When Brian and I started this podcast over a year ago, we set out with a few simple aims of what we knew it could be. We've all had the experience of someone telling you about a film they saw, or a book they read, handing it to you or buying you a ticket and saying: You need to see this. Almost everything good that I've been exposed to hasn't been because a major advertising campaign compelled me but because it came with a personal recommendation, an experience. We decided to turn our collective viewing into our podcast, and recorded those (at times conflicting) conversations into something we could share with others.
As for the content of each episode – actresses – this was much easier. We were so tired of the dominant cinema celebrating men constantly, how men were touted as big box office draws, and how films about men were being peddled to men (or more accurately, to teenage boys – but that's another blog post). We always found actress-driven films to be so much more compelling, to be emotionally richer, and to be stories we wanted to know about. The real reason is twofold. Full disclosure: I am not and never have been a woman, but at the same time, the men I saw on my screens were people I could never aspire to be, and why would I want to!? Gay male spectatorship has always been a funny topic. We are at the same time celebratory of women, while simultaneously finding ourselves complicit in a patriarchy we didn't wittingly realise – men may put women at the centre but make them gorgeous, ugly, strident, weak, glamorous, dowdy, victims, heroines, etc. Camille Paglia has described gay men as the greatest misogynists, but as Paglia attests, misogyny is not solely the crime of men.
We view the women in our podcasts in ways that the straight men who made these films never did, thus skewering the male gaze ever so slightly but significantly. When I was much younger, I would watch romantic films and always place myself in the position of the woman getting kissed. I have rarely identified with men in pictures. And although we are now living in a time with greater gender identity and expression, I am permanently a cisgendered male, a gay one, albeit one who is self aware of the rules of the game, who can comfortably blur them, ignore them but sometimes play the part with gusto.
We view the women in our podcasts as people we identify with. If you believe that masculinity is the most studied and ordered performance of gender, then at its core, feminine expression (whatever that means really) is true, natural, unhindered, messy. The characters we spoke of - from Eva Peron, to Dolores Claiborne, Catherine Tramell and Susan Stanton exist within a male realm. The actions of each are the consequence of existing under patriarchy. The gay male experience is split. We are enforcers of the patriarchy, but historically punished for violating its terms. The women in the podcasts, both the actress and the characters are aspirational in ways the gay male experience can relate to. Their roles fluctuate between active and passive, swimming against the tide or being carried by the current. The queer male spectator has often dived into these cool waters.
But sometimes it is good to cast the gaze inward, to reflect, to ogle some guys, basically. We are happy to announce our miniseries Broad Appeal: The Male Gayz, a seven episode palette cleanser between series one and two. We are viewing films which are largely by straight men with masculinity at the centre, but heavily feature queer themes, characters and sensibilities. Some of these films are explicitly queer in subject, while others deal more with heterosexual displacement or crisis. The films range from the 1940s to the mid 2000s, each depiction of maleness and masculinity uniquely its own.
We're very excited to cast our eye in another direction for this miniseries, and can't wait to share it with you.
by Seán McGovern
The series includes:
Red River (Howard Hawks, 1948)
Written on the Wind (Douglas Sirk, 1956)
Dog Day Afternoon ( Sidney Lumet, 1975)
The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Jim Sharman, 1975)
Cruising (William Friedkin, 1980)
Ed Wood (Tim Burton, 1994)
Breakfast on Pluto (Neil Jordan, 2005)
BROAD APPEAL: THE MALE GAYZ
coming to a podcast near you this AUTUMN.