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The B Word

Bisexuality in Contemporary Film and Television

Maria San Filippo

Publication Year: 2013

Often disguised in public discourse by terms like "gay," "homoerotic," "homosocial," or "queer," bisexuality is strangely absent from queer studies and virtually untreated in film and media criticism. Maria San Filippo aims to explore the central role bisexuality plays in contemporary screen culture, establishing its importance in representation, marketing, and spectatorship. By examining a variety of media genres including art cinema, sexploitation cinema and vampire films, "bromances," and series television, San Filippo discovers "missed moments" where bisexual readings of these texts reveal a more malleable notion of subjectivity and eroticism. San Filippo's work moves beyond the subject of heteronormativity and responds to "compulsory monosexuality," where it's not necessarily a couple's gender that is at issue, but rather that an individual chooses one or the other. The B Word transcends dominant relational formation (gay, straight, or otherwise) and brings a discursive voice to the field of queer and film studies.

Published by: Indiana University Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-2

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Prologue: Chasing Amy and Bisexual (In)visibility

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pp. 3-14

When asked about this book’s topic, I typically respond that it deals with bisexuality in film and television. The most frequent response, offered up by people from diverse areas of my life, is, “You mean like Chasing Amy?” This American independent film about a self-proclaimed lesbian who is forced to question her sexual identity after...

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Introduction: Binary Trouble and Compulsory Monosexuality

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pp. 15-46

Why is it that Chasing Amy, released in 1997, comes no closer to “speaking” bisexuality than Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 film Spartacus? In a now-legendary scene, cut from the original release, Crassus (Laurence Olivier) suggestively tells Antoninus (Tony Curtis) that his “taste includes both snails and oysters.” Or, in the considerable critical...

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1. Unthinking Monosexuality: Bisexual Representability in Art Cinema

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pp. 47-94

Though Schrader’s remark, clearly intended to provoke, may go too far in consigning popular commercial cinema and art cinema to opposing sides of the Atlantic, it offers a useful starting point for thinking about the expectations that filmmakers and audiences bring to different forms of filmmaking. For the majority of popular films classifiable...

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2. Power Play/s: Bisexuality as Privilege and Pathology in Sexploitation Cinema

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pp. 95-152

Even more open – effusively so – to erotic explicitness and excess than art cinema, sexploitation films use the titillation of female bisexual desire as a primary narrative conceit. As a mode of filmmaking, sexploitation traverses historical eras, national cinemas, genres, aesthetic movements, and even industrial sectors. Historically, exploitation...

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3. Of Cowboys and Cocksmen: Bisexuality and the Contemporary Hollywood Bromance

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pp. 153-202

One of the top-grossing U.S. films of 2005 . . . credited with transforming the U.S. film industry . . . a queering of Hollywood genre . . . a romance between two all-American dudes . . . I refer not only to Brokeback Mountain, but also to 2005’s other blockbuster male love story: Wedding Crashers, which in grossing $285 million worldwide...

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4. Bisexuality on the Boob Tube

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pp. 203-238

As the flippancy of this chapter’s naming and epigraph suggest, the vast majority of representations of bisexuality in television involve femme women, with the bi-suggestive character or narrative inevitably reconsigned to monosexual logic – if not immediately (as with Dana’s retort above) then soon thereafter. As a number of lucid if...

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Conclusion Queer/ing Bisexuality

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pp. 239-244

As I am writing these final pages, search engine extraordinaire Google, at the lobbying of bisexual advocacy group Bi- Net, consented to allow “bisexual” to be algorithmically prioritized as a search term and thereby no longer ghettoized as a presumed route to accessing pornography. That a global information provider of this magnitude...


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pp. 245-258


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pp. 259-270


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pp. 271-281

About the Author

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p. 294-294

E-ISBN-13: 9780253008923
Print-ISBN-13: 9780253008794

Page Count: 294
Publication Year: 2013