Saturday, 12 August 2000

From "Epistemology of the Console"

By Lynne Joyrich.

Consider, for instance, the use of queer men and lesbians on shows as different as Mad About You, My So-Called Life, Murder One, Party Girl, The Real World, Dawson’s Creek, All My Children, Party of Five, Spin City, and Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. Spin City’s Carter Heywood, a black gay man, was hired by the mayor to inform him on “minority issues,” but because of his own sensible perspective among a senseless crowd he’s inevitably ignored. Schoolteacher Michael Delany, All My Children’s only character in possession of a Ph.D, acts as the wise confidant for everyone else in the town of Pine Valley, but his own life is never narratively elaborated – not because it’s marked as exotically unknowable but precisely because it’s presented as already known. It’s as if we simply understand the smooth progression of his relationship with his lover, as opposed to the events in the lives of heterosexual characters that are deemed so surprising that they require detailed explication (again suggesting the complications provoked by any performance of desire).

In this way, these “knowing” gay characters of the 1990s are comparable to many African-American characters of the 1980s and still today; though they may have power within their narrative worlds, they lack power over them, the ability to command narrative attention. Indeed, one of Ellen’s producers observes that homosexuals “have become the new stock character, like the African-American pal at the workplace” [...]

No comments: