Wednesday, July 25, 2012

POPULAR CULTURE AND HOMOSEXUALITY

It is indeed ironical that when it functioned as a repressed prohibition, unacknowledged and inadmissible, homosexuality was simultaneously consecrated and desecrated. Downright denunciation and candid celebration are never polar opposites. They are mirror images which inversely reduplicate. And an incontrovertible symbiosis binds the two so that the self identity of a given contingent phenomenon cannot exist without being in relation to the other. And even if it is a singular being that bifurcates it problematizes notions of singularity. And it is this homology between variegated sexual permutations, along a lateral continuum that makes of homosexuality and heterosexuality an interface where while one tries to assert its ascendancy the other interrogates its universalizing claims.

While the proliferation of homosexuality in popular culture is indeed worthwhile its monolithic representation, barring exceptions is still problematic. Stereotypes are indissolubly engraven in collective consciousness and to imagine a perspective untainted by its ideological constituents is a form of lacanian 'meconnaissance'. Yet as foucault would posit the representation is not uncritically, unquestioningly absorbed but subjected to a dialectical exegesis. It is an irrefutable reality that the currents of acceptance/denial are located not in cognitive exercise of free will only but in a presupposed, predetermined constitutive ideological backdrop.So notions of homosexuality aren't really individual acts of self understanding but culturally constituted ideologies. Yet with changing mores and kinetic progression, stale, threadbare ideas become redundant and new ones replace them.Yet at a macrocosmic level, the underlying dominant ideology works subterraneously, taking newer forms, finding new ways of arresting burgeoning consciousnesses.

Within popular culture a derisive ,plebian contempt for art cinema is palpable. If art deplores the mind numbing mediocrity and monotony of popular culture, popular culture revels in its quotidian banality. A simon cowell and David williams playacting as gays invokes laughter, John And Abhishek and their inveterate grotesqueries as gays incites mirth. Brokeback Mountain affirms the validity yet underscores the frangibility of gay sexuality by emphasizing its otherness. 'Fire' conceives of a radical break from dogma and oppressive convention to validate self realization through the metonymic appropriation of lesbianism. The examples are numerous and a breach between commercial, marketable cinema and sensitive portraiture remains unassimilable.

While a farcical representation of gays is indisputable a certain representation still exists whose validity must be acknowledged. Years of submergence, erasure, oblivion have now been rent as homosexuality asa discursive phenomenon is becoming culturally, politically visible. And a coke drinking, popcorn munching movie goer is looking for his copeck worth of entertainment. By radically suspending disbelief, a disbelief which is actually a belief, the alternate world of cinema beckons not with intimations of a parallel world but a reconstitution of aphoristic universal ideologized notions whose cinematic affirmation ratifies the ubiquity of subjective, constructed ideas. Popular culture both reflects and produces the reality it represents and its forms of expression are both a blueprint of heterosexual (largely) unconscious and productive market exigencies. If a gay man is to be ridiculed and impugned, albeit humorously to set the cash registers tingling then perhaps the oleaginous, saccharine, platitudinous sugercoating is essential. And perhaps to be unheard of, unseen, unacknowledged is a worse fate than being at least given a space to exist, however parodic its manifestations are.

Girlishness , femininity, womanly accoutrements are an inveterate repertoire of the cinematic gay. It is, as though his exaggerated femininity defuses the  incendiarism of his sexuality,  as if the fact of his femininity explains why he likes men and a macho man would not countenance the injury to his sexuality this would make manifest. The sugar dandies 'the gay dancing couple in Britain's got talent are accepted but on cultural terms are figures of burlesque, as being ridiculously funny. Contrast this with the hyper masculine porn actors, their bulging cocks, hairy chests, muscular torsos and frenetic fucking. Both mythifications coexist yet their inhabited domains are different. Cinema is a private indulgence with public sanction and pornography is a private fetishistic mnemonic of timeless sexuality.

So a simpering, hip swaying abhishek Bachchan is a firm counterpart to a sensitive Purab Kohli, Urban rahul bose is counterposed to a caricatured shahrukh. As more artists seek to divest condemnatory appendanges affixed to gays, popular culture reciprocates with unrelenting stereotyping. But media, press, legality give homosexuality a space for expression and the continuing debates reflect a healthy dialogic possibility though imbued with power apparatuses.Homosexual discourses mime and subvert heterosexist paradigms and these embellished representations have to be seen as disruptive too but the comfort level of the interlocutor with the form is invariably reconfirmed. Popular culture and public morality work in tandem and both are mirror images. Mythologizing works hierarchically and with the diminution (not obliteration ) of one another surfaces. Yet representation is a visible contemporary phenomenon and within its conformist norms ideograms of iconoclasm are embedded.

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