April 5, 2015
Journal 4: Marginalized Identity Authorship
In cinema we can notice certain sensibilities or voices that filter the messages of a film to reflect part of who we are. Michael DeAngelis explores the work of Todd Haynes and discusses the ways in which this gay filmmaker “queers” the film text. Can a person inject a queer ideology specifically because they have a queer background and voice? Does that create a certain specific authorship to a director who is gay, or a woman? Absolutely. When a woman makes a film, there is a voice that only a woman can speak in. Does this prevent others from making films about women? Not necessarily, but it is written in a different voice and it has a different texture when a woman writes about women. Viewing these two types of cinema we can isolate specific voices and how those films differ from the classic white male heterosexual Hollywood cinema. Films can be “signed” by the gender and sexual orientation of their filmmakers. They can be distinguished by the subtle nuances that only a person in that marginalized group can deliver to the art. In regard to queer authorship, director Todd Haynes is examined and analyzed in depth by film critic Michael DeAngelis and really isolates the “queer” subtle differences in his work. He states, “Haynes’ films are not overtly graphic in their representation of homosexual acts, and that he always frames such representations in the context of repressive operations that struggle to disrupt the heteronormative human relations, does not make him any less integral a contributor to this cinema’s vitality; in fact, he has demonstrated a keen ability to move beyond such matters as gay sexual representation and content, enabling Haynes to hypothesize the structure of queer desire more dynamically.” In Far From Heaven (2002) Cathy Whitaker finds her husband Frank kissing another man and deals with the emotional fallout of infidelity and finds friendship with Raymond Deagan, the black gardener- causing a scandal in the town. Adding his queer sensibility, Haynes uses Raymond’s character as a metaphor for homosexuality. Using racism as a cloak, he unmasks many of the fears and tribulations that many homosexuals face on a daily basis- the same social out casting that Raymond faces. Haynes parallels these scenes about homosexuality and racism by cutting between the two seamlessly exposing the similarities. This subtext is a story best told by someone who has a queer voice and can handle the delicate framework of such a story without slapping the viewer in the face with it. DeAngelis comments, “The stylistic codes that he [Haynes] uses to represent homosexuality in Far From Heaven already configure such representation as a spatio-temporal impossibility, as something that must inevitably be censored as a condition of its representability.” The scene after Frank is discovered kissing another man by his wife, Cathy, is the best example. Frank is in a bar drinking and is exchanging many glances with other men until a man comes up to Frank at the bar. This “cruising” is a gay phenomenon that only can be described effectively nuanced by a gay male director.
Agnes Varda’s film Vagabond (1985) contains may scenes that are very relevant and important to the examination of a film in a feminist context. These scenes are important because only a woman can touch this level of empathy and give to the art in this way. The first scene is the mini-romance with the Moroccan farmer. It is very tragic that Mona made herself vulnerable to him, and he chose to push her away when the men returned. The disposability he displayed toward Mona was a reflection of the disposability the hegemony expressed toward women at the time throughout the world. The shot with the red scarf that the farmer gave her on the white bags was gorgeous and heartbreaking simultaneously. Later when he embraces the scarf (on his interview shot) he is the only person