For/To what will you or must you re/act? Creating alternative media

Bell hooks writes in “The Oppositional Gaze” that the “cinematic context… constructs our presence as absence” and “denies the ‘body’ of the black female” (118).  Similarly to black women, there is a lack of representation in mainstream media of transgender people – particularly of transgender men, as Tsai’s article “Assimilating the Queers” points out, as well as of nonbinary-identified people. Bell hooks offers several possibilities for resisting mainstream media representations (or lack thereof), one of which is the creation of “alternative texts that are not solely reactions” (128). RoosterTails, I believe, is one such example of a constructive reaction to the lack of trans* representations in mainstream film. In “Comics: Why I Draw Them & Why They’re Important!” (http://www.roostertailscomic.com/?comic=why-comics http://www.roostertailscomic.com/?comic=why-comics-part-two) the creator, Sam, says that he writes comics to “tell the stories [he] want[s] to hear,” “stories that celebrate difference not shun it.” With RoosterTails, Sam has succeeded in “imagin[ing] new transgressive possibilities for the formulation of identity” (hooks 130), contradicting, for example, the mainstream trans* narrative of being “trapped in the wrong body” (http://www.roostertailscomic.com/?comic=trapped). It is interesting to ask why Sam has chosen comics. Is film an inherently more constrictive and less accessible medium? In the first part of “Comics: Why I Draw Them” Sam seems to say so. Yet Dykes to Watch Out For, which appears at least to me much more limiting and exemplary of the kind of shunning of difference that Sam attempts to resist, and unconventional films such as Against a Trans Narrative by Jules Rosskam and Christine in the Cutting Room by Susan Stryker seem to show that the creator’s vision, and perhaps identity, is more important in the opening or closing of possibilities for representations and the challenging of norms than the medium is. What do you think? Are some mediums more constricting of oppositionality than others?

Works Cited

Hooks, Bell. “The Oppositional Gaze.” Black Looks: Race and Representation. Boston, MA: South End, 1992. 115-31. Print.

Orchard, Sam. “Comics: Why I Draw Them & Why They’re Important!” Rooster Tails. N.p., 29 Sept. 2012. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.

Orchard, Sam. “Trapped.” Rooster Tails. N.p., 15 Oct. 2013. Web. 04 Nov. 2013.

Tsai, Wan-Hsiu Sunny. “Assimilating the Queers: Representations of Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexual, and Transgender People in Mainstream Advertising.” Advertising & Society Review 11.1 (2010): n. pag. Muse.jhu.edu. Web. 31 July 2012.

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