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The Sunflower

OPINION: Kevin Smith’s ‘Chasing Amy’ is one of the best media examples of what biphobia is 

Courtesy of View Askew Productions, Too Askew Prod., Inc.

I am a fan of comedy movies, especially ones that I can relate to. “Chasing Amy” happens to be one of them and what better time to talk about the movie than during Pride Month? 

Over the course of winter break in 2023, I was able to sit down and watch “Chasing Amy” twice. Once on live TV and again when I found it on Paramount+. Both times I watched the movie, I noticed a theme of biphobia with general homophobia thrown in there. 

As a bisexual person, I started thinking to myself as to why barely anyone was talking about this being one of the best examples of bisexual women being in straight presenting relationships and getting questioned for it, within the LGBTQ+ community itself and outside of it. 

“Chasing Amy” was released in 1997 and directed by Kevin Smith, who is best known for “Clerks,” “Mallrats” and the “Jay and Silent Bob” movies. My parents are huge Kevin Smith fans, so I grew up hearing the name, watching some of his movies and seeing the “Jay and Silent Bob” figures in my dad’s home office. 

“Chasing Amy” is about comic book artist Holden McNeil (Ben Affleck), who falls for fellow comic book artist Alyssa Jones (Joey Lauren Adams). Unfortunately for Holden, Alyssa happens to be gay. Holden finds out while hanging out with Alyssa after she kisses a girl at the bar they were at.  

In the beginning, Holden comes off as a total homophobe, but his friendship with Alyssa changes his perspective on many things. On the other hand, Holden’s best friend and work partner, Banky Edwards (Jason Lee), is wildly homophobic and throws out slurs before being corrected by Holden.

Holding someone accountable for saying slurs was something that wasn’t shown in very many movies, even those about LGBTQ+ people. So Smith was onto something here, and I praise him for it. 

After Holden and Alyssa have dinner together at a restaurant, Holden confesses his feelings to Alyssa on the drive back to her place. They have an argument; the two go back-and-forth, yelling about how Holden was unfair by telling Alyssa, “I know you feel something, too.”

While these scenes angered me a bit, I can’t be too mad because I’ve been told that these encounters were pretty common in the ’90s, and I liked that Smith shed some light on that. 

A few scenes later, it cuts to Alyssa hanging out with her friends, who are all lesbians. Alyssa talks about how she’s in love with Holden but doesn’t mention his name or that he’s a guy until her friends push and accuse her of playing the “pronoun game.” 

When Alyssa admits that she’s dating Holden, her friends drink “in her honor,” and state “another one bites the dust” while ostracizing her and her identity just because she happens to be dating a guy.

This scene is important because many of us still deal with the inner community hate from the LGBTQ+ community, despite the letter “B” representing us. I didn’t think that a movie from the ‘90s would touch on the topic of biphobia, let alone show it so powerfully and realistically. 

Much like homophobia is prejudice against gay people, biphobia is the prejudice against bisexual people. Bisexuals are the “invisible majority” as they make up about 58% of the community but are often excluded from LGBTQ+ conversations.

This scene was a punch in the gut for me because while I haven’t been told most of these lines, many common (offensive) phrases that are said to bisexual people include “pick a side,” “it’s just a phase” or “bisexuality isn’t real,” even from other LGBTQ+ people. 

I was hurt alongside Alyssa. While the LGBTQ+ community is supposed to be accepting, Alyssa’s exchange with her friends is a harsh reality for many people. Alyssa isn’t accepted by Banky, a straight person, but she’s also not accepted by her friends, who are all gay. 

Why do her friends care whether or not she’s dating a girl or a guy? Does it affect them at all? No. If she’s happy, she’s happy; let her be. If her friends can’t be happy for her, no matter who she dates, then she’s better off without them. 

Not to mention that this part is not only offensive, it’s also stupid. Alyssa could be bi, but she could also be questioning her sexuality as a whole and her friends aren’t being supportive of that at all. 

But whether Alyssa is bi or not, unfortunately, it does not take away the fact that these scenarios are all too common with those who identify as bisexual. 

When Alyssa’s dating history causes conflict in her relationship with Holden, we learn the meaning behind the title. Jay and Silent Bob, played by Jay Mewes and Kevin Smith himself, make an appearance to talk to Holden about the situation. Bob refers to what Holden is talking about as “chasing Amy,” referring to a similar situation Bob had with a now ex-girlfriend of his named Amy.

In his situation, Bob criticized her past sexual relationships. By the time he realized the error of his ways, it was too late, and Amy was gone. Holden uses this lesson to try and mend their relationship, but he goes about it in the wrong way.

Later in the movie, it cuts to Holden at his apartment talking to Banky and Alyssa and he suggests a threesome between them to “fix” their relationship. 

This is also another common phenomenon that happens to lesbians and bisexuals whenever people (mainly men) hear that someone is one of the two identities, which is just gross and uncomfortable to begin with. 

Unfortunately, this goes beyond what we see in movies and in reality; it’s also in music, too. Examples in music include lyrics like, “You said you might be into girls, you said you’re going through a phase” from “Lost in the Fire” by The Weeknd and “Say that you a lesbian, girl, me too” from “Girls Want Girls” by Drake. 

After Holden suggests this and Alyssa says no, she breaks up with him and gives Holden a well-deserved slap across the face for suggesting a threesome in the first place. 

The movie cuts to what their relationship is like a year later and ends on a relatively happy note, despite the rollercoaster of emotions and turmoil their romance caused between them and those around them. 

This movie inspired Kansas filmmaker and screenwriter Sav Rodgers to create the short film “Chasing Chasing Amy” based on the impression the original film had on his personal life. 

Kevin Smith is a great director as a whole. I recommend his other movies such as “Dogma” and the “Jay and Silent Bob Reboot,” in which an older Alyssa Jones from “Chasing Amy” makes an appearance.

Although this movie is nearly 30 years old, it tackles the issue of biphobia that is still prevalent today, but is never talked about. While “Chasing Amy” is a great media representation of what biphobia can look like, there are other examples of biphobia that aren’t touched on. 

Some examples include: accusing a bi person of lying or saying that they like more than one gender as an excuse to “sleep around,” fetishization, calling bi people “greedy” and/or “attention-seeking.” 

No matter how biphobia is presented, it can affect a person in the long-run and may cause them to experience imposter syndrome and make them feel closeted and unable to come out to people out of fear of being ridiculed and ostracized in their own community and outside of it. 

“Chasing Amy” is listed as a comedy. While it is comedic, it’s also gut-wrenching and sad. I highly recommend anyone in the LGBTQ+ community to watch this movie as I feel that it is important to note that biphobia is real. I’m tired of people shying away from the topic of bi-erasure

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About the Contributor
Jacinda Hall
Jacinda Hall, Reporter
Jacinda Hall is a reporter for The Sunflower. Hall is a Senior pursuing a journalism and media production degree with a minor in English. Hall hopes to pursue a career in writing, editing or teaching journalism at the high school level after graduation. Hall uses she/her pronouns.

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