This entry will contain spoilers.
Two weeks ago Wife won free passes to see The Kids Are All Right. Honestly I was a little bit hostile towards the film. When I read that one of the characters Jules, who has been in a lesbian relationship for twenty years, had an affair with a man, I was really angry. I did not want to see the film.
Yet I really enjoyed The Kids Are All Right.
Naturally I am upset that Jules had an affair with a man. We are all tired of the stereotype. We are all tired of explaining that this is not a phase. We are all tired of justifying our relationships. We are all tired of the thinly veiled rape references that run rampant in society (I don’t know how else I am supposed to interpret the people who believe that I just need a good dicking).
Yet Jules having an affair was a plot device that was semi plausible. I perceived that she was simply seeking comfort, rather than questioning her sexual orientation. In fact, in one post coital scene, she even refers to herself as a “middle aged, sad sack lesbian.”
I would be less upset about the plot device if The Kids Are All Right was aimed at a queer audience rather than a mainstream audience. I don’t like talking about queer issues with straight people because I am always afraid that something that I say will be used against us. We’ve read the opinion pieces by people who believe that their conservative, homophobic views about same sex marriage are justified by their gay friends who do not want to get married (often taking the argument out of its correct context).
There were some really interesting questions about relationships in this film that were unrelated to Jules’ affair with Paul. For example, how do you keep a relationship exciting after twenty years? How do we deal with our family problems in a world that is hostile to our existence? Do our children feel pressured to be perfect because we are trying to prove a point that our families are valid and whole and just as good as yours? Furthermore, The Kids Are All Right could have initiated some interesting discussions about identity. What is a lesbian? If you have an affair with a man once in twenty years, are you a lesbian? Or do you become bisexual? How has the definition of lesbian changed in the past twenty years? Can we start to work on truly dismantling harmful ideas about sexuality in countries like Canada where being gay is not always a life or death issue?
Have you seen The Kids Are All Right? What do you think?