Mainstream: The Future of Queer Cinema?

Mainstream: The Future of Queer Cinema?

– Earlier this year it was announced that “RuPaul’s Drag Race”
was coming to the UK. With the global success of the franchise, it was hopping across the pond. – Hey, this is RuPaul, and guess what, UK? We are casting for “Drag Race.” That’s right, we are looking for queens, we are looking for showgirls for the UK! God save the Queen! – So we’re going there. Yeah, five years ago I did
a television show over there called “Celebrity Big Brother,” and the reason I did that show, nobody really knew much
about “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” it wasn’t on really the radar over there, and I did it to get
attention for our TV show. – The announcement has
highlighted a schism between the drag world of reality TV and the drag world of, well, reality. In the days following the announcement, on social media and in publications, including LGBT and mainstream ones, there were people voicing
their reservations. In a Guardian article entitled, “The UK drag scene is too diverse “for RuPaul to turn into
a race for ratings,” British-Iraqi drag
performer Amrou Al-Kahdi was worried about the discrepancy between the very competitive
winner-takes-all world of “Drag Race” and the more
community-focused world of UK drag. It also discussed the
difficulty of balancing the capitalist mentality of “Drag Race” and the mentality of the British scene, which often seeks to directly avoid that. And these aren’t criticisms that came just when the British show was announced. This is something that
people have been criticising about “RuPaul’s Drag
Race” for some years now. Writer Brian Moylan
talks about the idea that when you have something which
is so phenomenally successful as “Drag Race” has been and
in such increasing degrees, you have a lot of people who
aren’t within the community who’s being portrayed who want to watch. That in itself obviously isn’t a problem. But then when they’re
invited onto the show and into that space and
feel entitled to the space, without really necessarily
appreciating it fully, just what they’ve seen
portrayed on this TV show, it kind of gets a little bit sticky. He gives as an example in the article the honestly so cringe-worthy it’s going to pain me to say this sentence that Vanessa Hudgens, one
of the guest judges utters, “I’m so into voguing right
now, so that gave me life.” (upbeat dance music) – [Vanessa On Recording] I’m
so into voguing right now, so that gave me life! And that jump, it was just insane! It was so good! Oh my god, the speed at
which you hit that shablam, I was like (squeals)! You really brought it! – The Hudgens voguing seems to be a trend which is just so hot right now. In the article, Moylan talks
about the differences between the show originally when it
was something a lot smaller with an avid gay fanbase, and the way it’s transitioned
into mainstream media, arguing that increasing reliance
on things like petty feuds meant that the show had
changed in some way. The UK is a country with
drag in the foundations of our performance bases,
from Shakespeare to panto. We’re likely to have seen a drag performer before the age of 10. – Ah, I adore balls! – Yes. (audience laughs) They say the prince holds
one of his balls every year. (audience laughs) – And this year, love, we’ll
be there to see it in person. (chuckles) (bright music) (audience cheers) – ♪ You’re looking at class ♪ ♪ A study in chic ♪ ♪ I reek of Chanel ♪ – You reek of lots of things. (audience laughs)
– ♪ And feminine mystique ♪ ♪ At the royal ball won’t
we turn men’s heads? ♪ – No, I think it’s their
stomachs you’ll turn instead. (audience laughs)
– ♪ ‘Cause I’ve got class ♪ ♪ Lots of class ♪ – But in terms of the UK drag community, a lot of them pride
themselves in being the home not just of cis male performers, but also drag kings, female drag queens, non-binary performers, and acts that are a range
of styles from biting humour to political commentary
to weird performance art. There’s also been some concern that the particular kinds of challenges that are the staple of
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” won’t necessarily match onto the reality of the UK community. Especially after RuPaul’s
previous comments on the scope of drag, that “drag loses its sense of
danger and its sense of irony “once it’s not men doing it,” even if he later
apologised for the remarks. Dragpunk, a drag artist
collective from Birmingham, said of the UK scene that it’s “at odds with the
fame-driven commoditization “that ‘Drag Race’ promotes.” And it’s no doubt that “Drag Race” is now
unavoidably tied to fame. Not necessarily because
money is flooding in and raising all ships, as it were, but because the money is being diverted specifically to “Drag Race” girls rather than the community in general. Joe Jeffreys, a historian of drag at the New York University,
has said this about the show. “It’s only made opportunities
for those contestants. “If it was the true golden age of drag, “I would see mass audiences
flocking to the drag shows “at my local bars, but
they’re flocking to events “featuring contestants from the show, “but when you get back
down to that localised “gay bar drag show, the doors
aren’t breaking down yet.” Now some people are hopeful
that the UK version of the show can shine some light
onto the UK drag scene, but even some of them have reservations. Margo Marshal, a UK drag
performer, has said, “I do worry that it could
change people’s expectations “of drag and people might
dismiss artists who don’t conform “to the narrow ‘Drag
Race’ beauty standards, “and so the diversity of
the scene might decrease.” Now this decrease might be because people are only willing
to pay for certain acts, so the ones that aren’t are
sort of priced out of performing in terms of professional shows. But it might also be that they decide to change the way in which they do drag in order to conform to
continue to have a career. Charlene, a New York drag queen,
has talked about the effect this is already having in America. “There’s this dance you do on Instagram “and way you network yourself. “We’re like, in Toy Story,
the aliens in that machine “waiting for the claw to pick them up. “We have this stagnancy
of queens doing the dance “rather than focusing on their art.” For a lot of people, “Drag Race” is their first
introduction to drag at all. And for a lot of people,
that can’t be overlooked, the idea that it’s
bringing to the mainstream something which otherwise
wouldn’t be seen, that it’s increasing visibility, maybe increasing acceptance. And that’s something to be celebrated. But I think while praising “Drag Race” for the good it does just by existing, we can also acknowledge some of the issues that people have with it or the worries that people have about it. So, the idea that it only presents a certain subsection
of the drag community, and therefore the idea
that it doesn’t reflect the reality of drag, and therefore the potential
damage that it does to real-world drag performers. The good and the bad can
exist alongside each other when we talk about a show like this. “Drag Race” is there
for the perfect example of an LGBT TV show which is made with the best intentions in mind, and which may even be heralded as a bastion of
representation by some people, but which in terms of its impact isn’t necessarily having an
entirely positive effect, or portraying a particularly
representative queer reality, even when a lot of straight
and cis people view the show as doing exactly that. This conversation about
the future of “Drag Race” is a sort of microcosmic
view of the wide issues around LGBT movies or TV shows as queer representation moves
further into the mainstream. And it’s this future
that I wanna talk about in today’s video, in the first of a three-part series about the mainstream
future of queer cinema. So, what exactly mainstream cinema is is a little bit difficult
to pin down at the moment with the changing media landscape that we are currently living in. But for the purposes of
this video and for me, I’m gonna talk about it as the idea that’s it got to do one of three things. It has to be one, produced
by a major film studio, two, get a general release in cinemas, or three, be produced and
prioritised by a streaming service and have a significant marketing budget pushing it towards audiences. In this way, it’s probably
useful to note at this point that we can see mainstream as sort of synonymous with capitalism, with vast sums of money
being pushed onto it. And so as a little background
thing to be thinking about during this video, it’s probably
useful to just have in mind the impact that that kind
of large investment of money might have on the
content that is produced, as well as how and who it
is distributed towards. So when you first heard my
introduction about “Drag Race,” you probably had some kind
of instinctive thoughts about what I was saying and the criticisms that
I was talking about. So you might be thinking,
actually, you know what, overall it’s doing a really good job of increasing representation, and that is gonna cause
a trickle down effect, we don’t have to have perfect
representation right now, and what’s important is that
it is potentially increasing acceptance in the wider community. Or you might think, do
we really care about appeasing straight and cis
people with these kind of shows? They should be by and for gay people, and if they enjoy the show, great, but it shouldn’t be for them. Or you might have thought, who cares, it’s a show with gay people
and it’s not that deep. And all those thoughts are informed by your personal internal
answer to the question, what is LGBT+ media for? So there are four main
angles that people tend to be coming towards when
answering this question. And it’s important to note
that these aren’t necessarily conscious answers that
are clear and precise and that they’ve had to
actually work through and think about. Sometimes they’re just
kind of instinctive. So the first angle is that
people who see it as a way of increasing acceptance in
straight and cis audiences. So these people might
favour entirely palatable or respectable LGBT portrayals. It’s quite difficult to
try and increase acceptance in a homophobe if your
gay character is acting just like the homophobe fears they will. So these portrayals might skew
into the kind of sticky world of respectability politics. Now I’ve talked at length
about respectability politics in another video that I’ll
link in the description, but essentially it’s the
idea that marginalised people need to act in a certain way
to be seen as respectable to not be marginalised. Kind of putting the onus
on marginalised people to act in a certain way so they aren’t like “those” gay people, or like “those” black people. Whatever it is. And the view that if only that minority acted in the proper way, they
wouldn’t be marginalised. It kind of puts the onus on
those marginalised people rather than society at large
to accept them as they are. So if we’re trying to increase acceptance, do we say we only want these people who conform to this kind of acceptable idea? You know, do we say that we don’t want any HIV-positive gay men unless they got it while in a committed relationship? Do we say that we don’t
want any overtly political LGBT characters because it
might be too controversial? People who want to use
representation to increase acceptance might also be in favour
of using LGBT characters to explain LGBT concepts or identities within the narrative of
the film or show itself. There’s also a kind of risk
here of it becoming didactic, that this character is there only to teach and not necessarily is
a well rounded character in their own right. We can also see media of this
type will sometimes employ what can be quite damaging tropes that they think might increase acceptance. So a really obvious example of this is the Bury Your Gays trope, the idea of killing off characters often to really further a straight
character’s storyline. So sometimes it teaches
them an important lesson about the true pure nature of love, or makes them appreciate what they have. And that can be seen as
something that’s really positive, ’cause it’s like, well, if we’re saying that gay love is beautiful, then surely that’s
positive representation. But when it’s all about
trying to get straight people to be accepting, it
kind of prioritises them over the gay characters
and audiences themselves. This idea, the idea
that LGBT-focused media is kind of used to increase acceptance is obviously very
mainstream-aligned, right? It’s super accessible, you don’t have to have any
queer community knowledge to understand it. It’s extremely non-offensive
to straight and cis audiences, it’s very, very easy to align
that with the mainstream. So the second angle is people who think that LGBT-focused media should be to portray queer lives and experiences. This can kind of fall into two camps. So the first are very
sort of neutral about it. It’s just because LGBT exist in society, and therefore portray
them at the percentage that they are in the population. You know, there’s no thoughts either way other than the idea that LGBT
people exist in the world. If we’re gonna be portraying the world, we should portray them. The other kind of people
who fall into this camp have more of an idea of the
inherent value of LGBT stories and telling them for LGBT people, and cis and straight people are
a kind of secondary concern. So questions around this
angle would be things like, what identities within the LGBTQ+ spectrum are you representing? How accurate are they to
these queer experiences? Because you can absolutely
have the best of intentions in terms of showing
people’s lives on screen, but they won’t necessarily be reflective if you haven’t done the
work behind the scenes. And also this question
of how marketable is it to the general public? Is it something that
realistically is going to be made? Is it necessarily going to
be able to be mainstream in terms of the amount of money that people are willing to put into it if they think that the
audience is going to be a smaller subsection of the population? And is it necessarily
going to be something that straight and cis audiences will get or be invested in? So here we can see that
these first two angles aren’t necessarily two
completely separate things. Right? So, if you’re someone
who wants to prioritise LGBT audiences, but you are
hampered by the practicalities of trying to make the film, it might be that you say, you know what? The history of the LGBT
community is extremely important. We ought to make a film about Stonewall. Hmm, but if we want to
make audiences kind of be able to get into the story, maybe we go down the route
of creating a protagonist that falls into that more acceptable or palatable idea of,
you know, for example, a white cis gay man. We know how well that went. So these kind of films can
be mainstream-aligned or not. It really just depends on kind
of behind the scenes stuff in terms of who’s funding
it, who’s writing it, whether it engages with
LGBT tropes and in what way. And these kind of external
variables about money. So the third angle is
people who believe that queer cinema should allow queer people to tell their own stories. And this is how a lot of quintessential classic queer cinema is viewed, but it does run into its
own issues and problems. For one thing, who is
telling the story, right? Is it the writer, is it the
director, is it the actors? Do all of them have to be queer for it to kind of fit into
this idealised version of what queer cinema is? So the interesting thing is,
you know, within the last year, we have seen this unified kind
of marginalised storytelling in a very mainstream way in
the film “Black Panther.” You know, that film had a
black cast, black director, black writers, as well as
black production designer, black costume designer. And the story itself that it was telling wasn’t this kind of externalised story that we might be used to
in terms of the portrayal of black people in mainstream film which is often quite this
externalised idea of, okay, we’re gonna tell a
story about black people, so we have to tell a story
about racism and slavery because it has to interact
with white society in some way. “Black Panther” goes
deliberately out of its way to avoid those kind of
cliche conversations, instead looking at conversations
within the black community, looking at the different
viewpoints and experiences of people who are black Africans and black African-Americans, for example. What would that look
like for a queer film? I don’t think we’ve had
a mainstream example of a queer film that has
that level of queer people within the production and the cast before. I don’t know what that would look like. With this third angle we also need to ask about the idea of, you
know, if we’re saying that queer people should be
telling their own stories, what do we mean by their own stories? There are so many different identities within the LGBTQ+ spectrum. So should we have an all-trans
team on a trans-focused film? What will someone just
within the community do if we have at least some people present? Now to some people the
idea of gathering together an all-trans production team would seem slightly over the top and ridiculous. But actually for some other people it seems like quite a good idea, especially when we look at
the mistakes and missteps that have been made by the film industry full of cis people when
trying to make trans films. So this third angle, the idea of queer people
telling their own stories, has not traditionally been mainstream. It could be, but ultimately
it’s how we normally see sort of indie queer cinema. And finally, honourable
mention to the fourth angle, the chaotic neutrals in the world, who are just kind of like, does
it have to be for anything? I don’t care either way. Make every film gay, make no films gay, it doesn’t matter, who cares? And so when we look at what
a film is being made for, we can see how that
changes its relationship to the mainstream in terms
of how accessible it is, how available it is, and
also how legible it is to a general population. So why would people be interested in making LGBTQ+ cinema mainstream? Well, it has a lot of positives. Mainstream cinema is very accessible, and it can potentially
increase LGBTQ+ acceptance through that accessibility. It can also help get
recognition for LGBTQ+ figures and histories into the mainstream in a way that we don’t necessarily have within our education system, for example. And there’s obviously the
question of the availability of more money and more funding
within mainstream productions that means that the overall quality is potentially going to be better. But these pros aren’t a given. For example, it’s very possible
to have a mainstream film with LGBTQ+ characters
that won’t do anything to increase acceptance. And some of these pros
also come with conditions, so although there might be an
increase in money and funding, who is that money and funding
going to and what for? There are also potential negatives to films being mainstream. Again, these aren’t certainties,
but they are possibilities. So first, we have sort of
death by crowd-pleasing. So either this means that you
have to have your portrayal be kind of acceptable or palatable enough, even if it compromises on real
LGBT histories and figures in order to appeal to a mass audience. Or alternatively, and this is
often the case in comedies, becoming an exaggerated sideshow for an audience which is
well-versed in stereotypes. It may lack nuance in
terms of being accessible to as many people as possible, in particular having to fit into the idea of the Hollywood mould
of narrative or morality. It may also overlook the most marginalised or least sellable people
within our community, especially if they’re wanting a return on the kind of big budgets that are put into projects like that. So if we look at these
kind of pros and cons of why people might want
something to be mainstream, and then we also look at
those four different angles in terms of what LGBT films are for, we can see how and why people might decide that it’s sort of worth
the risk or the investment. If you prioritise the idea
that LGBTQ+ representation should be increasing acceptance in cis and straight audiences, then being mainstream is vital to get that message out there. If you think these films
should be for queer people then it doesn’t necessarily
have to be mainstream. If you’re going looking for it, there are tonnes of lists of,
you know, amazing queer cinema, best queer cinema of this
year that you can dig into. You can go into the LGBT tab on Netflix. You can look at kind of
distribution companies that specialise in queer cinema, so Peccadillo Pictures,
for example, in the UK. So on the surface, that
seems pretty obvious. However it isn’t necessarily
as simple as that. What about closeted
and questioning people? Especially young people
or people living with potentially homophobic families? If they share a Netflix account
with their entire family, you can view their viewing history. How do they know that their parents aren’t going to see that they’ve
watched one of those films? You might wonder how
you’re going to explain a DVD coming in the post to your parents who want to know what you’ve bought. Potentially, going to see a
mainstream film in the cinema won’t invite as many questions. And maybe the discussion around
it may open up acceptance within your family. So potentially for those queer people, being able to go to the cinema for something which is
readily mainstream available will invite less questions. And actually, the
acceptance that that film might bring to their family could ultimately help in the long run. Or it might implicate them
further if their family knows because it’s more mainstream
what kind of film it is. And what about people who
maybe need to see these films to help discover their own identity, but wouldn’t necessarily go
looking for them independently? So being mainstream isn’t
necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can do a lot of good. But simply being available
and acceptable to the masses doesn’t make it inherently good either. There are a fair few examples of films that have been accepted, even praised by the
non-marginalized majority, while the minority it’s
playing have criticised it. – [Reporter] Critics have wondered who exactly was this movie made for? (softly upbeat music) In the past few years,
films like “Moonlight,” “Blindspotting,” and “The Hate U Give” were celebrated for their more modern raw depictions of black
experiences in America. – What do we do about the bones? – We do this. – [Reporter] But “Green Book”
is a more mainstream movie with a reassuring message and
a rose-colored happy ending. – “Green Book” being
probably the most prominent recent example that has been criticised for a number of reasons. One, in terms of narrative itself, it focuses more on the
white racist’s journey, rather than on the black man
within the same narrative. Two, behind the scenes the lack
of respect and consultation that was given to the family of the black man who was portrayed. And three, that the sort of
white majority production team compounded all of these in-narrative and behind-the-scenes problems. So I don’t think that
mainstream or not mainstream is a particularly useful
descriptive factor in terms of assessing
the impact and importance of LGBTQ+ media. And yes, I am aware of
the irony of me rejecting the very title of this video at the end of the first
part of this series. But I have come up with an alternative. Instead I want to propose two axes on which we can plot these films to give us a more nuanced
understanding of LGBT media beyond whether it’s popular or mainstream. So join me in part two as I
break down these two axes, and in part three, where
I’ll be using a case study of “Love, Simon” and
looking at 20 upcoming films in 2019 and ’20 to look at the future
trends of queer cinema. If you aren’t already, of course you can
subscribe/turn on notifications if you want updates of when
these videos are coming out. And if you’d like to help
support me make these videos, I’m going to leave a link to
my Patreon in the description, along with all my social media, so you can find me all over the internet. And until I see you next time, bye.

100 thoughts on “Mainstream: The Future of Queer Cinema?

  1. "Queer" art is and will always be out of mainstream, those that rise up to mainstream level will always have to contort themselves to appeal, it's the nature of a free society where people chose the media they consume.

    Ru has figured out how to market elements of drag to a larger population, namely women, but adding drama and some level of competition. It's not support to bring the rest of drag up of perfectly represent it.

    Film makers should make what they want, the market will choose if it's good. If it stereotypes a group, oh well, it's not like the people who enjoy it will make much more sense out of more in-depth characters. People who want stereotypes, will seek them out. Forcing them to see specific examples that counter their beliefs, especially in something as specific as film does work. Transforms is a horrible stereotype of humans, and Big Bang theory is a horrible stereotype of nerds. Clearly there is a market.

  2. I think its very problematic how you imply that a movie about "black issues" or "lgbt issues" needs to be produced by a majority lgbt or black production team. It brings identity and race as a prerequisite that can't be bypassed by qualifications and experience into the mix. Think about documentaries. Are they produced by a team full of scientists? No, of course not. But the best ones have scientists brought in to give their advice and offer their experience to provide the team with necessary information and guidance as to where this movie should go.
    Im not saying the production team should exclude lgbt or black people or whatever. On the contrary, what im saying is, the composition of races and identity in the team and their relation to each other in terms of numbers shouldnt be an issue at all. What makes a good lgbt movie for example is a great production team, regardless of race, gender or identity, that includes and advisory panel that is closely related to the topic.
    Its not about the number of lgbt people in relation to non lgbt people in production. Its about how the team (which COULD be comprised of 100% lgbt people, but doesnt have to) translates the experience of their advisory panel into a movie.

  3. It's interesting to see a break-down of something that felt so obvious to me. One forgets that knowledge isn't universal, and watching others explain this knowledge to other makes you super aware of that.

  4. If you want some excellent queer representation made by and for queer people, watch Pose.

    Anyone who claims to love “drag culture” should at least watch this show (if they haven’t seen Paris is burning of course)

  5. Would really love to hear ur thoughts on the l word returning and perhaps how it may have lost its relevance or how it should adapt

  6. Another thing that is pretty important at least for me is that "mainstream" movies are probably more likely to be high budget fantasy or science fiction adventures. Small productions probably don't have the money Marvel does that they can blow on costumes, setting and CGI.
    Which is the "how realistic should a queer story be" debate. I have this problem that I am generally not interested in stories in a realistic setting, which a lot of queer cinema is. So personally, I would REALLY benefit from mainstream scifi featuring tons of queer characters.
    OR we could start a community wide campaign for indie movie makers to go back to 70s BBC type special effects. You know, obviously fake costumes and green bubble wrap monsters. Only this time, with every single member of the cast being queer (or at least marginalised in some other way). Dang, we TOTALLY SHOULD do that, it would be GLORIOUS.

  7. I really enjoy your videos and the highly evolved and complex way you break down these issues. Can I perhaps request you also do a video regarding victimhood and gatekeeping in the queer community. Its something I have greatly noticed and a topic you touch upon in this video. These complaints and criticisms regarding Drag Race speak towards a larger issue of how the queer community regard who can navigate its spaces and how they can do it, its intrinsically tied to complex identity politics in the queer community and how many groups in our community view themselves as victims and marginalized groups. Their form of 'pushing back' is gatekeeping who participates in our community and how they do it. As an example, Vanessa Hudgens should just be able to express that she likes vogue without having to preface that statement with 'I understand that the vogue scene largely started in the black queer community from people who felt disenfranchised from mainstream society and Madonna appropriated that culture and made it digestable for pop culture audiences'. No, instead we rip into this girl and mock her. A girl who is herself a woman of colour and has had a nude pic leak that she was publicly shamed for and had to apologize and take a paycut for because she was a Disney kid. I would really enjoy hearing your perspective on this issue

  8. Usually, my favorite representation is when they don't have labels or come out and just… live and be with their partner and it's portrayed as normal.

    But we also need to have tv shows and movies that do use labels.

  9. Please stop using "queer ", i dont feel like these synonyms describe me as a gay man
    odd, strange, unusual, peculiar, bizarre, weird, unexpected, unfamiliar, abnormal, untypical, out of the ordinary, out of the way, puzzling, mystifying, perplexing, baffling, unaccountable, incongruous, uncommon, irregular,deviant, aberrant, freak, freakish

  10. It’s thanks to the mainstream movie studios/most tv networks we now see all these wlw period pieces. Thanks to the success of Carol in 2015 (And Blue is the warmest color by that horrible director who mistreated the young leading women) the studios saw a demand and now they supply that demand..only thing is those films have zero diversity and the storyline is always the same, two women fall in love they have to hide it and then they are broken up by society they are miserable and one dies or they elope or they kill someone etc (basically insert any negative stereotype that says that being lgbt+ is misery at all times and it can never be a happy thing). Then add how most of these movies are written by heterosexual white people often men who have no clue that modern women that are wlw and people within the lgbt+ community have an interest to see contemporary three dimensional characters that aren’t struggling (with the same narrow narrative) and who enjoy their lives and love life and who aren’t put to the side and shamed for their sexuality. My wlw friends are bored to tears to see these victorian women in corsets and dresses buttoned up to their chin and long sleeves. They all loved the British Netflix series Sex Education though with Gillian Anderson which have two women, one in her early 30s and one in her 50s, at the two helm and a more accurate portrayal of the lgbt+ community and also diversity. Like for example it has two lesbian moms (mixed relationship and none is focused on this it is just shown and not treated as something weird or other like hollywood would’ve done) and they’re raising a teen guy together. That show has a more modern and society accurate take on what teens and people in general deal with in society. I think they’re doing a 2nd season this year actually!

  11. I think i am mostly part of point 2, saying that queer people exist so why shouldn't we see them on screen, as diverse as they are in real life. But on the same hand it can used to increase acceptance. So more kind of a multi function, also adding the feeling of being represented on screen here of course
    I think the only thing a show shouldn't do is to portraying the queerness of a character as an evil thing itself
    Like Hannibal f.e. Where the main character is a pansexual cannibal aka a really bad person but what is never portrayed as the evil thing is his pansexuality.
    And i mean sure there a queer people who did really bad things with their queerness (rape, sexism, murder etc.) and i think one day cinema can tell those storys (like they do with every horrible dark straight story) but i think now isn't the time, because those are the kind of storys that would only cause harm to the community
    But i also think that some films are made for the LGBTQ community alone and that straight people shouldn't watch them because they have this kind of humor and storytelling that will only be understand by LGBTQ people. But when we are talking about LGBTQ characters in mainstream media, see above 🙂

  12. I mean there are a lot of examples i have seen online that people have watched movies or shows that included LGBTQ characters with their parents, and because of the parents feedback it helped them to discover if they are save to come out. Or that it helped parents to understand the queerness of their children better.
    But then of course there is allways the question: how much to we want to make queer storys for straights/for straight people to accept us? Because sometimes it can be really calming for LGBTQ people to watch a mainstream movie/show that does include LGBTQ people without including a coming out or a lesson to the viewers but simply just a gay person, living their live like every straight people in TV does.
    I mean straight also do not have constantly justify their existance in the show to their viewers by explaining their identity every second epsiode
    and also while a focus like Shadowhunters had on Malec can be really positive there is this point, where at least me, thinks: You do everything right with this queer characters, and there is actually nothing wrong about them but queer people can be more then their queerness."

  13. I wish there were movies where the centralised narrative wasn't intertwined with homophobia and queer struggles, like as important as it there is a weeny weeny part of me that kind of just wants a lesbian love story that doesn't suck and I know plenty of other gay women who want this too.

  14. 8:08 in def a guy of the second opinion. Queer media should be by and for queers, first and foremost.

  15. As someone's who had zero representation growing up, I'd say "gay entertainment" should be as purely gay as you can make it because people (yes, even Straight & Cis people) have the POTENTIAL to put themselves in the shoes of characters who are "alien" or completely 100% different from them. I mean, i've been doing it my whole life 🙂

  16. Why the f**k do people have problems with drag race in the UK…. it’s literally just a show full of the best people competing for 100,000. People bitch to much

  17. Sorry but I think there is a difference between, I don't know what it's called in UK., transvestites dressing up as female to entertain a mainly straight audience with sexist joke, or drag that comes from inside the LGBT community itself and is a piece of empowerment within that community. Just as a answer for your first reference of "drag" culture in the uk

  18. I'm ngl I'm a gay bloke and some of your videos here and appearances elsewhere do express opposing political views to my own on the political spectrum, but I really enjoy watching your take, soaking up your side of the debates and finding myself agreeing in certain parts, it's fascinating and always well-argued. Cheers, cockle x.

  19. Thank you for this. Drag Race has been sapping the variation, rebellion, and exploration in drag, here in the US for the past several years. There is some value in 'mainstreaming', but it often feels like that value is at the expense of difference. I look forward to the rest of the series.

  20. Are we really talking about queer culture or just about gay culture, though? I'm not on board with the 'drag is so subversive' trend but maybe someone will convince me otherwise.

  21. honestly at this point, like a lot of people. i just watch rupaul's frag race for the art of drag and shade. rupaul has continued to make it abundantly clear that he doesn't give a shit about the trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people who jump-started and continue to make up the largest population of drag performers. sending nina west home right after she literally said trans rights following silky's (the ~ratings juggernaut's~) awful lip sync said more than any think piece about rupaul's well-documented transphobia ever could. although what kind of near my skin this past season the most was michelle, the cis straight woman continuing to tell drag queens of color how to act and speak like she's ~one of them~ or something. it's atrocious.

    that one quote where ru is like…"drag loses its danger when it's not men doing it" is literally some of the most ignorant shit i've ever heard come out of the queer community outside of terfs and ace exclusionists. so… trans men and women don't at all put themselves in danger by expressing themselves, drag kings and fem queens don't exist, and the spirit of judy garland, not marsha and sylvia, kickstarted stonewall? yeah, fuck off. drag race has done a lot to increase visibility for the drag community over the years, and while i can't speak for them as a queer cis woman, i I think it's beyond time for queens like peppermint, jinkx monsoon, sasha velour, etc. to have their real, unrigged time in the spotlight.

    thank you so much for this video. this issue gets me so heated. 😓

    ps. fuck respectability politics. 🏳️‍🌈💖💜💙

  22. How do you feel about the show Pose? I do know that they have trans and gay actors and writers, and in my opinion the stories are fairly accurate. However the show focuses on the AIDs crisis in conjunction with 80s ball culture, and a major plot line is a cis white male “experimenting” with trans women. I don’t feel that they have dangerous stereotypes or anything, but I suppose it could be more focused on the community and family that came with ball culture. What do you think? Great video btw!

  23. No matter what kind of representation we get: I always get the feeling that gay representation isn't good enough.
    For example with male characters: when the character is feminine or 'obviously gay', it feels forced. While a character that's masculine or could pass as straight, supposedly isn't gay enough.
    And then you also get the people who get angry over the fact that LGBT+ characters that get played by straight actors (like Rocketman, Behind the Candelabra, The Danish Girl etc.), while we got plenty of straight characters played by gay characters.

    What would be considered good enough, I wonder? What is good representation and what isn't and why?

  24. I'm part of the optimistic side. I really think queer cinema will get more realistic and valued. I also hope more lgbtq actors get the chance to be part of it.

  25. I wish queer media meant media about queer people. I hate going into the LGBT+ tab in Netflix for an example and seeing a list of shows that are almost exclusively straight and cis with a single queer side character. It's like, I'm sorry, but that doesn't exactly count …

  26. I feel the only movie people look at for gay rep. is Love, Simon. Good movie and book, but it’s sad that books written by gay/non-straight authors never get the blockbuster deal like that movie did, and it was written by a straight woman. I suggest Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets Of The Universe gets a movie and recognition for its lgbt themes.

  27. Would love to hear your thoughts on Amazon's Good Omens, (spoilers) feels so much like gay baiting–we never see them actually kiss or stay over at each-others' places. And the feminism involves Pepper calling another woman a bitch and saying that having a boyfriend means you're a victim of the patriarchy… my partner and I immediately wondered what you'd think of it! <3

  28. I realize that Pose isn’t a movie but it’s great example of for LGBT people by LGBT but still a publicly accessible

  29. As a nonbinary drag artist, I'm worried about the discrimination, but nothing will stop me performing.

  30. A note about Asexuality and Aromanticism.
    'Have the ratio of GRSM (Gender, Romantic, and Sexual Minorities, a much more inclusive term) characters roughly equal to real life?'
    That would mean that 1 in 100 characters would be on the Ace/Aro spectrum.
    Okay then… Where on the spectrum? Asexual and Aromantic? Or Just Ace? Just Aro? Or should that One person be Grey-A. Maybe Demi-Romantic? So on and so forth for a DOZEN different terms…
    Then we have to consider that that A-spec character could also be Gay, or Bi, or Pan, or Trans, or Demi, so on.

    From a marketing perspective too… Theres that age old saying… "Sex Sells". From that perspective it would be a pretty bad idea to make an A-spec character the Main character, because you would be forfeiting some part of that, sex or romance to some extent, or even entirely depending on the story.

    Honestly, this line of thinking is just depressing. There are around a dozen characters that have been confirmed as Ace on screen- I don't even know if there are ANY Aromantic characters.
    Only 3 or 4 of them are actually Good representation; the majority are just background whose only role is to say the line 'I'm Asexual', and then go hide in the corner. Or worse, there are those characters that actively Hurt the community; prime example, House. That shows 2 Ace characters are either Lying about it or have a Tumor making them think they are.

    At this point, having 1 in 100 characters on TV/movies be Ace or Aro would be a blessing. ='/

  31. I also think that it is hard to represent any group fully, I mean this is how minorities became a thing. Drag race may be only focused on a small sub-section of drag as a whole, yet it is a section that allows people that perform in that way to get recognised. I mean, of course, it is the beauty, lip-syncing and comedy sides being represented- it was created by a drag queen with that focus in mind. It is also important to remember that throughout the history of Drag Race, many different types of queens have been on. Granted, they all need to be able to pull off a "look" which looks neat, but I believe that is simply a queer fashion show which uses drag as it's medium. I understand that many people have reservations about Drag Race and fear that it could be overexposing only a small about of a community, yet I can't help but feel that this is simply because it is the most appealing for the majority of audiences who wish to watch a fashion show.

  32. But RuPaul’s drag race doesn’t have to be the be all and end all of gay and drag representation we need my television shows that demonstrate wider variety , let’s not just put all the pressure on drag race to do everything for us , drag race is one thing but drag culture is another

  33. It’s not for lgbt it’s for men who do drag..queer men not thee clip you showed. Paul morn and Ronnie Corbett how is that UK drag. It’s mockery

  34. I may be coming at this from a different angle bc I want to go in to the TV/movie production field, but I really want "for and by us" type of movies. I don't mind more mainstream watered down LGBT movies, but my goal when I create things is to create things that I want to see. So all of the stories I write have LGBT characters, whether I plan it or not. To be honest, I guess I don't want "LGBT movies", I just want cool fantasy/scifi/horror plots that include LGBT characters and romance in the same way that they include straight/cis characters and romance. So maybe I'm not talking about the same thing here now that I think about it?? Lol
    Like for example, I really liked what The Magicians was doing before they fucked it up a bit in the most recent season. Like, a good fantasy show that has strong diversity n shit! Yes! Although it doesn't get as nuanced and sometimes the "yay empowerment yay diversity" message is a bit clunky, I just want more shit like that.
    Even maybe some more media aimed at adults that doesn't have to have a Central Hetero Romance tbh, both for my sanity and those ace/aro folks out there that just want to see a kickass plot w great characters that aren't always smooching.

  35. We now have PoseFX which is a tv show about LGBTQ ballroom scene with writers, directors and actors are in the community! The lead 5 actress are trans POC women playing trans POC women! Even down to the extras are all people in the LGBTQ community!

  36. The show "Pose" has a majority trans cast and I think it a pretty amazing thing to see that much representation.

  37. I’d argue that The show Pose did a great job. Look at the fact that they had so many trans people in front of and behind the camera


  39. You've likely seen more indie queer films and can speak on it more eloquently but from my vantage point, marketing and a big budget and freedom of genre (mainstream) can go very wrong but is quite effective and attractive to a queer audience that is already out and in a generally safe situation. Also, I know there are lists out there, but I'd be interested in your list of favorite queer films, especially if there are some that aren't too serious/go at a glacial pace or involve cheating/abuse/death. And, I wouldn't mind this being half an hour if that would allow you to go just a bit slower, it was a little difficult to keep up in the beginning. This was really interesting to get the download on, can't wait for the next installment 🙂

  40. I really can’t watch this whole video. The sheer size of drag in America compared to the uk is completely different.

  41. i'm not sure if you are a professor, but dang this is a literal lecture for a university level course. well done 🙂

  42. The show was more petty in the beginning than it is now. The drama is nowhere near the level when the show started. Do you even watch this show?

  43. Man, you are so… concise. 🙂
    I never lose track of what you are talking about. You are really good at making your points, in general. I enjoy listening to that. 😀

  44. wow incredibly enlightening!! as someone whos not a part of the drag scene, this was really interesting to watch!

  45. With representation to increase acceptance comes straight folk looking to watch and enjoy lgbt+ shows just as the lgbt+ does it’s not FOR Gays and only for gays . That’s like saying straight shows are for straight people . They are looking to be entertained or educated .

  46. I'm definitely in the neutral spectrum of things. Mainstream, queer for queer, whatever! I'm cool with all of these so long as the quality is good.

  47. Also as a major film nerd, I feel like most mainstream American queer based films are generally better than the indie ones. The best queer based films are all foreign though. The French have some of the best stuff.

  48. 14:12 I think The Weekend maybe was a good example of this. I almost forgot that homophobia existed in this movie.

  49. I always enjoy your content, thanks for making informative videos!
    This is a long shot, but if anyone recognizes what glasses Rowan is wearing here, I'd be grateful–they're so lovely!

  50. I think RuPaul is aware of this; that saying, it could explain Evie Oddly win on Drag race. She stayed true to herself from the beginning to the end with no wig throws nor dress reveal, acting against the constructed standards.

  51. very excited for the 2nd part!!! i'm abt to binge watch your entire channel as i've been meaning to do for some time now ahshsjjd! btw ur glasses are rly pretty <3

  52. It’s great to see someone think and talk so intelligently about these issues. You have such a nuanced perspective. Bravo!

  53. Best gay movie I've ever seen is "Tom of Finland". And the good thing about that imo is portrays the individual in a way that is very inviting to connect the character with the audience. It's easy to empathize and sympathize with the main character (an historic figure btw), and it all feels very authentic. — straight white male speaking

  54. I liked the green book, but I barely noticed one of its main characters were gay. There's like one or two scenes in the movie where I felt it mattered to the plot, but by large it was about racism and white poverty.

  55. I'm wondering if anybody has been watching trinkets… Is it queerbaiting? I've only watched one episode yet and I'm already feeling like I'm going to be pissed off that it's b*****

  56. My opinion: make a good mainstream movie with people with lgbtq+ characters where they are represented accurately but them being queer or trans is not their personality they are a main character in a bigger plot

  57. Wierd how you mentioned Black Panther and said nothing about the lesbian character (from comics) they deliberatedly put in an heterosexual marriage for the movie

  58. The production teams of mainstream cinema need to become more diverse, too. The audiences and consumers of cinema in general are much more diverse today than when the medium was initially introduced, and their production also needs to change to reflect that reality. With recent research linking greater diversity in production teams to better reception and higher profit, there is no longer any logical reason not to do it. Using outside consultants and experts is a good first step, but it will only take us part of the way, because their advice is interpreted by a production team that is, for the most part, disconnected from the topic at hand. To be authentic and convincing, the insights and experiences need to come from the production teams themselves, and that requires them to become more diverse. I personally think there will always be a need for peer-to-peer type productions, to share the most intimate stories within any specific community, but I also think there is no reason why they could not co-exist together with a more diverse mainstream. 🙂

  59. This is an amazing video, you nailed it!
    I am very much looking forward to seeing the rest. Would you maybe consider to include your structure by writing titles for each section/angle? I think it might help people whose first language is not english (like me!) to follow you better 🙂

  60. I was really enjoying and appreciating this essay until your nasty snarky aside that a 'white cis gay man' cannot be a legitimate queer protagonist. Is this just pure homophobia? Or is it just part of the homophobic historical revisionism of erasing gay men from the Stonewall Inn (a gay bar!) and ensuing riots and the gay lib movement? It wasn't just 'white cis gay men' at Stonewall (and literally no-one has ever said that it was), but that doesn't mean they weren't there at all.

  61. thank you so much for this video and the next one in the series! makes my heart very happy to see someone talk about this in such a concise way

  62. In the US drag is very diverse: males do drag as women, female drag kings and GNC drag.

    RDR is males portraying female, and the work to feminize a male is just more impressive than other the way, and I fear drag kings will just be out shown.

    I would love to see rupaul lend her brand as a producer for Drag king race. Also Ru doesn't have a copyright on drag, other networks can do other drag contest shows too 🙂

    Stone wall had issues. I thought a miniseries in NYC with multiple characters and arcs set between late 60s through mid 70s to show how things changed

    And to explain why it wasn't that film about Marsha and Sylvia…. I 'll let you look into their own interviews and impressions and you can draw your opinion on why they are problematic.

    The issue with LGBT in the media.
    Because of the minorities status flaws in the character are challenged as "phobic" by an online mob. So its a bland lead character with no fault, or minor.
    Or their character revolves on common rites of passage that we all had, and after seeing it 10 times already, watching it 30 more times is boring.

    Straight people don't know how to write LGBT characters. There is a shortage of LGBT screen writers (very different format than novels).
    And those writers struggle a creating a mainstream cohesive film. With a mainstream film, every part of the writer process is discussed with a team of writers and director, actor, producers all asking questions and help guiding into a understandable film. With LGBT independents, producer, director, and writer are the same person, and there's not the guidance that help mold a film that will reach the mainstream.

    I think us in the LGBT need to accept show business is based off money, to be a bit more cool and online activists need to praise with a request for improvement.
    Instead of "Damn Scarlett Johansson producing and playing in a trans movie!!!!" They could have said, "I hope this films addresses trans issues. Though I would like to see the part go to a trans actor.
    2. Accepting cis stars playing trans parts in mainstream Oscar bait. But it looks like Rub and Tug is shelved and there's nothing being produced on trans Oscar bait.
    This is an issue we can push on tv and streaming and see results.

    3. A piece of one character about LGBT has to be all the LGBT. Criticism about transparent was that it wasn't about a young trans person. Its a point, but writing one has an idea and that wasn't their idea. The show is damned but they could say "what about this as a show"
    For me I could write about a gay msn coming out as trans in their 30s because I know that story. if someone asked me write about a 15 yo AFAB Muslim coming out as trans in Dubai. I would think get another writer or I'm doing a lot of research

    They can get around to everyone but it takes time.

  63. I just recently came across your videos, and I have been enjoying your intelligent presentation of a variety of issues. I wanted to comment on an aspect of drag representation. I am aware of the historic significance of drag in LGBTQ+ communities and have personally enjoyed some drag performances. Many drag performers are quite talented. Unfortunately, many drag queens (and kings) can be quite misogynistic (either overtly or covertly). This makes me tend to personally avoid many drag performances. You touched on the tangentially related issue that just being one part of the LGBTQ+ community does not give one license to speak for other parts. I look forward to watching more of your content and I wish you the best of fortunes.

  64. Maybe another alternative option is maybe creating queer mainstream media by relating LGBTQ+ issues with themes that sis people could relate. For exaple have coming out story with the themes inteerwoven of identity, acceptence and being outside of ones comfort zone or create a romence story about the undertanding of sexuality and romance against the reality of dating. It allows as an introduction about LGBTQ+ for sis without the neccesity of stereotypes to make it work.

  65. Okay, I cannot find it. What's the clip playing between 2:39 and 3:00? I desperately need to see more of that.

  66. Oh wow I love this series so educational and interesting!! You could make them two hours long and make it a fifty part series and I would make the time to watch them all haha keep going Rowan you force of nature!!:D xxxxxxxxxxxx

  67. I loved the way you described it, I wish more people tried to analyze cinema's reality in its own complexity. The video made me view some interesting points too, so thank you for your work.

  68. Something I’ve noticed with drag race being one of my first introductions to drag as a whole is that once you start following drag race girls and rupaul or Michelle on social media in becomes almost impossible to find anything beyond that without a lot of effort. trying to find American drag queens that are extremely talented performers and that would have a large following if not compared to those who have been on the show is very difficult let alone finding uk famous uk drag performers or performers closer to me as a Brit

  69. I'm someone who loves the uk drag scene but doesn't like drag race. I find it perpetuates the harmful idea that queer men are all bitchy and petty and I'm just not interested in petty drama like that. Also, some of my favourite creators like Milk are constantly belittled and ridiculed for being non conforming. It all just seems very toxic compared to the loving community I enjoy and support

  70. Can you make a video please about how people always say they were never taught anything about LGBTQplus in school and about what subjects and topics could actually bring up the talk. I feel like we want it taught but don’t ever suggest where and when the teaching would happen. Or even instead bring it up in a relating subject as I realise it may not be enough for one. 😁

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