Week 13: Mysterious Skin

Alexander’s article discusses new queer cinema and its rise during the AIDS epidemic in which Hollywood discovered the economic potential of queer centric films. From the 80s onward there continued to be growth in the genre, despite the exertion of censorship on film festivals and distributors for what appeared excessively queer content. Since the development of queer cinema in conjunction with avant garde filmmaking in 50s and 60s there has been continuous backlash, but in a new era full of life or death situations and the ease of home video and filmmaking, new queer cinema flourished. Exciting works were produced where “Movies could move out of the movie theatre” (12), becoming more accessible to the general population and containing more diverse content. It was at this time that organizations like Act Up, rallied homosexual filmmakers to translate their political frustration into art. This undoubtedly pushed queer cinema to the forefront of the filmmaking industry.

Queer films soon came to be commercialized and enter mainstream Hollywood. Realizing the financial gains of the content, they were acknowledged as having the ability to “become award-winning crossover hits” among specifically the heterosexual community, especially when the director was a white heterosexual male (14). So although queer films may have broken into Hollywood’s mainstream focus, the film industry continues to struggle with accurate and thorough representation of the queer community. A traditionally male-oriented industry, there is misogyny spreading even as far as the financing of films causing a “de facto unconscious censorship of the status quo” (13). Resulting in an extreme power imbalance, male associated filmmaking is valued with reverence, making it especially hard for lesbian filmmakers.

At the end of Alexander’s piece it is asserted that we are living in a time of contradictions, lacking cultural equity. I agree with this and do think we most certainly need to have better representations of the diverse queer community both on and off screen. This article which pointed to the flaws of the development of new queer cinema despite its successes, suggested a lot of work that needs to be done. I was specifically reminded of the promising new work and companies like SEESO from NBCUniversal that I have come across during my time at NYU. I went to a promotional event for the series “Take My Wife” with Rhea Butcher and Cameron Esposito, which is a part of SEESO’s programming. The show is focused on Butcher and Esposito, a lesbian couple who translated their relationship into stand up comedy and then into a television show. The event talked a lot about SEESO’s willingness to take on new stories, representing as many entities, especially the queer community, in the process. I am excited to see how Mysterious Skin handles this intent and where new queer cinema, and for that matter new queer media, will lead.

Works Cited:
Alexander, Neta. “No Longer Silent: Queer Cinema Leaves Fringe for Mainstream.” Haaretz, December 12, 2013: p. 10 – p. 14.


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