Queer Theory Queer is by definition whatever is

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Queer Theory • "Queer is by definition whatever is at odds with the normal,

Queer Theory • "Queer is by definition whatever is at odds with the normal, the legitimate, the dominant. There is nothing in particular to which it necessarily refers. ” (Halperin: 1997: 62) • Halperin, D. 1997 Saint Foucault: Towards a Gay Hagiography Oxford University Press

Queer Theory • Queer Theory and Feminist Theory have a lot in common but

Queer Theory • Queer Theory and Feminist Theory have a lot in common but there also some different perspectives from which we can look at the media. • They both agree on; • Having an interest in unconventional gender characteristics. • Rejecting the concept of essentialism (a set of characteristics) and binary oppositions in defining identity. • Queer Theory also challenges the view of a binary oppositional divide between gay and heterosexual; sexual identity is more fluid that! • So theory suggests there is a space outside of the opposition which is defined as ‘queer’.

Queer Theory? • Queer is an overarching term to describe the way in which

Queer Theory? • Queer is an overarching term to describe the way in which a range of identities intersect; it is not synonymous with ‘gay’. • Difficult to reduce to one definition of theory though; • One angle… • As an audience it is possible to take up queer and straight positions as they interpret texts; also media texts can be straight or queer. Films with gay characters can be ‘straight’ (in the context of queerness) while a film about straight characters can be queer. So… A text can be queer, or be read as queer. • • • Another… Social Constructionism v Biological Essentialism (Our understanding of the world) v (The belief of unique characteristics of gender)

Queer Theory? • Alexander Doty (1993) suggests… ‘the realm of mass culture greatly influences

Queer Theory? • Alexander Doty (1993) suggests… ‘the realm of mass culture greatly influences our identity construction. ’ • How much evidence is there to suggest that this is true?

Queer Theory? • Judith Bulter (1990) believes… • Nothing within your identity is fixed.

Queer Theory? • Judith Bulter (1990) believes… • Nothing within your identity is fixed. • Identity is just a pile of social things with you have previously expressed or have been said about you. • Gender is a performance – this is reinforced through repetition • Binary divide between M/F is a social construct. • THERFORE… people can change! Gender is socially constructed rather than down to biology, behaviours are reinforced in the media. Gender Trouble occurs when behavioural representations that contradict socially accepted behaviours clash. Give Examples.

Androgyny When masculine and feminine combine Like Judith Butlers Gender Trouble theory.

Androgyny When masculine and feminine combine Like Judith Butlers Gender Trouble theory.

What is a Queer Text? • Texts that are read as queer; whether it

What is a Queer Text? • Texts that are read as queer; whether it is queer or not. A text could be read as queer because of the ‘pleasures gratified in the audience’. • According to Doty (1998) texts with gay characters may not be queer, while texts without gay characters can be queer. • A text that emphasizes and celebrates difference in society. • Often shocking or explicit in it’s representation of ‘gay’. • Often focusses on themes of ‘outsider’ rather than assimilation.

Sylvia Scarlet • (Cukor, 1935, US) • Katherine Hepburn starred in Sylvia Scarlet as

Sylvia Scarlet • (Cukor, 1935, US) • Katherine Hepburn starred in Sylvia Scarlet as a young woman who dresses as a man. She emphasised unconventional gender characteristics. (Wearing trousers, displaying athleticism and carried strong features). • Watch Clip on VLE • Doty (1995) argues that when a male audience gain sexual pleasure from looking at Hepburn in male dress, they are ‘having a queer moment’. Something that cannot be simply categorised as gay or straight.

Boys Don’t Cry • (Pierce, 1999, US) • Hilary Swank played Brandon, a female

Boys Don’t Cry • (Pierce, 1999, US) • Hilary Swank played Brandon, a female who identifies as a heterosexual male and falls in love with a female who identifies as a heterosexual female – not a lesbian. • Watch Clip on VLE • Boys Don’t Cry isn’t necessarily ‘Queer’ though; the attempt to pass Brandon in society as male, could be read as a reinforcement of conventional definitions of gender and sexuality.

New Queer Cinema • An independent film movement in the US, in early 1990

New Queer Cinema • An independent film movement in the US, in early 1990 s, named ‘New Queer Cinema’ is generally agreed to be queer. • The films had in common, a central character that was on the margins of society, usually due to their sexuality. (Issues of race, gender, class and physical disability were also referred to) • ‘Queer’ turned from a term of abuse to appropriate positive form of identification. • Films were radical and deliberately attempted to shock the heterosexual and mainstream audience. • Examples on the VLE

Queer Texts • Therefore, ‘Queer’ is about celebrating difference. It’s unapologetic about the difference,

Queer Texts • Therefore, ‘Queer’ is about celebrating difference. It’s unapologetic about the difference, whether it is uncomfortable for the audience or not. • Donnie Darko, 2001 This is described as ‘Queer’ because of the focus on and sympathy towards characters who do not conform to conventional expectations of society.

Mainstream Representations • More current texts such as Modern Family (ABC, 2009) and Glee

Mainstream Representations • More current texts such as Modern Family (ABC, 2009) and Glee (Fox, 2009) have central and supporting gay characters. • Queer theory questions these representations arguing that they are based on assimilation (gradual adoption of cultural norms) and the need for acceptance by ‘straight’ society.

I Love You Phillip Morris • (Ficarra & Requa, 2009, US) • Jim Carey

I Love You Phillip Morris • (Ficarra & Requa, 2009, US) • Jim Carey and Ewan Mc. Gregor play gay men, one having been in a heterosexual marriage who ‘comes out’ in the film before embarking on a career as a con man. Despite the mainstream context the film may be read as queer… • ‘The outsider’ theme • Sexual desire is frank/explicit • Gay sex is represented as ‘different’ • No moral judgement made about gay lifestyle “morally reprehensible” • Difference is celebrated • Hybrid genre (male & female genres) with links to Catch me if You Can (2002)

Recap • 1. Define Feminism. • 2. Summarize the characteristics of a ‘Queer Text’.

Recap • 1. Define Feminism. • 2. Summarize the characteristics of a ‘Queer Text’. • 3. Find any other media text (soap or TV show, fact or fiction, magazine or website) and explain how a theory from today applies. • 4. Consider if/how queer theory and feminist theory link with marxist theory. • Be prepared to share your thoughts.

Examples: Supporting Queer Theory • Hairspray (Musical/Film) Male playing Female character, appears asexual, not

Examples: Supporting Queer Theory • Hairspray (Musical/Film) Male playing Female character, appears asexual, not on either side of socially constructed divide. • Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV Drama) Themes of outsider • Million Dollar Baby (Film) Gender Trouble • Bend it Like Beckham (Film) Gender Trouble & themes of outsider • Pitch Perfect Outsider themes and gender identity outside social divide.

Examples: Supporting Feminist Theory • + Family Guy (TV Animated Comedy) Emphasizes female role

Examples: Supporting Feminist Theory • + Family Guy (TV Animated Comedy) Emphasizes female role model • + Pitch Perfect (Film) Strong female lead – driving narrative • - Wolf of Wall Street (Film) Stereotypes Women and uses male gaze to see women as objects