Why Do We Both Have a False Memory of Girls Kissing in Æon Flux (2005)?

You would think that as culture writers, we would have impenetrable cultural memories, but every once in a while, we’re apparently wrong about a piece of pop culture trivia. For example, quite recently, we both would have sworn two women share a kiss in the 2005 film, Æon Flux, a film we both have a strong nostalgic attachment to — an attachment we assumed was rooted in the aforementioned kiss. But apparently that kiss was a figment of our imaginations. How did we both as individuals come to think this movie featured lesbian kissing? Let’s find out.


Kayla: So this partially came about because you were working on a list about bad movies made in the 2000s where two women kiss, and you were like “obviously Æon Flux” and I was like “yeah obviously Æon Flux” and in fact, in my mind, I thought the piece would practically revolve around Æon Flux, a film I loved and was quite certain two women kissed in. Then you started putting together the actual piece…

Drew: Yeah I think my actual words were: Obviously Æon Flux, except is Æon Flux bad? To which you assured me it is even though we both love it. But two women DO NOT KISS IN IT. Apparently. This is the biggest Mandela effect I’ve maybe ever experienced. Who cares how the Bears’ last name is spelled!

Kayla: I was like, yes it’s bad, and yes two women have kissed, it fits all the criteria of this list. I also remember having a DIFFERENT conversation with you a while ago, perhaps inspired by Atomic Blonde, about Æon Flux and how two women definitely kissed in it.

Drew: Okay right?? Like, we were going through the world thinking this happened. Is it just that we wanted to kiss women in Æon Flux??

Kayla: Is it possible you told me that was the first gay kiss you saw in theaters?

Drew: Omg! Wow, I’m living in a whole inaccurate reality.

Kayla: Because then I was like I think it was mine too, even though my main memory is of Jennifer’s Body being the first. So now I’m actually trying to remember if I shared this false memory or if your false memory triggered my false memory. I think I would be very susceptible to being mesmerized tbh.

Drew: I have a few theories why I made this mistake.

Kayla: I’d love to hear them.

Drew:

  1. Æon Flux is bisexual in the original series. Then again, I was not cool enough to watch the original series as a kid (and I still haven’t), so this would have had to seep into my mind from just like general cultural knowledge.

  2. Charlize Theron and Marton Csokas have a fight scene that leads to sex, and I think any sort of “rough” sex probably triggered the same queer alarms for me as actual queer kissing.

  3. Everyone in the movie feels vaguely bisexual, no? Like the aesthetic is queer.

  4. This is my main theory: It’s the pill transfer tongue kiss. It’s a “straight” kiss. But I think it was like the most graphic tongue kissing I’d maybe ever seen and, as established on this website, we both have oral fixations and I think it REALLY set off my sex alarm bells. I think I maybe even remembered that moment specifically as occurring between two women??

Kayla: This all tracks, and I think for me, the combination of you saying it was one of your first big screen woman-on-woman kisses and #3, that the overall aesthetic of the film is queer, led me to be like well yeah surely same, since I did remember seeing it in theaters and it predates Jennifer’s Body by a few years. And then I think I too translated the intense tongueing pill exchange as queer in my mind.

Drew: Right. I mean, Karyn Kusama directed both, so I do think I may also have been combining Æon Flux and Jennifer’s Body in my head.

Kayla: Yes, she’s bringing the bisexual gaze every time.

the pill exchange kiss from Aeon Flux

Kayla: This isn’t quite as scandalous as my most extreme false memory about a film, which is that ET was a murderer. I refuse to rewatch and have the record corrected. In the case of Æon Flux, I probably WILL rewatch.

Drew: I do think being scared of ET is a common childhood experience, but I like that you took it a step further and fully imagined he was a murderer.

Kayla: I can still picture the murder scene (that allegedly never happens)!

Drew: My other weird false memory is that Ginger Spice makes out with an alien in Spice World. When I revisited it, it turns out actually an alien gropes her. Which feels like a…bleak false memory for four-year-old me.

Kayla: That IS bleak! But talk about another movie with a queer aesthetic in which it’s shocking two girls do not kiss lol.

Drew: Two girls should’ve kissed and then CONSENSUALLY kissed an alien! You should rewatch Æon Flux, but I really wish we could get Karyn Kusama’s director’s cut. I think that would genuinely be a great movie.

Kayla: I think based on the conversation about your 2000s piece, I apparently also have a false memory about girls kissing in Agent Cody Banks. I think I was just horny for Angie Harmon in that movie and assume that if a movie made me horny then two girls kissed in it.

Drew: A fair assumption!! I was shocked while writing to learn that no lesbian kissing happens in the Scary Movie franchise.

Kayla: Wow that IS shocking?! I think I might have a false memory there, too.

Drew: Two men kiss in Scary Movie 4, and that’s it apparently.

Kayla: Maybe none of us can really remember movies from the 2000s. Maybe they were all fever dreams. I wonder how widespread this is.

Drew: I think it does speak to how randomly sexual movies were back then. Imagine something like the Elektra death kiss happening in a Marvel Cinematic Universe movie! I cannot!

Kayla: Absolutely! It was a horny time for cinema!

Drew: What movie from the 2000s would you most want to add a lesbian kiss to? Is it Agent Cody Banks?

Kayla: Spy Kids (2001)

Drew: Who is Carla Gugino kissing?

Kayla: Terri Hatcher.

Drew: I often say, why don’t we run Hollywood? But now I wish you ran Hollywood back in the 2000s as a horny child. Imagine the possibilities.

Kayla: Every movie would be 25-30% hornier. What 2000s movie do YOU wish had a lesbian kiss that did not?

Drew: Into the Blue (2005). I had a real attachment to Jessica Alba in that one.

Kayla: Oooo great answer!

Drew: I can also be really vulnerable and share my even more embarrassing answer…the Dukes of Hazzard remake. I had a real thing for Jessicas between 2004-2006 apparently.

Kayla: That’s me with the Jennifers.

Drew: I do think it might be that Dukes of Hazzard (2005) was the first time I’d seen a butt sexualized that much?? This is the 2000s, so it was a real boob era. And I love boobs; don’t get me wrong. But even very thin Jessica Simpson having ANY butt was made into a big deal. The “Boots Are Made for Walkin'” video released with that movie…left an impression.

Kayla: I also assume most Brendan Frasier films from that era had lesbian kisses but I don’t think ANY of them did. He just always had hot female co-stars.

Drew: Well, he was kind of the butch lesbian in those movies.

Kayla: Real.

Drew: My horny youth tastes are a combination of very highbrow things like the beach orgy monologue from Ingmar Bergman’s Persona…and then like the most basic hot girls in the world. Æon Flux is a nice middle ground! It was hot in the way I’d be conditioned to view hotness, but also a little kinky.

Kayla: That’s called TASTE!

Drew: Yeah, nothing wrong with being a basic hot girl. But a basic hot girl in leather?? Even better.

Kayla: Strong era of cinema for the basic hot girl. I unironically loved Transformers.

Drew: Transformers missed me by a year. By 2007, I was very anti-Michael Bay and anything I perceived as mainstream cinema. 2007-2012 were when I was most insufferable. But now I’m like oooo I should finally watch the Transformers movies.

Kayla: You should! Didn’t think that was where this conversation would lead but you absolutely should watch Transformers (2007).

*one week later*

Kayla: Oh WAIT, Charlize also bites a woman’s earring off in Æon Flux. I wonder if THAT’S what we thought was the kiss.

Drew: Oh my God. We were such kinky children 😭 It really makes sense who we grew up to be.

Kayla: I’m adding an addendum to the article.

someone biting off an earring from Aeon Flux

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Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya

Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya is the managing editor of Autostraddle and a lesbian writer of essays, short stories, and pop culture criticism living in Orlando. She is the assistant managing editor of TriQuarterly, and her short stories appear or are forthcoming in McSweeney's Quarterly Concern, Joyland, Catapult, The Offing, and more. Some of her pop culture writing can be found at The A.V. Club, Vulture, The Cut, and others. You can follow her on Twitter or Instagram and learn more about her work on her website.

Kayla has written 810 articles for us.

Drew Burnett Gregory

Drew is a Brooklyn-based writer, filmmaker, and theatremaker. She is a Senior Editor at Autostraddle with a focus in film and television, sex and dating, and politics. Her writing can also be found at Bright Wall/Dark Room, Cosmopolitan UK, Refinery29, Into, them, and Knock LA. She was a 2022 Outfest Screenwriting Lab Notable Writer and a 2023 Lambda Literary Screenwriting Fellow. She is currently working on a million film and TV projects mostly about queer trans women. Find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Drew Burnett has written 515 articles for us.

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