This weekend I saw Ocean’s Gay.
I mean Ocean’s 8. (Although, maybe they should consider a name change…) This fourth installment of the Ocean’s franchise, featured a diverse all-female cast who showcased intelligence, bad-assery and, if you exist for homoerotic subtext like I do, lesbian love.
While (tragically) no character was openly gay, there was a near painful amount of sexual tension between Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) and Lou (Cate Blanchett). [Slight spoilers ahead] From the second that Lou’s character is introduced, (in all her pant suit glory) she can’t seem to keep her hands off Debbie. In fact, after a ridiculously flirty exchange that occurs when the pair reunites after Debbie’s release from prison, Lou grabs her “friend’s” head and kisses it with a little too much passion. (Talk about muscle memory, right?)
As the plot begins to unfold, Lou and Debbie’s storyline starts to parallel a classic heterosexual romance montage that’s frequently seen on the Hallmark channel. Ready?
Here’s Debbie slowly and suggestively eating eating her food. [Side note: shortly after this, Debbie refers to Lou as “baby” and the pair make quips about getting engaged. #ClassicUhaulLesbian]
As the meal winds down, Debbie makes intense eye contact with Lou and insist on feeding her. You know, like all straight females friends do…. [Can we talk about the look of pure ecstasy on Lou’s face? There’s literally nothing good on that fork, girl. We know that’s not what you’re excited about.]
Here they are sitting exceedingly close together on a very, very large bench while Lou’s grip is obviously intended to frighten away possible male suitors.
Here’s Lou explaining how she easily seduced Debbie to their wildly confused friend.
And here’s Lou looking cocky AF the morning after (which I’m sure she earned.)
All joking aside, there are so many hints throughout the film that Debbie and Lou are way more than platonic friends. They refer to each other as “partners,” routinely speak less than an inch apart and clearly share a deep, affectionate bond. At one point in the movie Debbie literally says, “I don’t want a him, I want a her.”
In addition to these flagrant lesbian undertones, Lou’s mannerism, wardrobe and general attitude is highly indicative of queerness. While I’m vehemently against pigeon holding individuals and understand that sexual orientation doesn’t dictate dress code or behavior, I do believe the writers relied upon a “queer aesthetic” in regards to Lou.
The queer aesthetic, as defined in the book Locating Queerness in Media: A New Look, “developed from being in the presence of other members of the LGBTQ community [and] is part of a coded language that queers have used to identify themselves and others.” Traditionally, this was a tactic utilized by writers who wanted to be inclusive of the LGBTQ community without explicitly labeling the character as “queer.”
For instance, Lou enjoys wearing suits, has a traditionally “masculine” name, never mentions any sort of romantic encounters with a man and carries herself like a confident, powerful lesbian. Could she get gayer?!
To be honest, yes. If Lou is so clearly queer, then why isn’t she explicitly queer? After setting aside my lesbian glee at the mere thought of Sandra Bullock and Cate Blanchett locking lips, I began wondering why Lou’s sexuality isn’t cannon. Were the producers comfortable with ambiguously sexual content but scared to take the plunge into actual representation? Did they fear that an openly queer character would spark controversy and potentially drive down sales? [Anyone remember that ridiculous outcry over LeFou being openly gay in Beauty and the Beast?]
It’s 2018. Gay marriage is accepted by the majority of people in the United States and millennials are the gayest generation on record. So, why are movies continuing to shy away from portraying openly gay characters? Why couldn’t Lou, whilst power strutting in her suit, casually mentioned an ex-girlfriend in a Negasonic Teenage Warhead style? Why are we so afraid of queer characters?
It’s indisputable that Ocean’s 8 was an incredibly empowering movie for women and people of color. [I even respect them for casting the openly bisexual actress, Sarah Paulson] However, queer people deserve more than speculation and possible romance. We deserve actual representation. Characters should be proud to be members of the LGBTQ community and it’s time we demand to see ourselves reflected more in media.
Ocean’s 9, are you listening?