Homosexuality in the action film

Lisa Purse

in Contemporary Action Cinema

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780748638178
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748670857 | DOI:
Homosexuality in the action film

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Using Bad Boys II, Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, Alexander, Spider-Man 3 and 300 as illustrative case studies, this chapter maps out homosexuality's status as both structuring presence and structuring absence in contemporary action cinema, as well as documenting how action movies speak to this presence/absence. After a brief history of homosexual screen representations, the chapter argues that the imposition or regulation of a straight-gay binary remains readable in contemporary action cinema, and that as a violent, risk-filled homosocial space the action ?lm provides a fertile ground for the anxieties about losing one's proper gender that Judith Butler has described. Representation of and performance of homosexuality, current practices of presenting and policing homosocial space, and patterns of knowing avaowal and disavowal, are historicized and analysed. The chapter explores how homosexuality operates as metaphor in the superhero action cycle, and as an indicator of villainy in films like Gamer, 300 and Watchmen, and also points up the persistent invisibility of female homosexuality in contemporary action cinema.

Keywords: Homosexuality; Lesbianism; Homosocial; Homoerotic; Disavowal; Metaphor; Gay villain

Chapter.  8653 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Film

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