“The Kids Are All Right” perpetuates stereotypes based on sexual orientation, gender and race.
It wasn’t supposed to be that way. The film is one of the first mainstream movies to show us same-sex parenting and same-sex marriage — and it couldn’t be more timely, what with Judge Vaughn Walker’s landmark decision in California for marriage equality.
“The Kids Are All Right” filmmakers purported to provide positive images, and a lesbian, Lisa Cholodenko, is the director and co-writer of the movie. There is Oscar buzz for stars Annette Benning (Nic) and Julianne Moore (Jules), who play the two moms.
But the movie is not all right.
Stereotype No. 1: Lesbians must have a dynamic mirroring a heterosexual male/female relationship. Here, the dominant mom in the “daddy” role is even replete with short hair.
Stereotype No. 2: There would be no lesbians (or gay women, as they are referred to in the film) if they could just hook up with a good man.
Stereotype No. 3: Lesbians are ugly. They are lesbians in the first place because they are not attractive enough to get a man. Benning and Moore both look horrible in this movie, which must have taken some doing.
Then there is a totally gratuitous character, a Mexican gardener, who is played as a fool and a voyeur.
Now on to the kids in the film, who do not seem to doing all that well, despite the results of a recent study by Pediatrics (the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics). Adolescent children of lesbians “rated significantly higher in social, school/academic, and total competence and significantly lower in social problems, rule-breaking, aggressive and externalizing problem behavior than their age-matched counterparts,” the study concluded.
But the children in this movie — both the girl and the boy — are having troubles, and not only with their neurotic parents. The daughter is socially inept, and the son is drawn to a hoodlum.
I didn’t mind that the movie involved an affair. However, even though folks in a long-term relationship can stray, they usually stay within the same sexual orientation. Also, most folks typically keep the outside relationship as far away from their children as possible.
Not in this movie.
I didn’t expect the lesbian moms to be perfect, but more realism please — and not so many stereotypes.
Akilah Bolden-Monifa is a freelance writer based in Oakland, Calif. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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