Student Work

Morgan Nelson created a “slash” vid, in which she re-imagined beloved Disney characters as having non-straight sexual identities and orientations. In her video, she remixed the song “Kiss the Girl” from The Little Mermaid, eliminating verbal cues which indicate that the song is being sung to a heterosexual couple. She then intermixed scenes of Ariel from The Little Mermaid with scenes of Rapunzel from Tangled so that a lesbian romance would be implied. This re-imagining also involved interpreting the character of Sebastian from The Little Mermaid (the singer of “Kiss The Girl”) as a “gay best friend” to Ariel, who helps to facilitate her lesbian sexual exploration.

Britt Simpson wrote and recorded a rap (which I will upload soon) in which she addresses several of the authors and ideas we talked about in this course. She was particularly interested in working through definitions of queer that encompass radical redefinitions and revaluations of sexual identity and practice, such as BDSM.

First day, first class, Prof PS asks
What can queer be defined as
We listed people, places, synonyms
The movement that began
At the Stonewall Inn – Gay liberation
Went from Justin Bond to cats
Pride parade to outcasts
But we soon learned
To view queer in terms
Beyond straight and gay, outside the box
Queer’s an umbrella term, encompasses a lot

Queer is, like Smith said, anything non-normative
Queer is, like Rubin said, anything that’s variant
Queer is, like Warner said, anything non-normative
Queer is, like Bornstein said, very much performative

Respect is universal, but morality is relative
Benign variance, doesn’t matter who I’m sleeping with
Took an identity commodified and sellin it
Repackaged for a voyeuristic Viewership
Catering to a heteronormative
Mainstream Audience

Queer is campy and performative
Underground, non-normative
Full of kinks and fetishes
Straight but non-monogamist
Dominating masochist

Morality is relative
Not everyone is celibate
Some don’t pray to Jesus
Just worship their mistress
Dominatrix
Off the Straight and Narrow – deviance
But how I fuck’s irrelevant
Vanilla, Chocolate, Twist
Lights off, lights on, missionary, whips
Disabled dominated doled out punishments
Handcuffs, chains, pain to inflict
A power struggle, dom/sub relationship
One that moralists often forget is symbiotic
Viewed as disgusting, lesser than, dismissed

Benign sexual variance
Like this beat it ain’t gotta make sense
Just gotta be about mutual respect
Means not giving two shits
About someone else’s choice of object
And knowing alternatives exist
And not trying to insist
That only one form of sex is legit
That’s the beauty of benign sexual variance

Queer is a site giving rise to community
Rubin argues all sexual minorities
Come together to fight the assumed authority
Of society’s sexual policing
And end the monotonous preaching
Of the charmed circle and breeding

Queer is fluid
Always movin
Not stationary
In socially constructed gender binaries
Stagnant
Alternative narrative for trans kids
Queer means we’ve had it
Cuz normal brings trouble
Burdens and struggles

Queer makes room for difference
Warner calls for queers to resist this
Normalizing hegemony
Of homosexual matrimony
Pushing for a straight agenda
Further demonizes daddies in leather

Queer is all inclusive
Encompass everything that eludes this
White male dominated
Patriarchal society we’re raised in

Melissa Ynegas created a “slash” vid called The Brokeback Diaries, drawing on the meme of remixing popular films using intertextual references to the trailer for Brokeback Mountain. Her vid utilizes a slash pairing of Stefan and Klaus from The Vampire Diaries, a pairing which is currently popular among slash fiction writers. She selected scenes from The Vampire Diaries that closely parallel the scenes from the original Brokeback Mountain trailer, making her vid an excellent addition to the Brokeback slash remix canon.

Roxanne Dyer curated a collection of queer advertisements using the social media platform Pinterest. Drawing on existing databases of advertisements with both overt and subtextual queer themes, she produced a new artifact which generates meaning by taking each ad out of its original context and collapsing them into a single gallery. Her collection allows us to compare different forms of queer visibility and invisibility in contemporary advertising. The title of her collection–“Queer As Consumers”–implicitly asks us to think about how queer subjectivity is constituted through consumption practices and media representations and how queer identity might be thought of as essentially a consumer identity.

Aidan Young produced a video based on his interviews with students, faculty, and administrators involved in a high school Gay Straight Alliance club. Combining audio from the interviews with photos of the high school and its classrooms, his project explores ideas of queer space, inclusion, and intersectionality. He created a blog to host his video, which also includes an insightful written analysis of his findings.

Veronica DeSantis wrote an interesting queer analysis of a song by her favorite band, The Magnetic Fields. This was a private journal submission, but she gave me permission to post it publicly here:

The band The Magnetic Fields recently released the first single titled “Andrew in Drag” off of their upcoming album Love at the Bottom of the Sea. The band is led by Stephen Merritt, who is a gay man and often incorporates gender bending and queer themes into his songs. Merritt sings the song “Andrew in Drag” which describes a man, Andrew, going on some stage dressed in drag “as a gag”. The narrator goes to see the show because he “thought it might be funny” but unexpectedly he instantly falls in love with Andrew once he sees him dressed as a woman. At first glance this song may seem to echo the definition of queer as a synonym for homosexual as it describes one man falling in love with another man. As Annamarie Jagose points out in her book Queer Theory: An Introduction this definition of queer is incomplete and is also now outdated. Jagose describes how Queer has moved on to a post-structuralist context and does not refer to one specific identity or role. Whereas labels like gay and lesbian were previously used to unite people usually for political reasons, queer signifies not similarities but differences. It also implies an awareness of gender being a performance and identity constructed.

In the song Andrew is literally performing gender as he is performing as a woman on a stage. Since he was doing it as a joke it can also be inferred that his performance was most likely over the top and probably employed elements of camp. The incorporation of these themes point to “Andrew in Drag” as a queer song and not simply a gay one. If I had to use this song to explain queerness to someone unfamiliar with queer theory I would point out the lyrical focus not on the narrator’s love of Andrew as a man but rather his love of Andrew as a woman makes the song overtly queer. The narrator repeatedly refers to Andrew in drag as “the only girl [he’ll] ever love”. He explicitly states that Andrew in a dress is the “only boy [he’d] anything” and that he’s “always been a ladies’ man”. All of this implies that he is primarily or only attracted to women and therefore to Andrew’s constructed female identity. The narrator realizes that this woman is a construct by Andrew as he laments at the end of the song that he will “never see that girl again”. There is no easy was to categorize to label the narrator or his desires and it is not even totally clear what they are.

I think this song is a good example to use to explain the concept of queerness because of its ambiguity in terms of gender and sexuality. There is no easily categorized identity being expressed by Andrew or the narrator. I also think this song is a good tool because it’s a short relatively catchy song that people can enjoy for its musical as well as lyrical content. The song is sort of nonthreatening and unobtrusive. It doesn’t confront the listener and doesn’t try tell them what queer is or demand that they agree with or even completely understand everything that’s being described. It offers the listener a unique point of view that inspires contemplation of queerness even if the listener doesn’t know to identify it as such.

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