Chasing Chasing Amy: What We Bring to a Film

What we get out of the movies we watch is not always about the movies. Sometimes it’s just about how our experience of the world colors our experience of watching a movie. Sav Rodgers found this when his experience of the film served as a life raft to get through some troubled waters in his life. Rodgers even put on a TED Talk where he discussed how such a simple rom-com as Chasing Amy saved his life. “To be fair, I didn’t know there were other gay movies,” Rodgers admitted in the talk, which is another funny way of assessing how early in our development, movies are so much about what we bring to them and what they bring to us at the right time in our lives.

Sav Rodgers knows Chasing Amy isn’t a rich LGBTQIA+ text. Even Kevin Smith, the film’s director, knows that. It’s ultimately pretty reductive, even, a signal to men that perhaps their lesbian friend can still be won over if they are just persistent enough. You can begin to understand how as a first kind of contact with an identity a person is growing into, the purpose and intent of a film can begin to be saved by the person watching it.

Kevin Smith was so moved by the TED Talk that he reached out. Offered his help in anything Rodgers may need. And so Rodgers made a movie, not just about Chasing Amy, but what Chasing Amy means to him, and while the movie unfolds, so does Rodgers’ transition. It creates a whole new text out of an old text, pushing just enough against the subjects from Chasing Amy to create yet another context, although this one is maybe worse for the prospects of that original movie.

The big scoop in Chasing Chasing Amy is Rodgers’ interview with Joey Lauren Adams. Adams says she doesn’t want to do another Chasing Amy interview. She has done so many of those interviews and can’t Rodgers ask new questions? Bringing his own perspective and experience of the movie into the interview, Rodgers gets some new answers that interrogate the making of Chasing Amy, the film’s difficult relationship between Harvey Weinstein and Kevin Smith’s early films, and also how Adams’ relationship with Smith makes it hard to look back at that movie.

There is also a question of who gets to make art. And when someone gets to make art, which people get supported, who gets the big break, and whose art doesn’t get seen? Kevin Smith and Rose Troche both premiered their debut films during Sundance of 1994. Famously, Clerks was picked up by Miramax and rewrote some of the rules for an independent film that was interpersonal and had a brash loud mouth. Troche made Go Fish, a film about Lesbians from within the community. Her film didn’t get any lift-off, but the relationship formed between Kevin Smith and Rose Troche plus Smith’s romance with Adams became the prime text for Chasing Amy.

That’s where the documentary cuts closest to the heart of the problem of Chasing Amy. It is a movie where men fail forward and get to make the movie about the people in their lives who do not get to make the movie. Besides that, there are enough arguments in the documentary that the movie, actually, is fairly homophobic, and it has been rightly derided by the queer community for which someone of that community would have made it for and about. So, we end up leaving the documentary with a greater distaste for the subject on the surface, but truly, it is actually a story about transition and how innocuous things sometimes help us through the hardest stretches of our lives.


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