Week 5

A big theme in Amy Robinson’s article “It Takes One to Know One: Passing and Communities of Common Interest” is the relationship between vision (seeing) and context. She writes that “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” (Robinson 718). Due to the viewer’s background, the visual performance of sexuality carries different meanings depending on who is watching and interpreting. This has certain implications for cinema, especially in terms of movies as mass media. For example, a movie like All About Eve may not be considered explicitly a queer movie. However, because of the Hollywood Production Code, a closer analyzation of symbolism in the movie can lead to a reading of it as queer. Robinson writes that those in an in-group “see passing because of their familiarity with the codes of deception” (Robinson 722). While a character such as Eve is not able to be shown explicitly as queer, the visual codes can be read by an in-group to identify her as queer, while a general audience might be in the role of the “duped” as they might not read into these cues. The movie can become popular with both parties, the duped and the in-group, but it might appeal to each group for different reasons. This raises the idea that it is not just a character like Eve that is passing but that the movie as a whole is “passing”, while it is actually a queer movie underneath.

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