Celluloid Closet - Fierstein - Visibility

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We all know there have been many queer stereotypes in Hollywood movies ever since the beginning of the film industry. Some of the ones I'm going to discuss include the 'sissy' gay character (encountered more so during the so-called 'Golden Age of Hollywood') to the stereotypes still suffered by queer audiences during the beginning of the 1990s, which instigated a movement for better and more realistic representations.

During the Golden Age of Hollywood, it is not suprising that gay characters were represented as 'sissies,' partly because that was many peoples' impressions of gay people and was perhaps done for comical effect. The Celluloid Closet noted that in the rare times homosexuality was represented, it was done to evoke humor, pity, or fear. Everyone who watched the films was somehow affected by the stereotypes seen. Because of this, the sissy representation unfortunately had a huge impact on a whole generation of our culture and how they thought of queer peoples.

Moving past that, Hollywood at least got a little more realistic in its representations during the mid part of the century. The Celluloid Closet notes that in 'Gentlemen Prefer Blondes,' there is a largely homoerotic subtext in its gym scene, which I found very interesting. It seems that homosexuality could be sometimes depicted as long as it wasn't blatantly depicted. I suppose this isn't surprising because as Queer Images notes, from 1934 to the mid 1960s, Hollywood was forced to abide by the Hollywood Production Code, which forced out depictions of homosexuality. Filmmakers found ways around this, which in part led to other stereotypes themselves, including the closeted, quiet gay person who isn't comfortable being out. I think that although many people in the later part of the decade felt they were being accepting of homosexuality, it was in part only because they were used to it being hidden and didn't expect to have to deal with it.

Since the making of the Celluloid Closet, I think stereotypes have changed a lot. People now realize that the queer community is as diverse and wide-ranging as the straight community, and that we can't be pigeon-holed into any one group. They haven't gone away completely, and are probably just as positive as negative, and I'd say they include being fun-loving, creative, stylish, and being good friends.

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I think that there are a lot of older films with homoerotic subtexts in them, which is really fascinating. I took the "Gay Men and Homophobia" class where we actually had an assignment to find the homoerotic subtext in a film, and it was surprisingly easy (and fun)! I definitely agree with you that the Celluloid Closet is a bit dated, therefore there really isn't any excuse any more to continue to use stereotypes.

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This page contains a single entry by mihmx015 published on February 6, 2012 11:22 AM.

If you can't see me as a human being, I don't want you to see me at all. was the previous entry in this blog.

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