Donate Now
We've Moved! Check out our new boards.
  
my profile | directory login | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sex in Media: Books, Magazines, Films, TV & More » Black (but not so queer friendly??) Swan

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: Black (but not so queer friendly??) Swan
Bonnie.N.Clyde
Activist
Member # 34135

Icon 8 posted      Profile for Bonnie.N.Clyde     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Spoiler Alert for "Black Swan"- plot spoilers revealed, also due to the graphic nature of the film, a trigger alert for self harm


In the midst of preparing for class, I saw Black Swan this weekend and was ultimately very torn about the hyped "lesbian" sex scene. As someone who self identifies as queer, and furthermore identifies strongly with the lesbian community, I find myself very skeptical when I hear about 'lesbian sex scenes' in the media. Often, these 'sex scenes' are simply a fantasy-like moment where two heteonormative actresses make out with each other. Although I must admit, some of these moments are sexy, they just don't have any queer flavor.

Since Black Swan was such an under-advertised film before it hit major theaters, I thought it might be an exception. I'm confused by what I saw. Although Black Swan produced a very realistic sex scene between Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis (complete with Natalie Portman orgasming into oblivion), I believed the sex scene (very likely one of Portman's character Nina's hallucinations) to be further proof of Nina's insanity. To me, what the sex scene "proved" was just how messed up Nina was-- first her self mutilation, and then this lesbianism-!! What a freak! [Frown]

Kunis' character responds to Portman's question about their night together with confusion, revolt, and then, teases: "You had a lezzie fantasy about me? Was I good?"

And that is, sadly, exactly what I've come to expect from "lesbian sex scenes" and some purported "lesbian movies". A "lezzie" fantasy. And usually, they just are not that good. At all.

Thoughts?

--------------------
-
"And when everyone is super, no one will be."

-Syndrome, "THE INCREDIBLES"

Posts: 116 | From: Olympia, WA | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
eryn_smiles
Peer Ambassador
Member # 35643

Icon 1 posted      Profile for eryn_smiles         Edit/Delete Post 
I haven't seen Black Swan but the trailer looked quite scary, not really my kind of thriller film.

Wondering if you've seen a British series called Lip Service which centres around a group of twenty-something gay women in Glasgow, Scotland? Not that I have a huge amount of experience as a lesbian yet, but I found it very real and watchable. Including the sex scenes. Like there's tender/intimate moments, angry ones, sad ones, funny ones, the whole range. First season available on youtube, interested to hear what you think [Smile] -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qb5BlqWsZ_4

[ 01-24-2011, 04:13 AM: Message edited by: eryn_smiles ]

--------------------
"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

Audre Lorde

Posts: 1326 | Registered: Nov 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bonnie.N.Clyde
Activist
Member # 34135

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Bonnie.N.Clyde     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Right on! Thanks for the recommend.

I don't know if I'm just jaded or what... But the only 'real-ish' lesbian movies for me have been The Itty Bitty Titty Committee and Tipping the Velvet.

I will let you know when I watch the series.

--------------------
-
"And when everyone is super, no one will be."

-Syndrome, "THE INCREDIBLES"

Posts: 116 | From: Olympia, WA | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Oh wow, y'all there are SO many more realistic movies about lesbian women than just those! I think the trouble is that lately, as in, in the last ten years, there haven't been very many. But there are a TON that got made in the 80s and 90s.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bonnie.N.Clyde
Activist
Member # 34135

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Bonnie.N.Clyde     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've seen a lot of those, I think. I guess I am more concerned for recent lesbianism in the media. It seems like lesbian characters are getting more and more hetero-normative. When I go into these films, I know the lesbians do not have to look a certain way, but it's the way that it makes me *feel* that I note. In most recent films, I don't detect any queerness from the characters.

--------------------
-
"And when everyone is super, no one will be."

-Syndrome, "THE INCREDIBLES"

Posts: 116 | From: Olympia, WA | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I completely agree.

What I'm not sure about is how much that's about the way lesbians are being portrayed in film/media of late, and/or how much of it is about women, period, per how women are being portrayed.

I feel like I'm seeing growing limits regardless, but I'm having a hard time figuring if the issue is about women who are queer, or women, period. Know what I mean?

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bonnie.N.Clyde
Activist
Member # 34135

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Bonnie.N.Clyde     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Heather, I think you've hit the nail on the head. I suppose i'm mostly looking at gay representations in the media but then I forget that women as a whole are usually unjustly painted in film/television. I find myself over-analyzing women characters and being displeased at what I come up with, and then wondering if I'm being unfair for expecting so much, and then having to tell myself I'm in the right. I SHOULD be demanding that much- and more! It's so hard to find a smart, decent character who doesn't do everything for "her man" in the end. (Note: I was really happy about the girl in 'True Grit'. I thought that character was WAY positive! [Smile] ) Some shows really stretch the limits of women on tv (like HBO shows) but then restrict them in other ways.

--------------------
-
"And when everyone is super, no one will be."

-Syndrome, "THE INCREDIBLES"

Posts: 116 | From: Olympia, WA | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Djuna
Activist
Member # 29269

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Djuna     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I just got back from the film - I actually found it pretty queer-friendly, insofar as it was affirming of sexuality (I think. I still don't understand quite what happened). I do agree that as a whole, film culture does not present non-femme lesbians lately. Also, Black Swan did not have a single non-white character in it that I recall, which was odd. I can maybe see that with the black/white binary with the swans, they maybe wanted to avoid people reading the whole film as about race, which I don't think would have added anything to the film.

I think it's important to remember that in that scene, Mila Kunis' face is replaced with a second image of Natalie Portman's - and this is a fantasy anyway, since we know Kunis wasn't there. But Natalie Portman's character seemed to have a massive virgin/whore complex going on, and it seemed to me that she was projecting what she perceived to be her own "whorish" personality traits onto Mila Kunis' character.

So if the image of Mila Kunis (sometimes with Natalie Portman's face) that was licking Natalie Portman's character's clit was indeed an image - a projection of Natalie Portman's character's subconscious - then the scene was about masturbation with an element of fantasy. Arguably, Natalie Portman's character was fantasizing about her own sexuality more than about Mila Kunis' character. I don't think that qualifies as a "lesbian sex scene", and I think it's probably slightly unfair to criticize it for being a poor example of one.

Too, I don't think that Natalie Portman's character's "lesbianism", or whatever it might have been, was necessarily portrayed negatively - it seemed to me that the film attempted to deconstruct the virgin/whore, white swan/black swan binaries on which Natalie Portman's character's identity was based. Nina is shown deriving joy (orgasm, even) from the part of her psyche that she's been told is bad, where she's been unable to get that joy from the "good", allowed parts.

I don't know how I'm going to get to sleep after seeing that, though.

--------------------
In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I dont know what I am. I dont know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.

Posts: 1269 | From: London, UK | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Karybu
Scarleteen Volunteer
Member # 20094

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Karybu     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
(Don't want to derail an excellent discussion, but the lack of any people of colour in a movie about ballet is actually an unfortunately accurate portrayal of the ballet world. It may have had something do do with the whole white swan/black swan thing, but I doubt it.)

--------------------
"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing." -Arundhati Roy

Posts: 5799 | From: Canada/Australia | Registered: Sep 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Djuna
Activist
Member # 29269

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Djuna     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That's true, too, Karybu. I guess the film is obliged not to pretend the industry it portrays practices racial diversity if it doesn't.

--------------------
In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I dont know what I am. I dont know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.

Posts: 1269 | From: London, UK | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bonnie.N.Clyde
Activist
Member # 34135

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Bonnie.N.Clyde     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I don't know, patrickvienna. Mila Kunis' character reacted to Natalie Portman's questions about whether they'd been sexual with a "haha, you had a lesbian fantasy, isn't that cute!" (pat on the head) reaction. I think I would have enjoyed getting lost in the madness of Portman if that line had not been in there. I definitely think the imagined sex scene was orchestrated in a way that made Portman seem even more insane-- I mean, why show her fantasy with a woman whose face is demonically replaced, and not a man?

Questions, so many questions. [Smile]

--------------------
-
"And when everyone is super, no one will be."

-Syndrome, "THE INCREDIBLES"

Posts: 116 | From: Olympia, WA | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Djuna
Activist
Member # 29269

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Djuna     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I agree, I think Mila Kunis' character's comment was hurtful, but I think that was the point, really. Natalie Portman's character's sexuality is checked by several negative influences, including Kunis and Portman's mother.

Also, the reason the face is replaced (I think) is because it's actually a masturbation fantasy, and because Portman's character associates her sexual side with Mila Kunis. I'm not sure why a man would be used in that scene, since Portman shows little attraction to men?

--------------------
In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I dont know what I am. I dont know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.

Posts: 1269 | From: London, UK | Registered: Jun 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bonnie.N.Clyde
Activist
Member # 34135

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Bonnie.N.Clyde     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I thought her attraction to the teacher was apparent, but I only think she liked the attention she was getting and when it became negative, she was just the pawn in his power trip. One of the best scenes (for me) was Kunis asking about the "crush on teacher". Pretty disturbing.
Did you see Portman's character as even remotely queer though? My initial post was about the disappointment of hearing it marketed as an indie lesbian ballerina movie, and I totally didn't get that out of it. More like a psychotic romp through Swan Lake [Razz] .

Also, I'm really glad to hear another's thoughts on the film!

[ 02-06-2011, 04:14 PM: Message edited by: Bonnie.N.Clyde ]

--------------------
-
"And when everyone is super, no one will be."

-Syndrome, "THE INCREDIBLES"

Posts: 116 | From: Olympia, WA | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lilerse
Activist
Member # 46007

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Lilerse     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
"it seemed to me that she was projecting what she perceived to be her own "whorish" personality traits onto Mila Kunis' character."
I agree, and with the "associates her sexual side with Mila Kunis."

I may be a little biased simply because I find Mila to be pretty much the hottest person in the entire planet so I vastly enjoyed the sex scene, but I didn't really notice it as being homophobic or anything. I was MUCH MUCH more disturbed by the sexual assault from the teacher; but perhaps that's an issue for another thread.
On the other hand - it WAS the teacher who was encouraging Nina (Natalie Portman) to explore her sexual side. It bothers me that this sex-positive advice was coming from such a sexually abusive guy. And pressuring someone to do something they're not comfortable with - even if it's something healthy like masturbating - is not ok. Telling them there's something wrong with them if they don't masturbate - they're "uptight," or whatever word SexuallyAbusiveGuy kept using - is not ok.

Other than that, however, I feel that the sexual aspects of me movie (besides trying to get more people to come watch it) were positive and encouraging in allowing Nina to focus on her own pleasure and enjoying less-explored aspects of herself.

Because sometimes girls experiment with each other without being lesbians - and sometimes girls dream about having sex with each other without being lesbians - the sex scene didn't really offend me, EXCEPT for the fact that there are so few mainstream movies with actual lesbians being realistically portrayed. While I think the same-sex interactions in Black Swan were realistic to some girls' experiences, it does feel like the main point of it was to have a hot sex scene with two hot chicks to attract an audience, when they could've dealt with it in a less objectifying manner. (I feel like the kissing seen between Megan Fox and Amanda Seyfried in Jennifer's Body was similar - they were both supposed to be straight too, right? Guess what, Hollywood, real lesbians and bisexual women exist too!!)

Posts: 219 | From: Indiana | Registered: Mar 2010  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bonnie.N.Clyde
Activist
Member # 34135

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Bonnie.N.Clyde     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Now, I don't think the scene was homophobic-- I just don't think it was particularly helpful or really furthering to the plot in a way that made sense (but did any of it?). Also, we don't know if it happened (we assume it didn't?) which made me also wonder if all of the stuff with the teacher really happened, or any of it! Which is what I liked about the film, but what was also difficult to remember while viewing it.

--------------------
-
"And when everyone is super, no one will be."

-Syndrome, "THE INCREDIBLES"

Posts: 116 | From: Olympia, WA | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Cian
Activist
Member # 44405

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Cian     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The reason I've yet to see this film is because of the "lesbian hype" that I worry is just another slap-on stunt to draw in the money. Everyone wants to see top notch Hollywood actresses get it on, right? And that's what lesbians are about, sex, right? Right? No? Yeah I didn't really think so either.
However, I reckon I'll eventually have to put on a brave face and try to take the movie on without huffed up bias.

This is a topic I actually briefly discussed with a cartoonist concerning homosexuality depicted in cartoons (in comic form in particular), where people constantly seem to get distracted from any character development or story progression and simply demand there be sex. But that's going off on a tangent a bit.

Posts: 239 | From: Europe | Registered: Oct 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

   Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Get the Whole Story! Go Home to SCARLETEEN: Sex Ed for the Real World | Privacy Statement

Copyright 1998, 2014 Heather Corinna/Scarleteen
Scarleteen.com: Providing comprehensive sex education online to teens and young adults worldwide since 1998

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.

Powered by UBB.classic™ 6.7.3