Discovering the Wonder and Pleasures of Historical Television

At the recent Film and History Conference, I had the distinct pleasure of hearing the renowned Tom Gunning deliver a compelling talk about the nature of wonder and cinema.  There was something charming and delightful about his obvious love of early cinema, a period that isn’t as sexy as, say, contemporary blockbuster film but which, … Continue reading Discovering the Wonder and Pleasures of Historical Television

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Review: “The Way He Looks”

Warning:  Spoilers follow. The other night, I had the distinct pleasure of watching Daniel Ribeiro's touching film The Way He Looks (original title Hoje Eu Quero Voltar Sozinho), a Brazilian film about a young blind man who finds himself falling in love with his best friend.  Based on Ribeiro's short film entitled Eu Não Quero Voltar Sozinho, the film … Continue reading Review: “The Way He Looks”

“American Horror Story: Freak Show” Review–“Massacres and Matinees”

Reviewing American Horror Story:  Freak Show poses something of a challenge.  What area should one focus on?  The cinematography?  The politics of disability and queerness?  The stunning display of Jessica Lange's abject femininity and the unsung glory that is Frances Conroy?  Some combination of all of the above? That's part of what makes this new season of American … Continue reading “American Horror Story: Freak Show” Review–“Massacres and Matinees”

Gay Assimilation and the Burden of Being Queerly Different

Recently, during a meeting of a queer studies reading group, I engaged in a spirited debate with a colleague about the advantages and disadvantages of assimilation.  He was not convinced that assimilation poses the dangers that many queer scholars such as Jack Halberstam and David Halperin have argued that it does.  Another colleague, one whom … Continue reading Gay Assimilation and the Burden of Being Queerly Different

“Outlander” and the Gendered Branding of Starz

There has been quite a lot of buzz surrounding Starz new series Outlander, based on the bestselling series of historical/fantasy/science fiction/romance novels written by Diana Gabaldon (the question of genre is a vexed one where this series is concerned). Anne Helen Petersen of BuzzFeed and Willa Paskin of Slate have both pointed out that the series, unlike other … Continue reading “Outlander” and the Gendered Branding of Starz

“Broke Straight Boys”: The Intersection of Class, Gender, and Sexuality in Amateur Gay Porn

It's no surprise that many gay men (and much gay male pornography) is obsessed with straight men.  There are many reasons, both historic and cultural, for this long-standing erotic attraction for, as David Halperin has eloquently argued in his book How to Be Gay, part of what constitutes contemporary gay male identity and sexual desire is precisely … Continue reading “Broke Straight Boys”: The Intersection of Class, Gender, and Sexuality in Amateur Gay Porn

Opening Credits and the Aesthetics of Television History

Upon recently re-watching the HBO series Rome, I was struck anew at the complex artistry that underlies the opening credits.  While the series itself raises numerous questions about the representation of history within the medium of television, it is the opening credit sequence, more than anything else in the series, that adequately evokes something of the strangeness … Continue reading Opening Credits and the Aesthetics of Television History

Review–“Belle”: A Costume Drama Meaningfully Depicts the History of Slavery

There is a moment in the film Belle where the titular character stares at a painting in which a young black man looks--adoringly?  powerlessly?--up at a white man.  This poignant moment crystallizes many of the issues this thoughtful costume drama raises, including and especially the vexed status that people have colour have occupied in Western society, at … Continue reading Review–“Belle”: A Costume Drama Meaningfully Depicts the History of Slavery