|Dykes in Hollyweird
|I want to say
at the outset that I really do like gay men, love them in fact. Not only are
most of my best friends gay men, *all* of my best friends for many years
were gay men. So what this week's column is about is not anti-boy stuff, but
just one of those things that made me go hmmmm.
We already know that Hollywood is full of gays and lesbians who work at all
levels of the industry. And that Hollywood is notoriously homophobic. But in
the last couple of decades, Hollyweird has let a few films out of the closet
and dealt specifically with gay issues. But that's the problem: GAY issues,
not lesbian. Almost without exception, general release films from major
studios have dealt with gay men, not lesbians. Except for the occasional
part-time lesbian who also works nights as a crazy person or murderer.
Now my question is: Why is the portrayal of a fully developed lesbian lead
character virtually absent from our celluloid fiction? What exactly is
Hollywood afraid of? Petrified that they won't gross $150 million per
picture, sure. But every film that comes out of the studios isn't designed
(hoped for, but not necessarily *expected*) to bring in 50 times cost. And
when they make "Bent" or "Philadelphia" or "In and Out" they surely don't
expect to draw the same mindless audience demographic as they know they'll
get for "Air Force One" or "Independence Day".
The obvious reasons (sexism, greed) don't seem to be enough to explain
overlooking what they must know is an unfulfilled, untapped market. Usually
a population easily targeted which has never had a particular toy sold to
will have the marketing people overjoyed. Lesbians, like gay men, are
relatively easy to find. Lots and lots of us live in major metropolitan
areas, areas which are finite. The marketing guys can actually look up and
name American cities with populations of 100,000 or more. Lesbians are
relatively easy to contact: lesbians who go to movies also read newspapers.
They even read lesbian newspapers. I'd venture to say that the lesbian
underground and above ground communication system is so extensive and
pervasive that if she set her mind to it, one persistent woman with a phone
tree could get the word about an event to every out lesbian in the country
within a month. And to millions of lesbians who say they're *not* lesbians.
She tells her friends who tell their friends who tell their ex lovers who
tell their ex lovers, ad infinitum. Granted there would be a *lot* of
overlap but the circles are tangent occasionally: bar dykes talk to softball
dykes who talk to lipstick lesbians who talk to their dentist. And we *are*
on theInternet now and have friends with whom we have not actually lived.
So lets say on the low end of the Kinsey scale we have 5% of American women
who are lesbians. Or interested. Or curious. And then there are the straight
guys who want to explore their libidos yet again. Whatever. We're talking
The film that would draw these folks to the box office would not be
expensive to make. It would not have to be an Edwardian period piece with
costumes; it would not required high tech equipment or special effects; it
require a multitude of high speed chases or flaming crashes. Well, ok,
those, but bar scenes and dyke drama divorces are not expensive to film.
So where are the *real* dyke dramas, the films about our lives? Films with
funding, with star appeal, with a coherent plot and dialogue, with a sound
track not made on an old poke and play tape recorder in a basement shower
stall. All I'm asking is just a *leaning* toward equal time. Gay guys have
had serious films about their lives for at least two decades. I realize that
straight men don't want the secret acknowledged that lesbians exist in
numbers that actually constitute a market segment. I realize we threaten
them. But the commercial success of well-made films about gay men should
tell them that there is yet another group of people who would fork over $6
to see a slice of their lives on the big silver.
I think maybe we need a producer who understands us. Somebody with millions.
Somebody with connections.
Oprah, honey? You out there? Jodi? As a happy coincidence, I just happen to
have this screenplay already written if anybody's interested.