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STILL NEW, STILL QUEER, STILL CINEMA?
Queer Cinema: The Film Reader Edited by Harry Benshoff and Sean Griffin New York: Routledge, 2004. viii + 242 pp. New Queer Cinema: A Critical Reader Edited by Michele Aaron New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2004. xiii + 204 pp.
Queer Cinema Is Back!” — so trumpeted the cover of the Advocate on April 26,
2005, a full five years after B Ruby Rich, who coined the phrase New Queer Cinema, had declared the co-opting of the movement into “just another niche market” by the dominant culture.1 The brash pronouncement from the only national gay and lesbian newsmagazine in America followed the appearance the year before of a movie called Eating Out, a college comedy said to herald the new wave, and the cover features the film’s three young male stars arrayed in comely poses with the usual combination of lean beefcake, distended biceps, hooded goo-goo eyes, high-fashion grunge, and carefully applied hair gel. As an added bonus, one of the three is even really queer, the accompanying text advises us; the other two are just “playing gay,” and they recall that experience in their interviews with a semihysterical pseudoequanimity that whisks you right back to those unmourned days of yore when Michael Ontkean and Harry Hamlin in 1982 talked about their screen kiss in Making Love with a weird mix of laid-back bonhomie and outright panic. If this is what queer cinema amounts to, then one can only wish that it had
GLQ, Vol. GLQ 12:1 1, pp. 000–000 997 Paul EeNam Park Hagland pp. 135–146 © Duke University Press Copyright © 2006 by Duke University Press
These differing aspirations pro- . the furies of AIDS activism. but the question of whether this one could stay queer. in the years since Rich wrote that essay. No movement can stay “new” for long. the fate of queer media as defined in relation to what they tend to portray as an all-embracing “mainstream” culture.. dozens more — films. critical position. and Rich’s concern that it has devolved into just another product line is well founded. turned out to be only a moment. videos. Both take up at length. The Living End. Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dyke. from various perspectives.P. it arose in a popular medium. Tongues Untied. Edward II. was a pressing one from Rich’s first — and decidedly more optimistic — essay on the subject in 1992. multimedia performances dedicated so fervently to realizing certain facets of poststructural theory in artistic and political practice that their ancillary effects of demonstrating revived capacities for outrageousness and renewed abilities to outrage in modern media seemed only by-products of a larger commitment. and. while New Queer Cinema: A Critical Reader locates them in the framework of the movement as such. The Making of Monsters. has faced challenges to its primacy from video and digital media is a circumstance that could only exacerbate such definitional problems. Rich wrote in her cranky elegy. the legacies of independent and avant-garde filmmaking. against the forces of Hollywood. calls to arms.S. 2 That cinema itself. and postmortems. My Own Private Idaho. Queer Cinema: The Film Reader situates the aesthetics and politics of queer media in the context of gay and lesbian cinema as a whole. but. Flaming Ears. and probably for that reason it existed from the start in a relation to dominant culture more fraught than that of most vanguard movements. raising from the outset concerns among its partisans about its ability to retain an adversarial. Paris Is Burning. drawing on a particularly vehement strain of social constructionism. it was the first to make questions of sexual identity its defining influence. The wave of queer texts over a period of months in 1991 and 1992 included Poison. New Queer Cinema was not the first film movement to find inspiration in theory. Mano Destra.136 GLQ: A JOURNAL OF LESBIAN ANd GAY STUdIES stayed away. and in varying ways. The Meeting of Two Queens. and the schisms of postmodern identity politics came together in a bluster of cultural production fierce enough to persuade the devoutest skeptic that something was afoot. Emerging from an oppositional politics. as manifestos. Swoon.V. R. for a few years. Young Soul Rebels. that brief window of a few years when the energies of queer theory. Two new books on queer cinema gather a heady range of writing on the topic into complementary volumes that serve alternately. What had seemed to be a movement.
and the relation of New Queer Cinema to black filmmaking. while New Queer Cinema emphasizes the movement’s oppositional stance. decodings. its self-defined marginality. and rereadings of mostly canonical texts and auteurs. Thus New Queer Cinema takes up concerns specific to the movement. the issue of lesbian parity. STILL QUEER. For Michele Aaron. the editors of Queer Cinema. STILL CINEMA? 137 duce surprisingly different approaches. that finds a high degree of homophobia and ignorance of queer theory among that film’s viewers. contributes an article to Aaron’s collection. concede that “for many people ‘queer’ is simply the latest trendy word used to describe homosexuals” (QC. Third Cinema. in their introduction. to begin with. Ripley (1999) using online postings as evidence. the two books stake out distinct positions. including the role of AIDS representations. the careers of representative filmmakers such as Todd Haynes and Gregg Araki. a reception study of spectators’ responses to queer elements of The Talented Mr. nominating them more productively than they were ever named in their own time: “Queer can be used to describe any sexuality not defined as heterosexual procreative monogamy. 1– 2). On the question of where queer aesthetics and politics should or do stand in relation to that alleged mainstream. and nationality in general — not to mention more fundamental questions. its outright defiance of the claims. 6). Thomas Waugh’s article on “physique cinema” from 1945 to 1969. it is an umbrella term encompassing dissident sexualities throughout history and. Andrea Weiss’s piece on “lesbian independent film. STILL NEW. though neither can be boiled down to assimilationist versus segregationist standpoints.” and Janet Staiger’s treatment of “underground cinema” in the early 1960s. such as whether New Queer Cinema is or was a movement. The remainders deal with queer encodings. queer is a specific product of exigencies of social activism of the late 1980s and early 1990s. properly speaking. significantly. Of the fourteen essays — several of them already well known and one dating back to the 1970s — only four deal with texts outside the putative mainstream: Rich’s essay. Queer Cinema pursues its agenda of queering the classics. but this is virtually the only point of overlap between the anthologies. “with AIDS accelerating its urgency” and New Queer Cinema arising as an “art-full manifestation” of its practices (NQC. Queer Cinema would have us see the extent to which queer sensibilities have pervaded twentieth-century culture in America. . queer as a concept is most notable for its breadth. . . the editor of New Queer Cinema. It works to describe such sexual desires even before the coining of the terms homosexual and heterosexual” (QC. For Harry Benshoff and Sean Griffin. as does Queer Cinema. and protocols of straight culture. Benshoff and Griffin. 1) — and Benshoff. which suggests that queer as . norms. New Queer Cinema reprints Rich’s seminal 1992 essay. tenets. For the rest. indeed.
. Throughout Aaron’s anthology this agon gives rise to plenty of inveterate flirting and produces. homophobia (or other memos of heterosexuality) and. . In his case study of Haynes’s career. 10) Yet there is more than enough residual anger and self-styled abjection in this book to counter Aaron’s optimism. for example. on the whole. antiessentialist. closure. thriving. . . . The book continues a time-honored project of lesbian and gay studies. or being reborn.” Monica B. or repression of queerness. New Queer Cinema “must be contested that it can endure. As Aaron writes. 11). did was to disrupt and challenge the representations of AIDS. In fact. that of revealing the profound queer influence in culture and calling for mainstream recognition and acceptance.” In her article “AIDS and New Queer Cinema. humour. however overt its presence may be in the texts in question. Pearl notes that “one of the many important things that ACT UP . a narrative of a sort not unknown in accounts of cultural trends. Aaron herself speaks of this mainstream in her introduction with relative equanimity. though. This is not just another way of describing Hollywood’s flirtation with queer imagery but. No longer does popular culture have to seem to render queer configurations safe — through. instead. decentered — the mainstream is posited as a monolithic force that either could absorb queer energies in one fell swoop or has already done so. if not triumphalism (a position qualified in her own contribution to the collection). and of people living with AIDS. As she points out herself. 7).138 GLQ: A JOURNAL OF LESBIAN ANd GAY STUdIES a concept has yet to be embraced by the masses. using “a variety of . it must remain marginal that it can flirt effectively with the centre” (NQC. Arguing that New Queer Cinema has helped expose how cinema as such is “rooted in queer practices. in which the movement is constantly dying. In their anthology Benshoff and Griffin highlight the continuing spectacle of mass evasion. of queer implications. (NQC. In New Queer Cinema — with its emphasis on the transgressive perspectives of queer cultures.” Aaron suggests that the movement has encouraged mainstream culture to harness cinema’s queer potential. 25). especially. with the “mainstream” typically serving as the agent of these evolutions and an epitome of that otherwise absent “centre. especially by comparison to the attitudes of many of the book’s other contributors. “Queer’s defiance is leveled at mainstream homophobic society” (NQC. in the mainstream media” (NQC. Michael DeAngelis argues that. avoidance. represents a shift from the disavowal to the avowal. denaturalizing. the open affirmation.
mainstream narrative cinema by making whatever might be familiar or normal about it strange” (NQC. in her essay “New Queer Cinema and Third Cinema. even what we should make it in order to abrogate the force of oppressive definitions — in which case. rather. This ambivalence has everything to do. STILL CINEMA? 139 cinematic forms. 157) when it accedes to the precommodified “civil rights” agendas of a standardized liberalism. according to Butler. that it manages to be both monstrously homeostatic and lustrously mercurial.” points out that “the queer politics of New Queer Cinema is particularly vulnerable to mainstream recuperation” (NQC. it is clear that the mainstream produced in and through these transactions is at one and the same time the world we made but never owned and the club we would not want to join if it would have us for a member. Haynes ‘queers’ heterosexual. One can see how this identity could be both constituted and instituted. Queen of the Desert (1994). readily absorbing oppositional energies into its own ruthlessly homogenizing . shows that queer theory existed in a troubled relation to the mainstream from the first: “Gender is in no way a stable identity or locus of agency from which various acts proceed. since the world at large might not subscribe precisely to this account. it is an identity tenuously constituted in time — an identity instituted through a stylized repetition of acts” (Butler. quoted in QC. Another founding claim of queer theory. that director’s uses of camp are “more subtly textured and layered than mainstream cinema’s campness” (NQC. key to the constitution of all subjectivities (see NQC. or both. one could observe of the mainstream projected by queer film theory. that neutralizes real differences. 42). Along similar lines. which hungrily appropriate ‘marginal’ positions and redistribute them to a mainstream public” (NQC. 123). While it is hardly news that the politics of marginalization shape queer representation. and whether this account speaks to what gender is or what we should understand it to be. 106) — an untimely pseudoinclusiveness. some persuasion might be necessary. recalling Judith Butler’s claim — as cited in New Queer Cinema — that we are always implicated in the regimes of power we oppose because they are. STILL NEW. Ros Jennings and Loykie Lominé’s investigation of queer Australian film finds that “preconceived notions of the relationship of the mainstream to the margins became destabilized” (NQC. In a chapter on lesbian films Anat Pick declares that one problem with New Queer Cinema “lies in the discourses of postmodernity. STILL QUEER. with the complex politics of queer theory itself. 146) by the hijinks of The Adventures of Priscilla. cited in Queer Cinema. but the question remains whether it is what we create or what is forced on us. according to Glyn Davis in a corresponding study of Araki. at least in these two books. 139). in turn. And Helen Hok-Sze Leung. for Pick. Meanwhile. 63).
enabling ones — as they demonstrably do. belief. at least through the vehicle of Good Will Hunting (1997). in a still highly capital-intensive sphere of cultural production like filmmaking. Queen of the Desert. With rare. not just because they are innately contradictory but because. presumption. In fact. apparently. these constructs often appear to be the factors that determine access and value. are also strangely legitimated by much of the work of these two anthologies. any more than gender or power itself exists except as behavior. the underlying assumption is that these networks threaten to commodify and endanger authentic queer expression but are still where the real action is. the word may already be triumphantly decentered. while becoming easily destabilized by the likes of Priscilla. to the extent that his career encompasses stints in the indie trenches. for that matter. code.140 GLQ: A JOURNAL OF LESBIAN ANd GAY STUdIES system without ever batting its vitreous. Van Sant could be called the quintessential queer American filmmaker. Van Sant’s films remain as skeptical as most work from the movement both of the political value of self-reflexive formalism and of the more familiar tradition of social critique at the . but where the image is concerned. except as constructs. and his style steeps offhand parody and pastiche in brazen melodrama and blithely transgressive aesthetics. the studio still rules the roost. including work that in the queer tradition assaults liberal assumptions as intemperately as it subverts conservative pieties. This is by no means to suggest that such constructs cannot have either debilitating effects on queer cultural production or. An instructive case in point is the career of Gus Van Sant. mainstreams fairly routinely enact both such processes simultaneously. they do not exist. which devote little space to queer production outside commercial networks. treated with a flatness of affect that is decidedly post-Warhol and more incidentally postmodern. whose film My Own Private Idaho (1991) is cited as a watershed of the movement. a film that became a wide popular hit and an Oscar winner. or law. More casual in formal terms than those of other important queer filmmakers. as queer film theory is uniquely positioned to recognize. In practice. clear examples of its most dire consequences for queer cinema are difficult to trace in either. Cyclops-like eye. Perhaps no filmmaker associated with New Queer Cinema has achieved such a degree of mainstream success. validated on every page of the trade papers. Such truisms. It may be the pressures of real-world exigencies and show-biz power games that prevent queer film theory from adopting wholeheartedly the strict antilogocentrism of poststructuralism itself. notable exceptions like Julianne Pidduck’s excellent piece on queer video or Leung’s fine essay on queer Third Cinema (both in New Queer Cinema). though the threat of commodification looms large throughout both collections. language. Indeed.
Haynes’s first feature. Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix — both stuck between the legacies of James Dean and their roles as reluctant teenybopper idols — to “play gay” well before it became so lusciously fashionable to do so. What Van Sant’s career suggests about the fate of queer filmmaking in the straight mainstream is perhaps just what we already knew: that the mainstream isn’t always so straight. My Own Private Idaho made Van Sant the rightful heir to Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Poison (1991). In context. channeling the spirits of Jean Genet. is to enlarge representation of and inquiry into modern dissident sexual identities beyond a nexus of lesbian and gay. STILL CINEMA? 141 level of content. 51). evident if nowhere else in the movie’s mass production of fantasies about the film’s male stars (Matt Damon and Ben Affleck) as lovers. the death knell of New Queer Cinema. and the center and the margins. In his essay DeAngelis defends Haynes’s work against just such charges as follows: “The ability to move beyond such matters as gay sexual representation and content enables Haynes to hypothesize the structure of queer desire more dynamically” (NQC. bring a realist aesthetic inappropriately to bear on Haynes’s self-reflexive postmodernism. is the most challenging formally and perhaps the most sophisticated thematically. his beautiful 16mm postbeat. STILL QUEER. they are as evident in his Hollywood outings as in his indie forays. One of the main aspirations of queer cinema. so it seems a bit unfair to accuse queer filmmakers of selling out or colluding with the enemy when they circumvent explicit gay or lesbian representation. But especially after Far from Heaven (2002) — a film DeAngelis does not mention — the question of whether contemporary gay filmmaking queers the mainstream or whether it mainstreams (and neutralizes) queer cultures seems inescapable when we think about this director’s work. or isn’t queer at all in the manner that others might like it to be. Fassbinder. Good Will Hunting could justifiably be seen as little more than a smarmy sellout. For Rich. and sensibilities are what mark his work as queer. part Larry Clark) and its weirdly arch fetishism of working-class toughs undeniably brought a streak of sheer queer right smack into the heart of the Cineplex. but its blankly avid feeling for the homoeroticism of hetero buddies (part Howard Hawks. in his view. This description of Van Sant’s work is as valid for Mala Noche. while queer cinema isn’t always as queer as some might wish. as it is for My Own Private Idaho and Good Will Hunting. pregrunge queer cri de coeur of 1985 that stands as a key precursor of New Queer Cinema. tones. and Pier Paolo . highly permeable constructs themselves. exist only in constantly shifting relations to one another. STILL NEW. Of the first wave of films from New Queer Cinema. as of queer theory itself. DeAngelis is warding off assaults from gay critics who. but it also recruited two quasimainstream stars. If Van Sant’s characteristic styles.
both express a distinctive mix of anger and tenderness that seems very much a product of the age of AIDS — which. They are. Such indirection was hardly unknown in the culture at large in the early 1990s in thematizations of AIDS.142 GLQ: A JOURNAL OF LESBIAN ANd GAY STUdIES Pasolini while tempering its forthright avant-gardist odium with spurts of abject lyricism and brainy camp. Yet even Haynes’s first two films broach the topic of AIDS only allegorically. working out. profoundly. 24). often meant simultaneous experiences of rage about being so violently discounted and of grief at the ubiquitous losses. and it’s arguable that their films and perhaps even mainstream Hollywood films are equally affected by AIDS: maybe that’s actually the thing that we are all. as efforts to find alternative ways of framing the discourse. to have struck an impasse. themselves. that the ebb in queer filmmaking in America follows a dearth of public attention to AIDS in the United States. for all their continuing importance. For two films that never mention AIDS. one could argue that they . Haynes elsewhere has asserted that his own work has emerged almost entirely in response to the cultural politics of AIDS: As opposed to feeling part of a current cinematic movement among gay filmmakers. neither internalizing normative attitudes nor becoming. Because Haynes’s four features (as well as his shorter works) all concern the relation of queerness to a self-defined mainstream. Haynes’s second feature. according to scientific narratives and metaphors” (NQC. Poison and Safe (1995). both at least dubiously mainstream works. but Haynes’s approaches in these films are not by any means adopted in the name of discretion or reticence. I would think that my films are more uniformly affected right now by AIDS than they are by what’s happening among other gay filmmakers at this moment. films bent on intervention in crucial dialogues perceived. poisoned by polemical rounds of repudiation. in various ways. they have turned away from this initial concern with the effects of the virus on queer subjectivities — and that this deviation coincided with a decline in AIDS awareness in the culture more generally. 3 Pearl does not draw the possible conclusion of her argument. In “AIDS and New Queer Cinema” Pearl argues that “much of AIDS representation follows the course of the virus itself — or what the virus is perceived to be doing. but it is worth noting that as Haynes’s films have gained in popularity with his subsequent features Velvet Goldmine (1998) and especially Far from Heaven. especially for gay men who reached adulthood as the disease first emerged. Poison and Safe convey this complex feeling as powerfully as any films of that time. They are pursued in a spirit of revolt.
Meyer seeks to reclaim it not just from mainstream appropriations but even from queers of the new order. STILL QUEER. and other traditional repositories of camp iconography. “I hate fuckin’ Bette Midler!”). which exposes the supposed ‘naturalness’ of everyday behavior and identity as a sham” (NQC. systematically deconstructing heterosexualist ideology. Haynes’s work is less important for its representation of gay experience than for its assertions of a new kind of queer agency in cultural production. Poison refuses such insulation from the first by means of a tripartite structure that intermingles one segment of overtly queer content with two stories that simulate straight narratives from a militantly queer vantage point. Davis cites Araki as a proponent of queer camp insofar as he places “an emphasis on performance. has become an activist strategy for organizations such as ACT UP and Queer Nation” that made its way back into queer media as a “suppressed and denied oppositional critique embodied in the signifying practices that processually constitute queer identities” (QC.” as one character in his film Totally F***ed Up  contemptuously recites. As DeAngelis suggests. STILL NEW. In his case study that follows DeAngelis’s essay on Haynes. 137). In “Reclaiming the Discourse of Camp” Moe Meyer makes this connection most explicit: “Camp. Like so much queer film theory — and in keeping with the theoretical inclinations of New Queer Cinema — Haynes’s movies are really engaged in the project of theorizing the mainstream. while Haynes’s films remain fascinated by kitsch. 59). To account for what he sees as the politicization of camp. or queer parody. when advances of 1970s liberationism lost ground to reactionary 1980s legislations meant to isolate the “gay community” from the “general population” (in the terms of art of that time). Safe dispenses with gay content only to bring that vantage point into harsh relief. Yet Araki’s films explicitly reject stereotypical tokens of camp taste (“disco music. while Velvet Goldmine asks how a cultural manifestation as devoutly queer as 1970s glam rock can still be subject to fierce disavowals by the very mainstream that initially embraced it. Joan Crawford. and camp styles that interests so many of the contributors to Queer Cinema. melodrama. drag shows. who deride it as a holdover from the dark ages — the aesthetic of the closet — and the province of opera queens and show-tune divas. STILL CINEMA? 143 all pursue implications of power and social relations after AIDS. Far from Heaven filters a Sirkean melodrama of the 1950s through a contemporary queer sensibility to expose how queer those conventions always already were — perhaps most tellingly in their own strategies of denial. But Meyer’s conception of the transactions between margin and center is determined by his sense of how mutually implicated these terms really are — a complex understanding that points in new directions for queer film theory: . queer. pursuing much the kind of connection between gay.
The final effect is the reproduction of the queer’s aura by the un-queer camp liberator who has been transformed into a drag queen with no other choice but to lipsynch the discourse of the Other. . A thriving contingent of makers continues to produce reams of valuable work unencumbered by anxiety about the .” to Jack Babuscio’s “Camp and the Gay Sensibility. .” Aaron sums up the current state of queer in a coda that most contributors to both books probably would support: What we must not forget . . to find that questions concerning the vitality of queer cultures may be framed very differently from how they are in both of these books. from investigations of occulted queerness in classical Hollywood texts (in essays by Benshoff and Griffin as well as by Alexander Doty. Over half of the contributions concern some manifestation of the subject. Queer Cinema shows a continuing fascination with camp as an influence on queer identities. can be not just productive but empowering to queer culture. As long as this edge — this critical questioning. to Dyer’s classic study “Judy Garland and Gay Men. and Richard Dyer). . In the last essay of New Queer Cinema. to considerations of queer response to mainstream texts (like Henry Jenkins’s treatment of Star Trek fandom). the un-queer is now unwittingly performing the queer. far from always signaling a simple defeat or an easy triumph. and the effects of these confusions.144 GLQ: A JOURNAL OF LESBIAN ANd GAY STUdIES The bourgeois camp cognoscente “liberates” the queer’s oppositional signifying practices from their queer identity and substitutes himself as signified. its sheer force. this anti-conservatism. then all manifestations of a (new) queer culture can be welcomed unhesitatingly. 148) As Meyer’s argument makes clear. . 198) Yet one need only turn aside from that omnipresent mainstream. Unlike New Queer Cinema. “The New Queer Spectator. But because the queer constitutes him-/herself processually.4 The different positions on camp that are staked out by these two books reveal most clearly the books’ underlying disagreements about the larger social roles and positions of queer cultures as such.” to Meyer’s fine piece. . is that the critical power of queerness. Brett Farmer. (NQC. after all. this antagonistic impulse — exists and thrives elsewhere. As queerness moves into the centre of mainstream production. . Queer demands a rethink. it inevitably loses its edge. (QC. is not to do with content so much as its stance. . cultural origin can be as difficult to pinpoint as cultural influence is to parse.
in the inmost den of what was then Burroughs Wellcome. however. of an antic. it now seems. Juhasz’s connection to New Queer Cinema is certified by her role as producer of The Watermelon Woman (1996). To note only one such work. Because our chapter was located in the heart of Jesse Helms country. STILL CINEMA? 145 mainstream. by Alexandra Juhasz. say. even though one could argue that the alternative forms (and to call them “alternative” is already to bow to that mainstream) found on view in dozens of works showcased annually in the fifty-seven queer film and video festivals across the United States (as of January 2004) are far closer to the practices of New Queer Cinema than the half dozen or so that the mainstream deigns to cough up in an average year. the role of video and digital technologies in enabling new forms of queer expression is undertreated. STILL NEW. STILL QUEER. could be cited as having a cultural power and a social resonance equal. which gave our activism a special urgency. Overall. but if you anticipate its appearance at your local Cineplex. perhaps because it was also tied unofficially to the emerging queer studies program at Duke University. The work itself. many of us felt that we were somehow at the center of the crisis. acting out of naive presumptions about the nature of social power? . I recall (fondly. a relatively high-profile entry in the movement’s first wave. as well as a sense of desolation — though without didacticism or recrimination — over how little of the change these records might have effected has actually come about. brittle. and campy monologue by a friend of the artist who is dying of AIDS. expresses provisional gratitude for video’s capacity to record what would otherwise have escaped chronicling. poised between rueful benediction and disappointed anger. we spent a lot of time talking about the proper relationship in our activism of “theory” and “practice. to those of Marlon Riggs’s Tongues Untied (1990). you may have some time to wait. Video Remains mixes 1992 footage. melancholy. though the experience appeared to have none of the makings of nostalgia at the time) being a member of ACT UP in North Carolina in the early 1990s. for the simple reason that this work is being made not as a rehearsal for the putative big time but as media art for an immediate audience. impassioned. an extraordinary piece called Video Remains (2004). in Queer Cinema and New Queer Cinema. or were we being speciously pragmatic. A delicate chronicle of the death of a movement — as many films of New Queer Cinema’s first wave in its mode of embittered nostalgia and high dudgeon already were — Video Remains is also a testament to the persistence of that movement’s spirit. Reverting to a more intimate mode of address.” Did we really agree on what we were trying to achieve. with more recent material from the artist’s life and from focus groups in the present in which queer and straight teenagers discuss their own conceptions of AIDS in the most alarmingly complacent and frankly ignorant terms.
“Queer and Present Danger. no. essays are routinely reprinted in expurgated form.146 GLQ: A JOURNAL OF LESBIAN ANd GAY STUdIES In the end. radicalize the dominant culture of which they are part. no. quasi-assimilationist style of activism and Queer Nation’s hypertheorized and self-professedly more radical ones. Convenient as it is to have related pieces gathered in one place under the rubric of an important topic. the answers they provide in practice continue to have an excitement of their own. Saunders conducted this interview in 1995. CT: Praeger. in which Queer Cinema is an entry: presumably for reasons of space. I was reminded of such disputes. Many of the essays in Queer Cinema imply that queer production is. in different ways.” Sight and Sound 2. Most of the contributors to New Queer Cinema aspire to preserve radical queer cultural practices that will. 5 (1992): 32. in turn. B Ruby Rich. going concerns. but the styles are similar. Imps of the Perverse: Gay Monsters in Film (Westport. “An Interview with Todd Haynes. and always has been. The stakes may be different now. 2. 3. 4. which suggests that at least some of the main issues the movement took up remain. at some level. 1998). these debates divided us not into theoreticians and practitioners — because we all wanted to think about our actions and we all wanted to get things done — but into those who projected some of us as ineffectual pointy-heads and those who projected others as unthinking rabble-rousers. an entrenched part of culture that requires only increased visibility and a wider berth. the logic of reprinting truncated versions of essays that are readily available in their complete forms remains debatable. even beyond the further work they will make possible. Similar divisions were not uncommon among these organizations throughout the 1990s — related debates led to the split between ACT UP and Queer Nation — and in reading these two books. 134.” Sight and Sound 10. Both of these books ask. As in the conflicts between ACT UP’s practical. Notes 1. as many of the pieces collected here are.” in Michael William Saunders. “The New Queer Cinema. . 2 (2000): 22 – 24. and what we want to do to it or with it. This might be the place to note a problem that besets the Routledge series of film readers. a question that can be framed in a manner that harks back to the heyday of queer politics: how to have theory — especially queer theory — in a mainstream? Though both collections would benefit from a fuller theory of what this mainstream is. even if it is just as easy to see why they should be so difficult to reconcile. it is easy to see what such positions have in common. B Ruby Rich.
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