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Edge of Seventeen: Juvenile Agony and Youth Fantasies in New Queer Adolescence Films
Unformatted Document Text:  class” (Elsaesser 2002 [1972]. Pp. 64-5). Likewise, the division between alienated antagonists and miserable protagonists is intensified in the queer adolescence melodrama; the youthful protagonist in the coming-out scenes in particular always feels devastated, desperate and isolated – he feels that any attempt to refute his sexuality is an attempt to refute his whole personality and subjectivity at the critical stage of his coming of age. This political stance questions the bourgeois boundaries between private and public, sincerity and masquerade, sexual conduct and misconduct. The boy and his parents are represented as victims of an oppressive regime that excludes the queer – the politics of homophobia pointedly highlights the boy’s own agony although all the characters can be viewed as victims of prejudice and intolerance to different degrees: schoolmates, parents, and even the anguished central male character himself who often finds it difficult to accept his own “deviant” sexuality. Jamie’s coming out to his mother in Beautiful Thing, a film apparently inspired by British comedies and American romantic melodramas, takes place after his first sexual intercourse with Ste and certain symbolic acts of coming to terms with his sexuality, like buying an issue of Gay Times magazine and visiting a gay bar. The dramatic confrontation happens after Jamie’s mother discovers his schoolbooks defaced with homophobic graffiti, finds the copy of Gay Times beneath his mattress, and even follows the boys to a drag show in a gay bar. His mother, Sandra, accuses him of lying to her, and Jamie bursts into tears: “You think I’m too young, you think it’s just a phase, you’re afraid that I’ll catch AIDS”. Then his mother challenges her son’s epistemology (“You think that you know all about me, don’t you?”) and hugs him. Jamie had not realized that his mother does accept his homosexuality although it is extremely difficult for her, and that her love for him is clearly unconditional. Even more unexpected is his mother’s young boyfriend Tony’s positive reaction. When Jamie cries, “I’m a queer, bender, poofter” etc., Tony replies nonchalantly, “Ok, I get the picture. It’s cool. Good night, kiddo”. These dialogues written by Jonathan Harvey are full of love and compassion and also display quite a sense of humor because of their epistemological device: Jamie had not known that his mother knew that he was gay; did not know whether his mother would come to term with his sexual “transgression”; he certainly did not know that his mother had already began the difficult process of accepting her son’s gayness even before their dramatic confrontation; Jamie did not know that Tony was open-minded;

Authors: Padva, Gilad.
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class” (Elsaesser 2002 [1972]. Pp. 64-5). Likewise, the division between alienated
antagonists and miserable protagonists is intensified in the queer adolescence
melodrama; the youthful protagonist in the coming-out scenes in particular always
feels devastated, desperate and isolated – he feels that any attempt to refute his
sexuality is an attempt to refute his whole personality and subjectivity at the critical
stage of his coming of age. This political stance questions the bourgeois boundaries
between private and public, sincerity and masquerade, sexual conduct and
misconduct. The boy and his parents are represented as victims of an oppressive
regime that excludes the queer – the politics of homophobia pointedly highlights the
boy’s own agony although all the characters can be viewed as victims of prejudice
and intolerance to different degrees: schoolmates, parents, and even the anguished
central male character himself who often finds it difficult to accept his own “deviant”
sexuality.
Jamie’s coming out to his mother in Beautiful Thing, a film apparently inspired by
British comedies and American romantic melodramas, takes place after his first
sexual intercourse with Ste and certain symbolic acts of coming to terms with his
sexuality, like buying an issue of Gay Times magazine and visiting a gay bar. The
dramatic confrontation happens after Jamie’s mother discovers his schoolbooks
defaced with homophobic graffiti, finds the copy of Gay Times beneath his mattress,
and even follows the boys to a drag show in a gay bar.
His mother, Sandra, accuses him of lying to her, and Jamie bursts into tears: “You
think I’m too young, you think it’s just a phase, you’re afraid that I’ll catch AIDS”.
Then his mother challenges her son’s epistemology (“You think that you know all
about me, don’t you?”) and hugs him. Jamie had not realized that his mother does
accept his homosexuality although it is extremely difficult for her, and that her love
for him is clearly unconditional. Even more unexpected is his mother’s young
boyfriend Tony’s positive reaction. When Jamie cries, “I’m a queer, bender, poofter”
etc., Tony replies nonchalantly, “Ok, I get the picture. It’s cool. Good night, kiddo”.
These dialogues written by Jonathan Harvey are full of love and compassion and also
display quite a sense of humor because of their epistemological device: Jamie had not
known that his mother knew that he was gay; did not know whether his mother would
come to term with his sexual “transgression”; he certainly did not know that his
mother had already began the difficult process of accepting her son’s gayness even
before their dramatic confrontation; Jamie did not know that Tony was open-minded;


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