The Ugly Truth About Why the Kids are All Right
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an interloper, Cholodenko exposes family for being what postcolonial and transnational feminist thinkers have described it for at least half a century: a unit of national security, a formation of hierarchical unequals that naturalizes the exclusions and border patrolling of nationhood.
5. To shore up the family, either gay or straight, people of color become collateral damage.
Paul’s disposability contrasts sharply with the dismissal of the three people of color in the film. Jules fires the gardener because she wants to get her fuck on in secret (“protect the family”) with little regard for what it will mean to the gardener economically. Rather than being read as solely an abject caricature of flexible, Chicano migratory labor, we note that the gardener must be expelled because he has too much power to expose the homonationalist family for the unstable entity that it is. Paul dumps Tanya, his African-American hostess/fuck-buddy because he needs to “start thinking about having a family.” In this scene, Tanya figures as the antithesis of family; she is literally not “family material,” because her biological matter and her racial embodiment ensure she is unable to compete with the lure of the white homonationalist family unit. Joni can’t bring herself to express her tingles for her South Asian boy pal, Jai, until she sees another white girl try to mack on him at a party. But it’s also at that moment that Jai becomes used as the figure with whom Joni acts out against “moms.” She could’ve kissed any boy and driven home drunk, but we find it striking that casting choice was made to have her love interest be a boy of color (and presumably, one of equal economic privilege).
6. Yes, Hollywood is still butch-phobic.
But a lot of queers seem to be femme-on-femme phobic. Or whatever-on-whatever phobic. Or we-don't-know-what on we don't-know-what-phobic. To read Nic and Jules within a failed butch-femme configuration is to reassert the centrality of their whiteness, and to uphold the standards of masculinity and femininity that adhere to whiteness and its particular aesthetics of gender presentation. Butch-femme is of course a multiply racialized gender formation with varied histories, but it is often in service, if not indebted to, whiteness. Perhaps Cholodenko shirked from a certain responsibility to redress a lack of variety in butch representation, but in the