Week 14: Brokeback Mountain

What I found most interesting about this week’s readings was their consistent focus on the discourse surrounding the films, rather the films as texts themselves. This trend is most pronounced in Brook’s “The Kids Are All Right, the Pursuits of Happiness, and the Spaces Between” and  Cooper and Pease’s “Framing Brokeback Mountain” both of which privilege critical and/or academic discourse surrounding films rather the films self-contained narratives as the most important site of interrogation.

For me, this trend becomes significant when viewed within the trajectory of a course attempting to answer that it means for a film to be “queer.” We started in the 20th century where the queerness of films had to be read into it by a queer audience looking for representations, a queerness hidden and unspoken even if it was clearly felt. We started in a moment where cultural discourses where irrelevant in discussing the queerness of a film, a moment where the film as text was the area to privilege in order to discuss a films queerness. But as the semester has progressed through time, the discussions of our readings and discussions within the class itself have been more and more concerned with what people are saying about these films rather than what the films do themselves. As soon as films were able to discuss and represent queerness openly, the films themselves ceased to matter—what matters now is what these queer films are saying about the politics of the world around them. While this is not a dynamic that only exists within the discourse of queer cinema (and it could be argued that the entire point of cinema studies itself is to discuss what films say about the real world) but I just found it interesting the way our class has come full circle in terms of what becomes important in the discussion of queer films.

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