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However, the emphasis on the normative trajectory in gay romance is not unique to these series and is reflective of larger social and cultural values. Perhaps most revealingly, the web series Husbands , which was first released online for free viewing, depicted a homonormative homodomestic couple. Its status as independent media meant it did not rely upon advertising revenue and mass appeal in order to succeed, and could, in theory, depict genuine queerness.
The premise of the series is that Brady and Cheeks, after only a few weeks of dating, got married in Las Vegas while drunkenly celebrating fictional at the time nationwide marriage equality. Because they are a famous professional baseball player and reality TV star, Brady and Cheeks are pressured by LGBT advocacy organizations to set a good example for same-sex marriage.
From this beginning, the series follows the couple learning to cohabitate and serve as role models for the marriage equality cause, and, finally, having an elegant wedding to make up for the one they were too drunk to remember. Part of the charm and noteworthiness of Husbands is its awareness of its place in the history of sitcoms and LGBT media. While Brady and Cheeks debate whether they have indeed done anything controversial, television screens throughout their home display some of the images of heterosexual sex that inundate television with little complaint from conservative groups.
Husbands depicts Brady and Cheeks as a couple with a healthy sexual appetite; however, their sexuality is always expressed within the confines of marriage, and only kissing and lying in bed together are seen on screen. The final episode of the series shows Brady and Cheeks remarrying to reiterate that their sexuality is restricted to marriage.
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Although this episode was not intended to be the conclusion of the series, no additional episodes have been produced, and the wedding-as-finale neatly concludes the romance narrative. In her study of proposals in heterosexual romance novels, Laura Vivanco finds that engagement rings typically get more attention than wedding bands, a phenomenon she attributes in part to the more elaborate design of engagement rings.
The private nature of the proposal, as opposed to the public ring exchange at a wedding, makes the engagement ring more meaningful Though the Ring Pop in The New Normal references a joke from earlier in the episode, its uniqueness as an engagement ring for Bryan fits this pattern. Likewise, the promise ring Blaine gives Kurt is made from the wrappers of his favorite brand of gum, folded into a bow tie to reflect his love of fashion. The offering of each ring emulates heterosexual proposal scenes: man on bended knee, ring offered to the woman here, the more effeminate partner , and a kiss to seal the deal.
Series like Glee and The New Normal present gay couples to a wide audience, but do so by making the couples as normative and nonthreatening as possible. Gay couples on these series look and behave like many of their straight counterparts on other television series. One partner is more masculine and one more effeminate, so that the pair further mirrors the traditional gender roles within a heterosexual couple. These depictions of homonormativity, while opening romance up to gay couples, do not represent the full range of experiences within the LGBT community.
This predictability is indicative of the same-but-different quality found in all romance. Likewise, broadcast television relies upon familiar tropes and conventions enacted through new characters. Stories of gay romance embody the same-but-different, familiar-but-new quality so necessary for success in both romance and television. The corollary to that familiar, satisfying feeling is that there is a lack of romance for those who identify as queer, trans, or bisexual on television. This can partly be attributed today to economics; gay men tend to have more disposable income than lesbians and so make a more attractive target audience for which television series are crafted Streitmatter A lesbian in a committed relationship is more easily likened to a white heterosexual than a queer person of color.
Although recent series on alternative platforms, notably Orange Is the New Black Netflix, and Transparent Amazon, , feature trans characters, the stories about these characters are about acceptance for their identities and the transition process, not love and romance. Homonormative white gay men can achieve more power and visibility while other racial and sexual identities have been pushed farther into the margins of popular culture. Additionally, by featuring gay characters on their series, some television executives may consider inclusivity a fait accompli.
The progress [End Page 10] made by opening romance up to gay couples on the one hand coincides with the subsuming of alternative sexualities and identities into the normative trajectory on the other. The prevalence of homonormativity on television is a double-edged sword. Gay romance depicts stable, loving relationships, but its emphasis on HEA and betrothal reinforces the idea that the ultimate life goals are monogamous marriage and procreation.
Gay romance on television may be new and reflect social progress, but as the examples I have used here demonstrate, gay romance is often not queer. My elimination of additional letters, such as I intersex , Q queer or questioning , or A asexual is not intended to neglect those groups, but rather to demonstrate how certain facets of culture and politics exclude them. The scene begins with Brian dancing among the wreckage and cuts to a vision of the club restored and full of men. It is possible to read this as a moment in the future, after the club has been renovated and reopened, or as a fantasy that Brian clings to as his friends and even his business have moved on.
Their kissing is limited to light touches of lips, and cuts to commercial breaks and pans to other images are often used when the two are being playful or affectionate in bed. On other series with gay romance, at least one of the actors playing a gay character identifies as straight. Aaron, Michele. Glyn Davis and Gary Needham. New York: Routledge, Bans, Lauren.
Becker, Ron. Gay TV and Straight America. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, Busis, Hillary. Entertainment Weekly. Demory, Pamela. Pamela Demory and Christopher Pullen. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, Doran, Steven Edward. Doty, Alexander. Making Things Perfectly Queer. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, Duggan, Lisa. The Twilight of Equality? Boston: Beacon Press, Edelman, Lee. Durham: Duke University Press, Elia, John P. Ferguson, Roderick A. Gates, Gary J. Goris, An. Eric Murphy Sellinger and Sarah S. Jefferson: McFarland, Gouttebroze, Max.
Henry, Jon. Joyrich, Lynne. Kessler, Kelly. Kimmel, Michael S. Needham, Gary. Raley, Amber B. Regis, Pamela. A Natural History of the Romance Novel. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, Roach, Catherine. Robinson, Paul. Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky. Epistemology of the Closet. Skoloff, Brian. Therrien, Kathleen. Walters, Suzanna Danuta. Warner, Michael. The Trouble with Normal. Vivanco, Laura. As actor Robert Carlyle observes in his commentary on the scene, it seems like the set-up for a joke. However, it also demonstrates how the series places well-known fictional characters in a non-fictional world and thus deliberately intersects the perils and pleasures of adult eroticism with the idealized happy endings of tales for children.
Early in the series, Emma must defeat the Evil Queen, who has cursed the inhabitants of the Enchanted Forest—the realm where fairy tale characters live—and trapped them in a small town in Maine, where for twenty-eight years they had no memory of their true identities and did not age. Emma, sent through a portal to our world as an infant, only learns of her true parentage when she is an adult. She must then learn both to be a daughter to the parents who gave her up and are in fact now her own age, and a mother to the son, Henry, that she gave up for adoption.
Just as Emma is sorting through some of these conflicts, she meets Captain Hook, a version of J. As Emma struggles with the difficulties of past and present, Once Upon a Time moves between fantastic and realistic worlds, using well-known narratives for and about children to innovate within the conventions of the adult popular romance. Thus, from the beginning, Once Upon a Time offers an acknowledgement of the differences that can yawn between the narratives one might have been told as a child about love and marriage and the actual experience of many adults. Sarah Frantz and Eric Selinger suggest in New Approaches to Popular Romance Fiction that one of the pleasures of this genre can be its inclusion of cynicism alongside its depictions of love 1.
Similarly, Once Upon a Time eventually explores the possibility of romance in this world for Emma, albeit a rather complicated version. Psychoanalysis has also frequently served as the framework for studies of romance. One might make a similar argument about heroines of romances: on their way to love, they frequently engage in non-normative behaviours—cross-dressing, for example, is a common motif. In Catherine A. Indeed, as Doty points out, categories of gay or straight no longer function when the object of desire embodies an unclassifiable gender xvi.
Emma is not just concerned with the past, but still in it, positioned as childlike by some definitions. Similarly, Emma has to learn to become a daughter when she is twenty-eight, and must figure out how to depend on others after having already established her independence. Moreover, Emma troubles the impetus towards reproductive heterosexuality by pursuing non-reproductive pleasures while resisting normative heterosexual romance and its gender roles. While I have described Emma as childlike, she is hardly the young, inexperienced heroine that Modleski finds in her examples and that persists in some romances today.
Emma is an ex-con, a bail bond agent, and later a sheriff. She is also strong, smart, and somewhat sadistic. The series avoids explicit depictions of sexuality not surprising, given its primetime slot on network television , but Emma seems to relish exercising power over her love interest, literally as [End Page 4] well as figuratively restraining him, and causing him pain in a way that, at least some of the time, pleases him as well as her.
While he has not been her sole love interest on the show, he is the only one, so far, not to have been killed off, and he seems to have spent more time by her side than anyone else. In some ways, their pairing is typical of romance: the beautiful, blonde princess and the roguish but handsome pirate. Hook exemplifies the hero that Modleski describes: attractive and cruel, seductive and violent—often simultaneously.
Moreover, he clearly takes particular pleasure in baiting Emma. Similarly, Hook experiences a change of heart at the end of the second season and helps Emma save her son. He later professes his love for her, although she refuses to speak her own feelings until much later in the series. What is unusual about their interactions, though, is the way Hook is made to physically suffer. When they first meet, Emma ties him to a tree, rightly suspicious that he is lying about who he is.
She handcuffs him on three other occasions, twice knocks him unconscious, and locks him in a storage closet. However, Once Upon a Time also suggests the pleasure women might experience in overcoming resistance, in bringing a man literally, as well as figuratively, to his knees. Emma is reticent to verbally express sexual and romantic desire, but an important aspect of her relationship with Hook from the beginning is his ability to identify the eroticism of her aggressive reactions—indeed, to deliberately invite them.
When he suggests that Emma is turned on by his restraint, Emma answers with a smile. Even once their relationship is more established, as in the fourth season finale, we see her push him backwards onto her bed and pin his wrists to the mattress while she kisses him. Although much early criticism on popular romance reads the heroine as implicitly submissive—a characterization perhaps underscored recently by the success of E. Carol Thurston, writing in , argues that romances of the time include more scenes where power between the hero and heroine is balanced, or even where the heroine is the sexual aggressor Siegel She claims a power that is muscular, physically subduing and restraining the hero alongside her emotional and mental maneuvers to dominate.
Obviously, the series is not the first depiction of a dominant, violent woman in popular culture, but many such women are in fact objectified as male masochistic fantasy, as Heinecken 28, 38 and Siegel Male 11 both point out. The appeal and potentially subversive nature of the controlling, sexually desiring woman in serial dramas has been analyzed by both Modleski and John Fiske.
However, while dominant women such as Kate Roberts on Days of Our Lives or Alexis Carrington on Dynasty manipulate men and seize control over events, such women are, by definition, villains. Regina curses a whole realm because she is mad at her stepdaughter, and she magically controls the Huntsman to keep him as her sex slave. OUaT seems to owe much to Buffy , especially in its warrior woman protagonist and the conflation of fantasy and real worlds,  but in Buffy BDSM is villainized, even though Buffy is not.
OUaT also leans towards pathologizing, but it complicates this process, as I will show later. Emma could instead be viewed as having more in common with the dominant heroines of some BDSM romance novels, such as those that Frantz discusses in her essay on Joey W. Siegel notices that the aggressive and violent aspects of sexuality are often still considered taboo for women. In Once Upon a Time , though, one can see more complex explorations of female sadism and domination and the method and effects of representations of this kind of pleasure for women.
While feminism may have often glossed over adult female violence, the same is true, Fisher notes, of girl violence and its consequences. Interestingly, Hook might also be read as a mother figure. Thus, instead of Pan engaging the parents through Hook, Emma does. There is evidence that her treatment of Hook results from her anger at Snow and Charming, even as she also sees in them the family she has always wanted.
Once Upon a Time revises the passive aggression that Modleski sees in the romance, drawing on a more extreme version of the Freudian child. She struggles with the question, but the answer comes when she labels herself an orphan and narrates her childhood as marked by neglect. Emma moves towards parenthood, taking responsibility for Henry, but she actively resists normative romance as a threat to her independence. In this way, the series engages with some of the discourse surrounding BDSM as having the potential to heal. When Emma finds out, she is angry at Hook for not telling her sooner, for making a decision about Henry without consulting her, and for trying to convince her to stay in Storybrooke rather than going back [End Page 9] to New York.
In a scene that borders on necrophilia, she leans over his beautiful unconscious body and presses her mouth against his lips. The scene also revises conventional romance: she, rather than he, is the emotionally distant, physically powerful figure who appears disdainful, but who really loves and risks everything to rescue the romantic partner.
The reputation of the pirate for being counter-cultural opens up space for Hook in Once Upon a Time to be a different kind of romantic hero than convention might dictate, one embodying the variety of dynamics that can exist between men and women. The literary pirate, as Hans Turley discusses in Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash , is a figure whose placement outside the law is often used to hint at transgression in relation to gender and sexuality While he speaks of penetrating her, as I pointed out earlier, the visuals in fact suggest an inversion of sexual imagery, with him being penetrated by or enveloping her instead.
The eroticism of the scene is amplified by him kissing her with fervor immediately after the penetration. However, Hook also seeks a different kind of pain. In much slash fan fiction based in these genres, she argues, this is challenged: the wounded male body is set up as the object of desire. Something similar happens in Once Upon a Time , perhaps because the series, like fan fiction, queers dominant genres. The emphasis on power differentials in such dynamics and plots is underlined by the costumes on the series—a lot of tight black leather and knee high boots—which certainly evoke the dress of some forms of BDSM role play.
Is it possible to read Emma without idealizing the child as either innocent or as accessing some euphoric sexual, aggressive desire? These are difficult questions. Similarly, what is most interesting about Hook and Emma is the tension between them, the struggle for power that is never fully resolved because it is never fully, never finally located in just one person, in just one gender. Thus, the physical injuries on hands and arms link Emma and Hook in terms of past emotional suffering.
This adds depth to their interaction, as here pain comes to encompass identification as much as it is part of domination or pleasure elsewhere. Hook is a potential object of desire in part because of his wounds, as I have already argued, but the amount of time devoted to his backstory in the series also creates the possibility that viewers, alongside Emma, might identify with him too.
I do not doubt the potential eroticism of such non-consensual scenarios for viewers, but, as I indicated earlier, Regina partakes in the tradition of the villainess, as does Zelena. In eroticism, as in the earliest relationships between child and caregivers, Benjamin argues, the self struggles between a desire for independence and a necessary reliance on others.
When the hook becomes his new name, transforming Killian Jones into Captain Hook, it signifies the reshaping of his very self. The hand, like the child we say we once were, is a ghost that haunts us, the other that is also ourselves. The finale of the third season is particularly revealing about the dangers of and fascination with compromising the boundaries between past and present experience and identity.
This changes her relationship with them in the present, allowing her to add to her childhood story of neglect an awareness of how loved she was without knowing it. Love had only brought me pain. My walls were up, but you broke them down. However, the reference to broken walls continues to emphasize destruction and pain as a means of connection, even though here these are emotional rather than physical.
Thus, in the show, the past depends upon the future rather than merely the other way around, and the characters spend much time looking for and theorizing about their happy endings, without ever finally finding them. Catharines, Ontario, Canada, in May Alexander, Jenny. Fan Fiction and Sadomasochism. Viv Burr and Jeff Hearn. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, Barrie, J. Peter Hollindale. Benjamin, Jessica. New York: Pantheon, New Haven: Yale University Press, Bettelheim, Bruno.
New York: Knopf, Bibel, Sara. Tribune Digital Ventures, 11 May Birkin, Andrew. Barrie and the Lost Boys. Bruhm, Steven, and Natasha Hurley. Steven Bruhm and Natasha Hurley. Carlyle, Robert, and Jane Espenson. ABC Studios, Coats, Karen. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, Coddington, Lynn. Transformations in the Romance Genre. De Moraes, Lisa. Penske Business Media, 21 May Easton, Dossie. Darren Langdridge and Meg Barker. Feuer, Jane. Fisher, Caitlin. Merri Lisa Johnson.
Fletcher, Lisa. Historical Romance Fiction: Heterosexuality and Performativity. Aldershot: Ashgate, Frantz, Sarah S. Lydia Cushman Schurman and Deidre Johnson. Contributions to the Study of Popular Culture Westport: Greenwood Press, Sarah S. Frantz and Eric Murphy Selinger. Garber, Marjorie.
Hallett, Martin, and Barbara Karasek, eds. Folk and Fairy Tales. Peterborough, ON: Broadview, Heinecken, Dawn. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Kidd, Kenneth. Kondolojy, Amanda. Tribune Digital Ventures, 20 May Lutz, Deborah. Grace Moore. Surrey: Ashgate, Madore, Nancy. Enchanted: Erotic Bedtime Stories for Women. Don Mills, ON: Spice, EPUB file. May, Jill P. Donna R. White and C. Anita Tarr.
Lanham: Scarecrow, Modleski, Tania. Ng, Philiana. Prometheus Global Media, 5 May Once Upon a Time. Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz. CFTO, Toronto. Owen, Gabrielle. Radway, Janice. Morag Shiach. Oxford Readings in Feminism. PDF file. Rose, Jacqueline. Language, Discourse, Society.
London: Macmillan, Rowe, Katherine. Stanford: Stanford University Press, Siegel, Carol. London: I. Tauris, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, Snitow, Ann Barr. Stockton, Kathryn Bond. Series Q. Thomas, Calvin. Calvin Thomas. Thomas, Calvin, and Catherine A. Thurston, Carol. Tucker, Nicholas. Turley, Hans. Wendell, Sarah and Candy Tan.
New York: Fireside, Whatling, Clare. At least this is true of most vampires. With box office numbers in the billions, the Twilight saga has undeniably sunk its teeth into a cultural vein and has seduced large audiences into craving more. Besides the central focus—developing a romantic intimacy and relationship between Bella and Edward—the Twilight saga also pivots around Jacob the werewolf and his competing longings for Bella.
Monsters offer some of the most egregious representations of race, gender, class, ability, and sexuality. Put simply, representations of monsters matter because they are socially instructive. Judith Halberstam notes as much in Skin Shows , when she argues that representations of the modern monster and the horrific body bolster and sustain social and sexual hierarchies Halberstam Depictions of vampires, for instance, are largely seductive, sexualized, and often indulge fears of forbidden or taboo sexuality Skal ; Creed ; Benshoff , ; Dyer The destructively predatory and hypnotically charming vampire, moreso than any of its supernatural contemporaries, is associated with sexuality.
This has not so much been posited by a few as it has been established as a canon when both analyzing and understanding the vampire figure in both literature and film. A scholarly tradition of conflating the vampire with sexuality, especially deviant sexuality, suggests as much Skal ; Weiss ; Creed ; Benshoff , ; Dyer ; Williamson These scholars, drawing parallels between the lifestyle of the homosexual and the vampire, largely argue that what makes the vampire attractive yet frightening to the general public is its embodiment of sexual transgression and difference: queerness at large.
More recently, however, cultural critics and scholars alike have been noting an even more odd and frightening tendency toward the normalization of blood suckers within vampire fiction. Recalling familiar Antebellum chivalry and virtue, modern vampires—gentlemanly, handsome, and young—are, indeed, quite normative.
While Kane briefly explores how the Twilight series restrains the radical possibilities of queerness, I wish to fully expand this analysis to include an exploration of the ways in which this text as a cultural artefact is in the business of producing meaning about normative queerness; and how this text, in spite of its normalizing tendency, is still very queer. Traditionally, vampires have often been thought of as being quite queer creatures. They are troubling queering; verb because they challenge and defy the rules and institutions of hetero-patriarchy, strange queer; adjective because their habits, appetites, and appearances are divergent, and homosexual queer; noun because they are often imagined engaging in same-sex relations.
Queer as an organizing identity for both alternative sexuality and oppositional positionality make up the bulk of ways in which the vampire has traditionally been understood in relation to the Western construction of the queer. Most often, these two divergent discourses arise in scholarship regarding the vampire figure in one of three ways. First, the vampire is associated with queerness because the vampire itself is depicted as explicitly engaging in same-sex sexual activity and is therefore assumed to be a gay, lesbian, or bisexual identified character.
This association is arguably most commonly discussed Weiss ; Creed , Aurebach ; Dyer ; Williamson Although not limited to women, the vampire as an explicitly queer identified character is most often represented as a lesbian or a bisexual woman Creed While few films revel in explicit same-sex male vampirism, Gayracula Roger Earl being one of the few exceptions, the s and s most remarkably abounded in fetishistic images of lesbian vampirism. Many, most notably Bonnie Zimmerman, Andrea Weiss, and Barbara Creed, have noted the metaphorical possibilities linking vampirism and lesbianism.
Secondly, the vampire is associated with a queer identity without explicitly engaging in same-sex behaviour. Put differently, the lifestyle, behaviour, performance, and gestures of the vampire are implicitly compared to those of the Western construction of the queer. Here, Dyer is, of course, alluding to the long history of the West perceiving LGBT identified individuals as sexual and physical predators capable of mass infection Benshoff ; However, this is not to say that queerness, like heterosexuality, is not performative Butler , , It is this disruptive potential of Queer, Kathryn Kane maintains, that aligns with the vampire Kane The vampire is popularly imagined as a caped, white-fanged aristocrat.
He is Dracula. Although the image of Dracula informs our popular understanding of the vampire, the vampire is a versatile monster that has been vamp ed and re vamp ed throughout the years. Romero These vampires, in all their various forms, have functioned throughout the decades as salient metaphors for a myriad of social and political epidemics afflicting the United States.
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Vampires have been useful stand-ins for everything from slavery Lee ; Cain , consumption Marx and Engels ; Latham , modernity Abbott ; , and immigration Newland to polymorphous sexuality Auerbach ; Zanger , lawyers Sutherland , menstruation Creed , sexual disease Skal , and surveillance Grandena Although the vampire figure has symbolized all such meanings, among others, it has most commonly haunted the popular cultural landscape during moments of sexual panic and crisis to symbolize an embodied threat to normative sexuality Marche n.
Correspondingly, we see a rise in vampire fiction produced at the turn of the century when women were becoming more independent. Similarly, vampire fictions experienced a renaissance in both literature and film in the United States during the s and s when the sexual revolution and AIDS epidemic transformed the sociosexual terrain.
Archetypically, this erotic displacement commonly occurs between a predatory male vampire and an unsuspecting female victim; however, both male and female vampires are also regularly imagined freely preying on men and women. Consequently, the vampire as a character has been integral to the production of gay and lesbian fiction as its participation in same-sex relations has often been overlooked Dyer The vampire allows authors to explore sexual themes and imagery that may otherwise not be available to them. Often thought to be the inventor of the vampire, Bram Stoker—the creator of the notorious Count Dracula—is frequently credited, mistakenly, as being the first to imagine the vampire.
In fact, prior to the conception of the unpleasant Dracula, who singlemindedly pursues young women, vampires were considerably more homosocial, more homoerotic—more queer. The erotic overtones of the prose are markedly Sapphic, for example:. So half-way from the bed she rose, And on her elbow did she recline To look at the lady Geraldine, Beneath the lamp the lady bowed, And slowly rolled her eyes around; Then drawing in her breathe aloud, Like one that shuddered, she unbound The cincture from beneath her breast: Her silken robe, and inner vest, Dropt to her feet, and full in view, Behold!
Her bosom and half her side A sight to dream, not to tell?
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O shield her! This imagery, in which Lady Geraldine, partially naked, holds the attentive gaze of Christabel, takes advantage of the naked female figure and lesbian desire. The imagery of predatory and voracious female intimacy and sexuality is undeniably homoerotic in its vivid illustration of same-sex attraction between Lady Geraldine and Christabel. I had no distinct thoughts about her while such scenes lasted, but I was conscious of a love growing into adoration, and also of [End Page 8] abhorrence.
Also implied in her statement is the notion that Laura is attracted to and affected by Carmilla in spite of her best efforts to remain unyielding. Similarly, being bitten by a vampire constructs a biological connection that binds the victim to the prey in spite of reason.
One possible implication of such imagery is that women who desire other women are predatory and, more worryingly for a heterosexist, patriarchal culture, capable of ensnaring heterosexual women, transforming them into deviants, sexual or otherwise. Although Christabel toys with lesbian desire, Carmilla effectively establishes the trope of the lesbian vampire, as it is this fiction which is re-appropriated time and again in twentieth century horror films. After the creation of Carmilla , the lesbian vampire as a trope does not significantly return as a common depiction until the s. No longer a thinly disguised metaphor for queer desire, the films of the s portray many of their female vampires as explicitly lesbian- and bisexual- identified individuals.
The female vampires find identity politics and are clearly lesbian Auerbach Correspondingly, these films exploit imagery of softcore lesbianism that is at once both threatening and non-threatening. Even as these films narrowly present lesbian desire, they demonstrate a shift in patriarchal and heterosexist structures. These films arguably emerged during a time of burgeoning feminism and a greater awareness of lesbian relations.
For Auerbach, films such as these can indeed celebrate alternative expressions of female desire as a result of the shifting attitudes of the s Auerbach Where lesbian or, more appropriately, queer desire was suggested in the nineteenth-century female vampire, lesbianism is specifically addressed in the vampire films of the s. Vampire fiction, like Gothic fiction, Dyer argues, is often in contention and divergence with hegemonic male culture and narratives Dyer argues that there is a fit between vampire imagery and gay and lesbian identities.
Although there is nothing inherently private, uncontrollable, or self-loathing about the popularly imagined queer, these features, Dyer argues, are integral to modern notions of hegemonic queerness. I have focused on traditions of both visual and metaphoric queerness represented throughout Western vampire fiction. As a social construction, homosexuality or, more appropriately, queerness is often perceived to be a fixed and stable category that is thought to have inherent and identifiable characteristics and ways of being. Butterfly David Cronenberg ; J. Edgar Clint Eastwood Correspondingly, it is under the conditions of a heterosexist matrix and often flagrantly homophobic culture that queer individuals are encouraged or, more appropriately, forced—both intuitively and physically—into lives of secrecy.
Similarly, secrecy and privacy are integral themes within traditional vampire fiction. Noting the similarities between the lifestyles of the queer and vampire, Dyer discusses the importance of the secret double life in which both vampire and queer must hide their true identities. The concept of passing requires a critical nod of acknowledgment to the constructedness or performance of identities—racial, gender, sexual, class, bodiedness, or otherwise. The iconic scene in Twilight in which Edward not only reveals himself to be a vampire to Bella but also exposes his peculiar ability to sparkle has been only one of many sites of incredible amusement and disparagement for viewers of the Twilight series.
These particular additions to the vampire mythos are unquestionably queer behaviour for a vampire Sommers But, more importantly, are these additions not also queer behaviour for an adolescent male? Stephen Marche suggests as much when he claims that Edward resembles the gay best friend construction:.
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Edward…is a sweet, screwed-up high school kid, and at the beginning of his relationship with Bella, she is attracted to him because he is strange, beautiful, and seemingly repulsed by her. March n. Conventionally, monsters emerge to disrupt and challenge hegemonic ideas of the normal. Consequently, monsters, including vampires, evade rules, mores, and order. At the whim of its appetite, the vampire has traditionally been depicted as indiscriminately feeding on both men and women.
Consequently, the vampire, unable to control its hunger, has often been depicted in same-sex biting, penetrating, and sucking. This imagery, which imagines a man or woman invading the body of another of the same sex, has had limited visual homoerotic representation in popular culture. Although not the first to depict the vampire as attempting to control its appetite, Stephanie Meyer is the first to depict her vampire as being successful and content while doing so.
We only hunt animals. In a flashback which reveals a pre-vegetarian Edward, Edward describes himself as a monster. While the choice of language is interesting because it resonates with how LGBT identified individuals have often been represented and thus thought of Benshoff , ; Dyer , the language also reveals a judgement.
This fictional condemnation and repression of a super natural instinct eerily resembles an existent discourse which condemns natural feelings of same-sex attraction and desire. In the same ways that [End Page 13] the Cullen family believe that the desire to and act of suck ing the blood of humans is incompatible with a moral life, many extremist Christians believe that same-sex desire is incompatible with a moral life. Both bodily desires, thirst for blood and attraction to the same sex, are similarly constructed as being purely biological and instinctual, and both pious groups, the Cullen family and organizations like Exodus International, champion similar ideologies that maintain that those very instincts can be overcome with just a little neoliberal effort and determination.
In the violent moment, Edward is pictured screaming, gasping for air as his eyes open wide in pain. Even as Carlisle is seen as producing a monster, Carlisle is sympathetically rendered as the morally righteous patriarch who is capable of controlling his desires. Another feature of the vampire narrative that Dyer claims can be easily read metaphorically as an image of queer sexuality and experience is the discourse of self-loathing that surrounds the vampire.
Discourses of self-loathing are particularly essential to the construction of the sympathetic vampire Williamson As many have noted, the sympathetic vampire is a vampire who loathes its condition or identity but is essentially and ultimately constrained by it Williamson ; Dyer Unlike the traditional vampire, imagined as a predator and perpetrator, the sympathetic vampire is regarded as being a victim of circumstance Williamson Again, Dyer relates this imagery to the queer identity and experience.
This identity crisis, which, as Dyer contends, bears a striking resemblance to the consequences of internalized homophobia, rings true for forlorn queer folks across North America. Throughout the series, Edward experiences several identity crises in which he struggles to accept his seemingly inherent queerness as a vampire. This language, as Dyer notes, has been informed by the modern queer.
Edward is demonstrated biting the neck of a man. Whereas Edward denies himself the pleasures, desires, and experiences of the vampire, James, the most celebratory of his differences, embraces his supposed genetic nature and all that it entails. The coded language of the ashamed homosexual, equated with the vampiric condition of Edward.
Working to downplay homosexuality as a form of significant otherness, homonormative conventions mark individuals within lesbian and gay communities as indistinguishable from heterosexuals Duggan In line with the gay assimilationist viewpoint s , homonormative politics are quite different from radical Queer politics, which not only strive to deemphasize the importance of sexual identity politics, but address LGBT issues as they intersect with gender, race, class, ability, and capitalism. Conversely, homonormative politics prioritize issues that involve the mainstreaming and thus normalization of gay identities.
Focus on the legislation of same-sex marriage, adoption, and military service as the primary concerns of most lesbian and gay activist groups exemplifies homonormative rhetoric and discourses. Thus, rather than questioning or challenging heteronormative structures and institutions like marriage and childrearing, homonormativity simply asks for inclusion in the existing structures. Although the Twilight series is not explicitly a text about queer sexuality, it is a text about queer creatures.
A text about vampires, monsters, and individuals not unlike us, the Twilight saga implicitly explores themes of normality and abnormality. Consequently, the text carries several persistent and enduring yet embedded and invisible notions about normality. These notions are so pervasive and established in Western culture that they are rarely questioned or challenged.
I argue that the Twilight series, in its production of normality and abnormality, is reproducing problematic discourses that reappropriate homonormative rhetoric. Like homonormative queers, vampires who endeavour to squelch their abnormal desires and who instead channel their energies into fostering incredibly committed monogamous relationships and raising children are sympathetically rendered as valuable individuals.
This is best exemplified by the Cullen family, Edward specifically, through their reappropriation of traditional American values, such as virtue, loyalty, and sacrifice, as well as institutions, such as marriage and family building.
Although a queer character—if, at the very least, because [End Page 16] he represents something abnormal—Edward not only takes part in these institutions and structures, but cherishes and upholds them as markers of the good and healthy normal life. Although Edward will never be able to fully attain a normal life because we are told that vampires are—like queers are imagined to be—intrinsically abnormal folk, Edward can acquire most of the sociosexual markers of the valuable sexual citizen.
Put simply, Edward cannot change his biological and disreputable impulses, but he can conduct himself in a manner deemed appropriate enough to afford him with the opportunity to border respectability and thus receive the social privileges and rewards listed above.
This message is nowhere more blatantly stated in the text than when Bella implores Edward to have sex with her. A desire for human experience is relegated to a select few privileged experiences which are considered human and thus good. Drawing a parallel to the rhetoric and discourses of the North American gay and lesbian movement, I argue that the Twilight series employs homonormative propaganda and strategies to articulate the normalness of the vampire.
According to Michael Warner, the North American lesbian and gay movement experienced a drastic political shift in the early s. Warner contends that a large faction of the gay movement stopped embracing a politics of sexual pride and instead embraced a politics of shame Warner Similarly, the Twilight text, I argue, divorces desire from sex and politics.
Meyer reveals that vampirism can be good—normal, even. If the unnatural desires of the vampire and queer cannot be squelched, the Twilight series reveals that the lifestyles that are assumed to belong to those desires can be.
As a result, the queer lifestyle of Edward ultimately becomes indistinguishable from a normative human life. Accordingly, as gay and lesbian individuals acquire more social and legal equality in North America and social attitudes toward non-normative sexualities evolve, representations of queer individuals change as well.
Situating the vampire—a figure that has been championed by queer folks for being queer—as a character that desires to embrace normality as opposed to rejecting it seems fitting to a decade that has begun to accept the emergent normative queer. In , Nina Auerbach argued that vampires, far from being simply fantastical monsters, were creatures that embodied the age in which they were created. Referring to the years in between and the years of George H.
This scholarly work took shape during and when debates about sexuality took front stage in U. It was during these years that Rick Santorum, one of the Republican primary candidates, was glitter bombed by protesters for his hateful and homophobic denouncements of same-sex marriage. It was during these years that President Obama was re-inaugurated, defeating Mitt Romney. It was during these years that Obama announced his support for same-sex marriage and his administration urged the Supreme Court to rule in favor of same-sex couples.
It was during these years that landmark victories for gay rights were achieved, including the legal recognition of same-sex couples from the federal government in states where same-sex marriage is legal. It was also during these years that the final Twilight film, Breaking Dawn: Part II Condon , which grants the undead but no longer unwed couple Edward and Bella a happily-ever-after ending in spite of their supposed difference, was released. These are queer times in which we live. In this article, I have sought to recover the apparently absent queer of the Twilight series.
A narrative about a supposedly odd and out-of-place girl meeting and falling in love with a vampire or, more appropriately, a rich, white super man living with vampirism , the Twilight series is not a text about the abnormal, but instead, one about the normal. While the article does not permit space to discuss the differences between textual and visual constructions of the vampire, it is worth noting that they do differ.
Generally, vampires of film adaptations are emptied of much of the queerness of their literary counterparts. Abbott, Stacey. Austin: University of Texas Press, Peter Day. Amsterdam: Rodopi, Anatol, Giselle Liza. Auerbach, Nina. Joan Gordon and Veronica Hollinger. Benshoff, Harry M. Monsters in the Closet: Homosexuality and the Horror Film. Manchester: Manchester University Press, Boyer, Sabrina.
Brace, Patricia, and Robert Arp. George A. Dunn and Rebecca Housel. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, Butler, Judith. Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. New York; London: Routledge, Sue-Ellen Case. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, Cain, Jimmie. John Edgar. Browning and Caroline Joan Kay Picart. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow, Click, Melissa A. Aubrey, and Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz. New York: Peter Lang, Condon, Bill. Melissa Rosenberg. Summit Entertainment, Creed, Barbara. Barbara Creed. London: Routledge, Culver, Jennifer. Curtis, William.
Russ Castronovo and Dana D. Dyer, Richard. Erzen, Tanya. Boston: Beacon, Grandena, Florian. Marina Levina. New York: Bloomsbury, Halberstam, Judith. Halperin, David M. How to Be Gay. Hardwicke, Catherine. Housel, Rebecca, and Jeremy Wisnewski. Jagose, Annamarie. Queer Theory. Carlton South, Vic. Kane, Kathryn. Melissa A. Click, Jennifer Stevens. Latham, Rob. Le Fanu, Sheridan. David Stuart Davies.
Hertfordshire: Wordsworth Editions, Lee, Debbie. Love, Heather. Marche, Stephen. Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. Harmondsworth: Penguin, McFarland, Jami. Morey, Anne. Genre, Reception, and Adaptation in the Twilight Series. Disidentifications: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics. Nayar, Pramod. Newland, Paul. Browning and Caroline Joan Picart. Puar, Jasbir K. Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times. Rubin, Gayle. Carole S. Paul, Skal, David J. New York: Norton, Slade, David. The Twilight Saga: Eclipse.
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