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April 9, 2008

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Robertson discusses a sense of exaggeration in the film improperly executed, thus diminishing other oppressed people. Although I feel that this is a semi-just accusation, since there are, in fact, poor portrayals of women, immigrants, and others, the purpose and message of the film were not distracted. We are given a troupe of people who have no doubt experienced the harsh reality of the intolerant world in which we live. They take a dive into a culture that is seemingly further behind and thus more oppressive, but go full-force, nonetheless. The gender norms of the outback are immediately presented to them, and whether the butch woman's role ends up with a negative connotation or not, our three protagonists are given a sense of comradeship and slight acceptance through her appearance. They suffer many more tribulations revolving around their gender presentation and status, and I believe that looking into how their oppression is portrayed as a means to shed light on another injustice isn't legitimate and distracts from the true nature of the film. Yes, stereotypes are scattered throughout the film, but I don't believe that toning these down and bringing the characters to a more similar plane and common ground would be as effective. These roles are merely roadblocks for them to overcome, other types of people and situations to encounter.

Tick and Felicia's return home is, to me, in no way an indication that they didn't belong on the road, didn't fit in, and therefore defeatedly returned to where they came from. I don't believe the journey was unsuccessful. Clearly the purpose of it was to (looking more deeply than just the destination they had all along) strengthen personal views of oneself, despite criticism. It was to take on the given challenge of unpreferable conditions. And concluding the journey with the wholehearted approval of an opinion most valued (Tick's son) completed this excursion. Therefore the return home was merely the inevitable wrapping up of a positive ending.

April 8, 2008

Priscilla, The Queen

I do not agree with Robertson. I believe in the film, Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the stereotypical gay men who are part of the drag culture is meant to represent something much deeper in the film and reveal a larger issue to the viewer. Robertson believes that such stereotypes are used in the film to frighten those who venture, but I disagree. Throughout the film, the stereotype of the gay man in drag is mocked and ultimately is personalized with the three individuals’ experiences in the outback. One scene that stands out in my mind is when Adam is chased and beaten up by a group of men who represent the stereotypical outback masculinity. I believe that the scene breaks down the stereotypes of drags queens and reveals them as individuals who go through struggles and face dire consequences for being true to themselves. Though comedic throughout the film, the experience changes the talkative Adam, who is left voiceless after his frightful experience. Tick actually yells at Adam for putting himself into such a situation in the outback. Yet, as the viewer I myself question why couldn’t Adam be true to himself without having to worry about being killed? It present such a question within me about the type of society we have and the close-minded individuals in society who feel threatened enough by differences to turn to violence. I believe that such strong stereotypes are present in the film for a deep reason for the viewer to question the type of society we live in and ultimately change it. It allows the viewer to question whether they themselves feel uncomfortable with the drag queens; yet, throughout the film of Adam, Tick and Bernadette on the road I see that they are all much deeper than what meets the eye. Tick is continuously battling the desire to have his son in his life, but frightful of what he will think of his father because of his living. The son views his father profession as completely normal. Such a child-like innocence, untainted by stereotypes and prejudices in our world voices the opinion that is how all individuals should respond. Overall the film personalizes the individuals with their battles that they go through for simply being open and honest with what makes them happy in their life and why should any individual have to be persecuted for finding something that makes them happy, even in the outback?

April 7, 2008

Stereotypes upon stereotypes....

“But the return home in Priscilla, as in the Wizard of Oz, can be a rejection of difference and a return to familiarity,? (Pamela Robertson, Home and Away). I believe what Robertson has said about stereotypes and their usage to frighten those who venture to be very true. Firstly, stereotypes stem from something that may have been true however, they are excessively used so that they usually cause harm towards a specific group of people based on nationality, sexual orientation, appearance, etc. The three main characters Tick, Bernadette, and Adam, are minorities in the Australian outback where most likely people don’t see a group of men dressed in ‘feminine’ clothing therefore, this could end up to be a dangerous encounter between the ‘normal’ or accepted and the transsexual and drag queens. Many studies have found that people tend to be afraid of the unknown so they act out in sometimes very hateful ways. This is true for both parties of people in the case of the film Priscilla.
When they made their journey on the road they had a very friendly departure with people hooraying and being merry but once they hit the road and the outback they realized they were no longer in their safety zone where their bus had hateful words directed at them involving the stereotype of AIDS coming from all gays. In this same place where their bus was graffitied they met a woman who was mean and vulgar towards them who ‘just happened to be’ a butch woman. Bernadette makes a comment that reflects her appearance and the fact that she will never get laid. Here Bernadette reacts to an insulting stereotype by dealing out her own. Before Bernadette was a white woman she was a white man and perhaps these stereotypes of women were engrained in her from the very beginning of her existence that she does not even realize she is only continuing the hate and stereotypes that she is held accounted to because she is a transsexual. Another interesting scene is where the Filipino woman is stereotyped as this crazy, exotic, and manipulative woman while her husband Bob, a white European man, is portrayed as this gentle kind soul. Here Cynthia will never find her place and society and will always be seen as the strange or ‘alien.’ Bernadette refers to Cynthia as a bitch which furthers the negative stereotype of all women who act out as bitches and also how it is becoming a popular word for even women to use against other women securing patriarchy.
The last scene that I believe imperative to discus is how the ‘manly outback man’ is stereotyped as sex deprived and therefore incredibly horny. He is also incredibly ignorant and the town bully. Adam decides after binging on drugs to go off and find some excitement. After an altercation Adam and the outback man get in a fight and Adam gets a blow to the face and nearly a blow to his pelvic region which was intended to reinforce the fact that he was not a true man because he dressed in feminine clothes.
Although I do not believe that it is the responsibility of minorities and the ‘other’ to help stop stereotypes nor do I find them more wrong if they themselves use stereotypes it is very possible that this film has perhaps dangerously used the stereotypes of transsexuals and drag queens to reinforce other stereotypes such as the butch woman and the exotic, manipulating immigrant.

Priscilla on the Road

I agree that there were stereotypes used throughout the movie, but I think it was necessary to set up the differences between the characters of the film and also enables us as viewers to see the differences between those on the road in this film than those of other films we have watched. There were obvious obstacles set up in the film along their journey to scare them off. For example, the sheer length and immensity of the Outback, the opposition from other people they encounter such as the woman in the bar that yells at them or the message written on Priscilla, and that Priscilla keeps breaking down, etc. These circumstances would scare many off, but what I really liked about the movie is that nothing did--they kept going through everything and made friends along the way through unlikely people. Even with the attack scene, I really liked that they ended up being the winners of that event. When it first started I remember thinking that I was not suprised that one of them is getting attacked considering the outcomes of the others that have taken to the road in the other films we have watched. I think overall, what was great about this film is that they were very clear in the differences of the characters, and while they were met with opposition along their journey, they came out on top through making it the whole way on the road to being accepted by family members and others.

Australia: Exaggerated

After watching the film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, I can see where Robertson is coming from when he states that this movie is self-consciously about difference and diversity in Australia. I think the film portrayed a perfect example in cultural differences and diversity. There were a lot of stereotypical moments in the film and many of them were exaggerated. I don’t know if I would call this film a super liberating one like Robertson said, but I felt it was a semi-liberating film. I felt that at the end of the film Tick felt free knowing that his son knew he was different than other fathers and knowing his son knew the truth about him and was okay with it. I also thought Bernie was liberated at the end when she decided to stay with Bob and not continue back home with the others. I really enjoyed this film and thought it was entertaining. I agree with some stuff that Robertson stated but disagree with how exaggerated some of the stereotypes were.

Queens in the Desert

In The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, as Robertson argues, particular stereotypes about woman, immigrant, and native definitely work to normalize certain stereotypes about queer culture. The stereotypes are so obvious that it makes the viewer think about how they are working within the film rather than just accepting them as truths about certain groups of people. In the situation with the butch woman, she is dressed in a dirty "beater" tank top, not wearing any makeup, and is "unwomanly" in terms of conventions. It is only when Bernadette slams her on these "unwomanly" grounds (insinuating her unattractiveness to men), that she and Felicia and Tick are accepted by the heterosexual white male crowd. In the scene where Cynthia, the Filipino wife of Bob, escapes the confines of home to go to the bar and perform her act, the stereotyped immigrant wife upstages the drag queens, making them look less ridiculous and deviant than the woman who shoots ping pong balls out of her g-string. In the scene with a group of Aboriginies, a specifically Australian relationship with Aboriginal peoples comes into play. The three main characters spend an evening performing with the group of natives and while the scene shows a certain bonding between two groups of people seen as outsiders in "normal" society, the queens are the characters that get developed and get to move on, while the purely re-active natives (they respond to the queens' performance without words, but use facial expressions and so on) are left without any further engagement in the plot. As straw men, these essentialized characters work to render an essentialized view of queer culture as false or "more normal" than their stereotypical counterparts.

What's Home Got to Do with It?

Like Robertson, I believe that Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert relies on stereotypical portraits of characters critical to the story of Felicia, Bernadette and Tick. Priscella creates caricatures of the woman, immigrant, and native (and outback masculinity) to discourage the non normative body from exercising mobility in the Australian outback.
The supporting female roles in Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Shirley and Cynthia, are not portrayed in a very positive manner. Shirley, who is very masculine in dress and mannerisms, is insulted by Bernadette for not being feminine enough, attractive enough and for menstruating. Bernadette is portrayed as tougher, smarter and classier than the woman who was born anatomically female. Cynthia is perhaps the opposite of Shirley. She is very feminine but excessively sexual (embarrassingly so) to her husband abusing a very negative stereotype of not only women but especially the female Asian immigrant.
The Aborigines are most accepting of Felicia, Bernadette and Tick but it seems that they cannot make a true connection. Felicia, Bernadette and Tick seem rather out of place in the desert and unlike the Aborigines are not accustomed to sleeping outdoors. When they are invited to the Aborigine camp, Felicia, Bernadette and Tick seem exceedingly dainty and sophistcated in order to exaggerate the contrast between the two groups.
The men of the outback are also portrayed very negatively. None are accepting of the Felicia, Bernadette and Tick and are made to be hypermasculinzed and unintelligent. All of the characters pitted against Felicia, Bernadette and Tick seem to be caricatures perhaps in order to compete with their larger than life personalities but unfortunately, the film still relies on negative stereotypes in order to tell their story.

Normalizing the Abnormal?

"I suggest that we must understand the degree to which the categories “gay? and “Australian? are defined in the film through their opposition to other categories, especially “woman,? “immigrant,? and “native.? …I explore how concepts of home and away intersect with concepts of difference in Priscilla and suggest ways in which identity politics intertwine with how we conceive and remember home." (Robertson 274)


In all the films we’ve watched thus far, the road represents both the taking away from and the returning to “home? (which is often more an idea than a physical place). Australian film The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is no different, unfurling the personal and sexual pasts, and following the current plights, of two drag queens and one transsexual en route to an Outback-set drag show. All are based in Sydney, which serves as a sort of Mecca for all things queer and fabulous; the juxtaposition between the two locations is where we lay our scene (and where Robertson swoops in to make her point). “In the course of their journey, in line with the conventions of the road movie, these three main characters, all white, come into contact with a variety of people who provide a range of responses to their queerness and cross-dressing. Once fulfilled, however, Adam’s dream [of climbing to the top of King’s Canyon as a Queen] feels anticlimactic for the three drag queens who in the incongruity of their surroundings become like Dorothy in her Oz: they want to go home.?


Robertson argues in Home and Away that the masculine-liberating aspects of the road in Priscilla rely on various (contrasting, essentialized) racist and sexist representations to shape the film’s gay identity. Her claim is that these stereotypes are set up to “frighten away? those who dare venture from where they’re supposed to belong and down a road that otherwise assumes normativity. I agree with Robertson that Priscilla’s use of the butch bar patron, the Filipino “mail-order? bride and the indigenous desert-dwellers are a bit overblown. This is most obvious when the overtly masculine Bob’s aforementioned Filipino bride (who, the audience is left to assume, is nothing short of completely insane) performs her “act? for a crowd of roughneck drunks. Involving strategically placed leather and ping-pong balls, we are privy to something even the drag queens deem too perverse. Followed up by that, their lip-synching, costume-changing excess is left deflated and, suddenly, so normal. We get bouts of homophobia (Priscilla, their chrome vessel, is spray-painted with hateful obscenities; Adam/Felicia is harassed and nearly beaten up by a group of men who mistake her for a woman), but ultimately, our gals come off as the not-so-odd ones out when plunked beside the film’s other “wackier? elements.


I will say, however, that I did not find the film's ending to be as disappointing as Robertson. There's nothing wrong with discovering that where you came from is where you belong, and I praise the characters for their willingness to endure an experience outside of their comfort zones. The road is a funny place like that: it tends to be as much in your head and heart as it is beneath your tires, and sometimes it's supposed to take you right back to where you started.

Drag Queens in the Desert

Hitting the road can be an exciting journey of possibilities. By venturing far from home into the wide open world, travelers may encounter things they had or had not been expecting. By traveling the road through the eyes of drag queens and transsexuals, the original male character is transformed into a new feminine and gay role. Along this journey, Bernadette, Tick, and Felicia are faced with opportunities and challenges.
The road that these three are taking will eventually lead them to a resort in the Austrailian landscape. They will be able to perform their song and dance routines which they all love to do. During their journey, they come face-to-face with straw men. However, these problems do not set them back. They only strenghten the characters bonds with eachother and allow them to grow as individuals. Without these conflicts, 'the road' would not have been as rewarding.
In the beginning of the film, Priscilla (the bus) is vandilized. They become sad, but only momentarilly. They realize that their journey has only begun and they improvise by painting over it in a purple color!
Bernadette is faced with the struggle of grieving on the road. Her lover had passed away and she finds a new lvoe in Bob (an originally straight man). Bernadette is very strong and supportive when times get rough. She often comes to the rescue for the others. When Felicia is being assaulted in the alley by many angry straight men, Bernadette puts them in their place. This is an example of gay power and identity at the extreme. Also, when Bernadette outdrinks the local champion at the bar, she and the others are then accepted into the group. Often times these three have to prove that their gay and transsexual identities should be accepted.
Finally, at the end of the film, Tick is reunited with his birth son. He fears to reveal his true identity to him because he wants his son to love him. However, when he finds out his son already knows that he is a drag queen, he is very happy. The two of them can enjoy one another while Tick still can be his true self.
While challenges did arise, the three characters of Priscilla rose above the racism and sexism finding their true selves and living above the criticism of drag queens and transsexuals.

Drag Queens in the Desert

Hitting the road can be an exciting journey of possibilities. By venturing far from home into the wide open world, travelers may encounter things they had or had not been expecting. By traveling the road through the eyes of drag queens and transsexuals, the original male character is transformed into a new feminine and gay role. Along this journey, Bernadette, Tick, and Felicia are faced with opportunities and challenges.
The road that these three are taking will eventually lead them to a resort in the Austrailian landscape. They will be able to perform their song and dance routines which they all love to do. During their journey, they come face-to-face with straw men. However, these problems do not set them back. They only strenghten the characters bonds with eachother and allow them to grow as individuals. Without these conflicts, 'the road' would not have been as rewarding.
In the beginning of the film, Priscilla (the bus) is vandilized. They become sad, but only momentarilly. They realize that their journey has only begun and they improvise by painting over it in a purple color!
Bernadette is faced with the struggle of grieving on the road. Her lover had passed away and she finds a new lvoe in Bob (an originally straight man). Bernadette is very strong and supportive when times get rough. She often comes to the rescue for the others. When Felicia is being assaulted in the alley by many angry straight men, Bernadette puts them in their place. This is an example of gay power and identity at the extreme. Also, when Bernadette outdrinks the local champion at the bar, she and the others are then accepted into the group. Often times these three have to prove that their gay and transsexual identities should be accepted.
Finally, at the end of the film, Tick is reunited with his birth son. He fears to reveal his true identity to him because he wants his son to love him. However, when he finds out his son already knows that he is a drag queen, he is very happy. The two of them can enjoy one another while Tick still can be his true self.
While challenges did arise, the three characters of Priscilla rose above the racism and sexism finding their true selves and living above the criticism of drag queens and transsexuals.

Home and Identity

I agree with Roberson and her thoughts in “Home and Away? that The Adventures of Pricilla, Queen of the Desert is set up in a way to frighten those who wish to venture into the outback. The outback is depicted as lonely, stark, and dangerous. The music that is played while the camera captures landscapes is very wild, full of echoes, and frightening. This combination creates an unwelcoming outback. Moreover, since the characters in Pricilla are mainly gay and transsexual the music and landscapes of the outback especially frighten them. In addition to the music and landscapes identity based off of identity to be created based on opposition. The gay and Australian are defined through opposition to woman, immigrant, native, and outback masculinity within the film. For example, Bob’s Asian wife is an extreme woman. She loves the attention of other men. At the bar she walks straight in and starts dancing on top of the bar. After a few projections of ping-pong balls Bob gets angry and takes her off the bar. Before Bob’s wife started dancing the drag queens attempted to perform but were not accepted by the bar crowd. This scene shows that even through the drag queens are Australian they are less acceptable in the outback compared to an immigrant. Another bar scene in Pricilla shows that gay isn’t as accepted as a woman is in the outback. When they arrive at a hotel to spend the night they three queens go to the bar downstairs. When they enter the bar everyone stops talking. Politely Bernadette asks for drinks but a woman interrupts her. The woman says the bar doesn’t serve people like them. This masculine woman with her tank top and armpit stains opposes the gay/transsexual identity of the drag queens. In an outback bar, masculine women are allowed but gay men are not. Using identity to show the non-conforming culture of drags in the outback allows Pricilla to frighten those who venture away from home and into the Australian outback.

"Home"

Everyone has a different Idea of home. Some don't even have a place o actually call home, and others never want to leave.
The ideas of home are shaped by many different things, race class, and even gender. In Priscilla we watched a group of drag queens and one transsexual explore the road and find home on a bus. We saw how when someone endangers the ideas of traditional masuclinity and gender they are seen as inferior and therefore threatening of the so called normal person.
Although they were not your traditional males, seeing them on the road, and finally getting to their destination after being subjected to multiple hostilites was heartwarming. I was glad to see that they were determined to get where they were going and not let anyone get in the way of their destination. They didn't care that they had "Aids F-ers Go Home!!" written on their bus. They took this as an opportunity to make the bus even more fabulous, and even more fitting to their personalities.
They may have gotten a good fright here and there, but they learned from it, and bonded between each experience. They were also reminded that the city is more of a safe zone, because of the higher tolerance level than that of all the hetero-normativity in the rural and desert areas.
One cannot live there life in fear, this was demonstrated perfectly by this movie.

"We're not in Kansas anymore"

In comparing the article Home and Away to The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, it is seen that the road is used as an escape route somewhere. Not only is the road used for leaving a destination in hopes of an improved outcome, it can also be used for gay identity, homophobia and isolation. In The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert, the two drag queens and one transsexual live in a somewhat comfortable and accepting city. As they travel, they become vicitmized by almost everyone possible. A woman, an immigrant and men are used to show victimize these characters.
It seems that people are scared of what they do not know. In the rugged outback, people are used to the same people, almost a cookie cutter affect. They are stereotyped to not like change and not understand differences of outsiders. As The Adventures of Priscilla Queen of the Desert is watched, one can see that the people can not identify with these drag queens. Because they don't understand their lifestyles, many characters in these isolated neighborhoods harass the queens throughout the film. In the article Home and Away, it discusses how the men are used as spectacles within the society and isolated because of the differences of both men and women, races, and cultures.
I think that the victimizers are trying to frighten away the drag queens., but I don't think the film is trying to frighten away an adventure. I think they are doing this because of the fear of change. Throughout the film we can see the draq queens grow as individuals and become more complex and complicated. Meanwhile, the other characters seem to stay the same, at a equilibrium of their human development. The only other person that grows in this film and benefits from these queens is Bob, who actually follows them. I think that this film is not trying to frighten people, rather I think it is trying to show the vast amount of differences of culture that Australia has to offer.

April 6, 2008

You gotta save yourself hunny

The women decide to take to the road in hopes to find a "new found freedom." They look to the road for liberation and a chance to escape. However, unlike many other films we have watched, the road doesn't become as liberating for homosexual drag queens. Living in the city and surrounded by people who are much more accepting of their lifestyles, I think these ladies were unaware of how harsh the road could be.
Peppered with stereotypical characters. (the mechanic and his mail order bride & the homophobic hicks) the road becomes a cold and almost cruel place for these characters. I think the women soon realize that this road is not going to give them the liberation they were looking for - and that feeling is going to come from within. Despite their bad luck and unresponsive audiences, in the end the roadtrip did change them. They found the confidence and liberation within themselves and within each other to feel this road trip was a success.
The road can't change everyone, sometimes you gotta look within yourself to bring out that change.

Priscilla and Stereotypes

After reading Robertson's article, I found her view of how characters' stereotypes play out in the film and affect the drag queens to be very interesting. I do agree that the use of stereotypes play a significant role in the film, however, I don't think that these stereotypes make the drag queens afraid to be on the road or frighten them to go home. I agree with Robertson that these stereotypes are actually there to "normalize" the drag queens by having the butch woman, "mail-order bride" and the natives be exceeding outrageous and excessive in their actions. For instance, when Bob's wife, the Filipino "mail-order bride" does her act so to speak with her outfit and ping pong balls, the drag show that was put on before seems almost tame and not at all extraordinary. Both Bob and the drag queens find her act to be over the top and in Robertson's words even "perverse". Indeed the audience then identifies with Bob and the drag queens when they see this act and find the drag queens to be the "normal" ones in the situation and Bob's wife and the men in the bar to be perverse.

As the drag queens continue in their journey throughout the desert they run into homophobia such as when Priscilla is vandalized, however, they are not frightened off the road but continue on usually with a joke from Felicia. It is when they face this homophobia, they are seen as different or marginalized. But when they are confronted with other marginalized groups such as the natives or the Filipino woman, the drag queens are outshined by the stereotypes and the drag queens appear to be the "normal" ones that can better blend into society and the status quo.

Is the "outback" for everyone?

I agree with Robertson's arguement that certain tropes are established in order to solidify the liberatory aspects seen in Priscilla; however the racist and sexist tropes employed in the film led me to feel that the road was not a safe place for homosexuals and that in the end Mitzi and Felicia felt more comfortable at home in the big city, Sydney and therefore were not very liberated on the road. For example, when their bus broke down and they were in the middle of nowhere, Bernadette went searching for help and when she returned in the jeep, the couple in the car was immediately turned off when they saw Mitzi in her stage outfit and the newly painted pink bus. The fact that they painted their bus in the first place was a reason of their unwelcoming in the "outback" of Australia because of the obscenities. I also believe it was quite telling that besides the resort, the only place where Mitzi, Felicia and Bernadette felt welcomed was with the aboriginals - a group of "atypical" people to the mainstream much like the main characters and their nonconformist lifestyles as homosexuals. Although I enjoyed the film overall, I did not think it was liberating as a road film in that the main characters weren't comfortable and seemed unwelcomed/not accepted in the unfamiliar "away from home" road they traveled.

Priscilla

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert is the first film that we have seen in class where the main characters are non-heterosexual human beings. On the road, Mitzie, Bernadette, and Felicia encounter other character types that can be seen as a stereotypical characters. These characters (Bob, Bob's wife, and the aborigine man) all show stereotypical characteristics while also breaking the molds that restrain them. Bob appears to be a white male who is possessive and abusive to his wife. However, we see him support our main characters in a way which is not expected. He sticks up for them and befriends them. Bobs wife begins as an oppressed woman who we later see is obsessed with some sort of ping pong ball act. In the end, she leaves her controlling husband saying "you want good wife, you be good husband". Althogh confined to her "Asian speaking ability", she still conveys the message that she knows she is treated badly and deserves better. Finally, we see the aborigine man who unlike the white, older couple helps them when Priscilla breaks down on the road. He brings them back to his home, which ends with him joining in their drag performance. He accepts them and even equates himself with the three characters when he dresses up to participate.

The road for our non-heterosexual characters opens up new doors for them. For example, Tick is able to confront his fear about being a father and is accepted by his son for who he is. Although the road is beneficial in some ways, it is filled with hate and stereotypes. Priscilla is spray painted by people in the first town, and they are turned away by many because of who they are (i.e. the older white couple).

Robertson is half way there

Robertson is right to say that Priscilla, Queen of the Desert portrays various racist, sexist and essentializing tropes of authenticity. For instance, the way that the aboriginals were portrayed as stragglers of society who dwell in the desolute parts of Australia. They are filmed as quite passive subjects as they are depicted as silent, smiling dark figures against a fire. However, I do not believe that Robertson is correct in saying that these tropes were needed in order to position a more authentic gay identity. Instead, I would argue that a scene like the before mentioned depicts one marginilzed group embracing another marginilzed group (the natives cheering on the drag show). Undoubtebly, the film could have done a better job at not using stereotypes of woman, immigrants, and natives (i.e. Bob's wife was shown as a crazy, loose drunk).

Identity

After viewing The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, overall I agree with Robertson’s idea that the road becomes liberating for those in the film with a gay identity. The first example from the film that can be used to explain this idea of liberation is when Bob interacts with the three main characters; Bernadette, Mitzi, and Felicia. He is first introduced as a mechanic with a wife that participates in activities that he doesn’t approve of. When Bob’s wife ends up leaving him because of her unhappiness with him he takes to the road with Bernadette, Mitzi, and Felicia. As he travels with them he and Bernadette begin to have feelings for each other, which is very liberating for the gay identity because Bob shows his respect for them throughout his time with them. Another example of how the road is liberating for the gay identity is the connection that Mitzi and his son develop throughout the journey. Although Mitzi’s son isn’t present for most of the film, just the existence of the thought of him proves to be very liberating in the end. Throughout the entire film Tick possess many questions about the way his son is going to see him. He is nervous to finally meet him because he doesn’t want to be rejected. When he finally sees his son and realizes that his son knows about the kind of person he is Tick recognizes that his son is okay with who he is. Tick realizes that it is okay for him to be Mitzi because his son is okay with it and that is all that really matters to him. He finds liberation in the way he can interact with his son no matter who he is.

Priscilla

Home has a lot to do with it. The three main characters: Mitzie, Bernadette, and Felicia left their home, where they were accepted for being homosexual/bisexual and went off to travel through rural areas to get to Tick/Mitzie's wife and son. The idea that the rearview mirror shows where they have been, home, and new experiences. In this movie, the road was seen as a way to leave home for a while, with the intentions of coming back sooner or later. I believe that the presence of the other groups, that may be portrayed in an offensive way, makes the focus not solely on the transsexual, or transgender individuals but shifts the attention to the other minorities in the rural areas like the butch woman, Filipino woman and aboriginal man. Priscilla herself fits into the stereotype of transsexuals or homosexual men, it was painted pink, and full of glitter and colorful clothing, to match the thought of the flamboyant, energetic, colorful men. I believe that the whole movie presented stereotypes because every type of person that was shown in the movie, was portrayed as and acting like the stereotype of the ethnicity or community that they belonged to. For example, the butch woman had short hair and manly features to fit the stereotype of a "butch" lesbian. Also, like Felicia, the homosexual man was was very colorful, loud and flamboyant which fit the stereotype of the "fem" gay man. Stereotypes float throughout this movie, and Priscilla passes through as she conquers the desert.

Gay identity and stereotypes

I agree with Robertson that a gay identity is created in "Priscilla" by contrasting the three main characters with stereotypical portrayals of women, immigrants, and natives. The woman in the hotel bar is dirty looking and very butch and it is implied that she works hard for a living in contrast to Bernadette who looks very cultured and clean and the epitome of upper-class womanhood. The contrast is shown really well in the shot of the woman's hand on Bernadette's with the dirty, short nails on the woman's dirty looking hands and Bernadette's long manicured fingernails on her perfectly clean and soft hands. But then Bernadette's reply to the woman shows the teeth hidden behind the pretty lips and sets out some of the flexibility in the gay image being portrayed, gays can be perfect women if they so choose but they can also be tough.

The immigrant woman's act with the ping-pong balls and her overly-sexual behavior contrasts with the act that the queens put on involving lots of clothing and more idealized womanhood. Their response to the immigrant woman's trick with the ping-pong balls also suggests that they are capable of acknowledging not only when they have met their match but also when their femininity is surpassed. The seeming naivety and acceptance of their act as just a show seems to point out the experience that the men have had with the world and how negative it is. The natives cheer more loudly than any of the other crowds and one joins in and in the end another adds a digerido to the music. It is a sharp contrast to the ridicule they get in some of the towns and seems to symbolize the blind acceptance of nature and the harsh reality of city life.

To Priscilla Thanks For Everything.

"Representations of normative whiteness foreground race and ethnicity as categories of difference Queer and camp representations, though non-normative in terms of sex and gender, are still consistently defined through categories of racial difference and especially blackness" (Robertson 280).
Until I read this phrase, I really didn't find much of Robertson's analysis to be veracious, after all the characters of Shirley and Cynthia were just single characters, and attempting to read too much into their placement in the film. I saw them primarily as comedic devices, and means to undermine hetero-normativity, not as insistent racist or misogynist archetypes to create some sort of white masculinist discourse.

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Home?

In Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the road to home is not so much a geographical quest (although the characters do, of course, cover physical ground) so much as a road to self-discovery and social acceptance. The traditional, prescriptive roles of gender and norms of sexuality are the obstacles which the group has to travel through and overcome. The juxtaposition of rural Australia with the flamboyance of the three characters shows how serious a journey it is for those riding in Priscilla to make, and that the journey is a necessary step in their lives as authentic beings, not hiding from themselves just because of the place they happen to live. The encounters with the homophobic illustrate the aspects of society that Mitzie, Bernadette, and Adam had to face in order to remain true to themselves, and not be restricted to the comfort of a “home? that for many breed a certain fear of the outside world and outside viewpoints.

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stereotypes

“As camp, these road movies seemingly allow for models of difference and diversity but, ultimately, by opting for the familiarity of their own backyard, they reinscribe differences rather than acknowledge diversity.? Robertson, 283

I agree with Robertson on the issue that, yes, having minor stereotypical characters in the film, the protagonist(s) is define and shown in a light which makes him non-normative and a type of outcast. We find that in many situations by the comparison of the protagonist(s) to the other minor characters that the protagionist is flawed, out of place, and/or unaccepted. An obvious scene is when Felicia is at the Manly-Brew_Fest dressed like a woman, almost tricks one man into believing s/he is a female, and is chased down by the group of “normative? outback masculine men.
A comparison can be found the scene in Easy Rider where the men are denied a room at the motel, and the scene in Priscilla where then men are left stranded by the hunters because they look queer. Both sets of men are left out in the dust, but one group is considered normative masculinity (because of their motorcycle, womanizing attitude, etc.), and the other is not (because of the way the dress, transgender, etc.) Therefore, that goes to show that when out on the road and compared/interacting with stereotypical characters of people you find yourself lost, longing for familiarity and acceptance, and different.

Priscilla

I agree with Robertson that "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert" uses various stereotypes of gender and sex to "frighten" the way of these bodies to take on the road. In one of the bar scenes, the three bodies are approached by a "butch" woman who refuses to let them have a drink, ultimately refusing to accept them. Bernadette out wits this woman AND out drinks her, proving herself in her lifestyle as a transsexual.
There are many other encounters with immigrants, natives, aborigines, etc. that seem to be placed in the outback to keep different gender identities out of the outback and into the cities.
At the end of the film, one of the girls mentions that they are ready to go home. So even after experiencing some people groups that accepted their differences there is this understanding that cities hold a 'safer' place for transsexuals and drag queens.

Please be considerate with your kitsch

"Priscilla reminds us that diversity is not a single thing but consensus of multiple and potentially conflicting groups and identities. We need, however to find ways to bring these differences into constellation, without erasing them and without privileging one difference over others" (Robertson, 284).

With this quote, Robertson crystallizes my own sentiments on the methods that Priscilla utilizes to situate a place in society for individuals one may encounter when leaving the known road, and traveling into the 'outback'. Throughout Priscilla, 3 individuals (who lie outside the hetero-normative confines) encounter gross exaggerations/stereotypes of 'others'. There is the oversexed voyeuristic mail-order-bride, the nearly mute aboriginal peoples, and a angry and violent butch woman. Their interactions with these non-normatives allow the 3 travelers to justify how frightening the road truly is. Although the 3 embody stereotypes in their own right, certain scenes allow them to appear the "normal" ones, while those they encounter on the road are the "frightening/perverse".

The bar scene where the mail-order-bride performs illustrates this notion. While the travelers calmly prepare their makeup/costumes, the bride paces her home manically. She is locked away, too savage and perverse for human eyes. The men make their brief and poorly received number. The crowd reacts, but not in a way that suggests they are put off by the qualities that make the travelers 'non-normative'. Instead, they seemed unimpressed and bored. However, when the bride takes stage, the crowd erupts, suggesting that they are also savage and wild because they react so positively to such a spectacle. This turns the travelers into the normative figures. The road houses the likes of the performer and the crowd, who are both perverse in their own rights. The men react to the situation with either disgust or laughter at the sheer madness of it all.

In this manner, Priscilla uses stereotypes to situate them in a place of normalcy. The travelers can justify their adherence to urban settings by profiling those who lie outside its borders to be wild and perverse/

Priscilla

I both agree and disagree with Robertson's statement. The movie does seem to set up instances where the characters are put in continuously bad positions while on the road. Every character in this film is the epitome of excess of the stereotype they are representing. Thus each obsticle they encounter on the road is more horrible then the next. Robertson claims that the 3 drag queens on the road are always making a "spectacle" of themselves and that is largely why they are targeted. "Being a spectacle, however, also entails being victim to homophobia, as when anti-gay graffiti are spray-painted on their bus in Broken Hill, or when Adam is nearly gay-bashed in Coober Pedy" (Roberston 277). In a way, all the other characters too, like Shirely, and Bob's wife, were making spectacles of themselves, this contributes to their excess. I agree with Robertson in the sense that perhaps this was intentional to highlight the uncertainty of the road and make one not want to leave their home.

But then there are also characters like Bob. Bob is a straight man from these seemingly red neck towns and he accepts the 3 drag queens straight away. He helps them, feeds them, joins them, and ultimately falls in love with one of them, all on the road. This is where I tend to disagree with Robertson. For the 3 main characters to find this acceptance on the road, especially when they've encountered nothing but seeming hardships along the way, could be an encouraging factor.

Ultimately though, the characters do get fed-up with the unfair life on the road and want to return home. Bernadette points out that the city (their home) "looks after them." I am not quite sure though that any of the characters found their trip on the road a waste of time. Tick gets his son, who accepts him, Adam gets to fulfill a dream, and Bernadette actually stays to see if she can make it work with Bob. So while they did experience some obsticles that would make some want to never venture off onto the road, they gained some things that seemingly made the trip worth it.

Priscilla - For or Against Diversity

I agree with Robertson's argument that the road is liberating to gay identities because of its racist and sexist nature. This point can not be more evident than in the bar scene where Shirley, a very butch white woman, refuses to serve Tick, Adam and Bernadette because they are different. Bernadette's response to this woman is to yell at her in front of a large crowd of men that have gathered. "Now listen here, you mullet. Why don't you just light your tampon and blow your box apart, because it's the only bang you're ever going to get." After Bernadette has made Shirley into a "scape goat" for the crowd's hostility the male crowd erupts in laughter and our three main characters are instantly accepted in the bar.

Continue reading "Priscilla - For or Against Diversity" »

April 5, 2008

Queens of the Desert

Within Stephan Elliott’s Australian film Adventures of Pricilla, Queen of the Dessert, the road serves as a liberating tool for the queer men and transsexual aboard Pricilla as they take to the Australian Outback. As proposed by Pamela Robertson in her piece “Home and Away,? that mobility in the Australian Outback, as taken by those within ‘Pricilla,’ is set up to frighten away those who choose to venture away from the city and into the vast, harshness of the road, by stereotypes of woman, immigrants, and those native to the outback. Personally, I both agree and disagree with the argument Robertson proposes that the outback is set up to frighten away those who wish to venture to it, specifically those who associate with a gay identity, through harsh stereotypes and identities. Although there are harsh stereotypes that do attempt to scare off people from the Outback, especially those who are gay, the men and women aboard Pricilla tend to find another side to the stereotypes will traveling, and encountering various stereotypes along their journey, which is where I disagree with in regards to Robertson’s argument.
Although there are stereotypes of women, natives, and outback men that those aboard Pricilla encounter, such as the butch women in the first bar they go to, who fulfills the stereotype of a women living in the outback and amongst many men, who addresses the men and Bernadette, is suppose to scare them away as outsiders, but instead they stand up to her and she no longer is seen as a threat and those within the bar then embrace the ‘outsiders’ as one, regardless of who they are. This occurs at various points within their road journey, (such as the outback native coming to rescue him, and instead of being scared of and abusing the men and women, welcomes them to the outback life) as harsh stereotypes and figures attempt to scare off Bernadette, Mitzi, and Felicia, but the harsh stereotypes that were suppose to scare them off, actually embrace them all for who they are. Although I do agree with Robertson’s point that the use of stereotypes is apart of the attempt to scare off those from the city to venture away into the outback, majority of the people who fit the harsh stereotypes actually don’t scare them away, but embrace or tolerate those on Pricilla and help them with their journey instead.

April 4, 2008

Queens of the Desert

I both disagree and agree with Robertson, in that the film uses both stereotypes to frighten away those who undertake the desert and that it also encourages freedom. For example, after the scene where Mitzi takes some drugs and decides to go have a drink with the men in the desert and ends up almost getting hurt, Bernadette reflects on how the city protects them, because it is more accepting and sheltered than the desert. Here the desert is unwelcoming, harsh, and provides the characters with a reason to feel unaccepted and unwanted. The desert encourages mobility of the men by inforcing stereotypes of people being homophobic outside of the city, and accepting within it.
The desert encourages freedom because of its space. The desert is wide, open, and for the most part uninhabited. You can do anything you want, and almost no one would ever know. Priscilla makes use of this in its many scenes of the men dressed up in full drag and doing things such as painting the bus, riding on top singing opera, or practicing their dances. They only come upon people when they need help or reach a town, which allows the characters to feel free and comfortable with themselves and who they are while in the desert. Also, the people of the desert are not entirely unwelcoming. There are two instances of this: the group of aboriginees hat they meet when the bus breaks down for the first time and they end up performing for them, and Bob, the man with the mail order wife who they enlist to help them the second time the bus breaks down. These people are accepting and welcoming of the men as drag queens, and Bob even begins a relatioship with Bernadette, breaking down the stereotype of people in the desert being unaccepting of differences.

April 3, 2008

Kings of Queens

The film, "The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert," showcases gay mobility in a way no other movie had before. Putting queer bodies on the road illustrates a whole new way to liberate these unaccepted people through the journey they take together. Robertson in Home and Away tries to argue that the liberating factor of the film relies on racist and sexist stereotypes that furthermore frighten those who dare to venture from home. Though the film does make use of such stereotypes, they work to enhance the liberation of the road, and instead of frightening travelers away, the stereotypes aid the queer bodies in finding their place in this world. In the film, the "girls" visit a bar early on in their journey. Here they encounter a woman who is portrayed as being extremely "butch," as well as other "redneck" type patrons. Instead of being outcast and persecuted, Bernadette proves their worth with her sharp wit. They become a hit at the bar, singing songs, selling Wo-Man cosmetics, and winning drinking duels. Here the stereotype of the working class Australian works with the road to show that queer bodies can find their fit in an unlikely place, specifically a room of extremely manly and conservative Australians. Also in the film, the three encounter a group of Aboriginees, one in particular, who invite them to a party. Once again the racial stereotype of impoverished and old fashioned Aboriginee culture is employed to aid the queer bodies in finding a place wherever they roam. Where one would think they would be shunned, they are once again accepted. At the party, the three put on a drag show, and the Aboriginees, though hesitant, enjoy it, support it, and join in. These uses of stereotypes, though they could be employed to frighten and de-liberate the road, in fact are used to show that queer bodies have a place in any part of society that they find, therefore making the road all the more liberating for the three characters, and making a venture away from home seem more than worthwhile.