Queering Teen Culture: All-American Boys and Same-sex Desire in Film and Television

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Psychology Press, 2006 - Social Science - 221 pages
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Why did Fonzie hang around with all those high school boys?

Is the overwhelming boy-meets-girl content of popular teen movies, music, books, and TV just a cover for an undercurrent of same-sex desire? From the 1950s to the present, popular culture has involved teenage boys falling for, longing over, dreaming about, singing to, and fighting over, teenage girls. But Queering Teen Culture analyzes more than 200 movies and TV shows to uncover who Frankie Avalon's character was really in love with in those beach movies and why Leif Garrett became a teen idol in the 1970s.

In Top 40 songs, teen magazines, movies, TV soap operas and sitcoms, teenagers are defined by their pubescent "discovery" of the opposite sex, universally and without exception. Queering Teen Culture looks beyond the litany to find out when adults became so insistent about teenage sexual desire--and why--and finds evidence of same-sex desire, romantic interactions, and identities that, according to the dominant ideology, do not and cannot exist. This provocative book examines the careers of male performers whose teenage roles made them famous (including Ricky Nelson, Pat Boone, Fabian, and James Darren) and discusses examples of lesbian desire (including I Love Lucyand Laverne and Shirley).

Queering Teen Culture examines:
  • Ozzie and Harriet, Father Knows Best,and Leave It to Beaver: Were Ricky, Bud, and Wally sufficiently straight?
  • the juvenile delinquent films of the 1950s: Why weren't the rebel-without-a-cause "bad boys" interested in girls?
  • horror, sci-fi, and zombies from outer space: "Body of a boy! Mind of a monster! Soul of an unearthly thing!"
  • teen idols--pretty, androgynous, and feminine: No wonder they were rumored to be "funny"
  • beach movies: She wants to plan their wedding but he wants to surf, sky-dive and go drag racing with the guys
  • Biker-hippies boys of the late 1960s: "I know your scene--don't think I don't!"
  • the 1950s nostalgia of the 1970s: Why does Fonzie spend all his time with high school boys?
  • teen gore: What makes the psycho-killer angry?
  • and much more, including Gidget, the Brat Pack, buddy dramas, nerds and "operators," Saved by the Bell, The Real World,and the incredible shrinking teenager
Queering Teen Culture is an essential read for academics working in cultural and gay studies, and for anyone else with an interest in popular culture.
 

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Contents

Devil on Wheels The Rise of Teen Culture
xi
The Teenager
xii
The Heterosexual Teenager
3
Father Knows Best Learning GirlCraziness on TV
11
Ricky Nelson
13
Billy Gray
18
Jerry Mathers
21
Dwayne Hickman
27
Easy Rider
108
The CleanCut Boys
110
Teen Idols
114
American Graffiti 1950s Nostalgia and Teenage Androgyny
117
Teen Dreams
119
The 1950s Craze
123
The Gays 1950s
129
Real Men and PsychoSlashers
133

Sal Mineo and Friends The Juvenile Delinquent Films
31
Juvenile Delinquents
33
Juvenile Delinquency Heats Up
44
Teenage Zombies from Outer Space Monster Movies
47
Teenage Werewolf
48
Teenage Frankenstein
50
The Monster Mash
52
The End of the Monster Mash
60
Heartbreak Hotel The Teen Idols
63
Teenage Boys in Love
66
Teen Idols on Screen
70
How to Stuff a Wild Bikini The Beach Movies
81
Beach Movie Regulars
87
The Last of the Beach Movies
99
Easy Rider The Love Generation
101
The BikerHippies
103
Teen Idols
135
Teen Gore
140
The Brat Pack Teen Nerds and Operators
147
Buddy Dramas
149
Teen Nerds
153
Teen Operators
159
Teencoms and Teensoaps
169
The Teencom
171
The Teensoap
175
The Real World
179
The Incredible Shrinking Teenager
180
Cruel Intentions
184
Notes
187
Index
201
Copyright

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Page ix - Hence in every society various techniques are developed intended to fix the floating chain of signifieds in such a way as to counter the terror of uncertain signs; the linguistic message is one of these techniques.
Page x - Indeed, one might argue that such films are functional in providing a ritualistic release for a heterosexual economy that must constantly police its own boundaries against the invasion of queerness, and that this displaced production and resolution of homosexual panic actually fortifies the heterosexual regime in its self-perpetuating task.

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