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Edge of Seventeen: Juvenile Agony and Youth Fantasies in New Queer Adolescence Films
Unformatted Document Text:  fully normal is, strictly speaking, impossible. Everyone deviates from the norm in some way. And the idea of normal is especially strange in the realm of sex. “Sex can never be normal. It is disruptive and aberrant in its rhythms, in its somatic states, and in its psychic and cultural meaning” (Warner, 1999, p. 55). Correspondingly, Frederic’s naked body and pleasurable experiences are fully exposed in Une Robe d’Été in order to signify that there are no forbidden fruits and every delight is possible in this summer paradise: Frederic can love his boyfriend and still be attracted to a woman; the woman can find his homosexuality quite sensual; Frederic can wear her summer dress after they have had sexual intercourse; his boyfriend can be titillated by this dress and make love to him; Frederic can keep the dress and kiss the woman goodbye. Sweet dreams can come true. Melodramatic Coming Out and Queer Epistemology Unlike the celebrated and impassioned queer bodies in the romantic comedy Une Robe d’Été, the queer body in Beautiful Thing, Get Real and Edge of Seventeen is an agonized body. It is a body that suffers great pain because it commits social transgression. It is a body that visualizes erotic misconduct and sexual disruption, juvenile nonconformity and libidinal delinquency in the patriarchal and hetero-sexist eye of the beholder. Therefore, this body is persecuted, tormented, abused, and bullied. The anguished adolescent in these films follows the type of the Sad Young Man, which constituted one of the predominant gay types in 20 th -century hegemonic culture. According to Richard Dyer, the sad young man is neither androgynously in- between genders nor playing with the signs of gender. His relationship to masculinity is more difficult, and thus sad. He is a young man, hence not yet really a real man. Moreover, he is soft; he has not yet achieved assertive masculine hardness. He is also physically less than a man and is represented as a martyr figure (Dyer 1993, p. 42). The protagonist’s hardship is visualized empathetically and compassionately in the discussed films, as they primarily intend to encourage and fortify the oppressed queer adolescents in the audience – the young martyr who experiences his via dolorosa in his school, family, and neighborhood. This cinematic queer body is simultaneously sensational, emotional, outrageous and courageous; it is melodramatized. The genre of melodrama attempts to generate unjustifiably tragic feelings in the reader’s or viewer’s mind. Its characters are one-dimensional and are directed by one

Authors: Padva, Gilad.
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fully normal is, strictly speaking, impossible. Everyone deviates from the norm in
some way. And the idea of normal is especially strange in the realm of sex. “Sex can
never be normal. It is disruptive and aberrant in its rhythms, in its somatic states, and
in its psychic and cultural meaning” (Warner, 1999, p. 55). Correspondingly,
Frederic’s naked body and pleasurable experiences are fully exposed in Une Robe
d’Été in order to signify that there are no forbidden fruits and every delight is possible
in this summer paradise: Frederic can love his boyfriend and still be attracted to a
woman; the woman can find his homosexuality quite sensual; Frederic can wear her
summer dress after they have had sexual intercourse; his boyfriend can be titillated by
this dress and make love to him; Frederic can keep the dress and kiss the woman
goodbye. Sweet dreams can come true.
Melodramatic Coming Out and Queer Epistemology
Unlike the celebrated and impassioned queer bodies in the romantic comedy Une
Robe d’Été, the queer body in Beautiful Thing, Get Real and Edge of Seventeen is an
agonized body. It is a body that suffers great pain because it commits social
transgression. It is a body that visualizes erotic misconduct and sexual disruption,
juvenile nonconformity and libidinal delinquency in the patriarchal and hetero-sexist
eye of the beholder. Therefore, this body is persecuted, tormented, abused, and
bullied. The anguished adolescent in these films follows the type of the Sad Young
Man, which constituted one of the predominant gay types in 20
th
-century hegemonic
culture. According to Richard Dyer, the sad young man is neither androgynously in-
between genders nor playing with the signs of gender. His relationship to masculinity
is more difficult, and thus sad. He is a young man, hence not yet really a real man.
Moreover, he is soft; he has not yet achieved assertive masculine hardness. He is also
physically less than a man and is represented as a martyr figure (Dyer 1993, p. 42).
The protagonist’s hardship is visualized empathetically and compassionately in the
discussed films, as they primarily intend to encourage and fortify the oppressed queer
adolescents in the audience – the young martyr who experiences his via dolorosa in
his school, family, and neighborhood. This cinematic queer body is simultaneously
sensational, emotional, outrageous and courageous; it is melodramatized.
The genre of melodrama attempts to generate unjustifiably tragic feelings in the
reader’s or viewer’s mind. Its characters are one-dimensional and are directed by one


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