Week 13: Mysterious Skin

These readings were particularly interesting to me as I have been working on New Queer Cinema (specifically My own Private Idaho) for my papers this semester. Something in particular that I found interesting about the Alexander reading was the section towards the end when she and Rich talk about the implications of the commercialization of queer cinema, and particularly the idea that for actors today, “the road to the gilded statuette passes through roles of deviant sexual identity” (15). Rich goes on to point out that “cross-over hits” often come from established heterosexual directors, and that gay actors and actresses don’t often get the same opportunities to play straight romantic roles. This was interesting to me as in my research, I remember coming across a quote from Van Sant (who is, of course, openly gay) who said that the casting of straight actors (Keanu Reeves and River Pheonix) in Idaho had political implications as it demonstrated that they were tolerant towards homosexuality and willing to play them without having a “personal reason for doing so” (Lang 339). I think this is definitely related to a point that Alexander brings up: the New Queer Cinema was fleeting and unique because of their place in time. As Alexander writes, “it’s hard to remember that just 20 years ago the director Jonathan Demme (rip!) had a hard time finding an actor to play the lead role in the AIDS drama “Philadelphia” (15). The Davies reading was also really interesting for his in depth discussion on the stylistic means of “imagining radical, queer conceptualizations of desire past, present, and future (382)” when dealing with “concealment” versus “revelation” in the face of such disturbing occurrences. Davies uses the term “black hole of representation” and identifies Araki’s use of darkness and stylizations of memory and pov as his key strategies (377).

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