Sunday, March 29, 2009

What about film?

It's easy to make a list of queer sf. Of course, there'll be some variation, depending on how the list-maker defines both 'queer' and 'sf'.... Erm, that is, so long as we're talking about novels and short stories. What about film, though?

Is sf cinema behind the times, off in another universe, or so heteronormative (sorry, I mean that it's stuck thinking about things only from the perspective of a very cliched version of heterosexuality) as to be almost impervious to queer readings?

Not that there aren't some exceptions. Jackie Stacey has a great article on queer kinship in Gattaca, Roz Kaveney reads Independence Day's main theme as anxiety about male bonding leading to homosexual panic, Vivian Sobchak has done some work on the creepy representation of sexuality in AI, Mark Bould and Greg Tuck have looked at sexuality in Japanese sf films. The fact that I can list individual pieces of criticism off the top of my head is an indication of its dearth. SF cinema just doesn't seem very queer, so most of the critical options revolve, one way or another, around unpacking the heterosexism and/or homophobia and/or gender normativity (women must be girls and men must be manly), which while useful can get a bit tedious after a while.

So, here's a question. If you had to write about sf film from a queer perspective (any sort of queer perspective) what would you pick and where would your critical stance take you?


  1. Just so you know, this post did my head in because though I tried I could only come up with one notion: the Frodo/Sam iconography in the 3 LotR films (fantasy, rather than sf): big eyes and pale skin and refined speech for Frodo, darker skin, heavier build, rougher speech for Sam, equating to the classic female/male symbolism. And seeing Frodo wrapped in Shelob's silk cocoon reminded me of a painting I've seen of a woman wrapped in a shroud (something pre-Raphealite--Lady of Shalott maybe?).

    I've no idea if looking at the actual images in other films so simplistically would reveal interesting possibilities...

  2. I find that when you're talking about queer issues and sf cinema in the same breath, all roads lead to slash fiction. That was my first reaction to your Frodo/Sam comment, with or without bringing in the gender/class symbolism associated with the character.

    Whatever happened to the idea of filming Left Hand of Darkness?