Take 2, take 1 having been wiped by the Android app crashing...
Great article, written from a queer (American) perspective, challenging the cosy consensus that we've moved on from homophobia being culturally acceptable. The writer uses a term new to me (a neologism!), straight-washing (x-washing is an established concept though, green-washing, falsely adopting an environment-friendly image, being an example I'm more familiar with).
The Sam Smith example made me think back to the depths of BI time (Before Internet!), growing up in the 80s/90s. The first lesbian kiss in UK drama (the primetime soap Brookside) was a huge news story (Eastenders finally managed this in 2013), while Queer as Folk was shock and awe television - both, not coincidentally, Channel 4 shows. Boy George became a camp national treasure ... but only after declaring he'd rather have a cup of tea than coitus [link is to a page from Simon Napier-Bell's pop history bio] (my first ever Big Bang Theory intertextual reference there...).
|The Brookside kiss was headline news|
Bronski Beat and the Communards had huge hits fuelled by Jimmy Somerville's extraordinary vocals, but did so with the bands' sexuality set aside in the glossy videos.
This playlist starts with The Communards' Don't Leave Me This Way, and continues with Bronski Beat's Smalltown Boy...
Annie Lennox caused much red ink to be spilt in the British tabloids by refusing to (applying Judith Butler's concept*) perform her gender like a good little girl, her shaven head, boxing gloves, trouser suits and all appalling the moral guardians in the press. [* gender as performativity; something that doesn't exist in nature but we learn to perform]
Sweet Dreams was one of many huge hits, but vocalist Lennox's counter-hegemonic behaviour, her utter refusal to play the expected (of female artists - and has this changed 30 years later?) glamour game, led to some intense tabloid flak (yes, Chomsky alert!).
Despite Madonna's Justify My Love coming along just a few years later and seemingly breaking every sexual taboo going, the bottom line is that it, like the original video for Frankie Goes to Hollywood's Relax (set in a gay club), was (and remains) banned.
The acceptable face of Frankie's Relax on ToTP:
Is the Hayley Kiyoko video Joseph Firago discusses in his article evidence of advancement? As Firago argues: yes and no - see his analysis on this.
From the colour tone to the specific intro/outro shots of the female protagonist on her bike, I can't help but perceive a curious intertextual relationship with the video for the Pixies' comeback single, BagBoy, which I've blogged on in depth...
If nothing else, though, this article manages to make the otherwise ultra-bland Sam Smith somewhat interesting!