February 17

Week 6-

RJ: How does Hairspray queer Race? Also: How does Fanon’s perspective on the racial gaze differ from or comment on Mulvey’s perspective on the gendered gaze? Are there examples of a racial/racialized gaze in any of the films we’ve seen?

– In Class: Screening of Looking For Langston (dir. Isaac Julian, 1988, 45 min.)

Scenes from: Frantz Fanon: Black Skin/White Masks (scenes chosen by Alicia and Joao.)

– Selections from Tongues Untied (Marlon Riggs)(scenes chosen by Alicia and Joao.)

  • Discussion of Riggs/Fanon/Wallenberg lead by presenters.

– In class discuss: Queer historiography and questions of race, Black queer cinema and the questions of history, and Gaze theory in relation to race/Postcolonial Theory

– READ: Louise Wallenberg, “New Black Queer Cinema” (NQC) and

Dark and Lovely Too: Black Gay Men in Ind Film

Black Skin White Masks, “The Fact of Blackness”” Frantz Fanon, Black Skin/White Masks

The book is on reserve in the library, chapter will be scanned and posted ASAP.

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14 Responses to February 17

  1. Brittney DeBo says:

    John Water’ film Hairspray does not queer race in a homosexual relationship sense seeming all the relationships that occur in the movie are heterosexual. Hairspray displays queer I thought, going along with blacks and whites not integrating is that the relationships are not homosexual, but “homo-racial”. The fact that these relationships are “homo-racial,” is what makes it weird and un-accepting when Penny starts her interracial relationship. Just like society believes it is weird or un-accepting when there is a homosexual relationship, in this case it has to do with race. Another, specific example I thought could be queer race is when Tracy says to Link, “I wish I was black,” and he responds with, “Our soul is black, even though our skin is white.” I think this goes along with queer identity in that like drags and transgenders.
    The difference between Mulvey’s gender gaze and Fanon’s racial gaze is that in Mulvey’s male gaze women are the objects that are viewed through the males unconscious, but in Fanon’s racial gaze or white gaze the blacks are the objects that are doing the “gazing”, or looking at the would through a white person’s eyes. Meaning the experience of skin difference and of being the black other can only be understood though the white imagination. I believe the difference is that in the racial gaze, once they enter this unconciousness they start to see themselves and become aware of the racial attitudes and the alienating effects of colonialism and racism in a world of “white” power. This white power comes from the racial gaze.
    The only example I can think of that we’ve seen of the racial gaze before this week is in Paris is Burning, because the white society is the wealthy class. It was an exploration by Jennie Livingstone, of class, race, and gender. For these African American, Latino gays and transgenders the “Ball” is the closest to reality that they can get. They believe from this racial gaze that with money they can be whoever they want and they can pursue their dreams and lives because that’s what the white society does.

  2. Alyx Smagacz says:

    I found “Hairspray” to be a queer movie in more than one way. I might be looking into it too much, but there seem to be a lot of stereotypes being broken and social norms created, then broken as well. This film might not be queer in the sense that it contained lesbian, gay or transsexual aspects, but the idea of race and the perfect TV star come into play with “Hairspray”.
    In the beginning we see that the people aired on the TV show are all thin attractive young adults. Amber, the blonde character that has a problem with Tracy is the stereotypical figure that would be seen on TV; she is thin blonde wealthy and white. When Tracy is built up to be this great dance star and appears on TV, everybody goes wild about her. This to me can be seen as queer due to the fact that it is breaking the norms of what is beautiful on TV.
    The other, more obvious point that this movie brings to the queer argument is the racial aspects. On a couple occasions we hear the white characters wishing they were black. Both Tracy and her mom make these comments. Tracy’s boyfriend says that they are white on the outside, but their souls are black. I took this to mean that they were interested on what the black society stereotypically liked at the time, certain music and dancing. Also Tracy’s mother said that she was embarrassed to be white.
    Another comment on race this movie suggests is interracial relationships. Penny gets involved with a black boy and her parents obviously have a problem with their relationship. For the time period, this was probably a common thought to be against interracial relationships, but the way the present it makes it seem like only a few people actually have a problem with the two being together and those people were predominantly white. Her parents’ reactions seem to be very extreme. The extent that they go to with trying to reform their daughter might even be seen as queer; most parents would not want to shock their daughter for liking a certain person.
    Mulvey’s theory about the gender gaze in a lot of ways is similar toFanon’s racial gaze. They both talk about how a certain group sees another, or how a group is looked at by the other. Obviously there has been issues with racism, and one could argue that the battle between men and woman equality is similar, leaving these two theories to have a lot in common. There is a lot of animosity from the black gazer when looking at the stereotypes and what connotations there might be from being black, whereas there is also animosity between men and women on the stereotypes as well. The difference between the two is very small, we can see that there are people passing as the other in either group, and from “Hairspray” we can see that some people might feel that they would belong to one group on the outside and the other on the inside. We also see that very commonly with homosexual behavior, one might have the physical aspects of one gender, but feel, and act like the other.

  3. João Gomes says:

    Hairspray is an entertaining and enjoyable film that satirizes America’s racial identities and gender roles. Hairspray is a queer film that challenges a disciplinary white heterosexual coherence, perpetuating non-normative racial and gender identities. Regarding gender, the relationship between Edna Turnblad and Wilbur Turnblad is clearly queer, considering the couple’s power relationship and the evident cross-gender performance by Divine. The film also presents a hilariously queer portrayal of race, introducing strikes, bombs, especial education, shock therapies and interracial love. Set in the 1960s, the film depicts several acts of racism, highlighting America’s racial segregation. Characters per se are very queer in terms of their behavior, props and costumes. For instance, Motormouth Maybelle presents a hilarious performance, challenging the depiction of African-Americans – her exuberant blond wig demonstrates the queerness of this character. Penny Pingleton also satirizes America’s racial scenario: she is kept in captivity, forced into shock therapy for loving a black individual. Concurrently, language also promotes humor in the film: expressions such as “We Shall Overcome” and “I have a dream” are intelligently used, queering race. The film presents a hilarious, irreverent and energetic attitude, parodying America’s racial and gender scenario.

    Fanon’s perspectives about race demonstrates a binary racial society, in which Whiteness is hegemonic. The author presents a hierarchical racial society, in which a black man “experiences his being through others” (109). He establishes an objectification of Blackness innate to white supremacy. As Fanon notes, “the black man has no ontological resistance in the eyes of the white man” (111). The meaning of blackness and its ontology is subject to the gaze of White individuals. Fannon and Mulvey have comparable views about the idea of gaze as a subordination act. Fanon introduces the power of White gaze to construct Blackness, while Mulvey presents a Male gaze to objectify women.

    “Tongues Untied” and Looking for Langston” explore the idea of racial gaze as fetishistic scopophilia. In particular, in certain scenes the audience solely observe individuals dancing and/or making love. Indeed, both movies present Mulvey’s fetishistic scopophilia theory by considering the innate spectator gaze. As the feminist notes, cinema is a platform that structures unconscious ways of “looking and pleasure in looking” (199). The love to watch provides the film spectator the “illusion of looking in on a private world”(Mulvey 201). In “Tongues Untied” and Looking for Langston” this voyeurism leads to a certain fascination, as the camera records the love and lust between the characters. Cinematography and mise-en-scene accentuate the power of these nude scenes, demonstrating Mulvey’s scopophilic instinct in a queer scenario. Concurrently, both films challenge Fenon’s racial gaze by celebrating the revolutionary act of loving black men. These men present their experiences and their prideful emancipation. Both films pluralize masculinity in African-American spheres, accentuating a homoerotic black culture.

  4. Syndhia Javier says:

    John Water’s Hairspray tackles the topic of race and racism in a manner that is not only thought-provoking but funny and light. It is a satirical commentary on the perception of mainstream white culture to black culture. From the racial slurs, to the “Negro Day” held at the Corny Collins show, we are given a rather truthful depiction on the limitations set on having black skin at one point in this country. Then Waters even goes as far as to poke fun at the reactions toward wanting integration, which is seen in his cameo appearance as the psycho-therapist trying to get Penny rid of her black –love affliction. I do not believe that Hairsprays queers race in the way we have examined the process of “queering” before in that it does not push or challenge the boundaries of sexuality and gender, but I think that for the time period it queers the lines of acceptance, such as with Penny and Seaweed’s relationship. This queering goes even further when one looks at Divine’s character, Tracy Turnblad’s mother and compares her to Mabel Motormouth, Seaweed’s mother. Maybe this was my reading too much into the film, but it seemed like Mrs. Turnblad wasn’t solely “white”. She had a spunk and vivaciousness that you did not see in the other white characters, but that Motormouth had in spades. Again, that could have just been an acting choice, and not even intentional, but to me Mrs. Turnblad represents the queering of race because she does not adhere to the dichotomous relationship of being fully white or black, but instead is something all her own. At times the film goes a bit too far with the “Black is cool” idea though, such as when Tracy and Link state they want to be black after the school dance, but I think overall, the film examines one of the forms of identity that are considered out of the norm or standard in this country, and finds a ways of reintegrating it as a reality, instead of just a possibility.
    When comparing Fanon’s perspective on the racial gaze and Mulvey’s idea on the gendered gaze they interact with each other in interesting ways. Fanon’s racialized gaze is one that is so personal, with implications on not only how those who experience it are viewed by others, but going further as to state how this sort of view affects the way they view themselves. This is distinct form Mulvey’s perspective of analysis where she intellectualizes the sense of being, instead of experiencing it. He also discusses the pressure of being viewed in a monolithic manner, the pressure created from that gaze to not stray, not fail and be what was expected. “I knew, for instance, that if the physician made a mistake it would be the end of him, and of all those who came after him. What could one expect, after all, form a Negro physician? As long as everything went well, he was praised, but look out…the black physician can never be sure how close he is to disgrace”( Fanon 117). When Mulvey writes in her essay “The man controls the film fantasy and also emerges as the representative of power in a further sense” (204), we can see echoes of the objectification of both gender and race. These identities are used as a standard that are judged on how well they are performed. The woman who subjects herself to the objectification of the male gaze, becoming just another image of pleasure to the audience, either succeeds or fails, as realistically as the black individual that moves up in society. They both walk a tightrope, judged by a world of others, some knowingly and others not.

  5. Kaneja Muganda says:

    Mulvey’s gender gaze can easily be compared to Fanon’s racial gaze. The two author’s look deep into the social stigma that surrounds race & gender. Mulvey analyzes the issues that have surfaced around women for centuries. Women are the subject while men simply “gaze” over them. In Fanon’s account we get to see how race kind of creates it’s own gaze. The African American or “negro” has to deal with living in the “white” man’s world. Gender doesn’t play a crucial role because as long as the skin color remains the same, the white individual will always have a certain “gaze” over the African American. Both gazes are result of the subconscious and unconscious minds. The white man may be trained to place a social stigma on the African American, or society itself may just influence him to act the same way. As for movies that we’ve watched, I believe Paris is Burning is the only movie that looks at race and compares it to the lifestyle that particular individual lives. The “Ball” represented the safe heaven for these African American queens. People from the outside critique those individuals and label them with crazy names, but when those dancers are in that room, no gaze nor stigma effects them. Now looking at Hairspray, it queer’s race because neither the white individuals nor black individuals integrated with each other. They both admired each other to an extent, but never built relationships in the movie. It became queer when you’d hear someone like Link saying they wish they were black or felt black inside when they clearly weren’t.

  6. Courtney Faulstick says:

    Courtney Faulstick Raction Journal #5 Hairspray

    In John Water’s film Hairspray, it is interesting to me at least that it is considered a queer film. It doesn’t go in the direction of queerness as it concerns sexual preference but rather in the realm of race. In the same way something can be considered queer in a sexual nonnormative way this film eludes to the queerness of a nonnormative race. The black population in this movie is treated negatively in the same way homosexual or transvestite individuals are treated when they are oppressed and ostracized. One scene in particular I remember from this movie is when Penny’s mom is walking through the black neighborhood and she is terrified and yelling not to touch her just because their race was different from her own. This I feel like is a similar situation to the situation of a homosexual couple for example that is kissing in public. It is becoming more accepted in the same way racial tension is lessening , but many people in today’s society would still consider it taboo and maybe ‘gross’ to be around. This is much like the mother believing the black race was taboo and disgusting. This is interesting because if queerness means anything that is outside of society’s regular norm many more things could be brought into the category. It would be hard to characterize anything as not being queer to a particular person. This is because what is considered queer or nonnormative to one individual could be the direct opposite of others view as outside the norm depending on their entire world view. This creates ambiguity on the definition of queer and allows many different subcategories to be defined as queer such as race or even possibly gender.

    The idea Frantz Fanon has in “Black Skin White Masks, ‘The Fact of Blackness'” about race sort of relates to Laura Mulvey’s suggestions about gender in “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” In Fanon’s article he is talking about the hardships Black people have in living in a white world. The many different ways whites oppress black individuals and how some wish they could just live as white people so they would have the same opportunities as them. This relates to Mulvey’s point of women as a gender is oppressed by their male counterpart. She argues that women are only used in film as a representation of what the male wants to see and is in a sense a spectacle of the men’s viewing pleasure. This objective beauty can be thought of in two different views depending on which theorists’ viewpoint you wish to present. The objectivity can either come from the black image that is living in a world of whiteness or the women’s world living for the purpose of men.

    Another film in which race had a part in the plot was in the “Pars is Burning” documentary. We can see this by looking at the balls as an escape for these black individuals to leave a white dominating world and enter into their own place. In the normative world these individuals are outcasts and mostly don’t fit into everyday culture because they are considered queer. This word, queer, as we now know can be use in multiple ways, and the reason the individuals that attended the balls were outcast by society was definitely because they were transvestites and homosexual, but also possibly because most of them were ‘black’ transvestites and ‘black’ homosexuals.

  7. Caroline Tibbetts says:

    How does Hairspray queer Race? Also: How does Fanon’s perspective on the racial gaze differ from or comment on Mulvey’s perspective on the gendered gaze? Are there examples of a racial/racialized gaze in any of the films we’ve seen?

    John Water’s Hairspray is centered around the concept of race; the segration of the 60s, basically putting a comedic spin on this midwest white culture that looks at black people as specimens, this horrible race of “diseased” people. Waters is revealing how silly the whole nature of segration really is. I think that Waters “Queers” race in the sense that these stereotypes of queer people are just as ridiculous as segregation. As Mercer mentioned both are “historically constructed in culture”.The relationship between Seaweed and Penny can be considered to be a queer facet of the film. Pushing the boudaries of societal expectations of relationships, the need for acceptance. I do think this film has a underlying queer tone through race in terms of identity among the individuals within society.
    In terms of Fanon’s perspective and Mulvey’s theoyr of the racial gaze, I think that are similar in that both depict gender as coinciding with racial interpretations. Fanon deems race as personalized experience, opposed to how others view one; it is a one’s experience of being and the pressures of external gazes and the way in which it affects individuals.

  8. Alicia Fischer says:

    Hairspray queers race in a few ways. In the film having romantic/sexual feelings towards someone who is black is viewed as queer by society. This is viewed as unacceptable as well. For instance, Penny is attracted to Seaweed; however, her strict parents constantly punish her in hopes of discouraging her from liking him. Throughout the film black individuals are segregated against; this is shown in numerous ways. Throughout the film the people who argue that black people should be segregated against are portrayed as conservative and hateful. Those who argued that black individuals should have equal rights as white were portrayed progressive and extreme. Race was still queered
    Mulvey’s perspective on gendered gaze was that in films, men are the bearers of the look and women are objectified and sexualized, which degrades them. She goes on to question whether or not viewers perceive women as a whole when they see them in films. Fanone states that black individuals experience themselves through others. He goes on to say that “in the white world, the man of color encounters difficulties in the development of his bodily schema” (111).

  9. Elyse Kraft says:

    Hairspray queers race by showing black people as struggling to fit in with the white mainstream. In Hairspray,the white world and the black world are different and separate but there is recognition that the differences are created by people. Similar to the way that people use “queer” as a term describing all non-normative sexualities, a “queeering” of race can be described as the recognition that “race” does not have a concrete meaning. In Hairspray black dancers are only given one day a month to dance on the Corny Collins show. There is a great deal of concern that putting black dancers on the show will create backlash and pandemonium, even though it is clear that the black dancers are just as qualified as the regular members of the council.
    An example of how race is queered in Hairspray is evident in the interactions between Penny and her mother. Penny’s mother is extremely racist, to the point where her racism is comedic. Her fear regarding black people leads her to lock Penny up and give her shock treatment when her mother finds out that Penny is hanging around black people. This response to Penny’s “integrationist” attitude is similar to the response of family members who try to use therapy to remove the queerness from gay family members. In Hairspray , both Penny and Tracy want to be a part of the black community in whatever way that they can. They are attracted to this marginalized community in the same way that someone may be attracted to a community of queer people. Their place between the black community and white community is similar to the place of queer identity. While discussing queerness and blackness, Wallenberg notes that people negotiate their different identities and “queer identities take place or come to be between the accidental spaces where all identity variables intersect with one another.” (134). Even though the most popular dances on The Corny Collins Show are done by black people, black people are not allowed to be part of the council. This fact reaffirms the queerness of race in the film and displays the film’s “intersection” of identity variables.

    Fanon’s perspective on the racial gaze focuses on the identifiable. No matter what a black person is on the inside, race is taken into consideration as part of their person. Unlike Jewish people, who can often remain undetected, black people can be identified and assessed as such. For Fanon, the gaze implies that he is a black man and not a man who happens to black. Additionally, the gaze represents all of the stories, legends, and ideas that people been created about black people and enter into a person’s consciousness when they are seen. Both Mulvey and Fanon’s perspectives on gaze take into consideration the unconscious elements that have exist in people’s perception. For Mulvey, the gaze has more sexual connotations because it has to do with gender. Both Fanon and Mulvey not the anxiety felt by individuals gazing. For Fanon, the gaze brings ideas of cannibalism and for Mulvey the gaze brings castration anxiety. The racialized gaze was present in Paris is Burning in the sense spectators were looking at a group of minority individuals and taking into account their minority status as part of their story. Viewers needed to recognize the race of the individuals in the film in order to process their situation. With each story about a member of the drag community, viewers used a racialized gaze and to develop their understanding of the situation.

  10. Amy Slay says:

    Once again, John Waters plays with hegemonic norms and makes poignant statements about what is or isn’t “normal” in Hairspray. However, the way in which Waters explores race and gender are much less abrasive than his earlier works. Hairspray is colorful, exuberant and robust. The characters are loud and vivacious and over the top. The film is set in the 60s and focuses on racial segregation. Tracy Turnblad, the heroine, a big girl with equally big hair, achieves her dreams of dancing on the Corny Collins Show. However, she is immediately met with hostility and resistance from the queen bee of the Show, Amber Von Tussle. Turned away by other white kids, Tracy finds her tribe in the equally repressed and dismissed black kids who are treated as inferiors. Waters portrays the Von Tussle’s as the white aggressors, privileged and dead set against integration. While the Von Tussle’s plot, Tracy is arrested at a race riot and is almost robbed of her crown, but at the last minute Tracy is freed and Velma Von Tussle’s plan literally explodes in her head. Waters uses his characters to effectively queer race. The character of Prudence Pingleton is an especially queer language. I found her to be the most ridiculous character in the entire film, which is saying a lot. There is a certain scene in particular which Prudence encounters a group of African Americans and assumes they are trying to mug her and behaves like a hysterical idiot even though nothing has been done to her. She runs to the nearest cop car only to find that the policeman is black. This scene is my favorite example of how Waters queers race in Hairspray.

    Mulvey’s discussion of gendered gaze claims that women have been made passive pieces of objectified meat while men actively dominate and take the displayed woman, while the audience also takes her. Fanon’s perspective on the racial gaze offers a similar theory. Just as woman does not exist without man, just as she serves no purpose other than to exist to be objectified, Fanon says that “not only must the black man be black; he must be black in relation to the white man” (110). Race only exists as a reflection of what is not white. Fanon constantly discusses “being for others” (109) and how difficult it is to form an independent identity as a black man when all you are is the other; all you are is not white. He says that white is not a race, but rather race is rather everything that is not white; race is created by this hegemony. The concept of the “Castration Complex” also appears in Fanon’s argument. In his desire to be a man, he cannot escape the feeling of “an amputation, an excision, a hemorrhage that spattered [his] whole body.”

    Paris is Burning is a powerful example racialized gaze. At the beginning of the movie, one of the subjects says that you get three strikes in life. He has one strike for being black, one strike for being a man, and one strike for being gay. Fanon echoes this as he relays how on the train he was “given not one but two, three places” (112). While Paris is Burning is more focused on sexuality than race, Venus is a very powerful example of racialized gaze. She is greatly desired and very prominent in the ball circuit due to her fair skin. This separation of sexuality and race is discussed in Louise Wallenberg’s chapter in New Queer Cinema. The rhetoric of black gay men has been severely overlooked, as there has been opposition from both the straight black community and the racist white gay community. This dichotomy has created a significant crater in the collective psyche of black gay men, who have never truly been allowed to be both gay and black and therefore have never been able to develop a comprehensive identity.

  11. Emily Weber says:

    Hairspray queers race in a way that we have previously seen gender and sexuality queered. It exposes the black identity in a satirical fashion; the humoristic aspect of race alone makes Hairspray a queer film. It speaks out against the norms of society in many ways –from the interracial relationships to Tracy, an overweight poor teen, making it onto the Corny Collins show and succeeding speaks to the directors calculated intentions. There is an interesting dichotomy at play in this film as we see people who are black or accepting or the black lifestyle and integration contrasted with people like Penny’s mother who is hysterical over the presence of black people. Tracy, Link and Tracy’s mother all make claims that they wish they were black and Tracy and Link attempt to submerge themselves in black dance. We see Tracy placed in a non-normative roll – plump teen on TV with popularity and fame over the white skinny rich girl – and Water’s interestingly gives her this platform to go to bet so to speak for race. She loves to dance and doesn’t see why the color of someones skin matters when it comes to a cultural pleasure. Furthermore, her quirky best friend Penny is in an interracial relationship with Seaweed and their relationship is based on being simultaneous outcasts from society. Penny’s mother and the rest of the characters in the movie sparking the race riot at Tilted Acres speaks out against what the non-normative progressive teens believe in.

    Fanon’s perspective on the racial gaze is comparable but also differs from Mulvey’s perspective on racial gaze. Fanon explains this idea of racial gaze as experienced through others as well as a way in which they view themselves. Mulvey’s gendered gaze is something less individually and personally experienced – it is a broader concept that women are subjected to and objectified through. Women as objects and black people as objects rings true in both of their respective theories as their perceptual gazes are viewed as a subordination process.

  12. Sam Herron says:

    In the movie Hairspray, it seems to queer Race because anyone that is not white is looked down upon. The black children in the high school had to go to class with the special education children, even if they did not need to be in the special education class. Another scene in the movie that represents how Race can be queer is when all of the black kids are dancing in the record store, and Penny’s mother came to “save” her from them, when they were really just dancing. Race is queer in the movie Hairspray because black people are looked down upon and this is not what seems to be the norm. Even on The Corny Collins Show, the last Thursday of the month was the only day that black people were allowed to dance on the show.
    Mulvey’s idea of the gaze is that women are the object of the gaze. Most times this gaze comes from men. Fanon’s perspective on the racial gaze is that people look at the color of the person and not what is really on the inside. For example, in the movie when the mother takes Penny away from the children dancing in the bookstore, she does not really know the children and they were not doing anything harmful. In actuality, Penny wanted to be there and was doing the same things as the other children. When the black children were not allowed to dance on the show, this was not because they were not as talented as the white children, but just because of their race. From what I could see, the children that were black were just as good if not better dancers as the white children.
    Tracy is also seen as queer, because even though she is white, she is heavier than the other dancers. Therefore, in a sense she can relate to the black children and especially because she was sent to special education because of her hair and also a reform school for no significant reason. She connects with the black children and helps them to integrate The Corny Collins Show. Therefore, we can see that there are examples from Hairspray of the racialized gaze an also in Paris is Burning. When people look from the outside at people of a different race, they sometimes just judge them for what they look at on the outside.

  13. Sean Biggs says:

    Hairspray queers race in that it acts as social commentary of the historical segregation of blacks and whites. Specifically commenting on the disintegration of both races in society. Not only does it present the idea of blacks not being allowed to associate with certain white situations but also examines society’s critical perception of interracial relationships. For example, when the mother of the woman who is in love with the black man finds out that she is in an interracial relationship considered her behavior as a symptom of mental illness. This commentary acts as a way to present the ridiculous myths of society regarding interracial couples, and blurs the race line in that love conquers all. This is all related to Fanon’s idea of construction of self. Fanon, a black man discusses in his writing that he has felt like the construction of his “self” in reality was not made by him, but by a third party, in this case the “white world”. He described himself as entering the world as rational but surrounded by irrationality because of white perception of blacks. This idea of construction is related to the idea of race in hair spray in that it is not up to the blacks themselves to construct themselves and be “put in their place” by themselves but instead by third party society. This idea is closely related to the Mulvey reading in that the physical construction of a woman’s person and all of the their expected behavior is not formed by themselves but rather society. Hedwig and the Angry inch features an interracial relationship but in this case there was no attention to the fact that he was black, the love was regarded as equal.

  14. Elyse Brey says:

    Elyse Brey
    February 18, 2011
    Queer Cinema
    Heitner
    Weekly Response 5
    I’ve been commenting in my papers for this class how the idea of “queer” is what lets the characters in the films that we have watched be free. In Hairspray, any time that Tracy, Link, and Penny spend time with Motor-Mouth Maybelle and Seaweed and their friends, they are accepted for their ideas and the way they dress and especially for the way they dance. It is only with the black community that these friends are able to feel like they actually belong to something, rather than being outcast by the media or the racist ideas of the white people of Baltimore. John Waters queers race in his film in a way that makes us see how much better life would be if everyone were integrated rather than segregated like they are for the majority of the movie. It isn’t until the last scene of the movie, during the Miss Auto Show coronation, when Tracy teaches everyone how to do “the bug” that there are both races on television (as the story tells).
    I spent the entire movie thinking about how much more fun it was to watch when the races are integrated on the screen and it makes you think about some of the radical and out of line comments that people at that time were making about the black community. John Waters makes the white community become the queer race in his film, (according to a lot of themes and topics we have discussed this semester). The white community has so many more secrets and negatives about them in this film that we as the audience end up looking down on them and associating ourselves with the black community better.
    In reference to the types of “gaze” that we have talked about in class, I don’t think that Fanon’s is any different than Mulvey’s, besides the subject that the gaze is focused on. Both of their ideas of the “gaze” imply that we look at either race or gender in pieces rather than an entire body. The gaze is what allows us to not feel guilty for treating a person badly because we cannot bring ourselves to see them as an entire person; we only see them for their eyes, or their lips, or their arms, or their stomach, never as a collection of fibers and organisms that we call life. We see this in Hairspray, but not towards the black community. We see it towards Tracy; her bigger build, her teased hair, and every piece of her body that gives her the attitude that John Waters created for her is all part of the gaze that the white community gives her for hanging out with the black community.

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