Friday, April 16, 2010

Marjo Pipinen: Homosexuality and Queer in the Movies (a lecture)

A lecture in the series Cinema and Sexuality organized by the Film Society of the Student Union of the University of Helsinki (HYY) at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 16 April 2010.

Instead of an historical introduction Marjo Pipinen presented a thematic overview into the queer gaze, on seeing otherwise in the Western cinema. The approaches include: - representations - audiences and reception - historical contexts - gender research - psychoanalytical film research. And also - feministic research - race and ethnicity - study of queer artists.

How to recognize homosexuality in a film? A possible concept is "should-not-be-looked-at-ness" derived by Ellis Hanson as a response to Laura Mulvey's "to-be-looked-at-ness". Instead of rigid categories there is in reality a fluid movement from the homosexual to the homoerotic to the homosocial. An example of homosexual references in mainstream entertainment is Top Gun.

Stereotypes of homosexuality have been dominant in the history of the cinema. They include - explanations of childhood traumata - abnormality - lacking contact with the opposite sex - homosexuality as an illness to be healed - suicidality - unmanliness - confusion about the purpose of life which is heterosexual love.

There have been also stereotypes of positive representation. But as Richard Dyer has pointed out, stereotypes can also be complex, varied, intense, and contradictory in projecting an image of otherness. We need rigorous questioning of the very correctness, identity, stereotyping, visiblity and authenticity of the images. Cliches about bad homosexuals should not turn into cliches about good homosexuals.

New Queer Cinema started in the late 1980s. Many of the films had historical subjects. The artists were archaeologists of queer history: the purpose was to create a homosexual history, a history of the senses.

Book recommendations included: - Richard Dyer: The Culture of Queers (2002). - Jackie Stacey and Sarah Street (ed.): Queer Screen (2007). - Teresa De Lauretis: The Practice of Love (2007). - Ellis Hanson, Michèle AinaBarale, Jonathan Goldberg, and Steven Cohan: Out Takes: Essays on Queer Theory and Film (1999). - Janet Staiger: Perverse Spectators (2000). - Linda Williams: Screening Sex (2008).

Clips: - Mad Men (tv series, series creator: Matthew Weiner, US 2007). - Top Gun Recut on YouTube, a gay trailer based on Top Gun (Tony Scott, US 1986). - Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, US 2006). - Rakas lurjus [Dear Scoundrel] (T.J. Särkkä, FI 1955). - The Hours and Times (Christoph Munch, US 1991). - Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell, US 2006).

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