Sexual Themes In The Birdcage Essay, Research Paper
Psychology Of Human Sexuality
The Bird Cage, Starring Nathan Lane and Robbin Williams is a film that explores societies views of homosexuals through the medium of humor. By creating outrageously stereotyped homosexual men, the director, Mike Nichols creates an awareness in his viewers of the biases and stereotypes that they hold . The two gay male leads, Albert and Armand are owners of a nightclub in South Beach Florida. Armand (played by Robin Williams) is in a long-term relationship with Albert (played by Nathan Lane). Armand has a grown son, Val, from a previous marriage. Trouble starts when Val announces his engagement to a girl named Barbara that he met at school. It turns out that Barbara’s father is an ultraconservative United States Senator. He wants to meet his future son-in-law along with his family. After much debate it is decided that both Armand and Albert will be included in the meeting of the bride’s parents. To avoid makinga bad immpression Val’s biological mother is invited to pretend that she is still happily married to Armand. This offends Albert, who decides to dress as a woman to play the part of Val’s mother. In the end all is discovered and the conservative couple are forced to accept that their daughter will be marrying into an “alternative” family.
Every sexual orientation and lifestyle is explored in this film, through each individual character. Albert plays the emotional, insecure, flighty homosexual male. Armand plays the part of a more reserved, logical, manly homosexual. The Senator is a conservative, political white man who claims to be interested in family values and morality. Both he and his wife are upper class snobs, who do not want to associate with “commoners.” Armands first wife plays the part of a desperately horny, divorced woman. Val and Barbara are the only couple that would be deemed “normal” by society. The two show no outlandishc or unusual characteristicsl.
Perhaps because of the gender roles that males and females are cast into through socialization, many heterosexuals are unable to fathom a relationship where gender roles and expectations are blurred. This phenomena is explored extensively throughout The Bird Cage. For example, in a male-male relationship who is expected to stay home and keep house, and who is expected to be the provider in the relationship? If both men were to stick to their prescribed roles as males, then none of the domestic duties of every day life would ever be addressed. Society does not see men as responsible, or even suited for, domestic work. Many people may believe that a relationship will only work if each partner takes over either the tasks and expectations of a woman,or the tasks and expectations of the man.
In adherence to societies biases, this film shows Armand as the designated male in the relationship. Although it is never spoken aloud, it is obvious that the characteristics he displays are those considered to be traditionally male. He is the rock of the relationship. He thinks before he speaks, he is intelligent, and has control over his emotions. He constantly calms Albert down, while rolling his eyes at the foolishness of his antics. In addition Armand is the only homosexual lead to have been married before, and to have a son from that marriage. All of these traits package Armand as the least-gay male, and the homosexual displaying the least feminine characteristics.
Albert is the extreme opposite of Armand. Not only does he jump at the opportunity to pass himself off as a woman, but he displays the most stereotypical gay characteristics. Albert dances as a woman in Armband’s cabaret-style nightclub, and is adored by all of its patrons. He seems to be very at ease in women’s clothing, make-up and other regalia. Albert plays the “female” role in the relationship between him and Albert. Not only is he highly emotional, but he is unreasonable, irrational and flighty. He clings to Armand for approval and and support. He causes huge scenes to gain attention, such as the time he refuses to go on stage because has gotten the notion in his head that Armandis seeing someone else behind his back. The house-man plays along and tricks him into calmness by giving him fake relaxants. Albert’s character displays all the characteristics of a stereotypical female. He is the more nurturing half of his homosexual relationship, as well as the half most in need of reassurance and support. He does not think about the effects of his actions, and acts on flighty impulse.
Armand and Albert have hired help to help them with their domestic duties. Agadore deviates from societies stereotype of maids as being middle-aged woman. But, as Armand explains, “There are no house-ladies in South Beach.” This is a reference to the fact that South Beach is an area that is populated predominantly by gay males. Agadore is a single, homosexual male whose parents immigrated from Puerto Rico. It is ironic that he is a house-man, since his parents came specifically to the United States so that their son could have better career oppurtunities. Agadore assists Albert and Armand in the daily tasks of their home and nightclub. He not only cooks and cleans, but he provides advice, support and comic relief. He plays the part of a very proud and forthright homosexual. Agadore is in no way ashamed of his sexuality. His wardrobe is supposed to be that of the typically flamboyant and effeminate gay male. Through out most of the film he is dressed in nothing more than a tiny pair of denim shorts.
The biggest statements about heterosexuals are made through the portrayal of the Senator and his wife. The Senator is seen as a bullheaded male, who enjoys preaching values that he himself does not adhere to. He cares very much about his reputation and who he is seen with, since he is in politics. The characters in the movie realize his political agenda, and thus deceive him by lying about Albert’s true gender of a man. The director humorously suggests that republicans, and conservatives are not as perfect and moral as they make themselves out to be through this character. The Senator’s wife displays the flighty characteristics of a stereotypical woman, as well as the snobby attributes of a politician’s wife. Both are shown as being unable to let loose and have a little fun.
There are no gender identities, orientations or roles that are not poked fun of and explored in the movie The Bird Cage. The director seems to have played up humorous stereotypes of each, creating an awareness in the audience of the silliness of attributing characteristics to an individual based solely on his or her sexual orientation. While homosexuals are seen as oversexed and horny, heterosexuals are seen as having no sexual urges. Women are characterized as being emotional ditzes, and men as the voice of reason. The fact that society perpetuates so many stereotypes about homosexuals is what makes this film so humorous. Who can help but laugh at a gay males dancing cabaraet style as women? This film shows individuals living alternative lifestyles, and being happy and adjusted while doing so. This is a new concept to many viewers, who can laugh about their ignorance while seeing that sometimes different is just plain fun. educating its audience through the exploration of sexual roles, and the stereotypes that we hold of them.