The Bourne Homosexuality (3500 words)
I was very happy that my last article wasn’t about the sexual subtext of a film. Then I showed The Bourne Identity to a female friend of mine and I realised that the sex subtext is so… just… ah… damn… I’m tired of this.
The Bourne Identity was met with a huge success. It redefined the spy genre which was drowning completely. Sorry to be harsh but is there a good Pierce Brosnan Bond ? (I know Goldeneye is appreciated and a lot better than what followed, but it’s still really not that great).
How did Bourne accomplish that rebirth ? By conquering the female audience (In my opinion). The Bourne Identity is a romance with action. It brought humanity to the male character and threw away the manly macho ass that spies used to be. Look at what James Bond became in the first movie of the franchise to be released after Bourne => Casino Royale, a childish sensitive lover who gets his balls crushed.
Spy films, I don’t know why, particularly revolves around the sexual life of their characters.
Recently, Spy was about a fat woman who decides to throw herself into… action ? into an active sex life. At the beginning Susan Cooper is a virgin and her discovery of the job of being a spy is her discovery of sex. She runs after a young and beautiful man and realises he is an asshole guided by his vanity and ego (His “obsession” with his penis). He rejects her. But then, she meets the Italian guy and she learns that she is a woman as much as any other supermodel and that she can be attractive. Then Jason Statham becomes attracted to her, and then Raina Boyanov and we realise Jude Law was from the beginning. And by the way, she is a bitch with Raina Boyanov’s boyfriend because she’s jealous. And the fight in the plane is a homosexual experience.
In Mission Impossible 5, Tom Cruise manages to escape his killers thanks to a huge boner given by Ilsa Faust. Yep. Also, everybody knows that the shot when she is holding the sniper gun between her legs has a metaphorical meaning.
A dickgun and a beautiful leg. Both the alpha male and alpha female. Good for you Ilsa Faust, I can't wait to see Susan Cooper beat the crap out of you.
In the language of spy movies, being the best “killer” or “element” is being irresistible. And the whole business of killing spies, of being a double agent, of shooting, is about seduction, betrayal, domination and orgasms; which is also why it is so often question of being charismatic, well dressed and of seducing and why stories inevitably end if the main character falls in love.
James Bond marries in On Her Majesty Secret Services and the bride has to die. Jason Bourne has found a serious partner at the end of The Bourne Identity, it means it’s the end of his career as a spy, and then she dies. James Bond seriously falls in love in Casino Royale, and then she dies too. I didn’t see Mr. and Mrs. Smith, but again it’s obvious that a life of spying is put in parallel with a love/sensual relationship, maybe it actually deals with how sensuality/being a spy is incompatible with marriage.
Killing, here, often means having sex or seducing. Like in the earlier Bond Movies in which each lady that Sean Connery screwed got killed afterwards.
The number of films and works in which characters who are attracted to each other end up killing each other too is huge and I cannot possibly understand why. It’s most probably a different reason each time.
James Bond being the best spy means he is the alpha male. And I’m happy Daniel Craig said he disliked the character because it’s quite pathetic that James Bond should represent the irresistible guy. He’s a ridiculous man and having to compete with that for the heart of women is quite degrading. We shouldn’t have to prove that we’re more interesting than James Bond. I mean, are we not in competition with him ? Isn’t the cultural existence of James Bond as much a matter of what a man should be as of spy stuff ?
All of this said, The Bourne Identity is the story of a homosexual man who one day realises that he wants to have children and decides to “quit” his active sex life in order to find a woman and have babies. If this sounds like a crazy idea to you, well you’re wrong, it is the story of thousands of thousands of homosexual people who were born in the fifties, sixties and seventies. Maybe your dad is homosexual and only went with your mother for her reproductive ability.
It is said at some point in the film that Bourne is not only a killer but a killer who leaves no trace. So, from a sexual point of view, no it doesn’t mean that he cleans the sheets, it could mean that he still hides the fact that he is homosexual. He works amongst a group of hetero spies/men but he is the guy who is never seen “killing” because if they did see him, they would learn THE UNSPEAKABLE TRUTH !
From this point of view, I actually find the film a bit disagreeable because, it is one of the first movies (with Bridget Jones) that started the trend “Gays are better male friend than heteros.” Even if nobody saw Jason like a homosexual, he is still pretty slow or even absent sexually speaking. I’ll come back on this later.
Jason thus hides his homosexuality to his colleagues and one day, he comes across his desire to have a child. I mean, seriously, he is a professional killer, is it one bit believable that he could have missed the fact that his target had a daughter ? No. If things happen that way, it is only because Jason unconsciously wanted them to happen that way. He was precisely careless to be confronted to the little girl.
Ha ha, You are dead man ! I'm the best killer that ever existed and I was sent to kill you ! I've been preparing your assassination for days ! Oups, I didn't know your family was on the boat. Well, ok, I'll come back later.
And actually, there’s no need for this unconscious motivation to interpret the scene as his discovery that he wants to have a baby. (But still, I think there was something unconscious going on on his side).
So, instead of shooting, he gets shot. Meaning… oh by the way, watching this movie again, at first I really thought it was the metaphor of a love story gone seriously wrong. I didn’t think Jason was homosexual but that he had been betrayed and dumped and found it horribly hard to trust a woman again ; which is an acceptable interpretation too, it just works a little less than homosexuality.
He wakes up with amnesia. And from this point of view, I love the fact that he could be homosexual. He doesn’t know who he is, he can’t remember anything about his life and thus learns that he is a homosexual in the course of the story. Like for example, when he is not attracted to the beautiful female lead who obviously wants to have sex with him.
As I said at the beginning of this article, The Bourne Identity is a romance with action. The tone and sensitivity of the film is really influenced by romantic comedy. Paris for example, is an intimate place. It’s not presented with a shot of the Eiffel tower and the name of the city in huge letters; just like the female character doesn’t appear in a 1000$ über sexy dress like in most spy films.
She is not a sex interest from the first second. What she is, is a woman who wants to leave the country and cannot seem to be able to do it. So she could have been a hairy monster, Jason would have taken interest in her.
I think this aspect pleased the female audience because Marie is there as an individual and an element of the plot not as a signifier of the hero’s manliness.
The thing is, it is more or less because he is not interested in her sexually that she is going to become attracted to him and trust him. Isn’t that super logical and great ?
The scene in which they both talk in the car and Jason tells Marie “I haven’t talked to anybody in a while […] Keep going. Really if you want please keep going” represents the moment she starts to be attracted to him.
Actually, as soon as he’s said that, she changes her attitude to a more seducing one and asks him what kind of music he likes. Music and dance often stand for sex in movies. When two characters dance together, it’s either a prelude to sex or a metaphor of it. When she asks him the kind of music he likes, she is asking him his sexual preferences or orientation, because she is interested.
That’s when Jason decides to reveal he suffers from amnesia. However, Marie still takes it as a rebuttal. Why revealing it now, instead of earlier or later ? If he had fancied her, he would have lied, he would have showed enthusiasm, he wouldn’t have used the amnesia excuse as a “leave me alone.”
The fact that he doesn’t fancy her doesn’t mean he is homosexual, but the fact that his “amnesia,” his unconscious, the part of himself he hides from himself should be what prevents him from telling her what “music he likes” hints at his homosexuality.
Also, there is a difference between having a nice conversation with a woman and telling her “When I listen to you it’s relaxing.” It still doesn’t mean that he finds her interesting in the least.
So, it has to be said that Marie Kreutz seems to be a bit of a desperate woman. Sure, she doesn’t need to be desperate to find Matt Damon attractive, but they’re not in a bar having a drink. She knows that the police is after him, and that he was ready to give her a lot of money so that she would accept to take him with her. Apart from that, he remained silent during their whole trip in the car. She should have logically rejected his request but also, she should be more suspicious.
Now, in movies and especially in romance, when two characters who are destined to become partners meet, the story creates an ambiguity, a conflict. For example, in ”Pretty Woman”, is Edward Lewis treating Vivian Ward like a prostitute or like a normal love interest ? Which means, when they’re together at the end, has she become his life-long prostitute or his wife ? And in the end, isn’t she more of a prostitute at the end of the film than at the beginning when she depended on herself alone ?
The ambiguity in Jason Bourne rises from the fact that Jason perfectly knows why he is asking Marie Kreutz to help him -he’s seen her at the embassy and knows she is in deep shit “I still have no Visa”- when she actually thinks he is asking randomly or because he finds her attractive.
If we looked at her situation as a metaphor of her position when it comes to gender, she would be a rejected woman. But it doesn’t make much sense. Her scene at the embassy is really not gender oriented. We simply might have seen her getting dumped by her boyfriend on the phone if the movie wanted to present her as a woman in need of recognition (Like Cindy in Commando).
Cindy is too forward and gets rejected because she deprived the man of being the one who takes the initiative. Another sad commentary on masculinity.
It is more likely that she should be described beyond her gender, which is exactly why she’ll fancy Matt Damon too (And why she is a great character). She doesn’t need to feel more womanly or more attractive; she just want to feel more capable, more useful.
Jason Bourne needs her help and helping him soothes her frustration of not having been able to leave the country for weeks. That’s also why she is so eager to get to know him after he’s stated that she is relaxing. Obviously, she doesn’t hear that everyday. Her ex-lover and his little family also hints at a possible feeling of failure eating her from inside (she admits that she’s the one who screwed up the relationship).
The whole scene in the car is a variation on a scene in which a guy would tell a woman he finds her interesting when in reality he doesn’t care about what she says but wants to have sex with her. There, by telling Marie that she is relaxing, Jason gratifies her without falling into the “I want to fuck you as a ritual of manliness and I don’t care who you are” department.
Because she spontaneously feels that he is not trying to seduce her, Marie starts thinking that what’s happening between them is actually real, true, deep. She forgets that a man can manipulate a woman for other reasons than in order to have sex with her.
So, the ambiguity that lies behind their romance is: to which extend is Jason manipulating Marie Kreutz ? Does he actually give a shit about her ? Or is he simply using her coldly ? And that’s another point. It is easy to watch the film and consider Jason as a nice and sensitive guy. A lost puppy full of gratitude. The same lost puppy Matt Damon also plays in The Martian.
But the title of the film is “The Bourne Identity” and our hero seems to have a lot of identities. We assimilate the piece of information on a practical level: he is a spy, he necessarily owns numerous I.D. cards and speaks a lot of languages. But what about his personality ? Could it be possible that he “invented” his character for Marie Kreutz and that he intended to lose her as soon as possible but that for some reasons he never managed to do it ? I’m not sure. If one thing, he seems truly friendly in Paris when he tells her he would obviously never forget her and then invites her in his apartment.
Then he realises that he is not attracted to her, hence the apparition of a killer which interrupts their slow movement towards sexual intercourse and the worsening of their situation the next day. His past life coming back to haunt him is his homosexuality.
Don't be afraid Jason ! I'm here to save you from that crazy woman who so obviously wants to have sex with you !
This attempted assassination/discovery that he is homosexual convinces Jason that Marie should go.
If we watch the scene in the Mini metaphorically, Jason and Marie are in the position of a man and a woman who should have had sex together but couldn’t… and now I understand the particular focus on Marie when the assassins commits suicide.
While she is taking a shower, Jason struggles with his masculinity (the assassin). And that masculinity falls on the floor right when “it” notices Marie and then jumps through the window. So, it might represent Jason’s incapacity to have an erection.
Back in the Mini, Marie confesses that she thought Jason would not come back. She thinks he is a heterosexual male who suffered some kind of “failure” and who was not going to reappear because of the humiliation and she misunderstands his coming back with true and deep feelings. But he is a homosexual guy who doesn’t give a shit about this incident because he now very well knows it wouldn’t have happened with a guy. He comes back because they’re no symbolic meaning for him in his coming back or in his leaving her. But as soon as he’s back, he strongly tries to convince her to leave.
The problem is that he doesn’t tell her the truth. He doesn't say, “If you stay with me, you’re taking risks for something that you’ll never get. I’m homosexual.” He can try to convince her that she should go all he wants, she thinks he is in love with her because he came back. She decides to stay with him for a reason that doesn’t exist.
Then comes the famous pursuit in Mini car and we can see how Jason could be an invisible agent. He is not fleeing, and incidentally destroying everything, in a superb Aston Martin signifier of his manliness. He doesn’t need to put his manliness forward. And that’s why the fact that he should be homosexual saddens me. I wish his attitude was the result of his subtlety and depth and of a true respect for Marie, not of his hidden sexual orientation.
And we finally arrives at the moment which made me think “oh fuck no, he’s gay !” Before he finally lets Marie make love to him, Jason cuts her hair, giving her a very androgynous look. All is said. It’s a movie, details like these are far from randomly put there. And he is certainly not doing this in order to make them harder to spot. Seriously, they’ve got all the secret services of the country on their asses and he cuts her hair ? Why doesn’t he shave his own head then ?
Eventually, Marie and Jason go hide into the house of her ex-lover. It is inferred that he cheated on his wife with Marie I believe. When entering the house and a few seconds later when he sees Marie’s ex-lover Eamon, Jason is categorical: “we gotta go. […] We’re leaving.”
But suddenly after a pretty unconvincing exchange between Marie and the guy, Jason goes “It’s just gonna be for a day.” What on earth did make him change his mind ? I can see two or three possible reasons for this, and among them, there is the little girls.
Jason wants a child, a little girl and just after his accepted to stay, we find him playing with Eamon’s daughters on a swing. After having realised he was homosexual through his experience with Marie, he now realises another important part of himself.
That night, Marie finds him in the children’s room. He tells her “I don’t wanna know who I am anymore, I don’t care” and suggest that they use the money to hide but she’s not so sure anymore. Too late man. She wanted to be enough for him to give up on his life as a spy.
Because although they are chased by the police and by killers, it doesn’t mean that Jason cannot hope to reach his boss and reintegrate his former unit once he’s recovered his memory.
While they slowly realise who he is, Marie falls in competition with this ancient self that Jason is discovering. If he loved her, he should have told her exactly what he is saying, but straight after him and Marie made love, not when he is found watching too little girls asleep in the middle of the night.
Marie and Jason did not even have sex the evening before, neither did he kiss her. When he convinces her to go with Eamon on the next day, she believes she is never going to see him again.
And actually, he is forcing her into a car with her former lover without promising any come back and without asking any question which might help him find her. It’s over.
But he comes back. Why ? Because he went back at the core of masculinity (Being a spy) and was confirmed that he left for one thing: having a little girl. If he had wanted a womanly woman to make him feel a manly man, there was Nicolette Parsons, blonde blue eyes perfect body etc…, offered to him.
"Are you sure you don't wanna come back Jason Bourne ? Isn't she a good bait ? Look at her lips dammit !" The agency thinks Jason heterosexual.
So, now that he knows the whole story, he finishes what he started at the beginning of the film, that is quitting his “job” and goes back to Marie who, he knows, will understand it as a proof of his love and might be ok with giving him a baby.
He pops up in her life like he never said goodbye… as if he had never contemplated the idea of completely forgetting about her, she is overwhelmed by joy, embrace him and… embrace him again and… they kiiiiissss ? No.
Yes ? No ? No. Ok They don't kiss. It's all the more suspicious that this element should be the main difference between both endings. Kiss or no kiss. He appears suddenly (pretends he never left her) or she sees him arrive (he left her but comes back because he has evolved).
The ending of the film is pretty weird as the reunion of the characters doesn’t exactly mean much. He could tell her that he was just passing by to say hello one second later. They have no plans and no reason to remain together. They are true friends and they do like each other but there is no real conclusion to their dilemma.
And that’s why it’s sad, and why I prefer the alternative ending of the film where Jason comes back and they both kiss passionately.
It is discouraging that a spy movie which for once doesn’t make a stupid asshole out of the main male character explains it by also making him homosexual. He considers a woman beyond her sex appeal and her potentiality as a sex partner. Hurray ! He doesn’t spend his time trying to look bad-ass manly ! Hurray ! But why ? Because he is homosexual. Fuck.
I mean, are heterosexual men supposed to identify with James Bond ? He is an irresponsible misogynist child. Is that what men are expected to be in our culture ? Yes. Ah ok