- 11:28 am - Thu, Dec 26, 2013
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The Controversy Around ‘Blue is the Warmest Color’: A Case Study in Bi Erasure and Public Hysteria
Blue Is the Warmest Colour is an unfortunate title for a great film… The story is deceptively simple: Adèle a high-school student, meets Emma an advanced Fine Art student with blue hair at a lesbian bar, they fall in love, have incredibly hot sex, live together, and eventually break up … In the deafening cacophony of OMG, there are naked women having sex here are some absurd and reactionary comments —-
Almost every review and headline has characterized this film as a “lesbian love story”. Emma may be lesbian. We learn that she has had relationships only with women. But the film deliberately avoids labeling Adèle’s identity.
Dr. Pepper Schwartz, sexologist and Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington, made this emphatic claim in an article for CNN: “The chilling part of this film is that it’s basically the story of an adult woman poaching on a high-schooler”. Like countless critics, Dr. Schwartz reduces the film to porn that she would not recommend to teenagers … Dr. Schwartz seems unconcerned by the fact that Adèle chain-smokes but warns that Adèle’s lovemaking with a woman who is her partner is too damaging for us to watch …
Then there are those saying the sex is unreal, too clinical, filmed through a male gaze, blah, blah, blah. Why aren’t we celebrating the fact that these scenes even exist? There are three explicit sex scenes adding up to nearly 10 full minutes of nude, girl-on-girl action in an award winning film …
And finally, the ugly truth that no one wants to admit. The film beautifully explores how the sexual barometer can grow cold and change the nature of a relationship. For those who have not seen the film, minor spoiler alert for what follows. In a harrowing scene, Emma breaks up with Adèle for reasons that would be devastating to any relationship but pose a particular challenge to same-sex relationships: class difference and biphobia …
Few films have accurately captured the quotidian life of the French middle class … The more successful and profitable that Emma becomes as an artist the more she shuts down emotionally. She also begins to feel shame about Adèle’s modest ambition to become a schoolteacher … Is Emma furious that Adèle cheated on her? Or that Adèle had sex with a man? Or is Emma simply jealous that Adèle hasn’t reached emotional frigidity like she has?
The film offers no easy answers. It simply documents the devastation on Adèle and, in the end, only hints at a brighter future for her.
Click HERE to read the full article
Anil Vora is a principal partner at Indian Tiger Films, a film production company spotlighting films about LGBTQ people of color. A self-confessed geek, VORAcious in his consumption of books and films, Anil is also an actor and playwright, and teaches private classes on the history, symbolism, and appreciation of Bollywood films.