Two recent documentaries, two different coasts, one scary enemy, and hundreds of hours of footage. This is the history and legacy of the AIDS crisis in North America, as told by the cameras and concerned filmmakers who were there.
It has been a privilege and pleasure to write for Bitch for the last eight weeks. Thanks to Kelsey and Kjerstin for all of their support, and thank you to everyone who read, commented on, and shared my posts. As a long-time Bitch fan, I've felt honored to share this space with you and participate in much-needed conversations about the state of bisexual visibility in the media.
When I was 11, I saw the trailer for Chasing Amy. I don't remember why it caught my attention—I didn't recognize the actors, and I don't think I consciously knew what it was about. It certainly wasn't targeted toward 11-year-olds, so I'm not even sure where I saw the ad. But something in my gut told me that this was a movie I needed to see. It was the first time I experienced such a strong, immediate response to a movie, let alone a trailer.
I have noticed that often such stories use sexual fluidity among young women to signify rebellion against hegemonic institutions. In stories ostensibly about conflict between women and their families and women and male lovers, hints of bisexuality are present as indications of the larger ways in which the women in question are opposing oppression.
Full disclosure: I love Paul Verhoeven's movies. I'm a fan of RoboCop, Total Recall, Starship Troopers...and, yes, even Showgirls. (Stay tuned for more about Showgirls later in this series.) These movies may not be cinematic masterpieces, but they are entertaining, escapist fun. So when I decided to give Basic Instinct a try, I was actually looking forward to it. I expected to enjoy it, even if only in a campy sense.
In 2005, Brittany Blockman and Josephine Decker took a road trip across the United States and interviewed people about bisexuality. The result of their project was a documentary film: Bi the Way. In order to understand the fictional images of bisexuality that fill our cinema and television screens, it's important to take some time to analyze the ways in which bisexuality is depicted in nonfiction media. Bi the Way is a good starting place, since it's a film that allows its subjects to speak honestly and freely, without an overt agenda from the filmmakers. But is that enough to make it a compelling film that advances realistic bisexual visibility?
Over the next eight weeks, I will explore both progressive and problematic depictions of bisexuality in order to see how far we've come and how much progress still needs to be made. Together, we will look at examples in film, television, music, celebrity culture, and new media. And, with any luck, we will be able to start a discussion about what the media could be doing to increase realistic and positive depictions of bisexual identities and, by extension, advance bisexual acceptance.
Anyone who's spent time on a social networking site, watched cable news, or opened their email inbox in the last two months has probably heard about the "GOP's war on women." From placing humiliating barriers between women and their reproductive health to erasing domestic violence laws out of the criminal code and denouncing any woman in the workplace or on birth control, the attacks have been constant this primary campaign cycle. I'm happy to return to Bitch's blog to discuss politics and feminism in the popular cultural sphere, but this go-round I'll be looking specifically at fictional politicians and policy makers. I'll be asking about what kinds of stories we find in these narrative portrayals and looking for connections to the continuing commentary about women from elected officials and those seeking office.