One of my favourite university courses was FILM 323 Queer Cinema. Anyone looking for an upper-level elective, I would highly recommend it. Not only did we watch a film every week (mostly things I probably wouldn’t have watched on my own) but we had important, complex discussions about the history of queer representation on screen. I’ve been thinking about that course a lot this week as we look at queer/non-binary representation.
Looking at representations of masculinity and femininity in the past couple weeks, it’s clear that heteronormativity shapes gender expectations.
This Film is Not Yet Rated (2006) found that films involving sexual content received a stricter rating when the characters were gay than when they were straight, even when the scenes were less explicit. The appears to reflect the long-standing concern of conservatives that children should be “protected” from content which depicts queer characters and relationships. The ratings board is supposedly made up of “average American parents,” but who gets to decide the people who fit that vague, subjective criteria? Jamie Babbit, director of But I’m a Cheerleader, points out that she is an American parent and a lesbian, and wonders if there is anyone on the ratings board like her. (As of 2006, there was not.)
see 39:35-43:02 (warning: explicit content)
Pivoting to another letter in the LGBTQIA2+ acronym, my final project for FILM 323 was a video project that looked at asexuality’s absence from popular media (which has now been viewed over 2000 times). It’s very limited in scope, but offers a first look at how asexuality has been absent from and misrepresented by popular media. Non-binary identities are similarly missing from popular media; there may be examples out there, but I can’t think of a single one.
“Why is representation important? It’s important because we are the stories we tell. Stories allow us to empathize with people and experiences.”