Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Nick Cassavetes Makes Sense, Causes Stir

As I mentioned yesterday, filmmaker Nick Cassavetes has spoke out, and here's just a little of the reaction. The first coverage I saw was at, but they got it from Sharon Waxman at

Writer-director Nick Cassavetes unveiled his new movie “Yellow” at the Toronto Film Festival this weekend and found himself defending the main character’s incestuous love affair with her own brother.

“Yellow” stars Cassavetes’ ex-wife, Heather Wahlquist, as Mary, a beautiful woman addicted to pain pills. She searches for a stable place back home in Oklahoma after being expelled from her teaching job in L.A. for having broom closet sex on parent night. (Wahlquist, who co-wrote the film is from Oklahoma. Melanie Griffith plays her mother, and Sienna Miller is her hysterical sister.)

Sounds interesting.

Along the way she stops to see her brother in prison with whom she has had a love affair. The scene between them is tender and affecting and signals no judgment of the relationship.

Good! It is about time! Actually, it is way past time that this reality has been depicted for the big screen.

Getty Images
Cassavetes – a maverick filmmaker whose parents are the legendary actress Gena Rowlands and actor-director John Cassavetes -- confessed he could not condemn it. “I have no experience with incest,” he told TheWrap in an interview on Sunday. “We started thinking about that. We had heard a few stories where brothers and sisters were completely, absolutely in love with one another. You know what? This whole movie is about judgment, and lack of it, and doing what you want.

“Who gives a s--- if people judge you?” he continued.
Thank you! Of course, the problem is that in many places, the law still criminalizes such relationships. He then says something that has caused some concern by some who bristle at solidarity...

Love who you want. Isn’t that what we say? Gay marriage – love who you want? If it’s your brother or sister it’s super-weird, but if you look at it, you’re not hurting anybody except every single person who freaks out because you’re in love with one another.”
He could have phrased that better, but I think the guy deserves a break. He's not saying that same-gender marriage is the same thing as consanguinamorous relationships. (Most consanguinamorous relationships are mixed gender, after all.) He's saying that consenting adults should be free to have sex with each other and love each other as they want. He's a filmmaker, not a sex-positive blogger or podcaster who deals with the delicate politics of this day in and day out. Heterosexual consanguineous lovers and LGBT people should be allies, not enemies.
With “Yellow,” Cassavetes wanted to portray an archetype of a certain sort of modern woman who is, in his words, both  "a rock star" and "a mess."

“We wanted an exaggerated version of a girl who came from a place where different things are acceptable,” he said. “We wanted her to have a reason why she couldn’t feel. She’s a walking dead.”

He added: “In a certain respect I feel like I’m this lizard, sapped of all my feelings… Something had to happen to this character that was traumatic and beautiful and made her a pariah."
We need more positive and otherwise realistic portrayals of consanguinamory. Some of the people ticked as Cassavetes, ranging from the anti-equality sex-negative people to the portion of same-gender freedom to marry activists who want no part of solidarity, may be forgetting the mutual exploration of their adolescence and childhood, because it was just that... playing around and not a love affair. But some siblings have wholistic loving relationships, some lasting throughout their lives, and they should not be thrown under the bus. had a blurb on this, and it was covered by Taylor Bigler of and Erin Strecker at

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