This module you are watching a documentary about representations of homosexuality in film. You are also reading about representations of sexuality in Hollywood films. Therefore, I’d like you to post about both.First, please consider everything you have read about representations of homosexuality in film and what you saw in The Celluloid Closet. At some point on this board (starting a thread or replying to someone else), discuss your thoughts on these. Explain the material, as well as give your feedback. Make sure you reference material from both The Celluloid Closet and America on Film. Make sure you don’t just copy what the people above you said. You must add to the discussion. Second, I’d like you to analyze how sexuality is represented in one (please choose only one) of your favorite films using concepts from class. Please be specific and critical in your analysis. Explain the material/concepts you use from class and cite the book. You do not have to analyze representations of homosexuality….just sexuality in some form.
This module you are watching a documentary about representations of homosexuality in film. You are also reading about representations of sexuality in Hollywood films. Therefore, I’d like you to post
America on Film Chapter Information/Outline Introduction to Part V: What is Sexuality? I. Defining Terms Sexuality in a very general sense means sexual behavior Often sexuality is used to mean sexual orientation (“direction of one’s erotic attractions and desires” (p. 303)) Understand that biological sex (covered in Introduction to Part IV) is different from sexual behavior Understand that gender is different gender identity (covered in Introduction to Part IV) Understand that gender and gender identity are different from sexual behavior, although people sometimes assume they overlap (i.e. that one has implications for the other, as in someone who is masculine or identifies as a man will be sexually interested in women) Homophobia and heterosexism sometimes “function as ways to enforce traditional gender roles” (p. 306) Transgender: describes “umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural and social expectations based on the sex they were assigned at birth” (p. 401) *Your book uses the term “transvestite” but this is considered a derogatory term Cross-dressing: describes “someone who wears [what is considered] the [socially appropriate] clothing of the opposite sex” (p. 387); note that they may still be heterosexual More specific labels like heterosexuality and homosexuality are “fairly recently inventions, having been coined at the end of the nineteenth century by early medical researchers” (p. 304); at that point, heterosexuality meant a “disease” where people engaged in sexual relations with someone of the opposite sex outside of marriage (p. 308-309) Some researchers argue sexuality may best be seen on a continuum as there are more sexual orientations than heterosexuality and homosexuality but also bisexuality and asexuality; further, with respect to biological sex, people are sometimes born intersexed Nonetheless, Western popular culture generally treats sexuality in a dichotomous (either-or) fashion as straight or gay, i.e. a straight-gay binary. *Note also that PRISM on campus argues that these days, instead of saying “homosexual” we should say “gay,” as “homosexual often connotes a medical diagnosis, or a discomfort with gay/lesbian people” Heterosexism: “assumption that heterosexuality is the best or only sexual orientation” (p. 391) Heteronormativity: “the structures and ideologies that privilege exclusive heterosexual monogamy (including marriage and child-rearing) as the only acceptable form of heterosexual relations” (p. 390) Homophobia: extreme fear or hatred of gay people (p. 419) Queer: “people and artifacts commonly found outside compulsory heterosexist ideology” (p. 398) Note that the history of this word is much more complicated than the book describes in this section…In some ways, “queer” is an epithet that has been reclaimed (which your book explains in a later chapter) Queer theory: “collection of ideas and suppositions that seeks to understand sexuality as a fluctuating, socially constructed aspect of all human beings, rather than as a set of rigid essentialist identities” (p. 398) II. Theories Of sexual identity formation include: Essentialist or biological model Social constructionist model Some combination of the essentialist and social constructionist models Note that these theories have affected how people who are gay have been treated At one point being gay was considered a mental disorder But “in 1973, the weight of empirical data, coupled with changing social norms and the development of a politically active gay community in the United States, led the Board of Directors of the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). Some psychiatrists who fiercely opposed their action subsequently circulated a petition calling for a vote on the issue by the Association’s membership. That vote was held in 1974, and the Board’s decision was ratified.” (for more info see http://psychology.ucdavis.edu/rainbow/html/facts_mental_health.html) Various “reparative” therapies and programs have been employed to supposedly turn homosexual people heterosexual…but such were declared fraudulent by the AMA in the 1990s (p. 305) Of homophobia Freudian argument that it is “a defense mechanism against one’s own homosexual tendencies” (p. 305) Chapter 14: Heterosexuality, Homosexuality, and Classical Hollywood Images of sexuality have changed over time in Hollywood films. For example, the Production Code supported the “idea that heterosexual monogamy was the only proper sexual behavior” (p. 303). However, after the sexual revolution in the 1960s films included more diverse representations. Nonetheless, to the degree American films continue to reinforce a straight-gay binary, “Hollywood film ignores the sexualities and gender identities of the millions of people who are in multifarious ways ‘not straight,’ that is, queer, and continues to contribute to the marginalization of and prejudice against those people within culture-at-large” (p. 306). I. (Hetero)Sexuality on Screen Note: Heterosexuality has often been privileged in American society, and treated as the “norm.” However, academia is starting to study how heterosexuality is constructed as well. Heterosexuality “has been present in American film since its inception” (p. 307) By the 1920s Hollywood films in almost universally included some type of heterosexual romance “Classical Hollywood cinema almost always includes the struggle to unite a male-female couple” (p. 307) Heterosexuality is generally privileged This is achieved by not representing homosexuality (making it seem like heterosexuality is the only choice), common to films in the classical era In films where other forms of sexuality are represented, sometimes non-heterosexual characters are represented as abnormal or different Certain forms of heterosexuality have been privileged in Hollywood films “Earliest settlers of the English colonies were Protestant Puritans…[who] considered any sex outside of procreative marital intercourse to be sinful” (p. 308) and in the 1800s “monogamous, religiously sanctioned, and solely procreative sex between men and women were considered the only ‘normal’ sexuality by both religious and medical figures” (p. 309) Classical Hollywood films problematize heterosexuality outside of these restrictions (for example when characters who have pleasurable sex with multiple partners or sex out of marriage, and come to unhappy ends) After the sexual revolution of the 1960s, more forms of sexuality have been shown on screen Heterosexuality as well as other sexual orientations are not always explicitly marked as such In society, “throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, sexual relations between men and women were considered a delicate and frequently unspoken-of subject” (p. 308) Sexuality has been censored in Hollywood films, especially in the past but it still happens today Sexual orientation in general “does not always manifest itself as a highly visible social marker” (p. 308) Heterosexuality is signified when characters make “public displays of affection or desire” with respect to the opposite sex (p. 308) Heterosexuality is also sometimes conflated with gender where masculine characteristics are meant to indicate characters are heterosexual Hollywood struggles to both attract audiences through representations of sexuality and conform to demands that such be censored II. (Homo)Sexuality in Early Film Early American films rarely acknowledged homosexuality Instead, early American films linked sexuality to gender roles Characters who violated traditional gender roles considered homosexual Pansy character: gay men represented as effeminate and failures as men Characters who upheld traditional gender roles not considered gay despite affection shown to other same-sex characters Films which did represent homosexuality in other ways (e.g. some European films) were censored In the 1920s, most gay filmmakers hid this fact, and “films that represent non-straight characters in anything but a degrading comic light are extremely rare” (p. 311) III. Censoring Sexuality during the Classical Hollywood Era Younger generations were shifting away from Victorian attitudes in American society Some films contained images of “sexual transgression,” but they usually ended with the affirmation of heterosexual monogamy Sex scandals led to industry fears of government censorship This led to industry self-censorship, i.e. The Production Code Before the code was enforced, films became more violent and sexual Pansy craze Unmarried characters were shown having sex; married characters were shown having affairs, etc. After the code was enforced, Sexuality other than heterosexual monogamy censored There were rules for the representation of heterosexuality, i.e. married heterosexual characters were not shown sleeping in same bed, and there was no open mouthed kissing Sex between heterosexual characters was implied rather than overtly shown “Visual devices” such as “fireworks going off” or a “train entering a tunnel” (p. 313) Connotative homosexuality: “the way classical Hollywood style suggested certain characters might be gay or lesbian without directly asserting as much” (p. 386) Continued use of the pansy Violation of traditional gender roles and being gay/lesbian sometimes linked to being insane or a villain or criminal Especially used by horror films Lesbian vampires Moral clauses for Hollywood film industry employees restricting their sexual freedom Gay actors and lesbians, and marriages of convenience IV. Postwar Sexualities and the Weakening of the Production Code Growing knowledge of sexuality in society in the 1930s and 1940s War conditions help some gay people meet others Blue discharges from the military for being gay Postwar homosexual rights groups Shift in how gay people and lesbians were perceived Kinsey and recognition that homosexuality is not always linked to gender inversion 1950s “mass paranoia about homosexuality” (p. 317) Fears that gay people were attempting to “corrupt America” (p. 317) Discrimination (including job discrimination) against gay/lesbian people Actors and actresses hiding their sexuality Industry faces economic problems Paramount Consent Decrees Competition from outside Hollywood Hollywood competing against films (such as independent films) that advertised more sexuality Hollywood respond with films with more adult themes Challenges to and weakening of the Production Code Homosexuality still “taboo subject” (p. 318) 1960s Production Code allow for restrained images of homosexuality Such representations in film treated being gay as “a tragic flaw linked to violence, crime, shame, and…suicide” (p. 320) But gay people and lesbians in American society in the 1960s continued to fight for civil rights, turn to the counterculture, and ignore Hollywood filmmaking if they wanted to see more diverse representations of sexuality V. Camp and the Underground Cinema Camp and double readings of Hollywood films during the classical era of Hollywood filmmaking 1950s and 1960s underground films that challenged the Production Code Late 1960s Hollywood co-optation and watering down of camp Types of camp Naïve camp: “the camp of failed seriousness; when an artifact is produced without camp intent but is ironically decoded as silly or humorous” (p. 396) Deliberate camp: “intentionally making a text so over-the-top of ‘bad’ that a spectator is encouraged not to take it seriously” (p. 387) Pop camp: “type of mainstream camp artifact; often without a critique of gender or sexuality” (p. 398) Queer camp: “type of queer camp that voices a critique of gender and/or sexuality” (p. 398) Chapter 15: Sexualities on Film Since the Sexual Revolution I. Hollywood and the Sexual Revolution In the 1960s society underwent changes Sexual revolution Increasing acceptability of sex outside of marriage Birth control pill and women’s increasing control over their sexuality Distribution of sexually explicit media Film industry response Hollywood film industry forced to compete with other types of films that were more sexually explicit (such as foreign and underground films) (as noted in previous chapter) Hollywood films slowly started to change and expand representations of sexuality Sexploitation films, and X rated films “For a brief moment in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the various categories of art film, exploitation film, pornography, and Hollywood film blurred together to an unprecedented degree” (p. 326) Backlash Film School Brats Return to previous themes and formulas although with more sex and violence Reinforcement of heterosexual monogamy although sometimes main characters are of different races/ethnicities II. Film and Gay Culture from Stonewall to AIDS Stonewall Riots and the birth of the “modern gay and lesbian civil rights movement” (p. 327) At the end of the 1960s representations of gay and lesbian characters in Hollywood films increased “More realistic images” sometimes employed However, the Hollywood film industry in the 1970s tended to “denote more clearly the same homosexual stereotypes that it had employed connotatively in the past” (p. 328) Hollywood films removed “queer sexuality out of both historically queer characters and gay cultural innovations” (p. 329) Late 1970s turn towards conservatism in society where groups speak out against gay and lesbian civil rights Hollywood films respond with “queer psycho-killer horror movies” (p. 330) Gay and lesbian audiences protest such movies 1980s some sympathetic gay and lesbian characters in more serious Hollywood films Also some comedic explorations of sexuality Note the implications two men in shown in a sexual encounter on film versus two women III. The AIDS Crisis AIDS crisis Demonization of gay people in society Gay actors and lesbian actresses hide their sexuality and health status More radical civil rights groups like ACT-UP T.V., independent films, and foreign films represent people’s struggles with AIDS and more realistic representations of gay and lesbian people’s lives; Hollywood slower to do this Slasher films popular in 1980s “Worked to instill the idea that sexually active people would die a particularly horrible death” (p. 333) Seem to be a metaphorical response to women’s rights as well as AIDS fears Gay and lesbian documentaries Gay and lesbian protest and the development of Hollywood Supports IV. Queer Theory and New Queer Cinema Term “queer” Sexuality not understood as dichotomous Reclamation of an epithet Queer theory 1990s New Queer Cinema New Queer Cinema and new distribution outlets help generate new opportunities for independent queer filmmaking Documentaries about queer people more prevalent V. Hollywood Responds to New Queer Cinema Hollywood responds by making some films that explore “more open parameters of sexuality,” but seems more “comfortable” with comedic gay characters (p. 340) 1990s use of modified buddy formula with a gay male character and female heterosexual character Mainstreaming of queer cinema Criticism of films featuring straight actors playing gay, lesbian or trans roles Culture of Hollywood itself becoming more queer friendly VI. (Hetero)Sexualities in Contemporary American Cinema Today Hollywood and independent films represent more diverse and open forms of heterosexuality than the classical period of Hollywood Intersectionality: Sexuality intersects with race, class, gender, etc. Rare for films to explicitly treat sexuality as a complex issue but some do Bromances, dumb white guy comedies and male heterosexual panic Conclusion: The Power Dynamics of Sexuality #MeToo and increasing efforts to confront rape, child abuse, and sexual harassment Technology and streaming media have made it so more people have access to creating and sharing their work “Still beholden to aging formulas and box office demands, the content of mainstream Hollywood film remains mostly male and heterosexual.” Hollywood is slowly becoming more inclusive of America’s diverse sexual cultures; however, Hollywood filmmaking almost always still upholds the hegemonic dominance of White patriarchal heterosexuality, or heteronormativity” (p. 325)