This article is not required reading, nor does it mentioned the 18th century, but given that much of our discussions have touched on marriage plots, I’m curious to see what you think of Halberstam’s argument.

Bully Bloggers

By Jack Halberstam

We all know that Hollywood movies emerge out of a, shall we say, limited gene pool of ideas; and when that pool runs dry, the stumped screenplay writers just shuffle the jigsaw puzzle pieces of accepted story lines around until they come up with apparently new narratives. This is clearly what happened with the recent Jennifer Westfeldt film Friends With Kids. Touted as an independent, edgy ‘ensemble comedy,’ this film actually shows what happens when very straight, very sheltered straight people get a hold of a few strands of rather radical queer ideas about love, intimacy and reproduction!

Touted by David Edelstein in a feature in the New York Magazine as “the best breeder movie in years” (we might also dub it the only breeder movie in years and hey, when did “breeder” become a part of the hetero lexicon?), Friends With Kids asks a question…

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  1. I found Halberstam’s analysis of Hollywood and marriage plots very humorous, insightful and relevant to our discussions on 18th century British novels. I couldn’t agree more with the critique that the majority of movies are not only age-old clique statements, but also alarming messages that Hollywood keeps drilling (or trying to drill) into our heads.

    Regarding the three movies Friends with Benefits, The Kids are Alright, and Friends with Kids, Halberstam’s question and analysis, whether kids follow marriage or whether the raising of kids destroys marriage, is poignant. I think we can fairly say that 99% of romantic comedies end with the conclusion that good friends make for good marriages, which in turn makes for eternal happiness, most likely with happy children too who in the sequel, will have a similar tale. I also think that today’s romantic comedies are like many of the 18th century British novels we’ve encountered: marriage is the ultimate resolution between two heterosexual and beautiful people. Woman of Color defies this pattern, as the protagonist Olivia Fairfield remains unmarried and independent, unlike Mary in Victim of Prejudice who also remains unmarried but depends on the charity of others throughout her life.

    Halberstam’s analysis of how good things are associated with heteronormativity and how bad things are associated with other sexualities is also very critical and well-put. I think we can relate this idea to Richardson’s Pamela in comparing the characters Mrs. Jewkes and Mr. B. Although Mr. B tries sexually assaults Pamela countless times, he is still portrayed as a worthy who changes his ways under Pamela’s “pure” and “virtuous” influence; he and Pamela have a heteronormative relationship. On the other hand, Mrs. Jewkes, whose physical and emotional abuse inflicted on Pamela is trifling compared to that caused by Mr B., is demonized throughout the novel and she is the instigator of many nearly homoerotic scenes.

    Overall, this article was really thought-provoking and hilarious. When Halberstam finds that free time to make a movie, I’ll be the first in line.

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