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Film / Pariah

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Pariah is a 2011 American drama film, written and directed by Dee Rees.

It follows Alike (Adepero Oduye), a seventeen-year-old living in Brooklyn's Fort Greene neighborhood, as she struggles to establish a sexual identity. Alike ('Le' for short) is gay, but hasn't come out, in contrast to her best friend Laura (Pernell Walker). She especially avoids discussing it with her religious mother (Kim Wayans) and police officer father (Charles Parnell), although they have their suspicions.

Alike's mother tells her to spend time with Bina (Aasha Davis), the daughter of a coworker, who she deems more appropriate than Laura. As Alike develops feelings for Bina, the stresses caused by her familial and other relationships eventually drive her to embrace the identity she's been trying to hide.

No relation to the 2005 game.

This film provides examples of:

  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Sharonda is this to Alike, teasing her and threatening to reveal her strap-on, though the two truly love each other and Sharonda goes to Alike for comfort when their parents fight.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Bina appears to have a deep and genuine connection with Alike, only to reveal that she only saw their intimacy as having a good time and that they'll never be in a relationship due to her not being "gay gay."
  • Bittersweet Ending: Audrey refuses to accept Alike, but the rest of her family supports her and sees her off to California, where she'll be attending a writing program and entering college early, more confident in herself and secure in her choices.
  • Break-Up/Make-Up Scenario: Alike and Laura have a falling out as Alike starts spending more time with Bina but eventually make up after Alike runs away following her coming out to her parents.
  • Butch Lesbian: Laura. Downplayed with Alike, who prefers dressing in a masculine fashion but is much more shy and reserved than the typical trope.
  • Coming of Age Story: Alike starts the story shy and somewhat insecure about her identity, but grows into herself and ends the film much more mature and confident.
  • Coming-Out Story: The film's plot is about Alike coming out to her family. A painfully realistic portrayal at that.
  • Daddy's Girl: Alike is closer to her father, who is very protective of her. He's also the only parent who actually reconciles with Alike and sees her off to college.
  • Eating Lunch Alone: Alike's mother seems to dislike her coworkers, who aren't fond of her either; as such she's shown eating lunch alone and is surprised when a coworker joins her.
  • Gayngst: While Alike is pretty comfortable in her own skin, she still faces discrimination from her community, particularly from her mother, and thus hasn't come out to her family. Her fears turn out to be justified-her mother refuses to accept her, though at least her father does by the finale.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: Laura's mother had disowned for her being lesbian, and one of Arthur's friends also makes homophobic remarks toward her. Alike's mother also refuses to accept her sexuality. Even prior to her coming out, she pushed Alike to wear female clothing, clearly already suspicious.
  • I Have No Son!: Laura's mother abandoned her after she came out and refuses to acknowledge her when she shows up at her door wanting to reconcile. Alike's mother similarly pretends she doesn't exist after Alike runs away, and though she eventually does agree to meet with Alike prior to the latter moving to California, she refuses to reconcile or accept her daughter.
  • Lover and Beloved: Laura admits that she loves Alike and takes her under her wing as Alike grows into her identity as a lesbian.
  • Monochrome Casting: Almost all the characters are African-American. Justified in that it takes place in the Fort Greene neighborhood in Brooklyn, which is predominantly black.
  • Most Writers Are Writers: Alike is a talented creative writer, created by Dee Rees, who wrote the film. Justified in that the story is semi-autobiographical.
  • Nature Abhors a Virgin: Laura is exasperated that Alike is still a virgin at seventeen and works hard to get her to meet somebody to lose it to.
  • No Bisexuals: Bina appears to be a Lipstick Lesbian, but insists she's not "gay gay" and sees her encounter with Alike as harmless indulgence. This might mean she's bisexual, but the idea isn't expressed.
  • Papa Wolf: Arthur flips out when one of his friends mockingly suggests that Alike is a Butch Lesbian and gets protective when said friend encounters her in public. He also defends Alike against Audrey, albeit rather half-heartedly. He later apologizes for letting Audrey hit her, and has accepted Alike by the end of the film.
  • Shrinking Violet: Though she tries to push herself out of her comfort zone, Alike is inherently shy and awkward, especially around girls.
  • Their First Time: Alike loses her virginity to Bina.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: A subplot involving Laura and her sister's financial struggles is briefly shown, but eventually dropped.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: The lesbian club where Laura and Alike hang out.