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Queer Theory

Queer Theory






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    Queer Theory Queer Theory Presentation Transcript

    • A Level Media Studies
    • Definition...
      • A field of critical theory that emerged in the early 1990s.
      • Explores and challenges the way in which heterosexuality is constructed as normal...
      • And the way in which the media has limited the representations of gay men and women.
      • Challenges the traditionally held assumptions that there is an oppositional divide between being gay and heterosexual
      • Suggests sexual identity is more fluid.
      • For example...
    • Captain Jack Sparrow – Pirates of the Caribbean An ironic and over the top performance Overly elaborate costume and eye make-up Uses feminine and camp gestures Not what we would consider ‘macho’.
    • Theory: Judith Butler (1999)
      • Suggests gender is not the result of nature, but is socially constructed.
      • Male and female behaviour roles are not the result of biology but are constructed and reinforced by society through media and culture.
      • Sees gender as a PERFORMANCE.
      • She argues that there are a number of exaggerated representations of masculinity and femininity which cause “gender trouble.”
      • (Any behaviour or representation that disrupts culturally accepted notions of gender.)
    • Both have built their success on challenging expected notions of femininity
      • Joss Stone
      • By being overtly sexual at a young age.
      • Amy Winehouse
      • By living up to her ‘bad girl’ image.
      • Excessive consumption of drugs and alcohol.
      • She mixes an excess of traditional 1950s/60s femininity by wearing retro dresses that emphasise the female shape and long hair...
      • with a range of tattoos that would once have been considered masculine.
    • The History...
      • 1950s – police actively enforced laws that prohibited sexual activities between men.
      • Sexually ‘abnormal’ and ‘deviant’.
      • 1967 – homosexuality is decriminalised in UK (2009 for India)
      • In parts of Africa and Asia today it is still punishable by death
      • 1977 – World Health Organisation refers to homosexuality as a mental illness (removed in 1990)
      • Civil partnerships legal in UK from 2004.
    • Queer theory suggests there are different ways of interpreting contemporary media texts
      • Batman and Robin (1960)
      “ homo-erotic overtones... ironically camp.”
    • Contemporary Texts
      • Queer theory can also be applied to texts where heterosexuality is dominant.
      Joey and Chandler (Friends) Strongly heterosexual text Homo-erotic...an interest in each other that exceeds normal friendship
    • Queer as Folk (1999)
      • Queer theory suggests there is now a more open and fluid approach to sexuality.
      • There have been a number of changes in attitude.
      Positive in that it represented gay culture rather than an individual character
    • Brokeback Mountain (2006)
      • Success of this Hollywood film an indication of more progressive attitudes to homosexuality.
      • For some, the film challenges two quintessential traditional images of American masculinity – the cowboy and the ‘ fishing trip ’.
      • However, it can also be suggested that the homosexual relationship portrayed here is represented as tragic – a long way from the idealised heterosexual relationships in mainstream Hollywood films.
      • As the film is set in the 1950s, some would also argue that this suggests issues of homophobia belong in the past.
    • Camp
      • Involves an exaggerated performance of femininity.
      • Emphasis on style, image, irreverence and breaking taboos.
      • A camp style draws attention to how masculinity is constructed.
      • Challenges the traditional notions of masculinity.
    • Will and Grace
      • An indication of changing attitudes to homosexuality.
      • Contains a number of overtly gay cultural references.
      • However…
      • Although Jack is portrayed as camp, Will spends much of the time ‘playing straight’ (having dinner parties, flat hunting with Grace)
      • His boyfriends provide only fleeting relationships.
      • His relationship with Grace is problematic –
      • Whether he will ‘become straight’ is left open in the narrative (if so, he would be with Grace) – this undermines the queer reading of the text.
    • Lesbianism
      • Never made illegal
      • Yet suppressed in British culture in 19 th and 20 th centuries.
      • Media representations of lesbians are far less frequent.
      • One or two notable exception: Sugar Rush (2005/6)
    • In conclusion...
      • ‘ Gender trouble’ is evident everywhere in mainstream media.
      • Queer theorists suggest this is evidence of a move towards increasing tolerance of sexual diversity.
      • Others argue that these representations simply present alternatives to the ‘norm’ of heterosexuality.
      • Are they just used because of their shock value, not due to any desire to promote diversity?
    • Task:
      • Watch the clip taken from Will and Grace
      • Consider the two gay characters within the scene and the way in which they are represented
      • Analyse the clip commenting on:
      • Whether you think the media has limited the representations of gay men
      • Whether the media challenges the traditionally held assumption that there is a clear divide between being gay and heterosexual
      • And consider if the programme suggests sexual identity is more fluid in more recent media texts.