Discussion Post #6: DAY ONE of Presentations

For this post, you will compose two paragraphs. Each paragraph will reflect on one cultural artifact from that day that provoked some sort of response from you: interested, disturbed, excited, curious, empowered, surprised, worried, and more—whatever you feel!

Describe exactly what you felt and reflect on why the presentation/artifact made you feel this way. Therefore, in total, this post will reflect on TWO presentations; each of these will be discussed in its own single paragraph.

This is due by FRIDAY, 12/6, at 12:30 PM.

15 thoughts on “Discussion Post #6: DAY ONE of Presentations”

  1. I thought the presentation about the show Andi Mack was very interesting. I think that a show that involves homosexuality is pretty progressive for a historically conservative family channel like Disney and I was surprised that it showed even a minuscule moment of romance between same-sex characters. I was aware of the show because my little cousin watches it at home, but I had never sat down to watch an episode so I didn’t really know what issues it dealt with. I was pleasantly surprised with the acceptance that the characters displayed towards Cyrus when he admitted to having homosexual feelings for Jonah. Though I don’t think the show was totally radical, I can appreciate the effort that Disney made in incorporating queer characters, particularly queer children, into their shows. I know they received backlash from conservative groups such as One Million Moms who created a fruitless petition to have the show removed. I hope that such futile attempts by homophobic conservative groups will not discourage networks like Disney channel from creating shows that represent the LGBTQ community.

    I found the film Alex Strangelove a little surprising. The plot is nothing new for a film about teenagers. It’s a romantic comedy about some teenager trying to get laid, we’ve seen this many times before. The twist in this movie, which I found surprising, is that the person trying to have sex is a teenage girl. In almost every other movie, the girl has always been the object of desire for some teenage boy who is desperately trying to lose his virginity. I haven’t seen this movie but there was one scene in the trailer that caught my attention. The girl who is pursuing Alex said something about not being able to understand “modern teenage boys.” I thought this was a reference to her inability to sleep with Alex since teenage boys are always depicted as sex-starved and desperate. I guess she expected it to be a lot easier to sleep with him since that is the stereotypical behavior of teenage boys. The film is also different in that its protagonist is questioning his sexuality as he isn’t sure if he is gay or bisexual. I think there isn’t enough representation of bisexuality in media as most films and books often only focus on homosexuality. I think that bisexual and questioning individuals get more overlooked as they can be criticized as not being queer enough or something of the like. I hope that more films and books depict bisexual protagonists as developed and complex characters.

  2. One of the cultural artifacts I found interesting was Andi Mack. I thought having a main character in a Disney show be gay, and having a coming out scene in the show was extremely impactful. Exposing the youth to queer identity and providing an example of acceptance and a vocabulary to express this identity is a great step forward. Having more representation and awareness on Disney shows will impact the new generation of children and hopefully allow other queer children to feel more comfortable and give them a role model. On the other hand, in the video clip shown in class, there is no verbal communication of the two boys liking each other. They just sort of smiled at each other and held hands, While their heterosexual counterparts on the show are much more vocal and physical about their crushes and relationships. There is still a clear “otherness” associated with queer expression.

    Another cultural artifact was call me by your name. I was excited for this presentation in particular because of my own ambivalent opinions toward the novel. It was interesting to hear some opinions that were similar to mine and some that differed. it is a beautifully written queer love story, and the themes of the book correspond with the themes of this course, such as loss, melancholia, happiness, etc. However, many people can argue that the relationship between the two main characters was inappropriate and displayed unhealthy power dynamics. Is this depiction of a predatory relationship in a queer narrative good representation? Or is the book just a tender love story between two consenting individuals with no wrongdoing? I don’t know what the correct answer is, but this presentation reaffirmed some of my thoughts while also bringing up interesting thoughts I hadn’t considered.

  3. Andi Mack:
    When I first saw both the coming-out scene and the scene between Andi and Jonah in Disney’s Andi Mack, I had mixed reactions. While representation like this is vital and somewhat ground-breaking, I finished the scenes feeling severely dissatisfied. Andi’s overwhelming feelings of ambiguity and fear perpetuate this sort of nauseating desire to just communicate what needs to be communicated, openly. However, because of the show’s scope and deep roots in the mainstream, Disney purposely falters in delivering representation that is unhindered by the heteronormative lens. The network choosing instead to supplicate the narrative of taboo queerness—by perpetuating the unspeakably of queerness. Also, not to mention that this version of queerness being pushed by Disney (white, cis, and hetero) blatantly ignores anyone who fails conformity. While I do feel like this is a step in the right direction, queer representation like this can be pushed further.

    Alex Strangelove:
    The emphasis on queerness as somewhat fetishized and in need of reification from the heteronormative in the trailer for Alex Strangelove is perhaps one of the reasons I did not see the film when it first released. Sure, this narrative of queer questioning—the default for Alex’s unwillingness to have sex with his girlfriend—and the consequential pestering for said disinterest makes for a compelling framing, it just came across as very topically shifty. Especially considering had the roles been reversed, this film would be answering to its anti-feminist tones. I do think that films like this are important to the tapestry of queer representation, however, I feel like introducing queerness into art should not absolve the piece from cultural topicality. Maybe I just was not in Alex Strangelove’s demographic.

  4. Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman
    I thoroughly enjoyed and was engaged by the discussion Maria brought up around the queerly melancholic artifact Call Me By Your Name by Andre Aciman. I have not read the book but have seen the film and Maria’s passionate points convinced me to read the novel so I can compare the relationship between Elio and Oliver represented in each medium. I have my own relationship with the object as film – I went to see it alone, spur of the moment. Sitting in the Paris Theatre, surrounded by gay men passing tissues down the rows to each other, I felt a sense of queer solidarity. I did not had the experience that the screen was portraying, and thus could enjoy and empathize with the plight of the character, but much of the audience felt the film more deeply. I appreciated Maria bringing up Aciman’s personal connection to his novel. It adds a layer to the storytelling of young queer desire.

    Alex Strangelove, dir. Craig Johnson
    Having seen this film, I found the inclusion of the film within the class’s queer melancholia archive an interesting choice! I would never have considered this film to be within the themes of this course, yet Alisha convinced me that Alex’s struggles for finding identity and his own personal pursuit of happiness does have roots in the queer melancholic state. What still unsettles me about this film, however, is its pure focus on sex and sexuality as a marker. It treats these topics as the “be all, end all” of existence – and while I understand that teen media do focus on topics that are concerning to teens, I resent having to accept this film as positive queer representation. It is, and while it IS important to have positive representations of coming out for closested teens, I am tired of these storylines at the same time. Coming out is never the one time event that teen media can make it out to be. It is constant and it can be exhausting. Hopefully in the future, Netflix will offer more varied representation for the LGBT experience – beyond the struggles of coming out.

  5. The second presentation on the french film of BPM really surprised me and intrigued my interest. I never really knew there was such a movie on the war of AIDS that created the act up in France. I feel like this video can be best brought up to Jamaica Kincaid My Brother. The talk of AIDS isn’t really mentioned but the people who carry the disease or know someone who is fighting isn’t really being given the attention they deserve and this movie was made to show the fight many people go through in order to get their voices heard. This fight doesn’t only have to be about AIDS , the fight can literally be anything. We can fight for things that we want to change, and thats something everyone is entitled to. I honestly look forward to watching this film.
    A second presentation that really astonished me was Alex Strangelove. So many things about this trailer made me question it. First is the turn in sex roles, where the guy is afraid of losing their virginity and where the girl is the one pushing the guy to have sex with her so she can “devirginize” him. Something else seen throughout the movie is the struggle for support when trying to come out or struggling to find out who you’re sexually attracted to. I think more movies should be shown like this, they should show the exchange of sex roles to show that we are now living in a modern world where women do take charge and are shown to be more in control. For Alex I thought him questioning himself to straight, gay or bisexual is something new because in movies I usually just see two options gay or straight but never bisexual.

  6. I found the presentation on the Netflix movie Alex Strangelove to be quite intriguing. As discussed in class, it was distinct for the plot to revolve around a girl wanting to have sex with a guy who is trying to avoid it. Oftentimes in reality, it is actually the other way around: women are objectified and men chase them to be satisfied. This movie brought a twist that subverted the typical roles in society, while also incorporating themes of queer melancholia. I have not seen the movie, but I assume that Alex fears the loss of his girlfriend, reputation, and even his best friend (who challenges the suspicion that Alex is gay), as result of coming out. His questioning phase also brings a cycle of ambivalence considering whether he is gay or bisexual. Personally, I find the need for strict labels regarding sexuality to be unimportant. Instead, I think that the complex journey that Alex goes through is more significant to the story. Overall, I was interested in the plot of the movie and am now eager to watch it myself.

    The presentation on Call Me By Your Name was also captivating. I was surprised to hear that the author, Andre Aciman, is married to a woman and follows a heteronormative lifestyle, despite his creation of such a queer artifact. In fact, I was curious to see how his novel relates to his life and would like to further explore the objects in his life that inspired his writing. I found it interesting to hear that he went through some struggles that Elio did, and that his work reflects/mirrors his younger desires. Next, we discussed the age-gap controversy. My friend has recommended this book/movie to me many times and I had not thought about the problematic power dynamic before, but now I see why Elio and Oliver’s relationship raises questions. I would like to read the book and watch the movie to see where I fall in the debate.

  7. 120 bpm:
    I found this film to be really interesting because of the way it shows some of the themes we’ve discussed in class. I’ve heard about this film before but I haven’t really seen anything from it and I could understand the hype of it. The humanity of the film in which we could see the characters protest for their dying friends, dancing in the club, falling in love, etc are all important and interesting aspects to show in an LGBT film. I was mostly interested in the political aspect of it though with the protesting and the more high energy scenes that really emphasize on the main issue at hand which is the AIDS crisis. I also wanted to note that the protesters were wearing pink triangles on their shirts which is really impactful due to the history of it. Queer people in the Holocaust wore these triangles so that the Nazis could identify them. So the fact that these queer men are wearing them in the film speaks volumes on the issues going on. The film seems like it portrays the severity of the AIDS crisis and the lack of empathy from people in power who aren’t doing much to help. It’s sadly still relevant today and is a reminder of the horrors of what many queer people go through.

    Andi Mack:
    I actually heard about this scene on social media and I didn’t bother to watch it but I could kind of understand the hype behind it. For Disney to try and take the leap to include a queer couple in one of their shows is progressive. It’s just a small moment but it’s a start towards something more beneficial towards the perception of the LGBT. However, I didn’t think it was that ground breaking since it was pretty small and they didn’t really confess verbally how they felt towards one another. Though, for some reason, I wasn’t really expecting much from Disney since they’re pretty conservative in what they show to the public due to the fact that they want to appeal to all families. I don’t doubt for a second that somebody working for Disney wants more representation in their shows but is fearful of the outcome. Hopefully, Disney is able to continue to try to show LGBT characters in a positive light and in a more explicit way.

  8. The presentation on Alex Strangelove in specific caught my eye. I remember seeing it advertised on Netflix but not being particularly drawn to it either way, simply because it felt a little like a LGBT film written more for straight people than for the LGBTQIA+ community. Watching the trailer and hearing the presentation on it, there were a few things that stood out and bothered me. The most important, was the use of the plot device of having two teens have sex with each other, especially when one has to be somewhat coerced into it. The concept of watching that develop on-screen makes me really uncomfortable, especially considering how little we pay attention to men who tell us they’ve been raped, and how dissmissive we are of women repeatedly and uncomfortably attempting to have sex with a man who clearly does not wish to have sex with them.
    The second presentation was the one on Call Me By Your Name. I’ve never watched the movie or read the book, although I know it is a specific queer culture ‘landmark’ so to speak, and have been meaning to get around to it. I came into this presentation completely unaware of the plot it presents, and I think the conversation it generated was really interesting. I think the question of age gaps in romantic relationships is best answered when we look at what stage of life these people are at; if the age gap they share lands them at drastically different positions and understandings of the world, it’s inappropriate. Take, for example, how almost everyone would cringe at the idea of a middle schooler and high schooler dating, even if the students are fairly close in age; let’s say the middle schooler is 14 (an older eight grader) and the high schooler is 16 (a younger sophomore/10th grader). While this is a bit extreme of an example, it shows that it’s not so much the age gap as the stages of life. We can cringe at the idea of a high schooler dating someone in college, but an older couple that are 60 and 70 years in age don’t raise many questions. It’s all about perspective, and this presentation and the discussion that arose around it makes me interested in engaging with this content and seeing for myself how this relationship develops.

  9. I really appreciated Maria’s presentation of Call Me By Your Name. I personally saw the film with my girlfriend in an indie theater in Miami when it came out and was immediately drawn by the hedonistic (and highly pretentious) style of the film. The film succeeds in some areas and leaves a lot to be desired in others. Its greatest critique seems to be the romanticization of the relationship between a 17 year old boy and a 24 year old man. To be honest, I appreciate controversy because it’s an opportunity to speak about things that we (society) normally keep silent about. Though I understand the need to be hypercritical of relationships that involve a significant age gap, I personally found Elio to have agency in this film, and on top of that the romance felt more internal (really showing of a coming of age story) than physically exploitative. Overall really enjoyed the presentation and the debate that it sparked.

    I was also very interested in 120 BPM. I tend to stay away from sad historical films because it feels like growing up that is all that was available to me in terms of queer film. I have to be mentally prepared to sit and absorb the trauma that they portray, etc. However, this film seems to have been beautifully shot and incredibly raw. I’m excited to check it out soon!

  10. I was struck by the discussion of Call me By Your Name. I remember having incredibly conflicting feelings on it when I first saw it- it’s a wonderfully beautiful and heart wrenching piece of work, but thinking about the context around the story and what the story says can be really interesting. The discussion of the power dynamics of the work especially, can get really in depth. I was interested in the positioning of Elio as the ‘active’ character, that the author saw Elio as the character they related to the most. I also found it interesting to think about whether or not the fact that it was a gay love story made people more comfortable with the age difference, and whether a 17 year old girl and an older man would’ve prompted the same feelings.

    120 BPM also seemed like a fascinating piece of work. The trailer was energetic, emotionally charged, and powerful. The discussion of the impact of AIDS on the queer community was definitely very relevant to our class themes; what other event has caused so much loss across the entire community? The exploration of feelings of loss and pain that the work explores and how they relate to the activist thrust of the main characters was incredibly interesting.

  11. Euphoria – I was highly interested in Melissa’s presentation. I actually started watching Euphoria after game of thrones finished on HBO and was really drawn into the show due to Zendaya. As I got into the show, I’ve realized that the problems we’ve face I’ve faced as well. Society pressuring you to do drugs, perfection and being scared to love due to judgment. The show Euphoria is a very impactful teen dram series that did so well due to its ability to relate to people. I found it interesting when Melissa brought up that last scene. That moment in the show was so important because he not only calls his dad out but also himself. His dad see’s his son for who he is. He suffers from very bad anger management and is unable to cope due to the setting and household he’s been raised in.

    Life is Strange: I use to love virtual reality games. I’ve never actually heard about this game before maybe because it was a smaller and independent video game company but it was very interesting. I liked how the video game actually revolves around the main character and her best friend. Tiffany explained the ways in which she particularly like the ways in which queerness doesn’t need to be expressed for you to feel its existent. I particularly found her take on a video game very interesting whereas everyone else in the class either did a book or a movie.

    BPM: I’ve always wanted to go to Paris and I knew a bit of background about the aid crisis in Paris but this movie was very dramatized but look very interesting. I also liked the way in which it looked very hardcore and expressive. Through the colors and the sadness seen all throughout the trailer.

    Alex Strangelove: I’ve honestly watched every teen movie that Netflix comes out with but this one must’ve slipped under my radar. The movie looks really cute and cheesy and brings up a lot of interesting and controversial topics today. Teens are scared to come out in fear of being judged. I thought the part when Alex is lying in bed with the boy he likes and smiles in the trailer we watched was very interesting because throughout the entire trailer we see his girlfriends forcing herself on him. Unaware that sex is something he’s not really interested in only caring about her own personal gain. I found it very enlighten seeing Netflix create such a film especially since many teens feel the need to conform to societal standards rather than their own desires.

  12. Andi Mack: I liked the presentation of the show Andi Mack because I think Disney does need more representation for the LGBTQ community. I think Disney could do a little better when it comes to representation because one of the scenes shown in class showed two characters holding hands but neither one of them said out loud that they liked each other. We could tell they liked each other because the scene made it seem like that but I found it odd for them to show representation but never to openly admit it.

    BPM: This discussion of the movie and the trailer really intrigued me because of the fight for advocacy on AID’s. I thought it was an interesting topic to make a film about because it’s a problem all over the world and people have tried to ignore it for a long time. The protest scenes are what really intrigued me because of the power of people to come together and fight for such an important cause.

  13. The two artifacts that intrigued me the most on 12/3 were BPM and Andi Mack.
    I’ve watched Andi Mack before with my sister but just the first few episodes so it was nice to get a synopsis of everything I missed. It’s so great to see young queer love represented on such a big platform like Disney Channel. When I was growing up with Disney Channel, they constantly promoted heterosexual ideals and made me, the queer kid, feel not represented. However, something that was said during this presentation really stuck out to me – “happiness is misleading.” I believe this was a tie in to Ahmed’s work but it really rung true. The promise of happiness for the two queer kids in this representation was misleading as they never said anything, they just held hands. Holding hands could represent a variety of meanings. I think Disney can definitely soon have queer characters on the forefront but it is clear that they are trying to introduce these things in a way that wouldn’t get them constant conservative hatred.
    With BPM, I’ve never wanted to watch a movie just from watching the trailer as much as this film. I loved the aspect of weaponizing melancholia in a political sense. The colors in the trailer scream melancholic while the music screams pure bliss. The discussion of the AIDs epidemic is done wonderfully and the sense of loss and empowerment of queer identity where it’s not necessarily wanted is so on par with this course.

  14. Euphoria- Personally I found Melissa’s presentation of Euphoria very intriguing, when she first started to describe the ideas behind the series plot and well just the details, I admit I was a bit confused by all the twist and turns the series seem to have. When the trailer was presented however, the first face I recognized was Zendaya’s. Then I started to notice the detail behind each scene and how it connected directly to melancholia, with both the queer and what seemed to be “normal” in that society. This is very interesting to me, and I would soon start watching it as well.

    Moonlight- I found Shenisis’s presentation of Moonlight also very interesting as it depicted queer life in a black community. However, as Shenisis described the film, talked more about the struggles of living as a queer person and not being accepted and did not talk much about the inequality in the black community. This connects much to the class, as it represents the life of two black queer people who faced suppression about their way of life.

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