Chasing Amy, which premiered 20 years ago this month, may best be remembered as the movie that broke Kevin Smith into the mainstream, a star-fueled romantic comedy that made $12 million on a $250,000 budget, was sold to Miramax, and won two Independent Spirit Awards. It’s also, depending on how you look at it, a disturbing tale of how a lesbian just has to meet the right guy to really fall in love or a progressive look at the fluidity of sexuality. This in-depth exploration by Buzzfeed looks at both sides, as LGBT editor Shannon Keating talks to Smith and other Chasing Amy players to examine how the movie’s sexual politics hold up after a few decades.
Smith created the movie by cobbling together a few real-life experiences, like his own relationship with Joey Lauren Adams, the film’s star, and his producing partner’s crush on Guinevere Turner, gay star of the iconic lesbian film Go Fish. Turner and Smith met at Sundance in 1994, and he sent her pages of the script to make sure it read truthfully from the lesbian perspective:
She was the person I’d show pages to, because I was shooting in the fuckin’ dark. I didn’t know anything about being a lesbian, the sexual practices of a lesbian. And mind you, this is pre-internet—so I didn’t even have, like, fuckin’ rudimentary porn to look at and shit like that, to be like, “Oh, that’s what they do.”
Turner predicted, “Lesbians are gonna haaaate this movie. This is a woman who’s been a lesbian her whole life, and stops being a lesbian to be with a man. They’re going to crucify it.” As it turns out, many did, but some did not. Turner continues, “I was so wrong! A lot of lesbians I know really loved the movie. I remember being embarrassed, like I didn’t know my own community.” She now describes Chasing Amy as not “even a lesbian movie, but it has a lesbian in it with a complicated sexuality. That had literally never been done before in any movie anyone had ever seen.”
By the end of this interesting read, Keating appears to agree with Turner:
Perhaps Chasing Amy was actually about bisexuality all along, and the limits of forcing people into binary boxes of attraction when the queer experience can oftentimes be more fluid, and more complicated, than that… Looking back, the ’90s-era debates around Chasing Amy seem like small harbingers of the different sorts of queer conversations to come.