Friday, July 10, 2020

My Weekend Crush

I was expecting “Wild Nights With Emily” to be gay. And it was, it was super, super gay. But I guess what I wasn’t quite expecting is how convincingly gay the movie is – and not in the “actors acting gay” sense (though Molly Shannon et al are very, very good), but the “Oh, my God, Emily Dickinson really was gay and history/humans have framed her in the most conveniently convincing yet non-threatening way possible to maximize profit and appeal”-sense. I know, whew, all that and it was funny, too!

“Wild Nights With Emily” may be the favorite lesbian period piece I’ve watched during these coronavirus self-quarantine/never-ending pandemic times. (The others being “Vita & Virginia” and “Tell It to the Bees.”) What those films had in beautiful polish, “Wild Nights With Emily” makes up for in exuberant strangeness. I’ve always loved the oddball everything of Madeleine Olnek’s work. Like if you tell me you laughed all the way through “Codependent Lesbian Space Alien Seeks Same” I know we can be friends because we both wallow in the same kind of weird. Now, finally, after two years of writing about it and waiting, her newest movie is finally available to steam on Hulu.

What Olnek’s film does is completely reframe Emily, taken from extensive scholastic research into her actual work and letters to her longtime “gal pal”/sister-in-law Susan Dickinson. It’s fascinating how invested some are in keeping Emily the lonely spinster reclusive who hated fun, while her personal letters show an intelligent, passionate and decisive woman with so much of herself to give. It made me want to go out and read more Emily Dickinson, which truly is a great idea anytime.

Who gets to write our history, it always matters. And more times than not, the person granted that privilege has an agenda other than the truth in mind. It’s the reason we still have monuments to traitors who tried to tear apart the Union standing across these so-called United States. And why so many history books taught us that racism basically ended after slavery was abolished, but OK it super-duper really ended after the Civil Rights Movement, we swear!

While time may have tried to write off Emily Dickinson as just a woman defined by her loneliness, it seems the truth of her has kept burning through the ages and now onto our screens. Wild nights, indeed. Can you posthumously send toaster ovens? Welcome, Emily. We knew we always liked that lady. And, as history will tell, the feeling was mutual.


Anonymous said...

Yay! Excited to see some love for this movie - also, it's only 99 cents to rent on Amazon for the hulu-less people

Carmen San Diego said...

It’s that Hamilton thing, You have no control Who lives, who dies, who tells your story
I’ll be watching it this weekend, thank you for the good advice DS

COG said...

Dickinson on Apple+ is wonderful - and very gay!