- Queer Males in Contemporary Cinema: Becoming visible by Kylo-Patrick R. Hart
In his book Queer Males in Contemporary Cinema: Becoming visible (2013), Kylo-Patrick R. Hart extends his previous scholarship focusing on queer representations and sexuality in media and popular culture to examine a number of films that pertain to bisexual, gay, and transgender men, along with queer men with HIV/AIDS, queer teens, and other queer individuals from the films of the mid-20th to the early 21st century. As a professor and chair of the Department of Film, Television and Digital Media at Texas Christian University, Hart has already written books about the New Queer Cinema in Images for a Generation Doomed: The Films and Career of Gregg Araki (2010) and about the screen representations of individuals with AIDS in The AIDS Movie: Representing a pandemic in film and television (2000). In addition, he is a co-editor of the new academic journal Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture.
In Queer Males in Contemporary Cinema, the author looks at a range of films to explore both latent and manifest representations of queer males in a number of noteworthy films that include From Here to Eternity, The Boys in the Band, Saturday Night Fever, Cruising, Point Break, Chocolate Babies, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Kinsey, Brokeback Mountain, Transamerica, Soldier's Girl, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh and [End Page 88] Shortbus, among many others. As a result, the book constructs a varied yet inclusive queer cinematic landscape by looking not only at the diverse presentations of queer males but also at the different eras and styles of filmmaking, covering mainstream Hollywood cinema with the independent films of the New Queer Cinema movement and more contemporary cinematic offerings. That the author analyzes diverse representations of male queerness from such a wide range of films is one of the book's strengths. His use of multiple scholarly methods to examine such queer representations is another. Employing queer theory, Hart capably manages to demonstrate how to decode queerness and explore issues of queer identification and spectatorship in several mainstream Hollywood films within the book's first section; in the second part, he considers issues of identity within the queer teen movie, examines racial and sexual politics in several queer films, looks at narrative storytelling approaches, and evaluates representational patterns in queer films.
Queer Males in Contemporary Cinema is divided into two sections, "Latent Representations" and "Manifest Representations," with the majority of the book devoted to the second part on manifest representations by focusing on contemporary cinema and queer visibility. For those interested in reading more about the early or latent representations of LGBTQ characters in film, Vito Russo's groundbreaking book The Celluloid Closet: Homosexuality in the movies (1981), the basis of the documentary of the same name, provides a seminal history of Hollywood depictions and stereotypes of homosexuality. More scholarly studies from queer theorists who look at early films and Hollywood classics can be found in Alexander Doty's Flaming Classics: Queering the film canon (2000) and Richard Dyer's Now You See It (1990).
In Part I, "Latent Representations," Hart uses the first two chapters of the book to look at films such as From Here to Eternity, Saturday Night Fever, and the filmography of star Keanu Reeves to demonstrate how to detect and decode queerness in several mainstream films and to consider the implications of gay male spectatorship on such films. Reflecting upon the contributions of Laura Mulvey, Alexander Doty, and Richard Dyer in their studies of film spectatorship, Hart calls for expanding the body of research on gay male spectatorship to reflect upon gay male viewing experiences and reactions. He then explores how the textual flexibility of mainstream films like Saturday Night Fever or Point Break can allow gay male spectators to identify queer subtexts within these films.
In Part II, "Manifest Representations," Hart reviews a number of films that have presented the visibility of queer characters, from the milestone The Boys in the Band, a film released one year after the Stonewall riots and...