50 First Dates

I have never liked super romantic movies. The only way I can stand them is if they have more comedy in them than anything. So its not surprising that I fell in love when I watched “50 First Dates,” a romantic comedy about a woman with short term memory and a man who makes her fall in love with him everyday. Like is expected out of any Adam Sandler’s movies, this movie was filled with many jokes and funny moments. But for the purpose of this class, I will focus on an intriguing character named Alexa who portrays some of the panic we spoke about at the beginning of the quarter. Alexa’s character displays sexual ambiguity that causes some of the characters to panic due to their inability to classify Alexa’s gender.

Alexa is a character that is neither feminine nor masculine. The character is portrayed by Lusia Stras, an actress known for her role in “Miss Congeniality 2.” Throughout the film, she is kept in the same style of clothing and hairstyle that makes it hard to identify her as a male or female. The clothes are not figure flattering as she is always seen in collar shirts and knee-length shorts. Her hair is always in two Dutch braids wrapped around her head. Her voice and accent adds on to the ambiguity because of its raspiness. Throughout the film, she keeps both the audience and the characters in the dark about her gender through her actions.

Most of the scenes in which Alexa is found; the other characters are shown trying to identify her as well as being uncomfortable with their inability to identify her. One scene in which Alexa hints at a sexual encounter with Adam Sandler’s character Henry, Henry responds by telling her that he is not into guys. Here is one of the assumptions that is made about her gender. This assumption comes from the manly characteristics that Alexa portrays. Cracking her neck at the end of her proposition probably didn’t help her out. She seemed more masculine and Henry being a heterosexual player did not feel attraction towards her.

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We are in a society that is constantly trying to classify a person into a binary category. This is done through gender identified actions and styles. This is a reason why its not surprising that Alexa is thought of as a man. Even I can confess to this guilt of classifying her. For some time I remember trying to find out what she was. There was something about it drove me nuts! I even tried googling and found other people shared the same confusion. I now look back and don’t understand my obsession.

Her character brings anxiety surrounding her gender ambiguity into the movie. While I had this assumption that she was a girl, as the movie went along, her comments made me doubt my own assumption. On and off, she would be portrayed with both gender love interests. At the beginning of the movie when Henry abandons a date, he suggests her to go out with Alexa. The girl panics and asks him if Alexa is a man to which Henry answers that he doesn’t know and that she shouldn’t care because she is “drunk.” It is later reveal by Alexa that nothing happened between her and the woman on the count that he prefers “sausages” to “tacos.” Despite the ambiguity of her gender, at this point it’s understood that she might be bisexual.

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What I’m trying to point at from the examples is at this panic over not being able to identify Alexa’s character. From the first lectures in class as well as the readings, I remember us speaking about this fear. There’s that fear that a person can be placed into the categories that we made up. This creates this anxiety towards the person. In real life, I’ve seen this anxiety surround ambiguously gendered people. These people are seen as the source of anxiety because no one can classify them. In some cases, people are born with ambiguous genitalia as discussed in class. This also adds on to the anxiety that is felt because they can’t be identified as one or the other. This could have been the case for Alexa. She could have been portraying a character whose assigned sex was unidentifiable.

Overall, Alexa’s effect on the other characters demonstrates the anxiety people feel when a person’s gender is ambiguous. She is used to portray a generalized example of an “unattractive” woman who looks like a man. She explores her sexuality throughout the movie but is generally thought as unattractive by both sexes. Fortunately for her, she ends up with Drew Barrymore’s brother in the film. Both are portrayed to have the same level of masculinity so they are supposed to be perfect for each other.

 

50 First Dates

Queer Critique

***I’m super new to this blog thing! Anyways, just here to hopefully sum up some readings as well as engage with y’all. Also not entirely sure if I’m doing the right one…a little confuse here. ***

Queer theory has no solid line on what it is. The idea of it has changed throughout time according to different people. Michael Warner discusses the criticisms to queer studies as well as its development in his article Queer and Then? In this article, Warner guides his readers through a history of the creation of the word queer. He explains that back in 1990; queer was a word that did not envelope the category gay like it does today. He adds on that during this time there was concern that the term queer would be seen as a “happy” term in which everyone was included. In a sense, there was a fear that queer would turn into something with a good meaning that instead of including people it would oppress them. Warner continues on to conflicts between people liking and disliking the term. In one part of his article he states, “people throughout history have been gay in exactly in the way we understand the word today, and the purpose of gay studies should be to celebrate them” (Warner 2012: 4). What I interpreted from this passage was that warner was referring to why it was that today the meanings have change if the situations remain the same. Sexual identity has not change in itself, only the terms. So should there be concern over the word queer as express by this article? What would happen in a new term for sexuality was invented? Should we really be concern over named identities?

Contrary to Michael Warner, Lisa Duggan’s article Making it Perfectly Queer, takes a more positive look at the usage of the word queer. What I found to be intriguing is this drawn comparison between sexual identities and ethnic identities. She draws at the categories that with each one you have to identify. Also how both of them are suppose to be biological. I found this intriguing in that I had never taken a step back and seen the how bad the need for categorization in this two identities was wanted. She continues on to how the binary of gay and lesbian was now under the queer umbrella. Unlike Warner, she doesn’t seem to present negative feedback on doing such generalization. In the end, Duggan believes that queer theory and its sharing of its complex history is important to society. She sees it as a source for change. Taking both Warner and Duggan into consideration, what would be the best understanding of queer studies? In our own opinion, is categorizing queer like we do today affect the queer study field negatively or positively? If people were more educated on the topic of queerness, would Warner then change his mind? That is to say, would people see queerness differently?

Queer Critique