Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Overreach Around

WARNING: X2 spoilers in this post.

If you watched X2 and didn’t catch the mutants-as-homosexuals metaphor, you just weren’t paying attention. That scene where Iceman comes out to his parents (and his mother asks if he’s tried *not* to be a mutant) was rather far from subtle. Still, I think this L.A. Times article pushes the analogy a bit too far. The article’s author sees homosexual metaphors in every character and subplot of the movie, including these:

• Jean Grey is torn between Wolverine and Cyclops, “unable to consummate her love for either.” Hold on a minute -- she did choose, right? And besides, she and Cyclops slept in the same quarters, so I’m figuring they consummated their love on a pretty regular basis. In any case, the love triangle is an incredibly common theme in film and fiction -- does every love triangle now count as evidence of a homosexual subtext?
• After Jean Grey apparently commits suicide “in part due to her own sexual identity conflicts” (huh?), “Cyclops and Wolverine are forced to console one another, though they cannot make direct eye contact.” But it’s well known that heterosexual men (including non-mutants) aren’t overly prone toward displays of emotion toward each other. That commonplace observation hardly qualifies as a covert message about homosexuality.
• This one’s my favorite: one scene in the movie features “a phallic symbol in the shape of a soda bottle, handed from one character to another who blows on it to make the soda cold.” And here I thought we’d outgrown the Freudian notion that every elongated shape represents a penis.

This article’s author is so eager to impute a particular social message to X2 that he actually undersells the movie. Yes, there was a homosexual metaphor in X2 -- and also a race metaphor, a war-on-terrorism metaphor, a clash-of-cultures metaphor, and probably a few others I didn’t catch. Procrustean literary criticism only obscures the thematic breadth of the film.

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