I've been noticing lately how rampantly contemporary American cinema reinforces the "norm" of heterosexuality. So many of the films I've watched recently have incorporated into their plots some kind of inane romance, affair, or love story involving heterosexual couples. This was never as unfortunate as it was in the recent Land of the Dead, where, among the walking corpses, two plucky heteros—one a freedom fighter, the other a virtuous whore—come together.
In a decade where homosexuality is becoming more and more visible—and criminal—it can't seem a coincidence that films are working harder to make breeders out of us all. Or maybe I'm just more sensitive to it these days. The pressure to heterosexualize seems most evident and most damaging in films with a PG-13 rating—those aimed at impressionable teens and tweens. I think most of us recognize that films aimed at this demographic tend to feature the kind of humor that idolizes the terms "boner" and "gazoombas" as fresh-faced kids learn about the wonders of heterosexual sex and their own bodies.
I might sound overly conspiracy theorist here, but is this a form of propaganda? Are films teaching us and our children to follow one path while dehumanizing another?
I nearly shit my pants right then and there when, in the middle of Freddy Vs Jason (a horror flick for teens), Destiny's Child's Kelly Rowland screams, "Freddy, you faggot!" I couldn't believe in this day and age a film would use that term as a slur against someone who was reputedly not gay, but a heterosexual child molester.
And any film that even suggests homosexual desire among teens is guaranteed an R rating, unless the teen straightens out or dies by the end of the film. Even The Man Without a Face, Mel Gibson's scarred teacher flick, created an uproar when conservatives suggested that Mel's disfigured hero seemed a little too interested in his young male pupil. I think now that Mel's put Jesus up on the silver screen, he's in the clear with those folks.
One thing that encourages me, though, is that television is taking up the slack where films fear to tread. The can't-ever-die teen soap Degrassi Junior High, still breathing on cable network The N!, prominently features gay story lines that don't kill or maim characters. In fact, the gay kids get to be kids, make stupid decisions, and don't seem better or worse off than their breeding counterparts.