Gender and Sexual Identity in Blue is the Warmest Color
When I first watched Blue is the Warmest Color (French), I was astounded by this unique love story and the superb performances by Adele Exarchopoulos and Lea Seydoux. This story has so much passion in it, and it comes from the writing, the actors, and the direction of Abdellatif Kechiche. As we know, same-sex marriage became legal in France last year, so this film is important to the gay and lesbian community in France. And of course, it means something to the LGTBQ community around the world. However, this film is even more than a tribute to that community. There are themes of gender and being comfortable with yourself, which are not only important to the LGTBQ community, but to everyone.
From the very start of the movie Adele’s friends are talking about sex. It is clear that there is peer pressure to be sleeping with someone… of the opposite sex. The conversation is actually very vulgar, and there does not seem to be any sign of any of Adele’s friends wanting an actual relationship. Adele is obviously different from them; she is more reserved. The behavior of her peers clearly takes a toll on her and makes her feel abnormal, like she is supposed to be feeling the way they do. This is something that teenagers deal with all the time: peer pressure to be sexually active. It is interesting to see her friends pressure her to sleep with a guy and then become disgusted at the possibility of her being attracted to a girl. The contrast is drastic; they literally go from pushing her onto a guy to screaming at her in front of everyone about being a lesbian and screaming “you’ll never get my pussy.” Teenagers have strange rules about what they think their social world should be like, which makes it so much harder for people who feel they do not fit in.
The next incident with Adele’s friends is when they attack her about Emma meeting her at school. They immediately call Emma a dyke and then call Adele a lesbian for hanging out with her. Here is the gender theme, where people assume that just because a girl does not dress completely feminine that they are a lesbian and use the negative word “dyke.” Not only is that a stereotype, but it is a negative one. All of Adele’s supposed friends harassed her just because she walked away with someone that looked like what they thought a lesbian looked like. Society might have become more accepting of gays and lesbians, but it stills acts very harshly toward people who do not stick to male-female gender roles or do not dress the way their sex is “supposed to” dress.
Another important point in the movie is when Adele ends up sleeping with a man that she works with. It leads up to this when a coworker brings up that she never goes out with them and we find out she makes excuses that she has to be with her family. It is implied that she has not told them she is with a woman because she is embarrassed. Even though years have passed in the film, Adele is still ashamed to be a lesbian. This can be connected back to Adele’s school years when her friends bullied her. Because of how her school friends made her feel, she has such a hard time being able to accept herself. In real life, there are gays and lesbians that are made to feel that they don’t belong. What happens to Adele and Emma makes you want no one else to feel embarrassed about who they love.
Adele’s peers affect how she feels about herself and her relationship with Emma. It is hard not to think that if her friends were not the way they were that Adele and Emma’s relationship could have been saved. Even in a place where gay marriage is legal, people are still judgmental to those who are different from them. It is interesting that these teenagers are obsessed with sex but will not accept a friend who is attracted to someone of the same sex. To add to that, they judge Emma for her appearance. If gender is a performance, why does it at all relate to the sex of a person, and why is it negative is a girl does not appear “girly” or if a man does not appear masculine? This is not the first time that question has been asked, but this film does remind you of ridiculous stereotypes. Even though society connects them, sex and gender are not the same thing. Gender should be expressed however a person feels represents them and makes them feel happy with themselves, and it is not just black and white or boy or girl. Finally, it is heartbreaking to see a beautiful relationship end because they feel ashamed to be with a person of the same sex.
No one should be ashamed of who they are in love with, and that is the message that this movie sends. Truthful love stories are hard to come by these days, but Blue Is the Warmest Color has done it. Though the film is a bit sexually graphic at times, but Exarchopoulos and Seydoux bring so much passion to their characters that it is impossible not to see that love between a same-sex couple and a straight couple is just the same. The heartbreak, drama, fights, and love are no different. This movie is honest and moving, and it does justice to the current issues at hand. Blue is the Warmest Color is a reminder that love does not have a sex or gender, everyone should accept it.
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