Bringing queer film principles to mainstream cinema

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The most important development for me, in queer cinema over the years, has been the broadening of the genre to include queer themes and characters in films that showcase something other than a romance or romantic relationship. For me, the most interesting films were Heavenly Creatures, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and By Hook or By Crook due to the themes of horror or friendship superseding the importance of the queerness (I also really enjoyed the two documentaries, The Celluloid Closet and Paris is Burning because of the break from a romance narrative).

I see the future of queer cinema moving toward this. The two biggest budget and most mainstream films we watched (Brokeback Mountain and The Kids are Alright (and indie film, yes, but starring some big names)) were so intent on showing romantic relationships between queer people. This is fine, I suppose, but very limiting. While it's important to have queer romance legitimized by widely-watched films (I had typed "by the Hollywood machine," but it sounded too cynical), I think it's more important to have queer existence legitimized next.

This means increasing numbers of queer characters (as well as queer actors and directors!) in "mainstream" films, where their identity or orientation are not the focus, but rather, a no-big-deal detail or a facet of an otherwise more complex story. It means that the audience doesn't get stuck on what these characters do when they're naked together, you know? Expression of sexuality is such a narrow way to see queer people--and it's something that queer cinema has managed to get past. Now hopefully the rest of filmmakers can, too.

3 Comments

I like your point about increasing the number of queer actors and directors as well as queer characters in film. I would add queer screenwriters to the list as well. I don't necessarily think that films can't be great without queer cast or crew, (I thought Brokeback Mountain was extremely well casted) but it does add legitimacy to queer films and increases the diversity of queer character portrayals that audiences are exposed to.

I also agree with your point about the benefit of shifting focus of some films away from sexual-orientation itself and instead to the more complex story.

I contemplate a related scenario in my major, which is Elementary Education. A lot of literature about minorities is focused on the culture itself, where it is less frequent to just have minority characters that live normal day-to-day lives regardless of race, sexual orientation, or religion. I think that in this example and in queer cinema, the key is lots and lots of representations of diverse characters!

I totally agree with everything you said here. I like that some of the films are not centered around romance, though I admit I do like that in some films, it seems to really dominate the industry, and gets tiresome. I also think its great that there are many different themes in queer cinema, and not just one type of film.

I also definitely agree that there should be more queer characters in mainstream film! All different types too, and not just stereotypes, as most queer characters in film or television are right now.

I agree that it was refreshing to see that all of the films wouldn't be romance films. But when I think about it i can see how it's so easy for them to dominate the industry. Even when i didn't realize i was doing it, I found myself at the tip of my seat waiting for a love triangle in By Hook or By Crook. I remember thinking to myself that the movie wasn't as great and I blamed it on this. But yes, I guess it's still interesting to see diverse films. I can appreciate that. Great analysis.

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This page contains a single entry by lundb195 published on April 23, 2012 9:37 AM.

Queer Cinema, By Hook or By Crook. was the previous entry in this blog.

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