No, I’m not talking about the card game silly. Go Fish is an independent lesbian film. Here’s what I thought:
Go Fish was released in 1994, and directed by Rose Troche. I think it gives an accurate representation of the lesbian community, and touches on real topics that lesbians as well as LGBTQ individuals face. While it may not be in the mainstream media as other films are, I think it is a great film in looking for an accurate depiction of the lesbian community that is oftentimes not seen in films today.
Go Fish tells a fictional story of five females and their love lives around their lesbian identities. The five lesbians are: Ely, Max, Kia, Evy and Daria. Kia and Evy are in a relationship and the film revolves a lot around Max and Ely’s budding relationship. Their stories and experiences are really all different, which is what makes the film so entertaining.
Max appears the youngest of the group, and is really just looking for love. Kia is the one who introduces her to Ely as a potential partner. When Max is at her house, they share a kiss, but then Ely’s long distance partner calls and Max gets upset that Ely would be pursuing her when she already has a partner. Eventually, after Daria, who is Ely’s roommate, throws a dinner party, Max and Ely get together.
I think their representation is an accurate one. I don’t think the idea of a non-monogamous relationship or a long distance relationship is out of the ordinary for the LGBTQ Community. I also think that Daria throwing a dinner party is an accurate portrayal for LGBTQ folks because it is a great way to get these individuals together, since they can be hard to find in a mainly heterosexual world.
In addition to Max and Ely’s story, Evy, also has her own, as someone who appears to identify within a culture that is not accepting of her queer identity. She has a family member who tells her mom he saw her at a gay bar, and then her mom kicks her out of the house. This gives the sad, but accurate representation of the LGBTQ Community and the struggles of coming out. As we have talked about in class, homelessness is a big problem within the LGBTQ Community due to discrimination and unacceptance, as well as other factors. According to a study done by Williams Institiute, 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ (Durso). Go Fish is portraying this as a real representation. While I think oftentimes people get upset when the LGBTQ Community is represented as a minority, I think this is important to include.
Go Fish also touches on a lot of different stereotypes and views of the lesbian Community. For example, at one point in the film, there is a sex scene between Daria and a man. In response to this, Daria is “hundled” by a group of women harassing her in conversation about the idea of lesbians sleeping with men. Almost all of them are basically telling her that it is a horrible idea and that if she is going to sleep with men, she is not a lesbian. My favorite line is when Daria says, “Ya know if a gay man has sex with a woman he was bored, drunk, lonely, whatever and if a lesbian has sex with a man, her whole life choice becomes suspect” (Truce).
This idea really plays on the pressure to label oneself. I think it is great that the film addresses this.
Another thing I’m happy they brought up was the so-called “consequences” of identifying as a lesbian. This is another one of my favorite parts of the film. While we all know that one cannot help identifying as LGBTQ, and that everyone’s identity is valid, as a minority group, identifying within the LGBTQ Community does come with a number of struggles. As Max says in a monologue:
“What if one day the feeling of having a dirty secret overwhelms me? What if I crack under the strain of never being out enough? How can I be out to the women I’m standing next to at the bus stop, the child who smiles at me at the store, the man who asks me to spare a quarter?.. I could live a life of gender-specific pronouns and answer truthfully about boyfriends and mean only good friend when I say it and leave off that desperate qualifier, really good friend…It’s the word phase. It’s finally coming out but still being called gay” (Truce).
There’s a lot more to that monologue, but I just picked out the pieces I thought related. Max is basically just talking about what it would be like to be married to a man, while also the different struggles of identifying as a lesbian. I think this is another part of the film that makes its representation of lesbians realistic.
As mentioned in our textbook, lesbians are often “portrayed as violent outsiders” (Gibson, Alexander, & Meem, 2013). However, in this representation of the lesbian community, lesbians are really seen as what they are, just regular people. Another great things about it is that it did not end with anyone dying or with a sad ending. In the end, Max and Ely do form a romantic relationship. However, there is one scene that is a bit too stereotypical. When Max and Ely meet for their date at Max’s house, she notices that Ely’s nails are really long and helps her cut them. This goes into the implicit sex scene. It just really plays on the stereotype that all women who like women have short nails. While this film does portray other lesbian stereotypes such as short hair, this one seemed a little too silly for me. Despite this, though, I’m really glad the film ends with a positive ending.
While I am really happy with the representation of the LGBTQ characters, I think the scene I talked about earlier with Daria sleeping with a man could have been deleted or discussed more. I think it talks a little too much and explicitly about the pressure to label oneself and this might confuse viewers. I think it is really important to have an accurate representation of the LGBTQ Community because I feel it caters to people who are not always out about their identity and misrepresentation could miseducate them. Even worse, I think it could scare them even more about labeling themselves as something other than lesbian because the whole film really fabricates that identity.
As a woman who identifies as a lesbian within the LGBTQ Community, I love finding films that cater towards my identity and represent the community in a positive light. While Go Fish was not perfect in the representation, I think it did really well in representing lesbian women as real women that face real struggles, but also as people who experience happiness. Another thing I did not mention that I enjoyed was the film itself. I guess mainly because it was an independent film, it had a lot of unique effects with the camera, such as constantly going to a picture of a spinning dreidel, and having discussions with the characters laying in a circle of what is going on in the film.
Durso, L.E., & Gates, G.J. (2012). Serving Our Youth: Findings from a National Survey of Service Providers Working with Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth who are Homeless or At Risk of Becoming Homeless. Los Angeles: The Williams Institute with True Colors Fund and The Palette Fund.
Gibson, M. Alexander, J., & Meem, D.T. (2013). Finding Out: An Introduction to LGBT Studies. Thousand Oaks, California: SAGE Publications, Inc.
Truce, R., & Turner, G. (Producers), & Troche, R. (Director). (1994). Go Fish (Motion picture). United States: Samuel Goldwyn Company