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Wednesday, April 26 • 11:15am - 11:35am
The Very White Picket Fence: The Establishment Of Homonormativity Through Exclusionary Heteronormative Institutions In “The Kids Are Alright”

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The film “The Kids Are Alright” (2010), written and directed in part by Lisa Cholodenko, portrays a married lesbian couple, Nic and Jules, and the two children they had through artificial insemination, Joni (age 18) and Laser (age 15). The family struggles with typical issues of dealing with a child’s troublesome friendship, preparing to send a child to college, and overcoming mundanity in a long term marriage. The situation grows more complicated when Joni and Laser reach out to their sperm donor and biological father, an organic gardener and laid-back restaurateur named Paul. The film makes great strides in establishing homonormativity by showing that a family with two moms is just as ‘normal’ and functional as a family with a mother and a father, and experiences the same familial issues. It demonstrates that, as the title suggests, the children raised in these families are ‘alright,’ growing into high-achieving and compassionate adults. Yet despite the good intentions of Cholodenko and other writers, this film introduces the idea of homonormativity into the mainstream only by focusing on a white upper middle-class family that reinforces a heteronormative marital structure and power dynamic. I will discuss how this and other films sacrifice intersectionality and diverse representation to make them more popular and palatable to straight white audiences, and I will weigh the benefits and detriments of taking this path into mainstream discourse.


Wednesday April 26, 2017 11:15am - 11:35am PDT
221 Karpen Hall

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