- Beyond Domestication
Sexual liberation was experimental. In the age of neoliberalism sexual marketing eclipses sexual liberation. Experimentation in both content and form is at risk.
Once the only media expression of sexual dissidence, experimental media (and especially the experimental short film and video) is today marginalized. Queer sexual dissidence is itself being replaced by homonormativity, the drive toward respectability. Sex/gender nonconformity once put us all on the outside. Now some of us can fully realize our neoliberal potential—join the military, get married, climb the corporate ladder—while others of us remain victimized by militarism, the legal system, and capitalism. The discourse of LGBT rights obscures the disparities within LGBT “community,” yet struggles among queers over corporatization, pinkwashing, and other manifestations of homonationalism complicate “us” and “them.”
Neoliberalism has made the funding for experimental media and its sibling, the low-budget documentary, increasingly difficult. In gay exhibition contexts, experimental shorts and low-budget documentaries are ever sidelined in [End Page 571] favor of the narrative feature film—often one whose value is limited to pretty faces and good production values—and the odd feature doc narrated by a Hollywood star. Queer experimental film is still being produced; it’s just harder to make it and harder to see it.
Beyond a cinema of legitimacy, of homonormativity, of homo/nationalism.
Beyond we are just like you, the “you” of television. Beyond stable identities. Beyond LGBTQ. Beyond a civil rights agenda. Beyond marriage. Beyond the military. Beyond the neoliberal consensus. Beyond our rights at the expense of theirs. Beyond corporatization. Beyond pinkwashing. Beyond Pride.
Beyond rote formulas. Beyond tokenism. Beyond the people of color version of . . . Beyond the Third World version of . . . Beyond waving the flag of difference to defeat difference. Beyond stereotypes. Beyond positive images. Beyond monoculture.
Beyond good taste. Beyond production values. Beyond the theater. Beyond the gallery.
Beyond the avant-garde. Beyond nostalgia. Beyond dogma.
For a cinema of questioning, not easy answers. Imagination, not formulaic narratives. To be jolted awake, not set to slumber in conformity. For an intersectional cinema. For a critical cinema. Accessibility but not populism.
Richard Fung is a video artist who lives and works in Toronto, Ontario. Fung’s work investigates themes of queer sexuality and postcolonialism, and issues of diaspora and family. His video pieces include My Mother’s Place (1990), Sea in the Blood (2000), and Islands (2002) and have been screened internationally. A former Rockefeller Fellow at the Center for Media, Culture and History at New York University, he teaches at OCAD University. In 2001 he won the Bell Canada Award for Lifetime Achievement in Video Art and the Toronto Arts Award for Media Arts.