Spectacular Passions: Cinema, Fantasy, Gay Male Spectatorships
The image of the movie-obsessed gay man is a widely circulating and readily recognizable element of the contemporary cultural landscape. Using psychoanalytic theory as his guide while inflecting it with insights from both film theory and queer theory, Brett Farmer moves beyond this cliché to develop an innovative exploration of gay spectatorship. The result, Spectacular Passions, reveals how cinema has been engaged by gay men as a vital forum for “fantasmatic performance”—in this case, the production of specifically queer identities, practices, and pleasures.
Building on the psychoanalytic concept of the fantasmatic, Farmer works to depathologize gay male subjectivity. While discussing such films as Kiss of the Spider Woman, The Pirate, Suddenly Last Summer, and Sunset Boulevard, and stars ranging from Mae West to Montgomery Clift, Farmer argues that the particularities of gay men’s social and psychic positionings motivate unique receptions of and investments in film. The Hollywood musical, gay camp readings of the extravagant female star, and the explicit homoeroticism of the cinematic male body in gay fanzines are further proof, says Farmer, of how the shifting libidinal profiles of homosexual desire interact with the fantasy scenarios of Hollywood film to produce a range of variable queer meanings.
This fascinating and provocative study makes a significant new contribution to discussions of cinema, spectatorship, and sexuality. As such, it will be welcomed by those in the fields of film theory, queer theory, and cultural studies.
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anality argues argument articulation asserts castration context critics cultural studies D. A. Miller defined desire discourses dominant dynamics effects erotic erotic objectification essay example excess fantasy fantasy theory female stars femininity figure film theory film's formations forms Freud functions gay camp readings gay engagements gay male gay spectatorial gay spectators gay spectatorship gay subcultural gay subject gay-identifying gayness gender genre hegemonic heteronormative heterosexual Hollywood Hollywood musical homosexuality identificatory Judy Garland Kaja Silverman Laplanche lesbian libidinal Mae West mainstream film male homosexuality male subject Manuela masochism matrocentrism meanings melodrama Montgomery Clift mother movie musical film musical number Myra Breckinridge narrative Norma objectification oedipal paradigm particular passive performance perverse phallic phallic masculinity played pleasures popular position potential pre-oedipal production provides psychic psychoanalysis psychocultural queer refusal relations representation role Routledge scenario scene Serafin sexual difference social specificity star-image structure suggests Sunset Boulevard textual tion transgression University Press Violet West's York