The term ‘queer’, an umbrella term, dwells with the concept of identity, therefore identity politics as well as being intentionally ambiguous in order to account for the wide range of identities that feel defined by it, which ultimately leaves gaps in interpretation. What I would like to momentarily place my focus on is the initiative of making “sexual preference as “visible” a difference as visible a race…” (717), as a means of desensitizing the frivolity associated with this topic i.e. homosexuality. Although one cannot ignore the presence of hegemony or the dominant ideology per se which sets the ‘norm’ for behavioral traits. Therefore, with the presence of such social oppression how does one that identifies as such carry themselves and how does that affect how they are identified by another, in terms of their ‘true nature’? Optic dichotomies (stressing that one’s standpoint is based upon what’s there and what’s visible) are the ‘to-go-tool’ in terms of deconstructing queerness but inversely lose their credibility. This is as we as the spectator “manufacture the symptom of a successful pass. By advertising the signs of deviance that were assumed to mark the body as a visual testament to abnormality…” (718). These being the effortless visual paradigms i.e. identifying a white when not in his own setting, just like a gay in a straight setting. A constantly-evolving society imposes its own judgment on queer presentations as a result of new sexual moral norms, consequently, “what may be read as gender “abnormality” in one class or racial context may simply confirm the hegemonic spectator’s presumption of heterosexuality in another” (718). This can be also seen in in Johnny Guitar with Vienna’s masculine costume (butch) being passed as a norm as it is all contextual, although may be seen to hold other connotations in the long run (as a way of expressing her ‘hegemonic masculinity). Robinson paradoxically adds, “ the visible is never easily or simply a guarantor of truth” (719). Queer ambiguity is partially resolved in her continuing, “It takes one to know one”, thus signifying a position that identifies a performance” (722). Back to the notion of performativity, gender being a metonymy, it is worth reminding that it is socially constructed and projected, and an idealization of homosexuality. While theorists argue that all gender is a performance, Robinson’s quote describes how those that perform queerness are more capable of recognizing these deviations in one another.
Despite the contextual factors, the film medium, itself can provide the necessary template for such identification. Dyer introduces the film Victim, as an example where a “particular characteristic organization of codes and conventions which warrant for certain kinds of reading… (93). This facilitates in visually guiding the audience, resting their attention on key elements. Dyer continues, “montage-through-camera-movement seems to suggest that it is an element of characterization that is integral to the film” (97). Instances like these not only offer clarification but give attention to the rise of avant-garde cinematic techniques instigating active participation of the viewer, although guided in this instance. The film is structured in a way that encourages the viewer to recognize a certain “objective judgement” through the provided calibrated lens.
Robinson, Amy. “It Takes One to Know One: Passing and Communities of Common Interest.” Critical Inquiry 20.4 (1994): 715-36. Print.
Dyer, Richard. The Matter of Images, Essays on Representations. London: Routledge, 1993. Print.