Friday, November 15, 2019

Contemporary Gay American And European Movies Film Studies Essay

Contemporary Gay American And European Movies Film Studies Essay The subject of homosexuality in cinema, much in the same way as it is in real life, is something that causes much debate amongst the general public. Being perhaps one of the most controversial topics in modern society, the representation of gays in all media, not just film, becomes an important insight into the ever changing landscape of societys views on homosexuality. It is for this reason that the study of these representations becomes important, as through the analysis of both the media that contains the homosexual depictions as well as the reaction of the public, we gain a greater understanding of the role that homosexuality plays in our society. I will be examining the popular debates and theoretical approaches towards contemporary gay cinema, as well as both separately analysing and comparing key examples of modern films that deal with issues of homosexuality from America and Europe. The theoretical approach most well suited to the subject of study that I have chosen would be that of Queer Theory. A reasonably recent critical theory, Queer Theory focuses strongly on the ideas of gender, sexuality and social/sexual identity through gay interpretations of different texts. Use of a critical approach so strongly linked with the subject of my dissertation such as this will allow for a much better understanding of the subject matter and a greater ability to deconstruct my chosen films. In regards to the close analysis portion of the dissertation, Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005) is the film that I have chosen as the focus of my study for American gay cinema, with Bad Education (Pedro Almodà ³var, 2004) as the focus of the Euro pean study. Both of these films I believe are strong examples of gay cinema from their respective countries, as both have two gay lovers as the central characters of the narrative, but more importantly, addressing the issue of their homosexuality and how it affects their lives and relationships is the core issue of the narrative. There are a number of key issues that I plan to discuss within this dissertation, in regards to both the critical study of contemporary gay cinema section and the close analysis of the films. First and foremost I wish to simply establish what the most prominent critical approaches towards gay cinema are and how the approaches apply to modern gay films. This will then allow me to discuss in more detail the representation of homosexuality put forward in these films and how these various depictions affect the image of homosexual in cinema as a whole. In the film analysis section I am aiming to deconstruct the two portrayals of homosexuality in the separate films to discover the different ways in which these cultures chose to treat this issue, not merely establishing the differences but discussing what might have caused them in the first place. However I also wish to look for similarities between the two pieces, to find out if there are any aspects involved in illustrating gay life that are universal and not affected by culture or society. The most effective method of research for a project such as this would simply be to study the vast assortment of books and journal articles from throughout cinema history written on this subject, as although homosexuality within cinema may be seen as a relatively uncommon subject, it has been a frequent part of critical discourse in film for many years. By reading the collected works of authors speaking on the subject of gay cinema I will be able to increase my knowledge in the area as well as find a number of core materials to work from and reference within the dissertation. Part B: Literature Review One such core book that I will be focusing on throughout the project will be The Culture of Queers (London: Routledge, 2001) by Richard Dyer. As a prominent writer in the field of gay culture and gay cinema, studying the works of Dyer is integral in gaining a full understanding in the matter of homosexuality within film. The book covers a variety of topics, from the discussion of homosexual imagery in different mediums and genres, to the discussion of actors known (or suspected) to be gay such as Rock Hudson and how it affected their career. The range of issues raised in the book make for a more well rounded view of gay culture and society, thus making it easier to critically discuss and analyse texts dealing with such issues. There is another book by Richard Dyer, The Matter of Images (London: Routledge, 1993; 2002 2nd ed.) that deals with similar issues, but focuses specifically on the ideas of representation. While not entirely focused on homosexuality like the previous book, there are multiple chapters dedicated to different aspects of gay representation, such as problems in the representation as gay people as typical, homosexuality and film noir and male sexuality in the media. With discussing representation being one the key points of the dissertation, being able to see professional examples of what I am attempting, focusing both in the same area as the project and on other topics, will help to greatly improve my ability to analyse representations in the film analysis section. It will give me a knowledge base to both reference from and build upon with my insight and information, allowing for more in depth and academic look at my chosen films. One of the other core materials for this dissertation, that has a perhaps even more direct link to what I am trying to achieve is the book Brokeback Mountain (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2010) by Gary Needham, which examines both the Brokeback Mountain film and the original story by Annie Proulx. In much the same way as I intend to do the book discusses the association between the film and homosexual critical discourses, most specifically Queer Theory, which as mentioned is one of the key theoretical approaches for the project. It also talks about the relationship the film and its homosexual subject matter with various genres within cinema, those being Indie cinema, Westerns and Melodrama. By comparing how gay sexual identity is portrayed through the context of those different genres I will then be more capable when it comes to making comparisons between America and European gay cinema later in the dissertation. It is important to have a varied source of reading material to work from, so as well as the collection of books that I will be working from, I will also be using a number of articles from online film journals as reference. In comparison to a book where the author can make their point over multiple chapters and hundreds of pages, a journal article author must make their point in a much more concise manner due to the limited space allowed by their particular journal. One of the primary examples of an article that I will be using is All I Desire (Sight and Sound: v14, June 2004), written by Paul Julian Smith. In this article he discusses the Bad Education, so in addition to being able to study material in a different style of writing to that of books, which could improve my own ability to make my points more succinct and concise; it also gives me an example of a critical analysis of one of my chosen films for me to work from. Part C Structure Introduction (1000 Words) The introduction will cover a basic overview of the dissertation and the questions that it will be discussing in later chapters. Beginning with a small history of gay culture in cinema it will briefly talk about the idea of homosexuality and its involvement with cinema throughout the years in a general sense while giving the basic information that the later chapters will be building upon. Then there will be a short summary of the structure, talking separately about each of the dissertations chapters by explaining what you will be covering in that chapter and what questions you hope to answer through them. Chapter 1: Debates on Contemporary Gay Culture (2000 Words) In this chapter I will start to expand upon the information put forth in the introduction, going into much greater detail on the subject of gay culture and its representation throughout media history leading up to modern times. I will introduce the idea of Queer Theory and discuss its history and various applications in media and society. Using the gathered reading materials I will then begin discussing the various critical discourses associated with the specific subject of gay cinema and examining the ways in which they are connected with the more general Queer Theory. I will talk in some detail about the effect that the presence of gay culture and sexuality on film has on the general public, as well as how those reactions then affect gay culture as a whole. Chapter 2: Gay American Cinema and Brokeback Mountain (2000 Words) This is where I begin the process of bringing in the close analysis of my chosen films into the dissertation, focusing specifically on my American example of gay cinema, Brokeback Mountain, and the critical study surrounding it. I shall examine the films content focusing on the representation of homosexuality and building upon the chosen reading material such as the previously mentioned Brokeback Mountain book by Gary Needham. I will discuss various topics such as the issue of male sexuality, the representation of the gay protagonists in the context of American culture, and whether it meets or subverts the typical conventions of its genre(s). Chapter 3: Gay European Cinema and Bad Education (2000 Words) Continuing the close textual analysis portion of the dissertation, this chapter will focus primarily on my European example of gay cinema, Bad Education. Again building upon my collected reading material I will begin to deconstruct the representations of the gay protagonists, both within the films own European (specifically Spanish) context, but also beginning to delve into its connection with the American example. Comparing the different views of gay culture and sexuality presented in these films, the nature of the theoretical approaches surrounding them and the reactions of the differing national general publics will reveal whether or not there is a universal aspect of representing gay society, or whether the cultural and historical differences between countries create differing views on the way homosexuality should be portrayed on film. Conclusion (1000 Words) The conclusion will discuss in less detailed information the points that have been discussed throughout the dissertation. It will go chapter by chapter through the end results of all the key points of discussion that were raised through the study of the various theoretical approaches and reading materials during the project. I will then return to the key questions mentioned in the introduction and discuss how and if these questions were properly addressed, speaking briefly about how the answers to these questions fit into the idea of gay cinema as a whole. Part D Work Plan and Bibliography Between December 6th and mid-January I aim to have all the necessary books and journal extracts, with specific important extracts highlighted to use as references and discussion points. By the end of January I will make a rough draft of the introduction, and by the end of February I plan to finish the first draft of chapter 1 and start work on chapter 2. I will finish chapters 2 and 3 by the end of March and have the first draft of the full dissertation by mid-April. I will then use the remaining time until May 7th to go over everything and make any necessary changes. Current Bibliography Aaron, Michelle (2004) New Queer Cinema: A Critical Reader (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press) Benshoff, Harry M. (2005) Queer Images: A History of Gay and Lesbian Film in American Genre and Beyond (Maryland: Rowman Littlefield Publishing) Dyer, Richard (2001) The Culture of Queers (London: Routledge) Dyer, Richard (2002) The Matter of Images 2nd ed. (London: Routledge) Griffiths, Robin (2007) Queer Cinema in Europe (Bristol: Intellect) Griffiths, Robin (2007) Cinema and Sexuality (Buckingham/Philadelphia: Open University Press/McGraw Hill) Morland, Iain (2004) Queer Theory: Readers in Cultural Criticism (New York: Palgrave Macmillan) Needham, Gary (2010.) Brokeback Mountain (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.) Russo, Vito (1987) The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the Movies (New York: Harper Paperbacks) Smith, Paul Julian (2004) All I Desire Sight and Sound Vol.14, No.6 Sullivan, Nikki (2003) A Critical Introduction to Queer Theory (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press)

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