Rent, The Movie

The movie Rent lends itself too for a good unit.  (Lesson Plan PDF)  For this film, what I see to be a good reason to use this film in a class about LGBT issues and literature is the three different relationships: Roger and Mimi, Collins and Angel, and the final couple being Maureen and Joanne ~ you could throw in the possibility of including Mark in this couple due to the fact that he use to date Maureen and there are still hints of him having feelings for her.

It goes without saying that watching this film in class.  Depending then on the length of your class period and how many days you meet, you will of course have to budget enough time you think is a fair amount of time for the discussion afterwords.  The main thing that you may want your class to discuss and pay attention are to the relationships in this movie.  This isn’t due to the fact that they are the main theme in the film, but because the relationships deal a verity of different issues.

The Relationships with Paper Topic Ideas

With Roger and Mimi, the main thing that this couple deals with is Mimi’s drug use.  This is due to the fact that Roger had lost his last girlfriend to April to learning that both Roger and she had AIDS, which they acquired from their drug use days.  In the lesson plan, I mention the paper is a to be a critical essay on the relationships in the movie.  What I would suggest is to encourage whomever in your class(es) decide to use this couple as their paper topic, have them critically analyze the AIDs effects Rogers and Mimi’s relationship or to critically compare their relationship in terms of how it compared to the other two couples we are introduced to in the film.

Now, when it comes to Collins and Angel’s relationship, we are introduced not only an intercultural relationship ~ which we also see with our third couple ~ but the added layer of Angel being a drag queen.  We also see the same issue of the fact that Collins and Angel both are AIDS positive.  With this couple, the fact that we have these differences than the other two couples, Collins and Angel are probably the couple that has the most to offer to in terms of paper topics:  intercultural relationship, AIDS in LGBT Men and why Mimi is the only main female character that has this particular STD in the film.

With our last couple, Maureen and Joanne portray the lesbian with Maureen being the flirt ~ with everyone ~ and Joanne being the easily jealous girlfriend.  During the course of the movie, these two are the only ones to have gone through a relationship to a commitment ceremony of sorts to breaking up at their commitment ceremony.  This couple brings to the table for the paper how even though the LGBT community has to fight harder for the same rights for marriage, there’s still that chance of a LGBT couple to break up afterwords.

In Class Discussion Ideas

For the discussion portion of this movie activity, use some of the things I pointed out above about the relationships.  Also, discussion on AIDS and HIV might be a good incorporation to this lesson.  The reason is because it will allow you to discuss how this particular STD doesn’t discriminate in terms of sexual orientation or color.

Another possible and encourage topic of discussion is to discuss Angel’s role of being a Drag Queen in Angel and Collins’ relationship.  This is an important area to discuss because you can ask your students about how this possibly made their relationship slightly easier throughout the film and how a gay couple that has one member who is a drag queer and if it makes it easier or harder.

A final thing that you can discuss is how Maureen use to date Mark, but we only see her in a relationship with another woman in this film.  The reason why this is an important thing to bring up during the discussion is because you should – as a class discuss if Maureen can be considered “bi” or a “lesbian” in the film.  Through out the film, I don’t believe she directly calls herself a lesbian; but regardless, we presume that now she is lesbian.  So this is something that needs to be discussed: can or should we only label people ~ in TV shows and movies at least ~ to only be gay or straight?

Other Resources For Film/Discussion/Paper

Here are some possible resources for this unit:

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