Zack's Ramblings: Is “Black Swan’s” Lesbian Kiss for Queer Girls, or Straight Guys?
Well, today I’m going to be the guy who writes a lengthy diatribe on a movie I haven’t seen. That movie is Black Swan, Darren Aronofsky’s Oscar-buzzing psychological thriller starring Natalie Portman as a ballerina who is subsumed by her own dark side. That dark side, as I have garnered from the trailer, involves a lot of mirrors and making out with Mila Kunis. I am saving my actual viewing of this movie for Christmas Day, when the Jews of the world rise up and take over the nation’s multiplexes and make their bathrooms smell like the alley behind bad Chinese restaurants. And because I haven’t yet seen Black Swan it’s been fun to consider it not as an actual movie, but as a second-hand piece of contemporary cultural phenomenon.
I’m a sucker for anything that is dark, moody and contains tinges of the supernatural. Hence my attraction to, say, Zachary Quinto or guys who work at comic shops but still have tans. So I’ve been excited to see Black Swan for quite some time. Other people’s excitement, though, particularly guys who comment on The Onion AV Club, seem way more drawn in by the Portman/Kunis kiss than things like the movie’s plot. Hell, when the trailer first came out there was very little to be gleaned about its plot and yet people (mostly straight guys and queer girls) were pretty damn excited about it.
Though there has been better luck with mainstream movies featuring gay characters in the last couple years (thanks, Brokeback) it is also common to get films that have intense gay love stories and a scant portrayal of physical love between between its gays. (Fuck you, Brokeback.) Take the new Ewan McGregor/Jim Carrey love-story-in-prison flick I Love You Phillip Morris. That one has been delayed for years at this point and it’s pretty safe to guess its combination of gay romance and actual sex (including that rare cinematic breed, The Nelly Top) is behind Philip Morris’ slow crawl to a theater near your single, well-dressed uncle’s house.
Black Swan, however, has been given a mainstream marketing campaign on par with a new flavor of Pepsi. Any culture-focused website is likely to be graced with either its still picture or streaming preview, and at this point there aren’t many people alive who can view Black Swan‘s iconography without remembering “Hey, femme girls totally go at it in this one!” It is extremely hard for me to imagine a movie studio greenlighting a similar campaign focused around McGregor kissing Carey, no matter how much broad box office appeal either man possesses. Can you imagine logging onto Entertainment Weekly‘s website and being greeted with a still image of two actual men, actually kissing? I can’t either.
Widely-marketed movies with queer themes tend to be either relatively-sexless blockbusters with straight appeal (Yup, Brokeback) or queer-people-have-tragic-lives-lets-get-some-awards-for-it biopics like Milk or Boys Don’t Cry. Fox Searchlight seems to have put a lot of money into Black Swan and its campaign reflects neither of those categories. That mean’s they either wised up and are heavily targeting the queer women demographic in mixed-readership arenas or they are trying to horn up straight guys who would never otherwise see a movie that didn’t showcase Dwayne Johnson and gunfighting.
My money, of course, is on the latter. What do you think?
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