Week 6 – Ryan Beggs

As I finished up this past week’s readings on Fox and His Friends I began to appreciate the attitude and style films curated in the late sixties, early seventies, about LGBTQ communities. I always was aware of the fact that films needed to be subtle about this topic, for it could deter an audience or previously was illegal. However, Fox and His Friends was criticized, praised, and then there was some confusion. In Thomas Elsaesser’s Historicizing The Subject: A Body Of Work? Elsaesser shows his readers a little more history about Rainer Werner Fassbinder (director of Fox). Elsaesser’s makes a poignant approach to Fassbinder’s work when he says that “…his films, despite the many internal echoes, do not create [an] autonomous, fictional universe, but media-worlds, which s to say, visual and aural spaces full of quotations and references from newspapers, press photography, popular music, and…other films” (19). This particular excerpt praises Fassbinder for his immense care and detail he puts into his work. Next was Ronald Gregg’s Fassbinder’s Fox and His Friends and Gay Politics in the 1970s contextualizes the film amongst the political landscape of seventies America. Gregg discusses the reviews that came after the release of Fox, most of which criticized the work for not lending itself to bring up gay communities, rather playing on stereotypes. Gregg responds with a contemporary analysis that states “[Fox] did an unprecedented thing for 1975: it took the characters’ homosexuality for granted–and found a way to reach both gay and art house audiences with its depiction of a gay scene that was not ‘ashamed,’ but as diverse, exuberant and problematic–as any other” (566). This particular entry puts the film into a more long term perspective, essentially it allows a current audience to view Fox under a modern lens. At least, for me, I now can understand how the film is situated in a contemporary sense. The final article brings the notion of camp into discussion with a film like Fox. Johannes von Moltke’s Camping in the Art Closet: The Politics of Camp and Nation in German Film discusses the relationship between camp and the melodrama. This piece was interesting to me because it brought to my attention the volatile nature of the camp aesthetic. Moltke explains, “For although camp may be distinctly gay as a style, it is hardly distinct from Hollywood melodrama; it therefore doesn’t lend itself to a rigidly oppositional pairing with melodrama any more than it allows for the Hollywood-vs.-political-analysis dichotomy” (82). This point elicits the notion that melodrama, while a separate genre, may perhaps influence and mingle with camp motifs, something I had not considered before. I’ll be sure to considered all possible categories before labelling or assuming a camp piece. Ultimately, this week’s selections of readings allowed me to understanding how a movie like Fox can be perceived in several different ways, additionally how once looked at from a modern lens the meaning can shift so easily from a once negative perception.

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