Every form and every example of art has a class message, even if we are taught that only working-class art is ‘political’ and bourgeois artists of all kinds are ‘apolitical’.
We were reminded of this when our reviewer had occasion to see a film nominated for last year’s Oscar awards, just as Django Unchained is nominated for this year’s awards. It was The Kids Are Alright. Based on the reviews/publicity, your reviewer had expected Django to be grim, but it was funny, and had expected The Kids to be funny, but it was grim. Not in a Tarantino-esque, violent way, but by being totally unconvincing, badly written and poorly acted.
None of the relationships, with the sole exception of the sibling relationship between the ‘kids’ of the title (one off to uni and the other just a couple of years younger), was at all convincing. As the film primarily is about relationships, that is a major flaw.
You may know that the story follows an established lesbian couple who have each had a child by an anonymous sperm donor, and what happens when their children together agree to find their biological fathers. The disastrous results point to the film’s unsubtle message that the kids are ‘alright’ – in fact they are better off – without any father.
The message recalls struggles in the women’s movement of the late sixties and early seventies of the last century, when the Marxist-Leninist analysis of the reasons for and solution to the oppression of women was aggressively countered (on one memorable occasion by trying to physically force a Marxist Leninist off a joint conference platform, mid-speech, by a concerted charge) by bourgeois feminists who stated that men, not imperialism are the enemy and the cause of women’s oppression.
‘Kick the oppressor out of your beds!’ was the campaigning slogan put forward (truly, we are not making this up) by the militant feminists whom our comrades came to describe as ‘proselytising lesbians’ – ie, not lesbians by natural tendency, but out of political choice. All a wonderful diversion from the true enemy and from the correct objective of women’s struggle for liberation – namely, to join with the rest of the working and oppressed peoples for proletarian revolution and socialism.
One line of the older partner of the lesbian couple in the film The Kids reminded the writer forcibly of those days. “I wish you were gay,” says the older woman to her younger partner’s son, “as then you’d be more sympathetic”. Enough said. Avoid!