A caricature – the alternate or the regular?

It’s not easy to start writing an entry for your blog after a year and 3 months, especially because you have no ideas whatsoever and you are not really a brilliant, innovative, well-researched writer.

But I’ve been planning to pen something down (anything will do! Even a nursery rhyme!) and if I don’t tonight, I probably never will (not that it matters. I don’t have any readers. It’s for my self-satisfaction)

Well, so let’s just talk about this film I watched this evening – Notes On A Scandal. It’s about a lesbian woman, quite old – played by Judie Dench, who lives a life of utter solitude with her cat. She takes a fancy for a younger colleague at work, played by Cate Blanchett, and strikes up a friendship purely based on keeping the other woman’s secrets safe. When she is disappointed by this woman (for not keeping her company when her cat is about to die!!!!), she lets out the hideous secret and turns lives topsy-turvy all around. Towards the end, the audience comes to know that she has had a record of ruining younger women’s lives, presumably the ones she fell for.

A very compelling drama it is, with excellent performances, very taut narrative and superb background music.

What I could not appreciate was the fact that there was no explanation for her actions. True, not every action needs an explanation. But when they did explain the adultery committed by the younger woman, didn’t they also owe the character of the older woman some justice? Especially since she’s the protagonist. Maybe just a dialogue or a short scene?

The older woman was someone from another age, when one could not be lesbian. It is not like she had loved and lost. She had not ever received love probably. She had grown old alone (and “alone” to the extent that she wasn’t open to discussing her partners and sexuality with even her sister). She needed companionship and she made some wrong moves to secure a friendship that she really saw promise in. She was not right, but she had to be explained! If one hasn’t thought about the film (or lacks the intelligence, maybe), one would think she’s a plain psycho.

On a broader note, was it ok to make her a psycho to the audience because she’s lesbian? If it was a straight old woman craving for company, would there be more urge to explain (unless it was a cheap thriller movie where just about everyone is psycho)

Maybe I’m thinking too much and getting a tad too judgmental. But, incidentally, my weekend has been full of cinema about the alternate sexuality. I watched Dostana on Friday, and the depiction of two straight men acting as gay partners to get hold of an apartment is simply despicable. Not just because of the jokes and the obviously effeminate mannerisms, but also the fact that one could think of this as the plot of a movie and yet treat it in such a non-chalant way. It looked like a lot of gay-bashing to me.

I guess the most disturbing was the reaction of the audience, who couldn’t stop laughing at the lame and repetitive jokes. But why blame them when the makers of the film themselves had no dignity in their story and rendition.

In this world of seemingly-straight majority, the insensitives have always treated the alternatives with contempt, but have the sensitives been coined so only due to their indifference? Has there been an utter lack of understanding and a huge gap of sexuality that just keeps growing wider? Well I won’t get into lectures. You get my point. One would rather give money to an able-bodied beggar who is perfectly capable of going out there and getting a job, than give respect to a dignified individual whose preferences may not be similar.

I love this episode in Seinfeld, in which the press reports that Jerry is gay. He gets calls from everyone he knows, and after the usual surprised exclamations and we-always-knew-its, they invariably say “Not that there’s anything wrong with it!”. In trying to be politically correct and non-tabooing a scandalous subject, are we actually making caricatures of ourselves?


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