juno was 6 years ago – most people would struggle to name one of Ellen’s other films apart from maybe Inception and some X-Men sequel. People on here have said that she wasn’t the first choice for Inception (I’ve seen it said that it was a package deal). She’s only in DOFP because she was in The Last Stand, and anyway, Kitty Pryde’s role is downgraded from the comic book. If Ellen and KB want her to be some sort of big star then they’re doing a pretty bad job of it so far.


I’m not sure what she thinks she has got to say. She’s clearly not stupid and she’s not an airhead bimbo like many actresses but a few ppl on here seem to say how “cerebral” she is without ever showing any examples. ISTR she gave an interview where she was surprised that the interviewer said Juno could be seen as pro-life (the “your baby’s got thumbs” bit). For someone who is pro-choice and supposedly smarter than many actresses, that’s a bit of a poor show.


TBH, it would be nice to see her saying more about what she’s passionate about – I don’t know why she doesn’t blog or something because simply RTing (or have your PR team do it) HRC tweets is little more than slacktivism. She’s said she wants to write, so even just blogging might help her thought processes on that front.


That is why I’m so grateful that I didn’t get any of my novels published earlier. I would probably have been saddled with Ellen as the star of an adaptation. She has become nothing more than a two bit player because she didn’t exactly strike while the iron was hot. Although she didn’t take a break from acting, some of her film choices meant that her star lost her luster.

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