‘Gigli’ and the Male Fantasy of the Lesbian Turned Straight

Written by Amanda Rodriguez
Gigli, the abomination masquerading as a film, is generally regarded as a pretty dang terrible movie. Plot? Action? Character development? Pathos? Entertainment? Nah, Gigli does away with those archaic devices and goes straight for the…boredom, offensiveness, unlikeable characters, and bad, bad, badness. How Christopher Walken and Al Pacino were coerced into cameos must’ve involved black magic or scandalous photo documentation. We won’t even get into the fact that two supposedly trained “contractors” (contractors for what exactly? poorly delivered dialogue?) are hired to watch Brian, a hostage who is differently abled, apparently suffering from “brain damage,” and Larry Gigli (Ben Slimeball-Face Affleck) constantly ridicules, yells at, and name-calls Brian due to his condition. Instead let’s focus on the hallowed converted-lesbian trope that Hollywood loves so well.
Celebrate by NOT watching this atrocity.
Yes, Hollywood loves to take lesbian characters, introduce them to men who are just so irresistible that aforementioned lesbian sees the penis…er…light, and changes her lesbionic ways. A few examples of this are Chasing Amy (starring Ben Affleck yet again, what a shocker) and the inexplicably critically acclaimed The Kids Are All Right, Puccini for Beginners, and Prey for Rock & Roll starring Gina Gershon of Bound fame. We get into some murky territory with many of these films because sexuality is fluid, and I am certainly not in the business of defining anyone’s sexuality for them. However, Gigli is a cut-and-dry case of the hetero disbelief that sex and, in particular, female sexuality can exist without the involvement of a penis.
Only he isn’t a “sissy gangster’; he’s a fuck-up with very few legitimate feelings in need of expression.

Jennifer Lopez’s Ricki is a sexay lesbian “contractor” on a job with the devoid-of-redeeming-qualities Larry Gigli. They mostly hang out in his dumb apartment (budget constraints perhaps) and share his bed at night. Ricki consistently baits Gigli with her unattainable sexuality, leaving him in a frenzy of sexual frustration. With much eloquence, he says:

“I got this fucking beautiful-sexy-gorgeous-hearthrob-o-rama-fucking-smart-amazing-bombshell-17-on a fucking 10 scale-girl sleeping in a bed right next to me and you know what? She’s a stone cold dyke. A fucking untouchable, unhave-able, unattainable brick wall fucking dyke-a-saurus rexi. So it’s sad.”

Can you believe her panties didn’t catch on fire at those Cyrano words of wooing? I guess we’re supposed be like, “Yeah, buddy, that’s rough…it sucks when a woman wants to not give her vagina to you.” Not only that, but Gigli attempts to seduce Ricki by flexing and showing off his bad tattoos after yelling at her that he’s the bull in their relationship and she’s the cow. A real charmer, eh?

A long sexay yoga scene replete with a monologue about the vagina.

We also meet Ricki’s insecure, paranoid, stalker girlfriend, Robin, who proceeds to slit her wrists for effect when Ricki breaks up with her. After a trip to the emergency room, maybe the uncouth Gigli is looking a little more appealing? It’s hard to see this over-the-top interaction as anything other than hyperbolic stereotyping implying that lesbian relationships are nothing but drama.Inevitably (why it is inevitable I don’t know), Ricki and Gigli do the nasty, and boy is it nasty. It’s hard to imagine they dated in real life because their sex scene is awkward at best and more accurately described as “just plain gross.”

I never, ever want to see Ben Affleck mounting anyone ever, ever again.

Ricki initiates the foreplay and asks Gigli to perform cunnilingus on her by saying, “It’s turkey time. Gobble, gobble.” More alluring words were never spoken on the silver screen. He hems and haws and never actually gives her what she asks for, which is the film’s way of subverting female desire and reasserting the supremacy of not only male desire but of the penis-vagina interface as the only true form of sexual fulfillment.

What Gigli is trying to say as a film eludes me. However, what the film is actually saying is blatantly obvious. Ben Affleck is so unlikeable that the movie only serves to show that lesbians will be turned straight by being in the company of any man, no matter what a piece of shit he may be. This is conservative heteronormative dogma (Dogma – yet another Ben Affleck flick). Luckily, Gigli is universally thought to suck, and hopefully some measure of that perceived suckitude has to do with the inane, unrealistic, chemistry-free romance between a hot lesbian and the King of the Jackasses.

Bitch Flicks writer and editor Amanda Rodriguez is an environmental activist living in Asheville, North Carolina. She holds a BA from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio and an MFA in fiction writing from Queens University in Charlotte, NC. She writes all about food and drinking games on her blog Booze and Baking. Fun fact: while living in Kyoto, Japan, her house was attacked by monkeys.


  • Posted March 13, 2013 at 5:47 pm | Permalink

    super funny review< never really thought about how hollywood likes to turn the lesbian into a dude-doer before. makes perfect sense though.

  • Posted March 13, 2013 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    I usually don’t read reviews of films I haven’t seen but, “penis-vagina interface.” *snort*

  • Posted April 23, 2013 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, Gigli is irredeemably awful for scads of reasons that don’t even touch on the ickyness of its portrayal of sexuality… far more dangerous is a movie like Possession, which featured a great cast and has plenty of good qualities… and plays the same male fantasy lesbian-changing tune without a trace of irony.

    Chasing Amy is an interesting one, since the climactic event of the film can easily be described as the male main character finding out that everything doesn’t revolve around his sexuality and his sexual hangups, and his life blowing up in his face in the process.

  • Posted May 1, 2013 at 8:19 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for this. This is why SO MANY gay women are completely frustrated with Hollywood and why many of my lesbian friends become more nervous than excited whenever a lesbian character appears in a new film or television show. They think, “oh gee, I wonder when the “lesbian” will start having sex with men?” A lot of them also find the idea that “sexuality is fluid” is very insulting.

  • Posted May 1, 2013 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

    Yeah Chris, it’s very insulting to the gay community, and especially for gay women.

  • Posted May 1, 2013 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

    I forgot to mention. But that’s another thing I don’t understand, if Hollywood is just going to have these women sleep with men, then why the hell did they even bother making them “gay” in the first place? That doesn’t even make any sense. They should have just started them out as bi or straight anyway.

  • Posted May 3, 2013 at 2:41 am | Permalink

    Yeah funny and sad, although sometimes I’ve actually seen it the other way around too. There are a couple of shows that have had a couple of gay men have sex with women. It’s also weird and disturbing. Of course it’s not to the same extent as lesbians which is even more sad. But why do you think it makes “perfect sense”?

  • Posted May 3, 2013 at 2:46 am | Permalink

    “Inexplicably Critically acclaimed…” Heh, inexplicably is correct! Why TKAAR got such high praise I’ll never know. It’s EXTREMELY sad that the only people who vocally complained about that film (and the others) and downright hated it, were of course gay chicks. And some fellow gay brothers who complained about it as well. But no one else followed suit. Sad think is in many ways, the community, especially lesbians are truly alone when it comes to fighting to have actual realistic and positive representations. I only remember it happening at least twice with two shows where a gay male character who is already out, still ends up having sex with women. Queer as folk, and Six feet under.

  • Posted May 3, 2013 at 2:48 am | Permalink

    I wonder if those other films including tkaar would still have been acclaimed if the genders were switched?

  • Posted May 3, 2013 at 2:50 am | Permalink

    Neil it’s great that you think it’s just as bad, I remember it only happening a few times the other way around, where the gay male character cheats on his boyfriend with a woman! apparently the troupe is spreading!… this is bad.

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  • […] not without criticism. And tainted classics aside, weve done our best to erase abominations like Giglis lesbian-turned-straight plotline from our cultural memory along with, well, just about everything Adam Sandler has […]