LGBTQ* Queer Media Theory You Might Find Interesting
Over The Rainbow
For many people in the LGBTQ* community, The Wizard of Oz is a sort of queer* fairy tale. From our association with the Rainbow as a place of solace, to the “born sissy” in the Cowardly Lion, many have found comfort in this familiar tale.
There have been many theories surrounding The Wizard of Oz (film) and it’s embrace by the LGBTQ*/queer* community. One of the many theories presented is that of Dorothy’s journey being one of a young girl exploring her lesbian identity in a world of archetypes. Arguably, Dorothy must encounter everyone in Oz before finding comfort in her own identity and being able to return (happily?) to bleak Kansas.
Listed above are quick breakdowns of this argument.
For more information, check out:
Daniel Dervin. “Over the Rainbow and Under the Twister: A Drama of the Girl’s Passage through the Phallic Phase,” Bulletin of the Meninger Clinic, 42 (1978), pp. 51-57, quoted in Paul Nathanson, Over the Rainbow: The Wizard of Oz as a Secular Myth of America (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991), p. 63.
Harvey Greenberg, “The Wizard of Oz: Little Girl Lost—and Found,” The Movies of Your Mind(New York: Saturday Review Press, 1975), pp. 13-32, summarized in Paul Nathanson, Over the Rainbow: The Wizard of Oz as a Secular Myth of America (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1991), pp. 67-72.
Alexander Doty, Making Things Perfectly Queer (University of Minnesota Press, 1993)
Dyer, Richard (1986). Heavenly Bodies: Film Stars and Society. British Film Institute
Miller, Neil (1995). Out of the Past: Gay and Lesbian History from 1869 to the Present. Vintage UK
Loughery, John (1998). The Other Side of Silence: Men’s Lives and Gay Identities: A Twentieth Century History. Henry Holt and Company
In the West, plot is commonly thought to revolve around conflict: a confrontation between two or more elements, in which one ultimately dominates the other. The standard three- and five-act plot structures—which permeate Western media—have conflict written into their very foundations. A “problem” appears near the end of the first act; and, in the second act, the conflict generated by this problem takes center stage. Conflict is used to create reader involvement even by many post-modern writers, whose work otherwise defies traditional structure.
The necessity of conflict is preached as a kind of dogma by contemporary writers’ workshops and Internet “guides” to writing. A plot without conflict is considered dull; some even go so far as to call it impossible. This has influenced not only fiction, but writing in general—arguably even philosophy. Yet, is there any truth to this belief? Does plot necessarily hinge on conflict? No. Such claims are a product of the West’s insularity. For countless centuries, Chinese and Japanese writers have used a plot structure that does not have conflict “built in”, so to speak. Rather, it relies on exposition and contrast to generate interest. This structure is known as kishōtenketsu.
This is the Epitaph of Seikilos. It is the earliest complete music composition with notation ever discovered. It dates from somewhere between 100 BC and 100 AD. There are earlier examples of music to be sure - the Delphic Hymns, of course, as well as some early Japenese and Chinese ceremonial music, but it’s all either fragmented or unable to be dated due to oral tradition.
The original ‘score’, such as it is, doesn’t look like much to our modern eyes:
If you translate that into Western notation, however:
This is music that is two thousand years old. It could have been played when Christ walked the earth. And thanks to music being a universal language, we can hear those exact same notes, like a piece of history coming to life in front of us. Isn’t that just incredible?
This is so beautiful.
“The culture at that time was trying to deny that homosexuality even existed, and here they had well known Hollywood players involved in it, so they didn’t want to see what was there. […] What is extraordinary about [Rope] is its treatment of homosexuality. I mean today it still is one of the most sophisticated movies ever made on that subject; probably treats them more as people than anybody else has. Hitchcock certainly knew that, and it certainly attracted him. And what he liked was not that they were homosexual, but that they were homosexual murderers. If they were just murderers he wouldn’t have been interested, if they were just homosexual he wouldn’t have been interested. You had to have another little twist to it…”
— as told by Arthur Laurents, the screenwriter of Rope, a 1948 film directed by Alfred Hitchcock, adapted from a 1929 play based on a real murder case. Arthur Laurents, both of the actors portraying the couple (John Dall and Farley Granger), and the composer of the featured piano score were all known to be gay in real life (though it’s said that Granger resented the gay label, and he officially came out as bisexual towards the end of his life). The character played by Jimmy Stewart in Rope was also gay, but the final version of the script was so subtle due to censorship that Laurents was unsure if Stewart ever realized he was playing a gay character.
This movie is actualfax great, and especially so if you are at all interested in queer cinema and/or queer history.
George Chauncey, Gay New York: Gender, Urban Culture, and the Making of the Gay Male World 1890-1940 (via mswyrr)