Mid-20s Malaise

Struggling against the inevitable since 1986!

Wallace Wells Vs Boring Heteronormative Cinema

I finally went to see Scott Pilgrim Vs The World the other night, and it was awesome for so many reasons. But the reason I want to talk about is its gay character, Wallace Wells.

Wallace is played by Kieran Culkin who, along with his younger brother Rory, is currently in a shambling, awkward phase. (It’s okay; it happened to Macaulay, too. In his case, the transformation went adorable little caterpillar > hideous troll cocoon > delicious butterfly, so we can hope that they follow suit.)

So, Wallace is Scott’s roommate and buddy. That’s it. There’s no poignant crap about heteros and homos learning from each other. They’re just dudes who get on well together, hanging out. They share a tiny studio apartment and a double bed. Neither of them mind this arrangement: Scott isn’t concerned about getting groped in his sleep, and Wallace isn’t secretly in love with his room/bedmate. (I am so sick of that cinematic trope. Why can’t a straight dude and a gay dude just be friends?)

I think this is really emblematic of my generation who, for the most part, don’t factor sexuality into their opinion of people. The film was criticised by many as being too obviously targeted at generations X and Y, and that it had too many in-jokes relating to indie and gamer culture. To these critics, I say a) fuck you, and b) your generation has controlled Hollywood for the last three decades, now it’s our turn. There’s a lot to love in the film, but you do get a little bit more out of it with an awareness of indie and gamer cultures.

Anyway, it’s a credit to Culkin and the script that I didn’t realise Wallace was gay at first. This is how it works in real life: if some queen is screaming down Oxford Street in a pink feather boa, you can probably make a safe assumption, but a person’s sexuality is rarely so obvious. Wallace drinks beer. He dresses more sloppily than Scott. He makes gay jokes about Scott (Scott: I’m dating someone. Wallace: Oh, yeah? What’s his name?) and vice versa, so at first I assumed they were straight dudes just ribbing each other.

It was pretty obvious that Wallace was gay when he got the hottest, tongue-heaviest make-out scene in the movie. Finally! I’m so sick of sexless gay characters, who are nothing but neutered sources of sarcastic quips. Wallace did end up in a relaxed four-way relationship, which doesn’t help our cause with conservatives who think we’re all dirty, perverted sluts, but the fi;m was making fun of the stereotypes of gay life, just as it did with music fans and game players. It was done very affectionately.

So hip hip hooray for Scott Pilgrim Vs The World. It’s a great film for many reasons, and it’s a subtle but very important step forward for queer visibility in mainstream cinema.


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