Queer Cinema

Queer Cinema: Schoolgirls, Vampires, and Gay Cowboys

BARBARA MENNEL
Series: Short Cuts
Copyright Date: 2012
Pages: 224
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/menn16313
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  • Book Info
    Queer Cinema
    Book Description:

    Queer Cinema: Schoolgirls, Vampires, and Gay Cowboysillustrates queer cinematic aesthetics by highlighting key films that emerged at historical turning points throughout the twentieth century. Barbara Mennel traces the representation of gays and lesbians from the sexual liberation movements of the roaring 1920s in Berlin to the Stonewall Rebellion in New York City and the emergence of queer activism and film in the early 1990s. She explains early tropes of queerness, such as the boarding school or the vampire, and describes the development of camp from 1950s Hollywood to underground art of the late 1960s in New York City.

    Mennel concludes with an exploration of the contemporary mainstreaming of gay and lesbian films and global queer cinema.Queer Cinema: Schoolgirls, Vampires and Gay Cowboysnot only offers an introduction to a gay and lesbian film history, but also contributes to an academic discussion about queer subversion of mainstream film.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-85020-9
    Subjects: Film Studies, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-5)

    Schoolgirls, vampires and gay cowboys are the heroes of this book. The former – schoolgirls and vampires – emerged in German films as ciphers of queer desire at the beginning of the twentieth century, while the latter – Ang Lee’s gay cowboys – queer the most manly of men and symbolise the presence of gays and lesbians in contemporary Hollywood. It is from the moment of omnipresence of gays and lesbians on television and in the movies – as main characters, their relatives, neighbours and best friends – that we return to a past when a character could be discredited as ‘queer’ by a calling card...

  5. 1 THE ORIGINS OF QUEER CINEMA: SCHOOLGIRLS, VAMPIRES AND CROSS-DRESSERS
    (pp. 6-25)

    Queer figures, from schoolgirls to vampires, populate the films of Germany’s Weimar Republic, a period inaugurated by the end of World War One in 1918 and brought to an abrupt and violent end with Hitler’s ascendance to power in 1933. During those fifteen turbulent years of Germany’s first democracy, gay and lesbian political and social movements thrived, and so did the movie industry. The first explicitly homosexual rights film was made as early as 1919. Richard Oswald’s feature-length silent classicAnders als die Anderen(Different from the Others) narrates a tragic story about homosexual lives ruined by extortion. Toward the...

  6. 2 CAMP: WHERE TRASH MEETS ART
    (pp. 26-48)

    When in 1934 an agreement among the major studios in Hollywood to a system of self-censorship – the production code – went into effect, it formalised the verdict that homosexuality could not be represented in acts or words on the screen. Also named the Hays Code after its creator Will H. Hays, the production code was intended to uphold moral standards, and was most strictly enforced under helm of Joseph I. Breen from 1934 to 1954. Throughout the 1950s filmmakers began contesting it, so that it weakened during the 1960s and was abandoned in 1968. The production code circumscribed notions of decency...

  7. 3 STONEWALL AND THE POSITIVE IDENTIFICATION FIGURE
    (pp. 49-66)

    In June 1969 frequent police raids on gay bars ignited a two-day fight between drag queens and the police at the Stonewall Inn in New York’s Greenwich Village. Film titles, such as Greta Schiller and Robert Rosenberg’sBefore Stonewall(1984) and John Scagliotti’sAfter Stonewall(1999), signify the event as a watershed moment, separating gay and lesbian history into a ‘before and after’. ‘Before’ stands for the homosexual subculture, associated with bars, double life, coded language and role play, and ‘after’ implies contemporary politicised gay and lesbian identities, associated with ‘being out’, pride and demands for equal rights.

    The post-Stonewall...

  8. 4 NEW QUEER CINEMA: A NEW AESTHETIC LANGUAGE
    (pp. 67-93)

    ‘New Queer Cinema’, the title of an essay by journalist and film scholar B. Ruby Rich, first published in 1992, captures the sense of a radical political and aesthetic shift in films that appeared between 1990 and 1992. Derek Jarman’sEdward II(1991), Christopher Münch’sThe Hours and Times(1991), Tom Kalin’sSwoon(1992), Gregg Araki’sThe Living End(1992), Laurie Lynd’sR.S.V.P.(1992), Isaac Julien’sYoung Soul Rebels(1991), Todd Haynes’Poison(1991), Jennie Livingston’sParis is Burning(1990), Marlon Riggs’Tongues Untied(1989) and Gus Van Sant’sMy Own Private Idaho(1991) appeared in this two-year span at...

  9. 5 GAY COWBOYS, FABULOUS FEMMES AND GLOBAL QUEERS
    (pp. 94-112)

    This final chapter portrays the two dominant developments of contemporary queer cinema: one, mainstreaming, particularly in the US, and two, the global proliferation of queer films. The first and more extensive section describes the mainstreaming of gay and lesbian cinema in films that address a general audience and the use of conventional genres for films geared at gays and lesbians. The chapter’s second section surveys the international proliferation of queer cinema during the last decade in a cursory overview of queer international cinema and few select readings of films to illustrate transnational queer cinema’s simultaneous engagement with national film traditions...

  10. CONCLUSION: BOYS WILL BE GIRLS AND GIRLS WILL BE BOYS
    (pp. 113-116)

    From the late twentieth century into the twenty-first, queer visual representation proliferated in unprecedented ways in film, but also on television, and in emerging new media. Queer film increasingly includes cross-dressing, transgender, transsexual and intersex subjects as characters that determine narratives in independent and mainstream films, and this, in a global queer context. The twin development of new media, often seen as one of the major factors in globalisation, and the deconstruction of gender, is not coincidental, as digital networks allow both for disembodiment and alternative forms of embodiment in cyberspace. With the mainstreaming of gay and lesbian figures at...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 117-118)
  12. FILMOGRAPHY
    (pp. 119-124)
  13. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 125-133)
  14. INDEX
    (pp. 134-136)