Somehow over the course of my life I had never actually watched Chasing Amy. This becomes a bit more surprising once I point out that I have watched a number of Kevin Smith movies and I even used to watch the show he had on AMC. For date nights, since we are long distance, Krista and I sometimes pick out shows or movies to watch simultaneously and when she learned I’d never seen Chasing Amy she thought we definitely needed to add it to the list.
My first reaction to this movie was, where the heck is Amy? I seriously asked this question so many times that I am sure I was driving Krista out of her mind. I had always assumed that the woman Ben Affleck’s character was trying to get with was named Amy, but nope her name is Alyssa. By the time we actually got to the point where Silent Bob reveals he has been chasing Amy I was already at the point where I had been calling random side characters Amy because I had no idea where Amy was.
If you haven’t seen Chasing Amy the premise is that a comic book creator named Holden, Affleck, falls for a woman named Alyssa who turns out to be a lesbian. He admittedly should have figured her identity out a bit faster than he actually did, they go to a club named Meow Mix and it is entirely full of women, but he is a tiny bit dense. His best friend Banky struggles with his friend falling for someone, especially since he is dealing with some internalized homophobia. The movie does actually delve into some very serious topics in connection to identity and how difficult it may be to deal with a shift in that identity. Being a lesbian is what makes Alyssa feel like herself. When Holden reveals his feelings for her and she allows herself to reciprocate, her friends are far from understanding. They no longer see her as the person she is and they even sadly toast to her lose of lesbian identity.
This moment with Alyssa’s friends hits on a common issue discussed within the bi community. When you are attracted to more than one gender the partner you are with often becomes what people define you by. Since Alyssa has chosen a man her lesbian friends now see her as a straight woman and no longer think she fits within her group. She loses everything she had, except Holden, and has to try and figure out who she is now that she feels ostracized. Once she feels isolated she shares with Holden that she had closed herself off to falling in love with men, but that now she realizes that she has always been looking for love and what she really thought she was doing was giving herself more options outside of a standard heterosexual life. Once she comes to terms with being with Holden a number of issues crop up and Holden torpedoes the relationship. At the end of the movie Alyssa is with a woman and at no point chooses an identifying term outside of lesbian, though based on her description of her sexuality she could be considered bi or pan.
The character I had the most issues with was Banky. Throughout the movie he uses a number of gay slurs whenever he is angry, upset, or even when he is just talking about people he knows are gay. I really appreciated the scene where Holden tells him off for using these words, there are some great moments throughout Chasing Amy. A gay male character, who has to maintain a heterosexual persona in order to sell comics, reveals to Holden that he thinks Banky is actually gay and doesn’t know how to deal with these feelings. This discussion leads Holden to make the dumbest decision in the world, he asks Banky and Alyssa to have a threesome so that they can work through all of their feelings, but the scene does help Banky realize that he does have feelings for Holden. While we don’t see Banky in a relationship after this I would like to think that he realized he could be happier if he was just himself. Overall Chasing Amy has some really solid moments and there are some pretty deep conversations that emerge in connection to identity and sexuality. I still wish Alyssa’s name was Amy, but you can’t have everything.