As promised here’s an excerpt from #freakszine! Be careful reading this if you’re triggered by mental illness discrimination, queerphobia, and cisheteronormativity. As I’ve said before, horror movies are like parables. They teach the audience a lesson about how to treat people. Here’s one of the tropes I’m going to be talking about and breaking apart.
The Crazy Bitch is a woman who is driven by their obsessive desire, usually romantic. If the Crazy Bitch’s needs are not met, then they become murderously violent. At first, they appear to be “normal” and seductive, but then they typically regress into insanity. Usually, their actions are motivated by trying to achieve some sort of gendered expectation which they do not have, such as the perfect romance, life, or embodiment. To achieve their desires, the Crazy Bitch is irrational, angry, seductive, hysterical; all of a misogynist’s worst stereotypes about women. They are meant to represent the dangers of the worst of what could happen when a woman is “mentally ill”. By many, the mental illness is interpreted to be Borderline Personality Disorder (Mental Health America 2013).
The protagonist in these films is typically a male, sometimes a female, who must protect their family or romantic partner from the Crazy Bitch’s machinations. The protagonist usually symbolizes everything that the Crazy Bitch desires, such as romance and love, thus making the Crazy Bitch a threat to the protagonist’s normativity. The Crazy Bitch a particular threat to cisheterosexual family structures.
A movie that diverges from the male protagonist archetype is Single White Female. I watched it this week. I didn’t realize how much that fucking movie was triggering me, until a couple nights ago when watching the climax to the movie, I just burst into tears. Just completely lost it and dissolved into huge, body-shaking sobs.
Single White Female is a movie about a cishet white lady who breaks up with her boyfriend, and in order to feel less lonely brings on a roommate. At first, Hedra, the roommate, is sweet and caring for the cishet white lady. That is until the boyfriend comes back in the picture and Hedra feels romantically threatened. You see, Hedra was actually an undercover lesbian the whole time. The erotic subtext between Hedra and cishet white lady is….a lot. Eventually, Hedra realizes the only way to become close to her cishet roommate is to become her; her latent mental illness turns murderous and she goes on a full-fledged killing spree.
As I watched this, I felt myself regressing to high-school. I remembered lusting after my best friends, not knowing if I wanted to love them or be them. Everybody adored them for being cis, straight, and athletic so maybe if I could change my behavior to be more like theirs, maybe I would be wanted to. Knowing that no matter what I did, they’d never care about me in the same way that I cared about them. Or, for that matter, not even having the words to describe the feelings that I had towards them. Feeling like it wasn’t a possibility to have love in that way because I wasn’t normal. Single White Female brought back all of my anxieties about being that creepy lesbian who preys on straight girls. It puts me back to when I was caught staring at my best friend changing and was called a pervert.
I don’t have a way to neatly wrap this up right now. But that’s where I’m at. Single White Female made me feel sick again. Like I’m wrong. In conclusion, I fucking hate that goddamn movie.
“Mind Over Pop Culture: Fatal Attraction.” 2013. Mental Health America. October 10, 2013. https://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/blog/mind-over-pop-culture-fatal-attraction.
Schroeder, Barbet. 1992. Single White Female. Drama, Erotic Thriller. Columbia Pictures.
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