Instead of lamenting the decline of “literary fiction,” we ought to ask why the novel, with its interest in society and rules, is ceding ground to the romance. And as for the rise of the romance—with its larger-than-life passions, revolutionary aristocrats, and “nihilistic and untamable” occurrences—maybe we’re living in a romantic age. The last time the romance achieved real currency, Frye points out, was in the nineteenth century. Back then, too, it suffered from the “historical illusion” that it was “something to be outgrown, a juvenile and undeveloped form.”
In the spring of each year, thanks to No Child Left Behind, the Rotten Apples are held to a standard in this age of high stakes testing that no other profession is held to: a 100 percent pass rate. If teachers are held to this standard, why wouldn’t their working peers whom we have already established are paid significantly more be held to this same standard? Let’s look at doctors and nurses, for example. According to a new study from the Journal of Patient Safety, 440,000 people per year die from preventable medical errors.
What The Birdcage does display perfectly, and not quite like any other movie before or after it, is the burden of performing normativity. I’m quite sure that most queer people have felt the desire or need to “be like everyone else,” to “prove that they are normal.” Who gains the most from that? Not the individuals in question, for sure, but rather everyone else who pressures us how to act and behave. It’s not on us to prove anything to anyone — the default should be that everyone can just accept each others’ differences and live peacefully.