I’m rewatching it on television right now for the first time in several years. I had it on VHS and used to watch it all the time. I loved Christina Ricci as a kid, ever since I first saw her in Casper. I think I remember my parents not particularly liking the movie. I always thought it had to with with how disobedient the girls were and how useless (or evil) all the authority figures were. Now I have a whole new reason that they might have disliked it.
Now that I think of it, it makes so much sense. Like when the other girls that Beth (Christina Ricci) meets are talking about impressing boys and she doesn’t look particularly interested. Her immediate fascination with the boyish Jody (Anna Chlumsky). Their playful teasing of one another. The way the girls idolize Molly Morgan, a local legend and badass bitch. Their undying loyalty towards one another. And how the whole thing kind of plays out like the story of a society trying to keep apart two star-crossed lovers.
Beth: Jody is my friend. And you can keep us apart but nothing you say will ever change the way I feel about her. Ever!
And apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so. If you need a little contextual proof, watch this clip from the 5:00 min mark onward.
The first thread I saw on the IMDB page also asked about the lesbian subtext. And predictably, people jumped up left and right to deny it and ask why people have to “make something into more than it is,” and why they can’t just “leave stuff alone” and “why does everything have to be gay? Can’t two girls have a close friendship without being called lesbians?”
The answer? OF COURSE THEY CAN. No one is delegitimizing platonic cis-female friendships. It’s not like lesbians and bisexuals are out to eat the pussies of all their straight female friends. That’s not the way it works. But the question is, why does the suggestion bother people so much? Why are people offended when someone points out what they perceive as homosexual subtext? Why is it a problem? It’s an interpretation. Over and over again I see people moaning and groaning over how people “make” everything gay. So is there some kind of limit to the amount of homosexuality which you can stomach in mainstream media? Are people only allowed to read into character relationships from a heteronormative standpoint? (And fuck you, spellcheck. Heteronormative IS a word, and obviously it’s what you are.) The worst is when these people preface their complaints with “I have no problem with gay people, but…” and then proceed to say some shit about how they’re tired of EVERYONE making EVERYTHING GAY. It’s like there’s some sort of panic button going off in their minds when there’s too much gay in the atmosphere. “Straitus quo being challenged! Abort! Abort!”
The argument I continually see being made with regards to kid’s movies is that the person has “no problem with homosexuality, but children’s films should have nothing to do with sex.” Newsflash: they don’t. Why is it okay for a kids’ movie to ship a straight romance, but when something homosexual (or homoromantic) is so much as implied, it immediately means sex? Romantic ≠ Sexual. If it’s okay for Aladdin to have a crush on Jasmine immediately after meeting her, why is it wrong for Tulio and Miguel to be in a committed relationship?
By rejecting the possibility of gay subtext in mainstream media, including kids’ movies, people are marking homosexuality and homoromanticism as dirty things, consciously or unconsciously. Like it or not, many queer individuals have felt their orientation from an early age. Not seeing queer relationships as children isn’t going to prevent kids from being queer. It’s just going to delay them from having healthy attitudes and understandings of their orientations.
TL;DR: The bottom line is that Gold Diggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain is a great, girl-positive coming of age story. That happens to have heaps of lesbian subtext.