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Edge of Seventeen: Juvenile Agony and Youth Fantasies in New Queer Adolescence Films
Unformatted Document Text:  agony afterwards is significant. His sense of insult may be not only because he is prejudiced but also because he feels that he is the last one to know. As in the other discussed films, here too the mother is agonized but supportive while the father is absent (Jamie lives with his mother) or disregarded (Eric’s father still does not know – at least not “officially” – about his son’s sexual identity). In comparison, Jane’s father and mother become aware that she is lesbian at the same time, but her father is more supportive than her mother. After her younger brother tells their parents that he had seen Jane kissing Taylor on her lips, and Jane’s parents receive an anonymous phone call regarding their daughter’s sexual “deviancy,” they talk to her, and she denies that she is lesbian. Agonized Jane is supported by her mother’s black gay friend, by her best straight male friend and, notably, by her closeted lesbian teacher. Later she bursts into tears and admits that she is lesbian. Her parents, and especially her mother who is first in complete denial, have a long way to go until they can accept her queer identity, and even join their daughter on the local gay pride march. Getting Real on the Edge of Seventeen Is a Beautiful Thing According to the deterministic approach of the discussed melodramas, the protagonist’s (homo)sexuality is not a matter of choice but his destiny and hence it cannot – and should not – be changed by his parents or by his bullying schoolmates or by himself, no matter how hard he or she tries to oppress and masquerade this same- sex desire. In his discussion of an adolescent’s first contact and sexual identity in “mainstream” films like In & Out, Rob Cover (2000) refers to two disturbing elements in those mainstream products: (1) the “thoroughly-preached insistence” that non-heterosexual characters have a responsibility to be “honest” about their sexuality in a highly public way, and (2) the rigid dichotomy between heterosexuality and homosexuality that is contrasted to any notion of real or latent bisexuality or, alternatively, of a sexual fluidity or a sexuality that might be understood along lines other than gender-object-choice (p. 77). The radical politics of coming-out and the overemphasized differentiation between hetero- and homo- sexualities also characterize Beautiful Thing, Get Real, Edge of Seventeen and The Truth About Jane. John’s sexual and romantic relationship with his girlfriend Christina in Get Real and Eric’s sexual and romantic relationship with his best friend Maggie are represented as

Authors: Padva, Gilad.
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agony afterwards is significant. His sense of insult may be not only because he is
prejudiced but also because he feels that he is the last one to know.
As in the other discussed films, here too the mother is agonized but supportive while
the father is absent (Jamie lives with his mother) or disregarded (Eric’s father still
does not know – at least not “officially” – about his son’s sexual identity). In
comparison, Jane’s father and mother become aware that she is lesbian at the same
time, but her father is more supportive than her mother. After her younger brother
tells their parents that he had seen Jane kissing Taylor on her lips, and Jane’s parents
receive an anonymous phone call regarding their daughter’s sexual “deviancy,” they
talk to her, and she denies that she is lesbian. Agonized Jane is supported by her
mother’s black gay friend, by her best straight male friend and, notably, by her
closeted lesbian teacher. Later she bursts into tears and admits that she is lesbian. Her
parents, and especially her mother who is first in complete denial, have a long way to
go until they can accept her queer identity, and even join their daughter on the local
gay pride march.
Getting Real on the Edge of Seventeen Is a Beautiful Thing
According to the deterministic approach of the discussed melodramas, the
protagonist’s (homo)sexuality is not a matter of choice but his destiny and hence it
cannot – and should not – be changed by his parents or by his bullying schoolmates or
by himself, no matter how hard he or she tries to oppress and masquerade this same-
sex desire. In his discussion of an adolescent’s first contact and sexual identity in
“mainstream” films like In & Out, Rob Cover (2000) refers to two disturbing
elements in those mainstream products: (1) the “thoroughly-preached insistence” that
non-heterosexual characters have a responsibility to be “honest” about their sexuality
in a highly public way, and (2) the rigid dichotomy between heterosexuality and
homosexuality that is contrasted to any notion of real or latent bisexuality or,
alternatively, of a sexual fluidity or a sexuality that might be understood along lines
other than gender-object-choice (p. 77). The radical politics of coming-out and the
overemphasized differentiation between hetero- and homo- sexualities also
characterize Beautiful Thing, Get Real, Edge of Seventeen and The Truth About Jane.
John’s sexual and romantic relationship with his girlfriend Christina in Get Real and
Eric’s sexual and romantic relationship with his best friend Maggie are represented as


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