Cinema as Queer World-Making

Tropical Malady
Tropical Malady (2006) by Apichatpong Weerasethakul blurs the line between the human and the nonhuman

Rosalind Galt and Karl Schoonover, Queer Cinema in the World (Duke University Press, 2016), 408 pp.

In the introduction to Queer Cinema in the World, Rosalind Galt and Karl Schoonover pose a deceptively simple question: “Why do queers still go to the movies?” Some, like the protagonist of Taiwanese director Tsai Ming-liang’s Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003), haunt the old cinemas of their youth out of a curious combination of nostalgia and cruising. But as Galt and Schoonover, quoting film scholar Ramon Labato, acknowledge, “formal theatrical exhibition is no longer the epicenter of cinema culture” (16-17). (Tsai’s characters too seem to recognize that the cinema has become a ghostly shell of its former self.) Queers today increasingly view films online or in less conventional cinematic spaces. It is tempting to add “like everyone else,” only I suspect, if anything, this is even more true for queers given how often we find ourselves surrounded in public life and art by a conspicuous absence—our own.

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