The Kids are All Right Deleted Scene: Flashback! Jules and Nic, signing their marriage papers. Don’t worry. Nic’s just excited, is all.
Cautionary Re-Tailing: A Lesbianormitive Disneyfication of the Kids are All Right
Last week I briefly touched on a vibe that Dr. Kennedy calls “White Homonormativity” in the movie Weekend… Oh, yeah. And I spent quite a while describing my frustration with the definition of sex. Forgot about that. Anywho, this week I am writing about the Kids are All Right (dir. Lisa Cholodenko). Fear not, beloved reader. I’m happy to report that I am biting my lip at how gay male porn performers are often straight, making the whole experience as inauthentic and unsatisfying to watch as “lesbian” porn – Jules didn’t do her research! Oops. JK, everyone – JK! I’m not here to talk about how unsatisfying mainstream gay male porn is. I’m here to conflate themes found in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid‘s with those of the Kids are All Right in hopes to entertain as well as invite discussion.
So smoke ’em if ya got ’em, everyone. Cuz it just might be necessary, as this jumbled “introduction” seems to imply.
Hans Christian Andersen’s Warning
When Danish author Hans Christian Andersen had the unhappy tale of the Little Mermaid published in 1837, it is likely he intended to alert young women of their role in marriage (as the wife). For instance, the Little Mermaid is made silent – but graceful of movement and body – by a Born Again, Watchtower-Reading Sea Witch, in order to become marriageable:
“But if you take away my voice,” said the little mermaid, “what is left for me?”
“Your beautiful form, your graceful walk, and your expressive eyes; surely with these you can enchain a man’s heart. Well, have you lost your courage? Put out your little tongue that I may cut it off as my payment; then you shall have the powerful draught.”
“It shall be,” said the little mermaid (153).
[Professor Voice]: Powerful stuff. The best part: the “draught” is the Sea Witch’s dense, black boob blood. Yeah. Where’s that scene Disney? Censoring another fairy tale, are we?
Back to business: For years the prince treats the little mermaid like a pet. At one point he even has her sleep at his feet, like a dog would. Little by little the prince takes away any sort of identity the little mermaid had. She becomes a mini-the-prince. He even dresses her in his clothes; and she gets to be “just one of the guys.” If you have a dark sense of humor, this last part will be hil-arious — after being his lapdog for 5 years or so the prince marries someone else. And the little mermaid dies. Turns to foam. No family, no friends. No King Triton to “know what’s best” for her. C’est la vie.
But this was just a cautionary tale for young women of the 18th Century. Isn’t it great we don’t have to worry about that kind of thing happening anymore? Women’s voices are always heard now.. nor are they mistreated. Especially within normative spheres like marriage.
Obviously, I wouldn’t be comparing The Little Mermaid if it was completely irrelevant to how marriage operates on the screen – and at times, in real life (with certain couples, I speculate). When I think of Jules and Nic, I think heternormative – or homonormative – gender roles. Their relationship is paralleled neatly with any straight, white, upper-middle class relationship that appear on the screen. Anywhere.
Homonormativity does not contest dominant heteronormative assumptions and institutions — such as marriage, and its call for monogamy and reproduction — but upholds and sustains them while promising the possibility of a demobilized gay constituency and a privatized, depoliticized gay culture anchored in domesticity and consumption (Duggan 179).
You have Nic the breadwinner – total workaholic. She never really appreciates her wife. To be fair, it’s a tough job to be married to Jules. Always controlling her business adventures. Making sure she never feels heard. But gosh darn it, isn’t she pretty?
Passive-aggressive tête–à–tête about all the daily minutia aside, they have okay communication skills. Nic is way better than the prince at expressing herself. Unless her daughter is on a motorcycle.
Things seem to be well-routinized in the Allgood (omg, gag me) household. And then BAM! Sperm-donor Paul shows up and the wine comes out and the gloves come off. Time for Pa.. I mean Mama bear to defend her family from the Big Bad.
Kids Are All Right deleted scene: Nic caught them the first time Paul and Jules kissed! But, she was on an acid trip, so it didn’t count. Also, she hates her father-in-law. So add that to the list of homonormativity.
And like a Disney flick everything is resolved after an eloquent speech delivered by Jules. You know the one; it’s marriage, it’s hard… but, BOY! It’s worth it, kids. Your moms love each other.
Although it is frustrating to see a queer couple parallel gender roles and expectations in a “traditional” aka heterosexist relationship, I understand that there are probably some generational gaps between how I’m reading this movie and its… demographic? That’s not to say I’m not a section of its demographic but my understanding of this movie is much different from my parents or someone who grew up craving to see themselves represented this way. And I think that it was enjoyable to watch. This movie is making a statement. We (white, upper-middle class, queer folk) can have it all, too.
It wasn’t until I was alone with my thoughts before I became critical. It’s not intentionally being a butt about gender roles. Not to say that this is an excuse. But I think it’s time — after getting this movie out of the public’s system — to evolve expectations for those who are “married” and also what it means to be a “family.” I don’t want to dismiss this movie. I think it’s important because it portrays them in this “traditional” way. Going forward, I think we can do better than Disney’s: the Kids are All Right.
Coming soon, after I finish my linguistic transcriptions for Wednesday…. TMI? I know.