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Davida

Film "Straight Up" on Netflix

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Davida

Last night I watched "Straight Up" on Netflix https://www.netflix.com/title/81229555?s=a&trkid=13747225&t=cp. The synopsis of the film is stated as "When a gay brainiac with OCD questions his identity, he enters a romantic relationship with a woman, leaving sex and physical intimacy out of it."

 

No spoilers:

We learn immediately in the film that the gay brainiac in question, Todd, has OCD which manifests in part as an aversion to bodily fluids. He suspects he may not be gay because all of his attempts at a homosexual relationship have failed ostensibly due to his aversion to participate in sexual intimacy with men. So, he decides to be open to heterosexual relationships. He meets a woman with whom he engages in an asexual romantic relationship. She struggles with the asexual nature of the relationship; he does not (apart from his struggle with her struggle). We see Todd in scenes with his therapist wherein he endeavors to determine once and for all his sexual identity. In one rapid fire statement directed to his therapist, he lists potential identities, including asexual heteroromantic, any of which he says feel right to him, but he remains conflicted. 

 

Personal opinion with possibly very vague spoilers:

Certainly asexuality is given visibility in this film. That Todd's asexuality is depicted as causal (the OCD symptom of aversion to bodily fluids) is disappointing and invalidating, albeit an unfortunate realistic portrayal as often in "real life" asexuality is viewed as pathological. However, Todd is pigeonholed as gay right from the statement of the synopsis of the film, and all his friends and his therapist seem to be directing him to accept that. A somewhat rigid definition of gay is when a person identifying as male is sexually attracted to other people who identify as male. But Todd is not sexually attracted to anyone, and moreover he is romantically attracted to a woman in the story. The end of the film is ambiguous, perhaps intentionally, and this makes me hopeful that the question of Todd's sexuality has not been tied up into a nice little package. Ultimately, we should be free to identify however we wish. For example, some folks do identify as asexual and gay, and all power to them. This film at least sticks its toe in the water of asexuality, more so than any other film I've been exposed to. 

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Astrea

I haven't seen it as it's not available in my country but I've found this review which seems to agree with you :

https://www.indiewire.com/2020/02/straight-up-review-lgbt-comedy-bisexual-1202214345/

 

Especially :

"As its title suggests, “Straight Up” doesn’t exactly fit into the label of “queer film.” (Labels are so over, anyway.) Though Todd has been pegged as gay since he was a kid, bodily fluids unnerve him, a rather thin explanation for his lack of sexuality that’s repeated ad nauseum throughout the film. The word “asexual” is only mentioned one in passing. Had it been explored in more depth, “Straight Up” would be a groundbreaking representation of a misunderstood identity."

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iff

I saw it in March. It is really good though I did feel sorry for Rory in it

I didn't feel Todd (played by writer, producer, and director James Sweeney) was asexual (he does mention briefly as it is a possibly) I feel it was more a sex repulsion because of dislike of bodily fluids  then asexuality. 

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Davida

@iff what was your interpretation of the ending? 

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iff
1 hour ago, Davida said:

@iff what was your interpretation of the ending? 

Spoiler

That through the relationship, they bought can meet a few of their needs from a relationship, not all but that 2 out of 3 is better than 1 out of 3 

The point about love that he makes in this interview is well said

https://eu.desertsun.com/story/life/2020/01/09/straight-up-quirky-comedy-obsessive-compulsive-disorder-sexual-identity/4423523002/

 

I remember a wedding celebrant pointing out that ancient Greeks had more words for love than the one we have and I feel a similar thing about this

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KathyHoh

@Davida I am a bit disappointed to hear Asexuality was linked to OCD. I hope it is not disappointing to watch the whole movie. Sometimes I prefer watching regular movies than a disappointing one displaying distorted image of Asexuality

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Davida

@KathyHoh the protagonist, Todd, is searching for a label or identity for himself. In the quotation @Astrea provided, there's the parenthetical comment that labels are so over anyway, which is actually a subtle theme of the film, I think. Todd's obsession with finding his label is also a manifestation of OCD, but relatable as all humans struggle with the question, "who am I" to some extent. It's never explicitly stated in the film that Todd is asexual. As @iff asserts, he may rather be sex repulsed. Asexuality is one label Todd is curious about, as he relates to his therapist, but he remains uncertain. So, on further reflection I should ammend my original statement regarding Todd's asexuality as being portrayed as causal because he doesn't necessarily identify as asexual. I will clarify: I do wish that at least there were some brief exchange between Todd and his therapist regarding Todd's question of asexuality wherein some distinction were made between sex repulsion as a symptom of OCD and asexuality. Such a clarification could have done wonders for asexual visibility. Because this avenue is not explored at all in the film, even minimally, it potentially perpetuates the myth that asexuality is not a legitimate sexual orientation, but rather a symptom of some disorder, not because Todd necessarily identifies as asexual, but because in his own line of inquiry he has possibly conflated his OC tendencies with asexuality. 

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semifrog

I was also glad to see that "Straight Up" touched upon asexuality even though, as you mentioned @Davida, it was not further discussed during the therapy sessions, thereby minimizing its legitimacy. Though, it was refreshing to watch a relationship that was built on strong connection and mutual affection.

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Davida
On 7/6/2020 at 1:21 AM, semifrog said:

I was also glad to see that "Straight Up" touched upon asexuality even though, as you mentioned @Davida, it was not further discussed during the therapy sessions, thereby minimizing its legitimacy. Though, it was refreshing to watch a relationship that was built on strong connection and mutual affection.

@semifrog yes. It was satisfying to see those aspects of a relationship highlighted. It gives me hope that we'll get to see that explored further in film/media. 

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Atheno

I saw the film.  Enjoyed it pretty well though after a while, I was kind of like, okay, I get the point, it's just playing itself out to the end now.  Still, pretty good with some a good (somewhat dark, granted) sense of humor.

I'm not asexual.  I did used to have rather bad OCD, come to think of it.  Quite unpleasant.  I did notice the line mentioning asexuality as one of a number of possibilities.  Personally, I don't really agree with the idea that it presented a distorted view of asexuality-- though I guess people could hypothetically come away with that.  His sexuality was never clearly defined-- I don't have the idea that asexuals are just people with OCD by any means, but at the same time, I'm sure it's possible to both be asexual and have OCD.  It's also possible to be homosexual or bisexual and involved in a heteroromantic relationship and I think bisexual was mentioned too at a point in the film.

So, there's a point to the criticism because people could have a mistaken impression but I hate to think all movies must conform to certain expectations-- I'd rather generally let fictional characters be their unique fictional selves and maybe there's someone in the real world who relates.  That's not to say media can't have some mindfulness to such concerns....

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Davida

@Atheno thanks for your candid and well-balanced comment. And heartfelt congratulations to you for having overcome OCD to the extent you have. As someone who has also struggled with severe mental illness, I understand the challenges and commend your perseverance. 

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