Campus Only Senior Thesis
Bachelor of Arts
T. Kim Trang Tran
© 2018 Caitlin Kim
By discussing how New Queer Cinema and queer theory have informed one another, I aim to understand how the gaze operates when a film prioritizes multiple subjectivities of experience. However, I hope to move beyond the tendency in queer theory to essentialize and categorize subjective or “true” experiences as a pretense to challenging dominant representations of identity. Although the politics of representation are crucial to the identification of social ills, I aim to identify the potential to theorize the gaze as an opportunity to locate desire throughout visual texts from various marginalized positions, not limited to sexuality and gender. If the main goal of new queer films is to offer more “authentic” queer realities – or more accurately, to oppose mainstream stereotyping – then these films maintain the existence of a dominant/heterosexual/homophobic discourse, ultimately reaffirming the hetero/homo binary. Additionally, because these films are primarily intended to address political representation in the mainstream, they essentialize identity once again by only portraying certain positive images, what is “authentic” anyway? As a result, they actively exclude other constructions of identity, coding cultural difference as “deviant” because it falls outside of the hetero/homo binary, rendering other sexualities/difference invisible and unable to resist. This preoccupation with recasting the stereotype, by filmmakers and critics alike, often ignores the value of the visual text and remains oblivious to the potential for the gaze to simultaneously elicit multiple and often contradictory forms of desire. Theorizing the gaze as queer means to interrogate the mechanisms of spectatorship, decode cultural difference, destabilize the authority of experience, and most importantly, reimagine the terms of desire.
Kim, Caitlin, "Unbuttoned: Exploring Queer Spectatorship in Visual Texts" (2019). Scripps Senior Theses. 1237.
This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.