Chasing Amy - The SSL Review

I was a teenage indie movie fiend. That's right, 90's angsty, gay, or gritty hit man movies, with forced, long episodes of dialogue awkwardly spilling over with excessively fancy vocabulary. I loved it. My girl Leslie and I would tear apart the low-budget indie gay stuff at Blockbuster. We weren't gay - we just loved that shit. We even got to see Clerks in the theaters thanks to her awesome mom and super cool uncle in Chicago. I'm just saying I have a special place in my heart. These movies were an insight into a kind of living different than this young teen stared at every day. These movies arrived to me in the impressionable and exciting teenage years and opened my eyes in ways eyes can only be opened at that time in one's life.

Now that you know my background on the subject, Charlie and I decided to re-watch Chasing Amy a couple days ago. If you are not familiar, Chasing Amy (1997) is the 3rd Kevin Smith movie after Clerks and Mallrats. Mr. Smith is one of the crop of indie directors that came up in the 90's. Chasing Amy follows Holden (Ben Affleck), a comic book author, who meets Alyssa (Joey Lauren Adams), another comic book author. They become friends, and Holden begins to fall in love with her, but the problem is, Alyssa is gay. (On a side note, his comic book partner is gay too - although closeted and kinda in love with Holden - which adds some extra jealousy and drama into the situation). He eventually admits his love to Alyssa, and they end up dating. It's her first sexual relationship with a man...or so he thinks..dun dun duuun. She was actually quite experimental in high school/college which included engaging in a 3-way with 2 dudes. He finds out and freaks the hell out, then angst ensues.

Charlie and I both had very different reads on this when we were teenagers vs. now. The angst over her sexual past is the main kernel of this movie, but it just seems so silly and overblown. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed watching it again, but I can't say I think this is a smart, progressive movie when it comes to relationships.

Let's get down to business though. What is my SSL review? What was said or shown about female sexual release? Well, female sexual release (or lack there of) was never depicted or specifically discussed, but there was some discussions of note. As is form with a Kevin Smith movie, there are quirky dialogues about sex. The fact that Alyssa was a lesbian was a center of many of them, and I have to say that I appreciated her unwavering stance throughout that fu**ing or sex cannot be so narrowly defined as a penis inside a vagina. For true sister. For true. My hope one day is that when we say "sex" we could mean a number of activities centered around genital pleasure. As I've long said, defining "sex" as the ol' in and out does nothing to help (and a lot to inhibit) ladies' understanding of or attainment of sexual pleasure with a partner.

I also liked a conversation between Alyssa and the closeted gay friend. He was telling her why he won't go down on ladies. At first, you think, this guy must be an asshole - refusal to go down should be a capitol offense, I say!! However, he makes a fantastic point that women he's going down on don't help him out at all. There's no feedback or directions. He's just supposed to figure it out with no help, and he believes that's bullshit. Alyssa agrees, saying that she used to be like that - all inhibited and shy, but then in college she started directing like one of those guys with light sticks directing airplanes into the runway. I have to say, this brings up excellent points. Dudes out there are given crappy poke-her-and-she'll-cum advice through all the tv and movies and porn. I mean take porn. Porn cunnilingus is quick, for show, and probably not going to help in the real world like watching porn fellatio would. I mean, frankly women in porn get men to orgasm through oral sex, but men in porn do not get ladies to orgasm through oral sex (fake orgasms don't count). That's just true. So, dudes are already starting from a disadvantage.

Then on top of that, it's not easy to verbally speak up about specific desires during a sexual encounter. Any person would have a bit of apprehension or embarrassment about it, thinking they're killing the mood and all, but I think that pressure to shut up and enjoy whatever is dished out is heavier on ladies. We ladies are watching the same porn and hearing the same bad advice, so how sure are we really, when we're in the moment, that what he's doing is not the "right" way to do it? Maybe, we too often think, we're just broken, or not as sexual, or something. We're confused, embarrassed, and if he's doing it badly, we're probably not enjoying much pleasure. As bad as it is for us, it's also a pretty sucky, frustrating, confusing experience for him too. So, I guess that little Chasing Amy conversation should just remind us all that a sexual interaction will be better for everyone if we communicate directly, and everyone knows where they stand and what is expected of them. If that kills the mood, then one or both of you are boring and/or an asshole.

Okay, here's the other thing that needs to be discussed. Alyssa told Holden she wants him to ask anything he want to about the whole lesbian thing. They start talking about the lack of intercourse in lesbian relationships, and she brings up fisting. She demonstrates by pushing one of her hands through the hole she's made with her thumb and forefinger of her other hand. He's like, wow. Then she says it's not like a normal thing, just something done on special occasions and stuff. He asks what's normal then, and she says they normally just use tongues. Cool. I get it...cunnilingus. Yes, that seems pretty normal. Then he asks her how a tongue could possibly be big enough, and she responds by sticking out her tongue and showing that it is large (not abnormally large, just a big long tongue), and he shakes his head like he agrees with the largeness of her tongue...and end scene...

A few things. First, once I saw this again, I remembered the fisting discussion, and I can remember that it made me think of fisting as some sort of higher level lesbian activity. I know now that however big the object is, rubbing it against the inner walls of the vagina is not a way to make a woman orgasm. However, I'm unfortunately reminded that insinuations in our media can make an impact. We often get thrown this idea that intercourse (or things that mimic intercourse) are high level orgasmic for women. Ideas like this leak into our heads through odd little, seemingly harmless, things like this scene.

Second, what the hell was meant by the big tongue thing? I feel like the only way to interpret that is to assume that he meant to ask how a tongue could be big enough to compare to a penis or fist when it came to satisfying the vagina hole. Although everywhere else in the movie, Alyssa is always correcting him about his lesbian misconceptions, she didn't seem to have a need to correct his thought process here. She didn't inform him that a big tongue is not any kind of muff diving asset. Frankly, the tongue just needs to exist and to move around the clit / vulva area. There's simply no reason at all to ask how big the tongue is when it comes to pleasure and cunnilingus...that is...unless you wrongly believe that the way to really get a woman going is to stick your tongue in and out of her vaginal hole over and over again to mimic intercourse...in that case something bigger, more like a penis, is thought to be better...but no, that idea would just be silly. Ahh, I wish it were so silly, but it's not. I know this is not an uncommon idea. I knew a man who told me that's how he performed oral sex in high school, by mimicking intercourse with his tongue, and I know he's not the only one. Do you see where these bad insinuations lead us people? Do you see?

Come on Kevin Smith (and any other person who looked at that script), it just hurts me to my very core that no one spoke up about that one. Oral sex is such a beautiful thing, and I think it's a crime, I say a crime, to put wrong ideas into young heads about this kind of thing. Chasing Amy had a small but useful conversation involving speaking up about desire during oral sex, yet it also insinuated that the useful part of cunnilingus is mimicking intercourse with the tongue...and I don't like that idea getting out there, so I'm going to be harsh and give this movie only 1 vulva.


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