Analysis Of Chasing Amy Essay, Research Paper
Chasing Amy is a movie that uncovers the hardships we find within the confusion of love and sex in our lives. Sometimes the line between love and sex seems almost invisible, but the differences and complications of understanding that are quite clear in this movie. The issues presented in Chasing Amy are directly related to the discussions of “Politics of Sexuality” as well as everyday life in our culture.
Our culture, in contrast to Ancient Greece, uses sexuality to characterize people by their sexual behaviors. Other cultures view sex as a raw pleasure activity while our society has elevated it to the expression of a person’s identity and moral code. Chasing Amy contributes to this view of society as the whole movie centers around sexual beings and the influence of sex on their lives.
Chasing Amy is an account of people’s fears about sex and relationships as well as the inhibitions and insecurities that are attached to them. Therefore, the best way to understand the movie’’ message is to analyze the sexual identity of the characters in it. The characters are used to portray the stereotypically viewed male and female as well as the exceptions. Some characters show a combination of both views, while others are the epitome of a sexually comfortable, confident person. The combination of different experiences, views, and beliefs in the characters allows for many confrontational debates on what sex should mean in today’s society and in our lives.
The first character we meet represents a stereotypical male of today’s society, Banky. He is portrayed as an ignorant homophobe who is quick to make a joke of sexual comment. Banky takes part in all the typical male fetish behaviors such as enjoying a collection of “stroke” magazines, fantasizing about Catholic School girls, watching lesbians together, and making derogatory statements about others’ sexual orientation. Banky comments to Alyssa that, “Everyone needs *censored*.” This statement could have the typical misogynist meaning of male dominance and female submission to them in every way. It also could be a subconscious truth that Banky “needs *censored*” because he is homosexual and uses this behavior as a front in order to over it up. This position, that he is in love with Holden, is supported throughout the movie but Banky is too uncomfortable with his sexuality to admit the truth. Banky’s behavior masking his homosexuality is proof of what we repeated many times in class that we question and criticize others because it cause us to question our own reality. He was homophobic because he was uncomfortable with not fitting society’s heterosexual category.
Holden is Banky’s best friend but does not have the same outlook as he. Holden seems to be an open-mind individual yet he views Alyssa as a slut when he becomes aware of her past exotic, sexual experiences, such as multiple partners. This is the typical treatment of women who are sexually experienced with men who are too immature to deal with it. Holden cannot continue their relationship as he judges Alyssa who is more experienced than he. He labels her as a slut to compensate for his feelings of inadequacy. Holden pays too close attention and gives too much significance to sex in his relationship with Alyssa. He allows his masculine pride and insecurity about his sexuality to ruin his relationship with Alyssa, which was full of love and potential.
Silent Bob gives us a view of Holden in the future, wiser because of his experience with Alyssa. The first view we are given is cold, quiet disposition that makes him appear as a hard man. Yet we eventually see a more feminine side to him as his friend comments that Bob is a “softy” because he cries while listening to the Barbara Streisand song, “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers.” Silent Bob, which had the same predicament as Holden, grew because of his loss and is no longer afraid of his feelings of inadequacy. He is now a better person and on a higher level of understanding his sexuality, capable of admitting his shortcomings and uncertainties.
Hooper is an interesting mediating character as he is homosexual but acts heterosexual for his public image as a strong Black social figure. The stereotypical view of a homosexual would not be good role model because he would be viewed as weak and perhaps not masculine. Hooper would not be viewed as a true man if he were viewed as a homosexual. It would be better for him to accept his homosexuality and present it to society, but as we have learned, Hooper will not be accepted in our culture and his career will suffer. In Kobena Mercer’s piece, “Black Masculinity and Sexual Politics of Race,” “Through such collective, historical experiences black men have adopted certain patriarchal values such as physical strength, sexual prowess and being in control as a means survival against the repressive and violent system of subordination to which they were subjected. The incorporation of a code of ‘macho’ behavior is thus intelligible as a means of recuperating some degree of power over the condition of powerlessness and dependency in relation to the white master subject.” In order for Hooper to be regarded in his field he must maintain this front that has accompanied the Black man, and not the “femininity” that is associated with being homosexual.
Alyssa is the healthiest sexual being that can be portrayed in my eyes. As a young woman, unsure of her sexuality, she experimented to find who she was. Just as Jess, from Stone Butch Blues, felt she did not fit into any of society’s categories, Alyssa looked to a deviant lifestyle without fulfilling the normal expectations of the culture. If a societal label is needed, she is a bisexual involved with both men and women in her lifetime but finding the relationships with men unfulfilling she turns to women. She did not simply accept society’s heterosexual lifestyle; she lived her life on her own terms, comfortable and confident in her choices. She is a true feminist who believes in woman’s rights but has not dismissed men as partners. Alyssa does not need a man but did not deny herself happiness because Holden was a man.
She knows the difference between love and sex, “I don’t love her, but I’ll *censored* her.” Alyssa chooses Holden because of their connection, not his sex. Her experiences helped her to be sure of what she wanted in a partner and relationship. She is not a stereotypical heterosexual or “man-hating” lesbian but she is moving and changing on a sexual continuum. As Gayle Rubin tells us in “Thinking Sex,” this spectrum of sexual identity is shaped by community norms and values but Alyssa made her choice of partner based on the whole being not merely on their sex or society’s expectations.
The sexual identities of the characters also show us the movie’s position on how women and men are evaluated differently based on sexual behavior. Throughout the movie we see the double standards that are present in our society and the different pressures and problems they cause. For example, Alyssa is involved in a sexual experience with two other guys. She is labeled a slut and people consider that they used her. The guys are considered studs that both “scored” with the same girl at once, as Peggy R. Sanday shows in “Pulling Train.” “Boys will be boys,” and “the women who satisfy these sexual urges are included as passive actors in the enactment of a sexual discourse where the male, but not the female, sexual instinct is characterized as an insatiable biological instinct and psychological need.” Women, for this reason, are taught to be shameful about their sexuality as we see in Audre Lorde’s “Uses of the Erotic.”
Alyssa used experiences like this in order to discover her sexual identity. Throughout this journey, she was looked down upon by society yet she had no hear of judgment and lived her life according to her own desires. Although both men and women are viewed as emotional and sexual beings, women in the end are viewed as emotionally ruled, as Alyssa finds love with a guy not because of his sex but because of their connection, and men are ruled by sex, whereas Holden ruins his relationship because he is insecure about his masculinity and sexual experience.
Alyssa found her moral standards based on her inner self instead of society and she was criticized because of this. Sexuality is rewarded or punished in society because of this. Sexuality is rewarded or punished in society because it exists in a context, as for Alyssa with a loss of reputation as respectable woman (Rubin). Her experienced past is unexpected and not accepted while men are expected to have this experience to be real men. This is the reason why Holden is unable to deal with his girlfriend having more diverse sexual experiences than he.
There are also some similarities with the way lesbians treat Alyssa and the rest of society. Alyssa is evaluated by her friends as non-gender because she is now in love with the dreaded male. These seemingly feminist women are supposed to want the best for her regardless if she is happy with a man but they are too involved in the stereotype to do this. Alyssa follows Rich’s law that sexual identity can potentially change throughout life yet Alyssa is compelled by both homosexuality and heterosexuality to follow society’s norms of each (Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence). Alyssa’s continuum causes her discomfort as well because as people change, their whole world is “put into upheaval” and things she did once did are not of the same person as she is now or what people expect. Lesbians put the same pressure on Alyssa to conform to their group norms as society does for people to be heterosexual.
We see the movie’s position on other connected issues about sexuality as well. We see some of the stereotypical definitions disregarded in this movie such as the “accepted” definitions for “*censored*” and “virginity.” This ties into the lacking of a pluralistic ethic and the concept of a benign sexual variation. Both these theories surround upon the idea that there is only one context to have sex and that we should follow this narrow intolerance of variation. Banky is unable to undaunted the alternate meaning of “*censored*” when designated toward two women. This is fitting to his ignorant character that he is unable to see past the stereotypical view of sex. Holden also is puzzled by the unaccepted definition of loss of virginity not including intercourse.
In addition, the movie shows the acceptance of some sex while other kinds of sex are less accepted. This hierarchical evaluation of sex acts (Rubin) is the cause of Alyssa’s problem with Holden. Her being a lesbian is acceptable but the thought of her with two guys is unbearable. Lorde’s ideas are also touched upon where sex is better when it is with someone you love. Holden believes his solution is accepted because he loves the two people involved. Silent Bob also says that Amy was not looking for an experience but for love with someone special.
There were some points that made me truly think about myself and the unquestioned path I have taken. Alyssa does not limit herself to men or women in order to find her soul mate. I think this is important because you love someone because of who they are, not sex, color, or looks. If you limit yourself by these things you lose out. It is important to expand your horizons and leave other opportunities open to mind. I also liked Alyssa’s idea of needing a map to find who we are in the world. We all need to explore and discover what we truly want from life. Holden’s last comment is that because of his experience with Alyssa he finally had something personal to say. He grew as a person because of his new experiences with her and actually gained an experience he did not know he wanted.
The Movie, Chaing Amy