And there’s another thing; although I’ve looked, it’s something I’ve yet to see mentioned in reviews of this film. My assumption then, rightly or wrongly, is that the reviews I’ve read were written by straight people, because it doesn’t seem to have registered with them.
Yesterday, my husband and I took in M. Night Shyamalan’s “Knock at the Cabin”. It’s his adaptation of Paul Tremblay’s novel “The Cabin at the End of the World”, which I’ve not read. In the film, a gay couple (oddly always referred to as “same sex”) and their daughter rent a secluded cabin and are visited by four strangers who may or may not be the four horsemen of the apocalypse (sans horses). They tell their hostages that one of them must be killed by their other two family members in order to prevent the end of the world.
Sure. Let’s just go with that for the sake of enjoying the movie. I mean, “The Rapture” and “Breaking the Waves” both did a pretty great job of selling a Christian “what if” scenario, so why not? Food for thought.
Here’s the thing, though people are chopped, shot and bludgeoned in mostly PG-rated ways, what’s the one horror that Shyamalan can’t bring himself to show onscreen? Answer: Two men kissing.
This is a film about love, about the romantic bond between two men and their bond with their daughter. These men are tied to chairs, forced to watch murders take place before their eyes, they are asked to make a choice about which one of them will die, but they are not allowed the absolutely human, more than situationally called for act of an actual kiss. Forget about fucking. You know, like real human beings do.
Our boys are, however, allowed flashbacks. Flashbacks that work hard to earn the couple acceptance by a hetro audience.
See them struggle with homophonic parents. See a gay bashing. See an actual adoption. All in aid of trying to work up some sympathy from the audience. And how do we do that best? We take away the queer threat. We de-sex queer characters, because that’s where the real horror lies, isn’t it, M. Night? That’s the threat present in a simple kiss.
While it’s true that one movie can’t (and shouldn’t) be called upon to address all ills, to show only uplifting stories about marginalized people, how long can we continue to represent gay men onscreen via handsome, buff white men of means who are busy assimilating into straight society, here with the added bonus of de-sexualizing them?