Making Things Perfectly Queer: Interpreting Mass Culture by Alexander Doty

By Alexander Doty

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Doty, who teaches movie and homosexual and lesbian reviews at Lehigh college, is anxious during this quantity with uncovering gay/lesbian/bisexual parts in unforeseen locations in pop culture. He needs "to problem the politics of denotation and connotation" in conventional "heterocentric" serious perform. in a different way "heterocentric texts can include queer parts, and essentially heterosexual, straight-identifying humans can adventure queer moments," he writes, in particular if one is familiar with "queer" as encompassing greater than simply sexual habit, yet, quite, quite a number cultural phenomena in addition. Doty deals cogent analyses of the interplay among queerness and auteurist movie concept, quite as utilized to a homosexual director like George Cukor or a lesbian filmmaker like Dorothy Arzner; of the lesbian inflections of female-bonding sitcoms like Laverne and Shirley ; and of Pee-wee Herman and homosexual male misogyny. Doty is an incisive author, good versed in either pop and educational literature. His paintings is much less jargon-ridden than is common in severe conception books, and his offerings of subject material can assist develop the viewers for this provocative publication.

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Being erotically attracted to members of their own sex shouldn't automatically make these directors interesting to queer cultures. Indeed, a radical queer critique of Cukor and Arzner as auteurs would say that they were closeted homosexual col­ laborators who helped perpetuate a heterocentrist industry catering to the desires of a queer-oppressive society. But while there may be something to this, there are ways in which the lives and works of Dorothy Arzner and George Cukor have been, and might continue to be, analyzed within the context of queer culture and queer cultural studies.

8 Of course, an important consideration in all this formal and infor­ mal queer cultural work is the intersection of cultural history and the personal history of the reader. It is in this intersection that queers have mapped out the complex and diverse space of their interactions with mass culture. We enter cultural history at various times and un­ der differing circumstances, which affect how we make sense of the personalities and products within a culture. For example, in earlier periods lesbians might initially become acquainted with the films of Garbo or Arzner through erotic attraction, lesbian star cult, or femi­ nist scholarship, and they would develop readings and uses of Garbo and Arzner through these approaches.

5 Most of the stars and films I've just mentioned could also be cited as examples of how many lesbians first came to appreciate films di­ rected by Arzner and Cukor. Through their own star-as-auteur cul­ tural readings, lesbians developed cults for Garbo and Hepburn, for e x a m p l e . An issue of the lesbian and gay quarterly OUT/LOOK con­ tains a tribute to Garbo by the artist Margie Adams that begins: "Garbo is dead. And the grief that sits in the corner of my day is, first of all, simple. I have loved and admired her since the first time I saw her in 1964, in Grand Hotel.

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