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Edge of Seventeen: Juvenile Agony and Youth Fantasies in New Queer Adolescence Films
Unformatted Document Text:  make-up just because he wants to be different. His mother replies “People think you’re gay,” and adds that she doesn’t want people to get the wrong idea. Interestingly, she does not question his homosexuality but his heterosexuality; his mother has internalized the idea that he is probably gay and she does not seems to be convinced when he tells her that he is not. On the one hand, Eric’s furious reaction to his mother’s hypothesis may reflect an internalized homophobia which is the conscious or subconscious adoption and acceptance of negative feelings and attitudes about homosexuals or homosexuality by gay men and lesbians. James T. Sears claims that the manifestation of these negative feelings is evidenced in fear of discovery, denial, or discomfort with being homosexual, low self-esteem, aggression against other lesbians and gay men as well as exaggerated gay pride or rejection of all heterosexuals (Sears 1997, pp. 15-16). On the other hand, both Eric and his mother are victims of a discriminating sexual regime. In this scene, they both know that he is gay and that he is afraid to confess it. His mother does consider her son’s possible homosexuality as a problem. She is not represented, however, as an evil person but as a loving and caring parent who is worried about her teenager’s emotional crisis. Politically, they are both subject to a hostile cultural sphere. The mother, like her son, are dominated and exploited by the same misconception. They are both trapped in it. Public Identification and Eroticized Martyrdom As Elsaessser points out, melodramas are capable of reproducing more directly than other genres the patterns of domination and exploitation existing in a given society, especially the relationship between psychology, morality and class-consciousness, by clearly emphasizing an emotional dynamic whose social correlative is a network of external forces directed oppressingly inward, and with which the characters themselves unwittingly collude to become their agents (Elsaesser 2002 [1972], 64). Eric and his mother are both victims of omnipotent hetero-normalizing forces (family, tradition, education and culture). Eric is pressured to confirm and to refute his erotic identity at the same time. This ambivalent demand is imposed upon him by the homophobic cultural system and its powerful mechanisms of surveillance and discipline. When he attempts to challenge his own queer identity and to conform to the privileged sexual majority, he actually becomes an agent of this dominance. His

Authors: Padva, Gilad.
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make-up just because he wants to be different. His mother replies “People think
you’re gay,” and adds that she doesn’t want people to get the wrong idea.
Interestingly, she does not question his homosexuality but his heterosexuality; his
mother has internalized the idea that he is probably gay and she does not seems to be
convinced when he tells her that he is not.
On the one hand, Eric’s furious reaction to his mother’s hypothesis may reflect an
internalized homophobia which is the conscious or subconscious adoption and
acceptance of negative feelings and attitudes about homosexuals or homosexuality by
gay men and lesbians. James T. Sears claims that the manifestation of these negative
feelings is evidenced in fear of discovery, denial, or discomfort with being
homosexual, low self-esteem, aggression against other lesbians and gay men as well
as exaggerated gay pride or rejection of all heterosexuals (Sears 1997, pp. 15-16). On
the other hand, both Eric and his mother are victims of a discriminating sexual regime.
In this scene, they both know that he is gay and that he is afraid to confess it. His
mother does consider her son’s possible homosexuality as a problem. She is not
represented, however, as an evil person but as a loving and caring parent who is
worried about her teenager’s emotional crisis. Politically, they are both subject to a
hostile cultural sphere. The mother, like her son, are dominated and exploited by the
same misconception. They are both trapped in it.
Public Identification and Eroticized Martyrdom
As Elsaessser points out, melodramas are capable of reproducing more directly than
other genres the patterns of domination and exploitation existing in a given society,
especially the relationship between psychology, morality and class-consciousness, by
clearly emphasizing an emotional dynamic whose social correlative is a network of
external forces directed oppressingly inward, and with which the characters
themselves unwittingly collude to become their agents (Elsaesser 2002 [1972], 64).
Eric and his mother are both victims of omnipotent hetero-normalizing forces (family,
tradition, education and culture). Eric is pressured to confirm and to refute his erotic
identity at the same time. This ambivalent demand is imposed upon him by the
homophobic cultural system and its powerful mechanisms of surveillance and
discipline. When he attempts to challenge his own queer identity and to conform to
the privileged sexual majority, he actually becomes an agent of this dominance. His


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