Week 12 – Ryan Beggs

In this weeks readings the authors and selections from them all touch upon how queer identifies are positioned in newer films. In Neta Alexander’s “Queer Is Not A Four-Letter Word” Alexander discusses the history of queer cinema. Starting with “the appallingly conservative administration of [Reagan], which adopted fundamentalist Christian views holding that AIDS was the Lord’s way to punish homosexuals” (2). From this era onto the next artists began to see the impact placing queer identities in films could have. Inevitably, leading to “Hollywood [discovering] that money could be made from queer cinema” (3). While this is exciting it still positions queer cinema in a realm other than general acceptance and normalization. In Jon Davies piece titled “Imagining Intergenrationality: Representation and Rhetoric in the Pedophile Movie” Davies discusses some of the specifics of films dealing with that perhaps touch-y topic. Davies essentially discusses the fact that there is a problematic parallel at work, “a tension between speaking openly yet never being able to show openly” (3). This is related to pedophilia and an audience not feeling comfortable seeing visuals of reality. Following this reading Glyn Davis’ piece titled “Camp and Queer and the New Queer Director: Case Study–Gregg Araki” I seemed to notice some problematic ways of approaching the topic of queer cinema. Primarily, Davis’ words a section regarding grim motifs in queer films as the following: “At the time, I’d already seen enough grim movies about homosexuals to know that, according to filmmakers, being gay is a pretty miserable state of affairs. Did we really need a bunch of ‘queer’ directors to tell us the same?” (53). This presents itself as problematic for it disarms an identity that may have a lot to say and informed by their own experiences. The final piece by Jose Esteban Munoz titled “Dead White: Note on the Whiteness of the New Queer Cinema” discusses some rather important aspects of representation in a selection of three films. Aside from the three films, Munoz brings up a key point that “Humor and romance are genres that explain the way [AIDS] has become an aspect of our quotidian reality” (129). This is important to recognize because humor has a strength no other genre can have, which allows an audience to be introduced or stimulate discussion about a rather serious topic while making them comfortable. Each of the readings this week allowed me insight into a different perspective on newer queer cinema’s that I’ll be sure to pay attention to in future screenings in class.

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