For the most part feminist-minded artists and critics of whatever persuasion agree that guys, however intelligent or supportive of feminist consciousness, can’t and don’t really get it. You need to have lived as a woman and endured sexism in all its male-generated forms to really understand and embrace what feminist-minded artists and critics are on about. (Which is mostly true.) That especially includes any basic understanding of what it means for a woman to love another woman. Guys can appreciate lesbians from their their side of the fence, fine, but any films they might want to make about lesbian lovers will be frowned upon to some extent, and that goes double when it comes to hot lesbian sex scenes. In fact, don’t even go there.
On 5.29 The Daily Beast‘s Richard Porton posted an analysis of the disdain that some feminist critics have expressed towards Abdellatif Kechiche’s Blue Is the Warmest Color, which won the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or last month. And now (i.e., two days ago) Entertainment Weekly‘s Owen Gleiberman has written about the shots this film has taken from the feminist left, which to my mind has always insisted upon a certain ideological purity, an adherence to the party line. I’ve described this mindset as Stalinist. At the very least a strict our-way-or-the-highway mentality. In any event I agree with everything OG has written and especially the last three graphs:
“The leftist-feminist critique of the sexuality in Blue Is the Warmest Color hinges on something so basic that it’s intrinsic to the nature of movies, and that is this: The two actresses are gorgeous. Their faces, their bodies — the ravishing tableau of sensuality that they create begins, in no small part, with how they look. You could, I suppose, argue that that beauty, and the way that it’s showcased, ties the movie to the world of advertising, to the world of idealized, candified eroticism that emerges from male fantasy.
“But really! Are we now, in our movie culture, going to add beauty to the list of things that don’t clear the ideological hurdle of sexual correctness? Would Blue Is the Warmest Color be a better movie if the two women in it looked like the actresses in the scruffy, groundbreaking 1994 lesbian mumblecore drama Go Fish? Not everyone in movies has to be beautiful, of course, but one of the primal reasons that we go to the movies is to look at beauty. And while the ‘male gaze’ argument against Blue Is the Warmest Color sounds up-to-the-minute and sophisticated, where it has grown out of date is that it implicitly denies the women in the audience a gaze of their own. It says that they’ve been co-opted by the male gaze.
“But maybe what’s really threatening to the critics of Blue Is the Warmest Color is that a movie like this one, which roots lesbian sexuality in the sights and sounds of pleasure, invites us to see that the male gaze and the female gaze aren’t really so far apart.”