Film/Reading Response

Film/Reading Responsewatching the film: La dolce vita (Federico Fellini, Italy, 1960)You are responsible for completing five 1-page single-spaced responses . Your mission is to select a single motif, character, camera or editing technique, or important scene in the film and analyze how this element contributes to the film?s development of issues related to gender and/or sexuality. This is not a film review in which you give the film a thumb up or thumb down but your chance to practice the skills critical to conducting close readings of cinematic texts. Use film specific vocabulary and develop your arguments using detailed examples and evidence from the film to support your reasoning. In order to connect the films with the assigned readings you must also use two carefully selected direct quotes from the assigned reading to support your analysis of the film. Include the page number for the quotes as you would if writing a formal essay.I N T R O D U C T I O N1What?s My Investment?I have huge cultural and erotic investments in so-called mainstream and classic popular culture texts and personalities that date from my childhood in the 1950s and 1960s. They gave me as much pleasure as they did pain and bad ideological lessons. For example, Marilyn Monroe was my ?rst sex education teacher. From her emotional and physical struggles with Robert Mitchum in The River of No Return, I learned that heterosexuality was about a woman resisting, then submitting to, a man who said he was concerned about her welfare, but who, ?nally, had to show the woman who was boss by forcing his attentions upon (i.e., raping) her. But it all looked very exciting and erotic to a nine-year-old sissy boy and his eight-year-old sister watching Saturday Night at the Movies on television: Monroe?s creamy, breathy blondeness crushed up against Mitchum?s rough, unshaven darkness. My sister and I performed variations on the ?lm?s crucial sex scene for months afterwards, alternating in the Monroe and Mitchum roles. So I guess Monroe also helped me learn about queerness, since I would act out fantasies of desiring her and of being her at the mercy of my butch-acting straight sister. From the 1980s onward my life within gay, lesbian, and queer cultures reinforced many of my childhood and teenage popular culture investments. To return to the example above, while Monroe continued to be a feminine identi?cation ?gure, she also became a tragic, misunderstood gay diva; a sexy femme; and the site of bisexual erotics. As these queer understandings of Monroe indicate, classic texts and personalities actually can be more queersuggestive than ?openly? gay, lesbian, or bisexual texts. That is, the coding of classic or otherwise ?mainstream? texts and personalities can often yield a wider range of non-straight readings because certain sexual things could not be stated baldly?and still cannot or will not in most mainstream products?thus often making it more dif?cult to categorize the erotics of a ?lm or a star. Of course, if you aren?t careful, this line of thought can begin to sound like an argument valorizing the closet, for understanding queerness as always something ?connotated? or suggested (and never really there ?denotatively?), for ?subtexting,? and for ?subcultural? readings. But since1FLAMING CLASSICSI don?t see queer readings as any less there, or any less real, than straight readings of classic or otherwise ?mainstream? texts, I don?t think that what I do in this book is colluding with dominant representational or interpretive regimes that seek to make queerness ?alternative? or ?sub? straight. I came to this position gradually as my relationship to classic and otherwise ?mainstream? popular culture changed over the years from understanding myself as taking covert, secret, subcultural, ?against the grain,? cooptive pleasures to deciding my readings and pleasures were no less valid or ?there? than those of people who took things straight. What I?ve discovered is that once you take this unapologetic, nonsubcultural, ?not-against-thegrain? stance concerning your queer ?lm and popular culture understandings and pleasures, you encounter much more resistance and hostility than you ever did when your readings and pleasures remained safely ?alternative? or ?reading into things.? Because I want to position queerness inside texts and production, and to think of queer reading practices as existing alongside straight ones, I usually put quotation marks around the term ?mainstream??for me, any text is always already potentially queer. Along the same lines, I now feel that maybe I/we should drop the idea of ?queering? something (as in the title of this book), as it implies taking a thing that is straight and doing something to it. I?d like to see queer discourses and practices as being less about co-opting and ?making? things queer (well, there goes the title of my ?rst book, too) and more about discussing how things are, or might be understood as, queer. What I ?nd particularly interesting is that resistance to understanding ?mainstream? texts as including the possibility for queer readings often comes from academic and nonacademic gays, lesbians, and other queers. Are these reactions the result of dominant culture colonization? Of not being aware of certain queer codes? Or do they indicate that just because you identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or otherwise queer doesn?t mean you won?t understand something in the same way that a straight person might, outside considerations of colonization or self-oppression? I tend to think that there is often heterocentrist colonization, if not homophobic self-oppression, involved in queer folks? resistance to queer readings of mainstream texts and personalities. To use myself as an example, shortly after ?nishing a draft of this introduction I went to see The Blair Witch Project.2 It is the story of three ?lmmaking students shooting a documentary somewhere in Maryland about a supernatural legend. ?Wouldn?t it have been great if one of the characters was gay, lesbian, or bisexual?? I thought as I left the theatre. It would have been one of those rare ?lms in which queerness wasn?t ?the issue? because the narrative focuses upon the trio?s attempts to make their ?lm and then to survive after getting lost in a forest. Sometime later I realized that I had fallen into one of those heterocentric traps this book attempts to point out: assum2INTRODUCTIONing that all characters in a ?lm are straight unless labeled, coded, or otherwise obviously proven to be queer. After the Blair Witch trio realize they are lost, one of the male characters mentions a girlfriend who will be worried when he doesn?t return when he said he would. As a means of reassuring himself and the others, he suggests his girlfriend eventually will call the authorities and instigate a search. What struck me as odd on second or third thought is that neither of the other characters (one male, one female) follows suit at this point by talking about an opposite sex romantic interest who also might be concerned about their whereabouts. Why not? Wouldn?t it make sense for these characters to say something along these lines at this tense narrative juncture? Of course, each might be straight and happen not to be in a relationship at the moment. Certainly this is the type of understanding we have been culturally trained and encouraged to come to when ?lling in the narrative blanks about a character?s sexuality. But it is just as likely that these two characters aren?t heterosexual. They, and the narrative, could be silent on the subject for reasons psychosocial (the closet, homophobia) and/or commercial (potentially higher grosses). For that matter, just because a character mentions he has a girlfriend doesn?t rule out the possibility that he could be understood as bisexual. In representation, as in life, you might never know for certain, as silences and gaps in information can be as telling and meaningful as what is said or shown. It is arrogant to insist that all non?blatantly queer-coded characters must be read as straight?especially in cases like The Blair Witch Project where all we have is narrative silence on the subject of certain characters? sexuality. It is also a mistake to decide which characters are straight and which are queer solely with reference to common (stereo)typing. Granted, (stereo)typed coding of queerness and straightness does exist in both dominant and queer cultures. And this coding is based upon how certain queers and straights look and act in real life. However, in an era when only the most insistently ignorant still think all straights or all gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and other queers look and act the same, why do most people still register ?queer? only when confronted with visual and aural codes drawn from a narrow (and often pejoratively charged) range?How Do I Queer Thee? Let Me Count the WaysAs my immediate post?Blair Witch Project thoughts illustrate, heterocentric and (stereo)typed ways of thinking can remain stubbornly persistent in relation to acknowledging the queerness in popular culture. Maybe part of the problem is the suggestion of textual essentialism that crops up when one3FLAMING CLASSICSspeaks of something being ?in? popular culture texts. When the terms of discussion are framed this way, as they usually are, the result is often a cultural battle over what the text ultimately or primarily ?means to say.? Rarely do such battles produce more rancor than when you are trying to convince people, queer and straight, that a ?popular,? ?mass,? ?mainstream,? ?classic? text might be understood queerly. For one thing, I ?nd that you have to go the extra mile in terms of conducting really close and exhaustive analyses of ?mainstream? or classic texts to even begin to get most people to consider the validity of queer, or lesbian, or bisexual, or gay readings. Is it any wonder that by the time I get to the end of these analyses I often ?nd myself in the position of wanting people to see the queerness as being ?in? the text, just as I am asked to understand straightness as being ?in? the text, when it is just the preferred reading that dominant culture sanctions? Besides, to base queer readings only upon notions of audience and reception leaves you open to the kind of dismissive attitude that sees queer understandings of popular culture as being the result of ?wishful thinking? about a text or ?appropriation? of a text by a cultural and/or critical special interest group. It often seems as if people think that since you have chosen to read something queerly?as you might be said to choose to be queer?you need to be pressured or patronized into feeling that you have made the wrong or the ?less common and therefore easy to undermine or put in its place? choice. But to think that all the texts produced within dominant capitalist systems are (supposed to be) straight, is pretty naive?and I?m not speaking here just of ?lms, televisions shows, and other popular culture texts that obviously take queerness as their subject, such as The Children?s Hour or Victim.3 For one thing, and as I mention in the chapter on Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, in order to appeal to the largest audience possible it behooves the ?lm and television industries to allow queerness some sort of expression much of the time. I?m not saying that this is always a deliberate or conscious capitalist marketing ploy (although sometimes it is), but there seems to be room for queerness in many ?mainstream? ?lms and television programs?and I ?nd it dif?cult to believe that all this queerness comes from reading practices alone. Straight people aren?t the only ones making these movies, television shows, and music videos. Creative queers, including queer-positioned, straight-identifying people, behind the scenes and in front of the camera can also be a source of the queerness that ?nds its way into the ?nal product. How conscious these queer producers are of their part in queer coding popular culture texts is another question. This might be a good place to discuss something that precedes the question of where the queerness might be coming from?producers? the4INTRODUCTIONtext? spectators??in ?lm and popular culture. Namely, what do you consider to be an expression of queer sexuality or eroticism in life or in representation? I understand the social and political arguments for the view held by a number of queers that only those representations that say the word(s) or show the sexual acts can be considered truly ?lesbian,? ?gay,? or ?bisexual.? After all, it still takes the most graphic sounds and sights to get many people, straight and queer, to consciously or willingly recognize as queer what they see and hear in the ?mainstream.? But we know that human sexuality and erotic situations are not always expressed so obviously or clearly. In recognizing a wide range of representational codes and reading practices as ?queer,? I am not attempting to take the sexual aspects out of lesbianism, gayness, or bisexuality. Even though the ?lms I discuss queerly don?t offer scenes of same-sex or bi-sexed intercourse, oral sex, nudity, and kissing, or don?t have someone say ?I?m lesbian,? ?You?re homosexual,? or other variations on these phrases, I don?t believe that most people reading this book will think that understanding certain non?sexually explicit representations as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or queer means they have nothing to do with the erotic. Queerness is frequently expressed in ways other than by nude bodies in contact, kissing, or direct verbal indicators; the reasons for ?nding different means of expression are many?psychological (fear, repression), cultural (oppression), and institutional (censorship, commerce). Even aside from the constraints imposed by these considerations, however, queerness is often (and freely) expressed in subtle ways. Do we, in our roles as queer producers, audiences, or cultural critics, always have to play to, or consider, the segments of the population that prefer ?hit them over the head? messages or that only ?registers dominant culture?s understanding of things.? I suppose, as with most things, it comes down to your ideological agenda within a particular situation. Working with classic studio ?lms from 1910 to the 1960s, and hoping to get all sorts of people to consider the queerness of what has been called the ?mainstream,? leads me to take a less ?show me the action/say the word? view of queer representation. Besides, while representation isn?t ?real life,? I think representation can be understood in ways as subtle and complex as those with which we understand real life. Why should we re?ne our understanding of the cultural and psychological workings of gender and sexuality in real life only to narrow things down to the perspective of the most limited ideological dictums of dominant culture when we are faced with a ?mainstream? popular culture text or personality? The argument that ?most people? will understand ?mainstream? texts and personalities in these limited ways doesn?t wash with me any longer because (a) ?most people? aren?t ?all people?; (b) within the ?most5FLAMING CLASSICSpeople? group are many people who, to differing degrees, have complicated and con?icted relationships to gender and sexuality, even if, on a conscious level at least, they stick to the straight and narrow much of the time; and (c) while it is frequently politically strategic to assume an essentialist position and critically examine how ?most people?/dominant culture might understand things, it is also politically important, if queer readings are to stand up as legitimate readings in their own right, to articulate how other people might understand things without reference to these dominant cultural readings. So what has been understood as ?queer? in ?lm and popular culture theory and practice? For a conference a few years ago, I put together a list of the ways in which ?queer? has been used in ?lm and popular culture studies. While in certain ways this list seems to indicate that ?queer? is becoming another social and academic category, it also suggests that the very range of its uses has prevented it from becoming a clear and ?xed category. This element of de?nitional elusiveness can become nervous-making, even to those who frequently invoke queerness in their work. But this is a good thing, as Martha Stewart would say, as it keeps the gender and sexuality dialogue open and complicated. One caveat about the list below: saying something is queer according to one of these de?nitions does not necessarily indicate a radical, progressive, or even liberal position on gender, sexuality, or other issues. For example, the queer work a straight person does in writing about a gay- or lesbian-themed ?lm might express a conservative or normative ideological position. Some would like the term ?queer? to be reserved for only those approaches, positions, and texts that are in some way progressive. But, in practice, queerness has been more ideologically inclusive. Hence there is a need to discuss the politics of queerness carefully and speci?cally, and not just assume that to be queer is to represent a position somewhere on the left. Queer/queerness has been used 1. As a synonym for either gay, or lesbian, or bisexual. 2. In various ways as an umbrella term (a) to pull together lesbian, and/or gay, and/or bisexual with little or no attention to differences (similar to certain uses of ?gay? to mean lesbians, gay men, and, sometimes, bisexuals, transsexuals, and transgendered people). (b) to describe a range of distinct non-straight positions being juxtaposed with each other. (c) to suggest those overlapping areas between and among lesbian, and/or gay, and/or bisexual, and/or other non-straight positions. 3. To describe the non-straight work, positions, pleasures, and readings of people who don?t share the same ?sexual orientation? as the text they are6INTRODUCTIONproducing or responding to (for example, a straight scholar might be said to do queer work when she/he writes an essay on Gus Van Sant?s My Own Private Idaho, or someone gay might take queer pleasure in the lesbian ?lm Desert Hearts).4 4. To describe any nonnormative expression of gender, including those connected with straightness. 5. To describe non-straight things that are not clearly marked as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, or transgendered, but that seem to suggest or allude to one or more of these categories, often in a vague, confusing, or incoherent manner (for example, Buffalo Bill in The Silence of the Lambs or Katharine Hepburn?s character in Sylvia Scarlett).5 6. To describe those aspects of spectatorship, cultural readership, production, and textual coding that seem to establish spaces not described by, or contained within, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, or trangendered understandings and categorizations of gender and sexuality?this is a more radical understanding of queer, as queerness here is something apart from established gender and sexuality categories, not the result of vague or confused coding or positioning (I would contend that Jack Smith?s Flaming Creatures is a queer avant-garde ?lm by this de?nition).6 Given the variety and ?exibility of the de?nitions of queerness, I don?t agree with the idea that queer theory has become a rigid academic category and, therefore, has ?had its day? politically. Most people in and outside of the academy are still puzzled about what queerness means, exactly, so the concept still has the potential to disturb or complicate ways of seeing gender and sexuality, as well as the related areas of race, ethnicity, and class. Having said this, I think there are more and less dynamic psychosocial and political uses of the term. Using ?queer? simply to mean ?gay? or ?lesbian? doesn?t really do much except to give someone?s speech or writing a certain contemporary patina. Some uses of ?queer? as an umbrella term are more interesting in their attempts to reveal cultural and psychological common ground between gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered, transsexuals and other queers. For me, some of the most exciting deployments of ?queer/queerness? are related to the word?s ability to describe those complex circumstances in texts, spectators, and production that resist easy categorization, but that de?nitely escape or defy the heteronormative. As suggested above, however, just saying that something is ?queer? doesn?t quite do the trick; because the label is so open, you need to go on and more speci?cally discuss what you mean, which forces people to present subtler arguments and analyses. So I ?nd ?queer,? understood as a suggestive rather than a prescriptive concept, far from becoming yet another rei?ed term7FLAMING CLASSICSin cultural studies, or in life. This probably makes many people uneasy, if not threatened, which could be behind some of the ?queer theory has had its day? rhetoric. But I suppose even when you say that ?queer? refers to a range of currently category-defying positions, you have given these things a label. Is there a way to get around this rhetorically? Maybe using ?queer? is one of those steps toward the day when we discuss gender and sexuality not by labels or categories, but on a descriptive case-by-case basis. ?Queer? can now point to things that destabilize existing categories, while it is itself becoming a category?but a category that resists easy de?nition. That is, you can?t tell just from the label ?queer? exactly what someone is referring to, except that it is something non-straight or non?normatively straight. Considered in relation to the list of de?nitions above, this book, taken as a whole, employs one of the umbrella uses of queer to indicate the collection and juxtaposition of a range of distinct non-straight readings: lesbian (The Women, The Wizard of Oz), gay (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Red Shoes), and bisexual (Gentlemen Prefer Blondes). But some of these chapters also include a range of readings within them or indicate overlapping readings. For example, the Caligari chapter brie?y discusses lesbian and bisexual elements in the ?lm while focusing most of its attention on the gay (or, to be more accurate, male homosexual) aspects of the ?lm. And then there?s Psycho. Here we have an example of de?nition #5, or is it #6? Are the gender and sexuality codes surrounding Norman Bates and Lila Crane in this ?lm unclear or contradictory, and therefore ?queer,? or might we understand Norman and Lila as queer characters without reference to conventional categories of gender and sexuality?that is, try to read them neither as ?straight,? ?gay,? ?lesbian,? ?feminine,? ?masculine,? nor even as some muddled or uncertain combination of these categories? By and large, the chapter on Psycho that follows reads the ?lm with reference to established gender and sexuality identity categories. In discussions of Norman, however, you might occasionally detect my frustrations with these categories?after all, when things are as confusing, incoherent, and contradictory as they often are in Psycho?s representation of Norman, why even bother using conventional gender and sexuality labels? In It?s a Queer World, Mark Simpson speaks to this question when he says:Identitism is not my cause. Hence the ?queer world? of this collection is not a world of homosexuality?but rather a world put out of order, out of sorts, out of joint; a world of queasy dislocation and general indeterminacy; a drunken world of wayward fun that can be had when you refuse to recognize the sovereignty of sexual identity. . . . [T]here must be an everincreasing number of people who feel their sexual identity something of a8INTRODUCTIONfraud perpetuated on them. . . . The queerest irony of all would be a queer world that had no place for queers.7Given Psycho?s (and my) cultural and authorial contexts, however, I didn?t feel fully comfortable beginning my examination of Psycho at that beyond-gender-and-sexuality-categories place Simpson indicates would be the most radical queer position. For one thing, I?m still living in a world where I?m often dealing with heterosexual privilege, homophobia, and gender issues. At present, and as people like Kate Bornstein and Sue-Ellen Case have also suggested, deciding it would be great not to be identi?ed with or limited by established gender and sexuality labels doesn?t eliminate the need to help pass nondiscrimination city ordinances that cover ?sexual orientation,? for example.8 But this doesn?t mean we shouldn?t try thinking and understanding apart from given gender and sexuality categories. On the other hand, many of us whose writing and teaching is centered on gender and sexuality shy away from Simpson?s ?queerest irony? as it seems threatening in so many ways. What will we have to write about, talk about, and teach if academic and other cultural discourses move toward the queerest queerness? Thinking about this concerns me somewhat, too, but it also excites me, so I will keep testing myself and, hopefully, others. I think one route into the queerest queerness might begin with de?nition #3, wherein you are positioned outside of the identity categories you have consciously chosen or feel you were born into. While I have most often identi?ed myself as ?gay? and ?feminine,? working through the chapter on ?lesbian? sitcoms in Making Things Perfectly Queer and on the Wizard of Oz, The Women, and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes chapters in this book have made it clear that I?m not always gay or feminine in my gender and sexuality positioning. But this doesn?t mean I ?become? lesbian, bisexual, or masculine either just because I am writing about these things, or watching ?lms in certain non-gay or non-feminine ways. What does it mean? This is where de?nition #3 comes in handy. While thinking about, taking pleasures in, and writing about certain texts, I am in a queer zone?no longer ?being? or positioning myself as gay or feminine, and also not ?being? or positioning myself fully within the other remaining gender and sexuality labels, including ?straight.? How can anyone say queerness has had its day as long as it continues to have the ability to indicate the inde?nable (yes, paradoxically through certain of its de?nitions) and gesture toward the complexities of human feeling, understanding, and behavior? Sometimes, though, it is dif?cult to decide when and how to use the term, in any of its de?nitions. How careful are we in considering the possible philosophical and ideological stakes when we use ?queer,? and not some other term(s), to discuss gender and sexuality? I9FLAMING CLASSICSrecently found myself in a descriptive and ideological dilemma while thinking about the Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger ?lm A Canterbury Tale.9 There is a character in the ?lm who pours glue into women?s hair at night in an attempt to keep them inside, and, by this strategy, to encourage the soldiers stationed nearby to come to his lectures on local history instead of going out on dates. Initially I thought of using ?queer? to describe ?the Glueman,? as he is called. Then I felt that maybe a more accurate description would be the narrative suppression of male homosexuality or gayness. But I was loathe to label this character ?gay? or ?homosexual? as it might appear that I was basing my reading on certain cultural stereotypes about gay men hating straight women and being their rivals for straight men. So perhaps ?queer? might really be more ideologically sound in this case. By using this term, I could not only resist reinforcing stereotyped cultural decoding practices, but ?queer? would suggest that the character and the narrative, ?nally, had no intention of ?coming out? as homosexual. However I also felt that, stereotyped or not, repressed/suppressed or not, this character?s coding is connected to male homosexuality, not to something less speci?c or more amorphously nonstraight. So why not just call him/it ?gay? or ?homosexual?? I?m still not certain what I?ll do when I ?nally write about the ?lm. I had a similar de?nitional and ideological crisis in writing the chapter in this book on The Red Shoes. At one point, I paused over a line I had written that called the collaborative efforts of the male characters on the screen, and of the men behind the screen, ?queer expressiveness.? Why not call these collaborations ?gay,? or examples of ?non?normative straight masculinity?? But, then, maybe the shared collaborative space might be called ?queer? as these gay and straight men were meeting on the culturally feminine and gay grounds of the ballet and the art ?lm. However, even if these grounds are usually considered feminine and homosexual by dominant, normative straight culture, do they necessarily need to be gendered and sexualized in these ways? So where is the ?queerness? in the collaboration of these male characters and ?lmmakers if we reject dominant culture?s feminization and homosexualization of the ballet and the art ?lm? Perhaps the queerness would be in our rejection of such gendering and sexualization, and the supposed tensions that result from the lack of gender or sexuality alignment between a certain sexed person and an activity. Following this line of thought, what happens when men do ballet and art ?lms is not so much the queer mixing of the masculine and the feminine, or of the homosexual and the straight, as it is a queer resistance to dominant culture?s idea that certain pursuits or attitudes are necessarily masculine or feminine, straight or homosexual. But does this more radical understanding and use of10INTRODUCTIONqueerness as ignoring or transcending traditional gender and sexuality classi?cations really work when you?re discussing a 1948 ?lm made by a group of men, and some women, within the British studio system? You can ?nd my ?nal thoughts, for the moment at least, about the ?lm and its makers in relation to queerness, gender, and sexuality, in the Red Shoes chapter.How to Be a Scholar-FanSome readers who have made it to this point may have found certain things I mention in the preceding pages cringe-inducingly autobiographical in the context of a ?serious? ?lm book. Or the tone of the material may sometimes seem too ?conversational? for an academic tome. Looking over sections such as the introduction?s opening, I?m still not fully comfortable myself. But why is this? Why shouldn?t readers know something about a critic?s personal and cultural background and training? Why is hiding or suppressing information like this still considered more professional and scholarly by most people? Is it part of a general 1980s and early 1990s backlash against the kind of confessional ?consciousness-raising? and ?reclaiming our lives and our histories? work that was done in the late 1960s and in the 1970s as part of the women?s liberation, gay/lesbian liberation, and civil rights movements? Or, perhaps, it was the rise of ?scienti?c? poststructuralist and psychoanalytic discourses in ?lm and media studies that began in the mid-1970s but really took hold in the 1980s, that encouraged academics and other serious writers to bury the traces of their personal and cultural histories by employing more ?objective? theoretical and rhetorical approaches. This suppression seems especially urgent, I suppose, if you are working on something like ?lm or popular culture. After all, you want the academy and the world at large to respect you even though you are writing about, or teaching, Casablanca, Letter from an Unknown Woman, or The Birds.10 The result of a couple of decades of ignoring or hiding personal and cultural investments in our (post?contemporary theory) academic writing, however, has been to squeeze much of the life out of it in many senses, often relegating our investments in, and enthusiasms for, ?lm and popular culture to the realm of hidden pleasures. It?s as if showing too much interest in what we are writing about somehow undermines our credibility as intellectuals. My concerns and complaints here aren?t new ones. But I think many of us are still struggling with the concept of writing and teaching as ?scholar-fans.? Tucked away at the end of Andrew Ross?s excellent introduction to No Respect: Intellectuals and Popular Culture is ?[f]inally, a word from [him]self as an erstwhile Scot.?11 In this roughly page-long section, Ross tell us that, in the chapters that follow,11FLAMING CLASSICSI have tried not to overlook my own prejudices, tastes, and affections for this or that idea, image, ?lm, music, writer, critic, or artist. Altho

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