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Friday, February 12, 2016

MALE GAZE left behind in Deadpool?

A lengthy discussion here on the extent to which the 'pansexual' Deadpool character is or is not counter-hegemonic (underming hetero-normativity), given that the only relationship or physical intimacy (other than with a unicorn in the end titles) is with his girlfriend ... but also a very direct discussion of the male gaze, and how it might be subverted here.

Note how the writer homes in very specific moments; this is just what you need to do too when writing an analysis of cinema - in the micro elements we find evidence to discuss the macro environment in which these are created and consumed:
The film’s reluctance to make good on its hero’s pansexuality should not overshadow the little moments of daring, the subtle advancements, that have survived to the screen. In a medium characterised by the male gaze, it is implicitly radical to include a lingering closeup of a man’s pert behind, especially when that shot isn’t giving straight male viewers the get-out clause of replicating a woman’s point-of-view: everyone, male or female, is simply being invited to enjoy the image on its own merits.

A similar subversion of male identification occurs later in the film, during one of Deadpool’s fourth-wall-breaking bits of narration, when he addresses those audience members who have been dragged to see this superhero movie by their boyfriends. Once again, the assumption that an audience is male and heterosexual is challenged and overturned. (Compare a recent film such as The Big Short, where semi-naked women are used to make complicated subjects accessible to an audience who the director has assumed is largely male and straight.) When Deadpool speaks over the heads of men in the audience, it’s almost as delicious as that moment in The Opposite of Sex when Christina Ricci warns female viewers that if their boyfriends are squirming over the gay scenes in the movie, they may be protesting too much.
While it’s a pity that Deadpool, both character and film, don’t venture beyond heterosexual sex, it still has the makings of an intriguing piece of queer superhero cinema, a genre so small that its exponents don’t even make it into double figures. The X-Men movies (with which the action of Deadpool overlaps briefly) expertly deploy the idea of the mutant as a metaphor for difference and queerness. In X-Men 2, there is even a version of the traditional coming-out scene, only in this case the character, Bobby (Shawn Ashmore), is confessing to being a mutant. “We still love you,” his mother says, then asks: “Have you tried not being a mutant?”
But you would have to go all the way back to Tank Girl, the 1995 movie of Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin’s comic book series, to find a genuine precursor to Deadpool’s pansexuality.

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