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Gay Fandom- PB [Paperback]

Michael Deangelis , Michael Deangelis , Deangelis

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Book Description

Aug. 15 2001
Why and how does the appeal of certain male Hollywood stars cross over from straight to gay audiences? Do stars lose their appeal to straight audiences when they cross over? In Gay Fandom and Crossover Stardom Michael DeAngelis responds to these questions with a provocative analysis of three famous "crossover" stars - James Dean, Mel Gibson, and Keanu Reeves - tracing, in the process, a fifty-year history of audience reception that moves gay male fandom far beyond the realm of "camp" to places where culturally unauthorised fantasies are nurtured, developed, and shared. DeAngelis examines a variety of cultural documents, including studio publicity and promotional campaigns, star biographies, scandal magazines, film reviews, and gay political and fan literature ranging from the closeted pages of One and Mattachine Review in the 1950s to the very "out" dish columns, listserv postings, and online star fantasy narratives of the past decade. At the heart of this close historical study is a treatment of particular film narratives, including East of Eden, Rebel Without a Cause, The Road Warrior, Lethal Weapon, My Own Private Idaho, and Speed. Using theories of fantasy and melodrama, Gay Fandom and Crossover Stardom demonstrates how studios, agents, and even stars themselves often actively facilitate an audience's strategic blurring of the already tenuous distinction between the heterosexual mainstream and the gay margins of American popular culture. In addition to fans of James Dean, Mel Gibson, and Keanu Reeves, those interested in film history, cultural studies, popular culture, queer theory, gender studies, sociology, psychoanalytic theory, melodrama, fantasy, and fandom will enjoy this book.

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From Publishers Weekly

"`Do I sound like a homosexual? Do I talk like them? Do I move like them?'" demanded Aussie actor Mel Gibson angrily after an interviewer noted that he had gay male fans. A gay magazine wrote in response, "Frankly, Mel, honey, you do!" Indeed, his character Mad Max would blend in with the leatherman contingent in San Francisco's Gay Pride March. In his first book, DeAngelis, assistant professor at DePaul University, explores how male film icons are both shaped by and help shape gay male styles and cultural representations. Closely examining the screen and public personas of James Dean, Mel Gibson and Keanu Reeves, DeAngelis charts a series of complicated interactions between the masculine affect of these actors, their (adoring or disillusioned) gay male audience and versions of masculinity that appear in gay culture. The author is best on James Dean's career, charting how the actor's emotional openness and vulnerability often made him "look" gay and how that image was exploited in his films (as in his highly erotic relationship with Sal Mineo in Rebel Without a Cause). Explicating the more complicated territory of Mel Gibson's image and career, DeAngelis doesn't sustain that clarity of argument, and his use of gay critic Daniel Harris's ahistorical work doesn't help. Fortunately, he regains footing discussing the pansexual, soft masculinity of Reeves (as well as Johnny Depp and Leonardo DiCaprio). (Aug.)Forecast: DeAngelis's analysis of cultural trends in both gay male and mainstream culture is often provocative, but his academic vocabulary and tone will limit readership to scholars in cultural, queer and sexuality studies.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

DeAngelis (Sch. for New Learning, DePaul Univ.) examines three prominent "crossovers" within the context of queer theory, gay male audience studies, and "star studies" to understand the appeal of some performers to both gay and straight audiences. Exploring spectator/character dynamics in cinema, particularly in melodrama, DeAngelis probes the connections between identification and desire. He shows how studio publicity, fan web sites, and "dish" columns reflect changing attitudes toward gay icons, from Dean's "in and out" sexuality to Gibson's heterosexuality to Reeves's "panaccessibility." Although DeAngelis focuses on these three stars, the wider implications of his arguments merit consideration in a larger context. DeAngelis's prose occasionally bogs down in academic jargon, but mostly his argument is clear and concise, leaving room for continuing debate on audience response, criticism, and popular films. Highly recommended for film studies on gay-audience response, along with Alex Doty's Flaming Classics (LJ 5/00) and Steven Cohan's Masked Men (Indiana Univ., 1997). Anthony J. Adam, Prairie View A&M Univ. Lib., TX
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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