Queerable spaces: homosexualities and homophobias in contemporary film.
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
This dissertation seeks to read contemporary films as symptoms of the societies they are made in, mainly contemporary Western societies, which I argue to be subtly but intensely homophobic. Films imagine/represent their own subject matter in terms of symbolic, encoded scenes. The decoding for the films I chose occurs through a use of very specific, heavily coded spaces as visualisable shorthand for a complex of homophobic reactions. Filmic texts do not have to have denotative non-heterosexual elements to be termed 'queer'. These texts become queer often in their reception by non-heterosexual audiences. In 'queering' these spaces and films, I extensively make use of tools of social geography, film studies and cultural studies The films I chose are not random choices, but they include certain themes that I believe to reflect the subtle homophobia in our societies. In the first chapter, Geographies of Cruising, I analyze the representation of streets and the leading character's cruising on the streets in Eyes Wide Shut (Stanley Kubrick, 1999). The second chapter, Geographies of Effeminacy, concentrates on the denial of space to non-masculine men exemplified in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999). In the third chapter, Geographies of Exclusion, the representation of a cellar in Mystic River (Clint Eastwood, 2003) serves to display the links between paedophilia and homosexuality. The fourth and final chapter, Geographies of Abuse and Rape, is an exercise on “out of placeness” and examines the connections made between male/male rape and homosexuality in I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead (Mike Hodges, 2003). The last chapter is an extended reading of Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee, 2005), in which the tension between closed spaces and wild spaces leads to a discussion of contemporary representation of homosexuality and a summary of the chapters.