The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
"Priscilla does not offer a new model of masculinity and the gaze because it buys into the architecture of stable space, naturalized notions of scale, and a sedentary form of being."--Stuart C. Aitken and Christopher Lee Lukinbeal in "Disassociated Maculinities and Geographies of the Road"
In The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, the potentially liberating aspects of the road are indeed suppressed by a return to the logic of hegemonic masculinity. In other words, the film unfortunately "plays it safe" when it comes to its progressive themes. The first aspect through which this tendency is manifested is the film's adherence to firmly established norms--things are not likely to change or fail based on the rudimentary subject matter. For instance, the cross-dressing in and of itself, while deliberately (and rightfully) excessive, does not transgress clichéd stereotypes and typically liberal mainstream appeal. While very likely offensive to some people's tastes, there is no challenging of the middle ground to be had--the cabaret/lounge-singing showgirl persona is, from my experience, one of the most commonly accepted and least avant-garde forms of cross-dressing presented in conventional media (especially studio-released films). The other primary aspect of the film's propensity toward hegemonic masculinity is to be found in the protagonists' pervasive passivity. While they do take progressive action in their decision to embark on their journey, they essentially "go with the flow" and sit around, waiting for things to happen to them. The character of Bob, for example, while a positive image of an accepting GLBT community ally in the form of a straight male, is still "needed" by the narrative to assist the marginalized bodies of Bernadette, Mitzi, and Felicia on their expedition. The bus rides are filled with scenes of lounging around, the main concern often seems to be finding alcohol (to become even more sedentary), and attempts at heteronormative subversion backfire (especially during the scene in which Felicia almost passes with a group of presumably straight men, only to fail and require assistance from Bob). In essence, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert falls victim to its own hesitancy.