In defense of “bad” lesbian films: an aside

This is a very mean-spirited article: Why are lesbian movies so bad?

I disagree with the writer that all of the films she lists as “bad” really are “bad”, but I can think of some pretty obvious reasons why lesbian films haven’t yet reached the standards of, say, The Godfather or The Lord of the Rings.

1. Due to good old-fashioned sexism and homophobia in the film industry, there is hardly any funding available to make lesbian-themed films.   The lesbian audience is perceived as marginal and really not worth investing a lot of money in.  The majority of lesbian films are therefore very low budget.  Of course this doesn’t make it impossible to make “good” lesbian films, but it presents a lot of challenges and often results in films that should perhaps be judged on standards other than the ones you have to have lots of money to achieve.  (The article is full of assumptions about what makes for a “good” or “bad” film which I’m too ill with flu to think about in any depth at the moment).

2. Limited pool of talent – there are always going to be far more heterosexual filmmakers around at any one time than there are lesbian filmmakers, or filmmakers interested in making films about lesbians. Proportionally, this also means that there will always be far more bad heterosexual films than bad lesbian films.

3.  The fact that (with a handful of exceptions) we’ve only been making mainstream, openly lesbian films for about 20 years, which is not a very long time to establish a tradition when you think about it.   Lesbian filmmaking is still in its infancy, which is one of the reasons I love it actually.

Considering these challenges, I think some amazing and brave work has been done.

I’m most definitely not in the “any lesbian representation is good” camp and, sure, there are some lesbian films that I absolutely hate (I would agree with the writer that Claire of the Moon is an atrocious film, though for reasons other than the low budget and bad acting), but I wouldn’t be without any of them.

2 thoughts on “In defense of “bad” lesbian films: an aside

  1. I completely agree with you. I’m not in the ‘any representation is good’ camp either, and I’m not trying to claim all films as stirling examples of ‘good’ lesbian filmmaking but there’s a lot of merit in a lot of them and outstandingly ‘bad’ films (yeah I agree about Claire of the Moon) are few and far between.

    Also think you hit the nail on the head with number 1 – lesbians films can only exist within the confines of the industry as a whole after all.

  2. lesbians films can only exist within the confines of the industry as a whole after all .

    Well, exactly. You can’t discuss them completely out of the social and economic context because that just isn’t fair. There isn’t a level playing field for people who want to make lesbian films and you have to take that into account.

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