Can a queer film not be queer enough? Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s film Fox and His Friends has been criticized by European and American gay audiences for posing as a queer film via its homosexual characters, while failing to address issues in gay politics or society. Instead, the story centers around the class struggle, as we follow the naive hustler Fox continually being exploited by his bourgeois suitors after he wins the lottery. Fassbinder situates the film between the mainstream narrative and a queer story, choosing not to adopt any of the avant-garde narrative styles that had commonly been employed by feminist and independent filmmakers. In Fox, it feels as if the character’s sexuality is irrelevant to the plot, so why even make the character Fox queer at all? Ronald Gregg notes in his piece “Fassbinder’s Fox and His Friends and Gay Politics in the 1970” how Bob Cant “did not consider it a gay film,” because although the main characters are gay, it does not “attempt to Deal With The Problem of Homosexuality” (Gregg 2). Do gay main characters therefore not constitute films as queer? If we were to adopt this logic, the only reason to write characters as homosexual would be to exploit them for the conflict that they’re sexuality causes. Not only does this devalue the substance of a queer person, it reiterates the message to queer audiences that your homosexuality is a problem. What makes Fox and His Friends such a monumental queer film is how Fassbinder chooses to normalize homosexuality, creating a world where homosexuality is not the source of the driving conflict. So yes, the characters did not need to be homosexual in order for the story to operate, but doing so provides an incredibly progressive vision of queer lifestyle, where life full of conflicts that could happen to anybody regardless of sexuality.
Gregg, Ronald. “Fassbinder’s Fox and His Friends and Gay Politics in the 1970s.” (n.d.): n. pag. Web.