Flaming Classics: Queering the Film Canon

Flaming Classics: Queering the Film Canon

Flaming Classics: Queering the Film Canon

Flaming Classics: Queering the Film Canon

Synopsis

This lively, opinionated, and playful look at the movies is a must-read for film buffs, and for anyone interested in gender, sexuality, and popular culture. One thing's for sure. After reading Flaming Classics you'll know you're definitely not in Kansas anymore.

Excerpt

I have huge cultural and erotic investments in so-called mainstream and classic popular culture texts and personalities that date from my childhood in the 1950s and 1960s. They gave me as much pleasure as they did pain and bad ideological lessons. For example, Marilyn Monroe was my first sex education teacher. From her emotional and physical struggles with Robert Mitchum in The River of No Return, I learned that heterosexuality was about a woman resisting, then submitting to, a man who said he was concerned about her welfare, but who, finally, had to show the woman who was boss by forcing his attentions upon (i.e., raping) her. But it all looked very exciting and erotic to a nine-year-old sissy boy and his eight-year-old sister watching Saturday Night at the Movies on television: Monroe's creamy, breathy blondeness crushed up against Mitchum's rough, unshaven darkness. My sister and I performed variations on the film's crucial sex scene for months afterwards, alternating in the Monroe and Mitchum roles. So I guess Monroe also helped me learn about queerness, since I would act out fantasies of desiring her and of being her at the mercy of my butch-acting straight sister.

From the 1980s onward my life within gay, lesbian, and queer cultures reinforced many of my childhood and teenage popular culture investments. To return to the example above, while Monroe continued to be a feminine identification figure, she also became a tragic, misunderstood gay diva; a sexy femme; and the site of bisexual erotics. As these queer understandings of Monroe indicate, classic texts and personalities actually can be more queer-suggestive than “openly” gay, lesbian, or bisexual texts. That is, the coding of classic or otherwise “mainstream” texts and personalities can often yield a wider range of non-straight readings because certain sexual things could not be stated baldly-and still cannot or will not in most mainstream products-thus often making it more difficult to categorize the erotics of a film or a star. Of course, if you aren't careful, this line of thought can begin to sound like an argument valorizing the closet, for understanding queerness as always something “connotated” or suggested (and never really there “denotatively”), for “subtexting, ” and for “subcultural” readings. But since

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.