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Edge of Seventeen: Juvenile Agony and Youth Fantasies in New Queer Adolescence Films
Unformatted Document Text:  and within their own constitutive transgressions and betrayals of that order (Jackson, 1995, p. 17). Tim Edwards (1994) notes that there is a qualitative difference in the viewer-viewee relationship when the persons concerned are of the same gender. However, as Edwards points out, there is still a strong tendency to eroticize inequality within same gender parameters, to hierarchicalize competing masculinities. Following on from this, there is an implicit implication of power over femininity that makes gay male pornography more similar to straight male pornography in gender terms than it might at first seem (p. 88). Further, Edwards argues that this eroticization of inequality or dominance is achieved through the use of physical force and coercion. Edwards also contends, however, that this pornographic domination is partly undermined through the other partner’s overriding provocation and consent. Although the same-sex erotic spectacle in Edge of Seventeen is clearly not pornographic (there are no close-ups of male genitals or even remote shots of frontal nudity), it still echoes some of these mechanisms of eroticized inequality: emphasizing the tension between initiator and initiated, the adolescent and adult, boy and man. The division between dominant and subordinate is never subverted in this film as Rod is always the active and Eric the passive one. The film also demonstrates a significant differentiation between different masculinities. In mass culture, masculinity is usually defined by what it is not, namely “feminine,” and all its associated traits – hard not soft, strong not weak, reserved not emotional, active not passive (Brown 1999, pp. 26-7). Edge of Seventeen thus reproduces and reconfirms conventional homosexualities: the macho and the queen, the masculine male body and the feminine male body, which never exchange sexual roles. Furthermore, unlike the masculine characters of Ste in Beautiful Thing and John in Get Real, Rod never shows any weakness. He never cries and he is never confused or agonizes about his (homo)sexuality. Guy Hocquenghem notes that “Only the phallus dispenses identity; any social use of the anus, apart from its sublimated use, creates the risk of a loss of identity” (1978, p. 87). Correspondingly, Rod’s queer identity is solid and explicit, and his whole body symbolizes the phallus: it is always hard, stiffened, sexually aroused, invasive and ready to penetrate his young, inexperienced partner. In contrast, Eric still has to come to terms with his own homosexuality. He is represented as an immature, almost hairless, and therefore receptive, amenable, permeable and porous body, which is however, unnecessarily powerless. As Bordo points out, it is a macho bias to view the

Authors: Padva, Gilad.
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and within their own constitutive transgressions and betrayals of that order (Jackson,
1995, p. 17). Tim Edwards (1994) notes that there is a qualitative difference in the
viewer-viewee relationship when the persons concerned are of the same gender.
However, as Edwards points out, there is still a strong tendency to eroticize inequality
within same gender parameters, to hierarchicalize competing masculinities. Following
on from this, there is an implicit implication of power over femininity that makes gay
male pornography more similar to straight male pornography in gender terms than it
might at first seem (p. 88). Further, Edwards argues that this eroticization of
inequality or dominance is achieved through the use of physical force and coercion.
Edwards also contends, however, that this pornographic domination is partly
undermined through the other partner’s overriding provocation and consent. Although
the same-sex erotic spectacle in Edge of Seventeen is clearly not pornographic (there
are no close-ups of male genitals or even remote shots of frontal nudity), it still echoes
some of these mechanisms of eroticized inequality: emphasizing the tension between
initiator and initiated, the adolescent and adult, boy and man. The division between
dominant and subordinate is never subverted in this film as Rod is always the active
and Eric the passive one. The film also demonstrates a significant differentiation
between different masculinities. In mass culture, masculinity is usually defined by
what it is not, namely “feminine,” and all its associated traits – hard not soft, strong
not weak, reserved not emotional, active not passive (Brown 1999, pp. 26-7). Edge of
Seventeen thus reproduces and reconfirms conventional homosexualities: the macho
and the queen, the masculine male body and the feminine male body, which never
exchange sexual roles.
Furthermore, unlike the masculine characters of Ste in Beautiful Thing and John in
Get Real, Rod never shows any weakness. He never cries and he is never confused or
agonizes about his (homo)sexuality. Guy Hocquenghem notes that “Only the phallus
dispenses identity; any social use of the anus, apart from its sublimated use, creates
the risk of a loss of identity” (1978, p. 87).
Correspondingly, Rod’s queer identity is solid and explicit, and his whole body
symbolizes the phallus: it is always hard, stiffened, sexually aroused, invasive and
ready to penetrate his young, inexperienced partner. In contrast, Eric still has to come
to terms with his own homosexuality. He is represented as an immature, almost
hairless, and therefore receptive, amenable, permeable and porous body, which is
however, unnecessarily powerless. As Bordo points out, it is a macho bias to view the


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