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I was embarking on my post-college life, which felt full of possibility.
In the movie, they meet when Idgie is a child and Ruth is dating Idgie’s brother, Buddy (Chris O’Donnell).
After Buddy is killed by a train, Idgie — already a tomboy, and somewhat feral — goes totally wild and lives in the woods.
But she soon becomes enthralled, and then she becomes inspired — and changes her life.
The story Ninny tells Evelyn is about Depression-era Whistle Stop.
In that, he actually errs too far on the side of caution.
There’s a scene when they’re swimming in a lake in their underwear, and Ruth kisses Idgie on the cheek, and — come on, man, give us something! Bush in office and a disease killing gay men while the government stood by and watched, it felt like another example of shame-filled erasure to some.
Whenever I talk to younger queer people about how little LGBT representation there was in movies and on TV when I was a closeted teenager in the ’80s, I end up yelling. What did exist for us either illustrated self-hatred (Personal Best, 1982), or was bowdlerized (The Color Purple, 1985), or existed entirely in subtext.
I yell because I want them to understand what it was like, and I yell because I get mad all over again. To offer one pathetic example, I remember rushing to see the 1987 thriller Black Widow because I’d heard that the characters played by Debra Winger and Theresa Russell had a sexualized (and totally unfulfilled) dynamic.
(In Avnet’s director’s commentary on the DVD, he is totally aware of their dynamic, repeatedly calling their story “romantic,” calling the food fight scene a “love scene,” and at one point saying — yikes — “look at Mary-Louise’s reaction to Mary Stuart’s testosterone-induced bravado.”) In 2018, Idgie and Ruth’s love story is the stuff of dozens of You Tube tributes, and the relationship is blatant. The movie was criticized for its reticence, with Avnet telling Entertainment Weekly to interpret the relationship “how you want to — I had no interest in going into the bedroom.” Flagg was even more emphatic: “No, no, no,” she said to the Chicago Sun-Times. The sexuality is unimportant.” (I wanted to talk to Avnet and Flagg for this story, as well as Parker and Masterson, but none of them were available.)Flagg’s book never calls Ruth and Idgie lesbians — and Evelyn doesn’t ask Ninny to label them, either — but it does make it a fact that they are a couple.
In that sense, there are some key differences between the book and the movie (adapted by Flagg, Carol Sobieski, and Avnet, who didn’t receive a credit).