I recently watched Kevin Smith’s Chasing Amy now that it’s on Netflix. It’d been years since I’d watched the whole thing. Generally I only like the first half and usually shut the movie off right as soon as Banky shouts “figments of your fucking imagination.” So now after having forced myself through the entire movie again I couldn’t help but remember my inner thoughts at age 19 when I sat in the theater watching this and my reactions now at age 37.
This post is full of spoilers.
While I always thought the movie was hilarious, at 19 it irked me. Hence why I hadn’t watched it all the way through in 18 years. I know I’m not the only one who noticed that Alyssa went from lesbian, to not a lesbian (since she started sleeping with Holden), to liar (since she misled Holden about her sexual history). At 19 I was pissed at the movie about a lesbian who wasn’t actually a lesbian. Why couldn’t Alyssa have just been a lesbian and Holden just had to learn to fucking deal with it?
At 37 I see Alyssa as a hugely complex character that I can really relate to. And no offense to Kevin Smith, but I really think creating this complex story was a pure accident on his part. Maybe things in 1997 New Jersey were different, but I’d just graduated high school in Miami. If you were a straight woman here, cool. Lesbian? No problem. Bisexual? Yeah right. I’m sure every pan or bi person has heard this. That bi men are just confused and bi women just want attention from straight men. I’m ashamed to have been stuck in that mentality for more years than I can truly remember.
In my opinion, Alyssa should have come clean to Holden once they embarked on a relationship. Maybe she wanted to one day, but she shouldn’t have waited so long because, as happened in the film, Holden found out about her past because they had acquaintances in common. But it wasn’t fair of me to scoff at this movie because Alyssa turned out not to be a lesbian. Looking at the movie now I feel that her character could have easily just been falling prey to what everyone else around her might have been saying. That she had to be one or the other. And if she preferred women, then she went with it, and just ignored the part of her that was sometimes attracted to men.
But I believe Kevin Smith’s point to the story, gathered from his interviews, is that Holden shouldn’t have judged Alyssa on her experimental past. That part I’ve always agreed with. I’ve always hated the idea of this societal expectation that a woman be chaste (or near it) while men banged their way through several belts worth of notches. Maybe Alyssa’s impassioned speech to Holden in front of the hockey arena influenced me, but I can’t remember a time after seeing that movie that I have ever apologized for my sexual history. I’m no Samantha Jones or Alyssa Jones (was that a coincidence?) but I can hold my own.
My view on the end of the movie changed fundamentally as well. As I watched Holden explain to Alyssa and Banky his master plan for the three of them, I just sat on my sofa and shook my head. Then I remembered how at 19 I hadn’t thought much of it. Could it have worked? I didn’t know…. but 37 year old me knows. That was a terrible plan. Some people can have threesomes and be okay, but I do not believe Holden was one of those people at that moment. Alyssa was perfectly right. I’d forgotten she’d slapped him for it, and nodded my head. He deserved it.
I’m not sure how well the movie holds up in 2015. It’s still funny as hell. But things for LGBT folks have been changing faster than I’d ever imagines possible. Maybe younger people watch the movie and wonder why Alyssa didn’t just say she was bisexual or pansexual or something other than gay. So maybe the movie is more like a time capsule. A skewed view of the LGBT perceptions in 90’s society and the hang-ups with sexually autonomous women.
Was that blog ending worthy of a Silent Bob speech?