Week 13-John Burns-New Queer Cinema

I was interested in Glyn Davis’ discussion of Gregg Araki as a filmmaker. The article made me interested in the rest of Araki’s films, because they seem to be significantly campier than Mysterious Skin. It was interesting to see the contrast between the majority of his films and Mysterious Skin. In particular, I was intrigued by the discussion of Araki’s interest in performance as it relates to camp. Davis says that, “this is one of the major camp aspects of Araki’s filmmaking: an emphasis on performance, which exposes the supposed ‘naturalness’ of everyday behaviour and identity as a sham” (59). He seems to be interested in the exaggerated performance of life itself. Davis says that in Araki’s early films, “…the acting is terrible; by conventional standards, almost every performance is shoddy and embarrassing, lines poorly delivered in frequently bombastic or hyperbolic ways” (59). I liked that he seemed to be unconcerned with “conventional” ideas of what performance is supposed to be. His films highlight the idea of performance through bad acting and exaggeration. In most films, an actor’s performance is supposed to appear as natural as possible. It interested me that he refuted the idea of a “good” performance in order the show the ridiculous ways in which people perform in their regular lives. I was even more intrigued by the way in which this style of filmmaking seems to contrast with the style seen in Mysterious Skin. The performances in Mysterious Skin are naturalistic and relatively traditional. I wonder if the lack of campiness and exaggerated performances reflects the seriousness of the subject matter. The difference between the performances in his early films and the performances in Mysterious Skin seem to show a stylistic evolution from his earlier camp aesthetic.

Works Cited:

Davis, Glyn. “Camp and Queer and the New Queer Director: Case Study-Gregg Araki.” New Queer Cinema: A Critical Reader, edited by Michele Aaron, Rutgers University Press, 2004, pp. 53-67

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