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Edge of Seventeen: Juvenile Agony and Youth Fantasies in New Queer Adolescence Films
Unformatted Document Text:  seashore. After his clothes are stolen, she lends him her summer dress, and this new look turns on his boyfriend – they make love passionately on their kitchen table. Like in Edge of Seventeen, here too the sexual roles match the different body types: young Frederic is passive and his older boyfriend active. Frederic’s summer dress, however, gives this encounter another twist – this same-sex spectacle becomes a homoerotic drag show that signifies Frederic’s coming of age: his pleasure is intensified by his memory of sex with the woman, his muscular partner’s excitement˜ at his summer dress, and his increased confidence about his homosexuality as well. Eric, Jamie, Steven and Frederic are proud of their sissiness and make no attempt to change it: they celebrate their sensitivity, they dislike sports (Jamie and Steven prefer the football players to the game itself), they are campy, admire muscular physiques, and accept their own (homo)sexuality. 4 Moreover, these protagonists’ sissiness, softness and apparent sexual passivity are not represented as debilitating or undermining traits. None of them deny their departure from the straight adolescent group. Even before they come out to their family and straight friends, they are aware of their physical, social and cultural differences; they know that they are different than their schoolmates. Their platonic female friends are easy for them to identify with because they share a marginalized status: Jamie’s young neighbor is a sassy and eccentric black fan of Mamma Cass, and Steven’s fag hag is his overweight neighbor. Politically, they all suffer from discrimination and prejudice because of sexual, physical or ethnic difference. Interestingly, Eric in Edge of Seventeen does have a single, and miserable, sexual experience with his fag hag Maggie (who is in love with him), but the morning after he feels like a pretender and Maggie feels abused. In Une Robe d’Été, Frederic tells the young women he meets on the beach that this is his first sexual encounter with a woman because he is gay, and that he is in a relationship. The morning after, he goes to the harbor to return her summer dress. She tells him that he can keep it and kisses him goodbye. This scene reinforces their sexual encounter as only a spontaneous and enjoyable moment that will neither heterosexualize nor (hetero)normalize him, nor damage his passionate devotion to his boyfriend. According to Ozon’s queer politics, as manifested in this film, the queer adolescent should not be limited by any hetero- or homo- sexual regime, but instead free his mind and follow his own erotic curiosity. According to Michael Warner, to be 4 ˜ See Gilad Padva (2000) for the analysis of queer politicization of camp subculture.

Authors: Padva, Gilad.
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seashore. After his clothes are stolen, she lends him her summer dress, and this new
look turns on his boyfriend – they make love passionately on their kitchen table. Like
in Edge of Seventeen, here too the sexual roles match the different body types: young
Frederic is passive and his older boyfriend active. Frederic’s summer dress, however,
gives this encounter another twist – this same-sex spectacle becomes a homoerotic
drag show that signifies Frederic’s coming of age: his pleasure is intensified by his
memory of sex with the woman, his muscular partner’s excitement˜ at his summer
dress, and his increased confidence about his homosexuality as well.
Eric, Jamie, Steven and Frederic are proud of their sissiness and make no attempt to
change it: they celebrate their sensitivity, they dislike sports (Jamie and Steven prefer
the football players to the game itself), they are campy, admire muscular physiques,
and accept their own (homo)sexuality.
4
Moreover, these protagonists’ sissiness,
softness and apparent sexual passivity are not represented as debilitating or
undermining traits. None of them deny their departure from the straight adolescent
group. Even before they come out to their family and straight friends, they are aware
of their physical, social and cultural differences; they know that they are different than
their schoolmates. Their platonic female friends are easy for them to identify with
because they share a marginalized status: Jamie’s young neighbor is a sassy and
eccentric black fan of Mamma Cass, and Steven’s fag hag is his overweight neighbor.
Politically, they all suffer from discrimination and prejudice because of sexual,
physical or ethnic difference. Interestingly, Eric in Edge of Seventeen does have a
single, and miserable, sexual experience with his fag hag Maggie (who is in love with
him), but the morning after he feels like a pretender and Maggie feels abused.
In Une Robe d’Été, Frederic tells the young women he meets on the beach that this is
his first sexual encounter with a woman because he is gay, and that he is in a
relationship. The morning after, he goes to the harbor to return her summer dress. She
tells him that he can keep it and kisses him goodbye. This scene reinforces their
sexual encounter as only a spontaneous and enjoyable moment that will neither
heterosexualize nor (hetero)normalize him, nor damage his passionate devotion to his
boyfriend. According to Ozon’s queer politics, as manifested in this film, the queer
adolescent should not be limited by any hetero- or homo- sexual regime, but instead
free his mind and follow his own erotic curiosity. According to Michael Warner, to be
4
˜ See Gilad Padva (2000) for the analysis of queer politicization of camp subculture.


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