Week 10: Boys Don’t Cry

As embodied by the lack of academic agreement in this week’s readings, Boys Don’t Cry is as complex a film as the real life events it is based on. The differing, complicated, and often incompatible views of this week’s authors make it hard to both know what to think and also how to feel. Kimberly Pierce’s film—in both its content, form, and extratext—is an uneven balance of good and bad, making it impossible to deem it completely progressive or unforgivably problematic. The only consensus seemingly reached by all of this week’s readings is that Boys Don’t Cry is inarguably important as a site of discussion and discourse about the way trans identity is constructed both on screen and in life.

Representing my point about the different attitudes in academic discourse are three of this week’s authors turning to psychoanalytic film theory as their method of interrogation but each coming up with a different usage. Aaron, Halberstam, and White all focused on the role of the spectator and the gaze in creating trans identities on screen but for each author, the gaze and how it was constructed were for different groups. Aaron’s gaze was heterosexual, Halberstam’s was trans, and White’s was the girl-sapphic gaze. Seeing the role of the spectator and the gaze in relation to each of these three authors leads to a different understanding of the importance of the film, each irreconcilable with the other. For a film that has become part of the LGBT canon, Boys Don’t Cry is unusual in its lack of concrete and specific notions of why it is important within that same canon.

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