A Critical Analysis of the Film “You’re Killing Me”

youre killing me picJillian Rashotte

GNDS 125

Habibe Burcu Baba









The Film You’re Killing Me is a black comedy that effectively uses satire to poke fun at popular culture in terms of its obsession with social media, its desensitization to violence, and the portrayal of relationships in the media. The film centers around George, a flamboyantly gay social media junkie, who makes his livelihood producing YouTube videos with his best friend Barnes. George and his circle of friends are never found without a cell phone in hand and a twitter comment to discuss. Their obsession with social media can only be rivalled by their obsessions with themselves. The narcissism in each of the characters is apparent and a frequent occurrence in the dialogue is for one character to say something only to be ignored by the rest who go on to make their own announcements.

Early in the film George meets Joe; a tall, dark and handsome stranger who also happens to be a serial killer. Perhaps a more appropriate term would be an erotophonophile, as for Joe murder is on par with sexual pleasure. Arguably, murder is like an orgasm for Joe and his gory murder scenes are often depicted with cheerful music and inappropriately artful spatterings of blood. While reserved, monotone Joe is completely overt about his penchant for murder, George occupies such a state of self-involved delusion that he fails to acknowledge that his new boyfriend is a psychopath. It is only when a series of George’s friends go missing that he and Barnes piece together Joe’s activities. The film culminates in a jump forward to the future where Joe is in prison after being arrested for murder. Joe and George continue to date via Skype, Barnes and friends continue to obsess over themselves and ultimately the film comes to a close in which no one learns anything. This is likely another dig at popular culture’s seeming inability to disengage from the activities it so ardently scorns. The nature of the relationship between Joe and George is also a satirical outlook on the idea that ‘love endures’ and the obsession that media has with dating, hooking up and fast forward relationships.

As the film is portrayed through a satirical scope, it is difficult to determine if the lack of intersectionalism is a premeditated decision meant to reflect the narrow profile of media in popular culture, or just exclusion on the part of the director. For example, all of the characters in the film are white, middle class, generation X individuals who exhibit an obsession with social media. The topics of race, class, age, nationality and able bodiedness are not touched upon in terms of plot lines and are certainly not discussed among the vapid protagonists. However, the show does address a range of sexual orientations as the plot focuses around a gay couple and their mixed heterosexual and homosexual friend group. It should be noted that transgender people and lesbian couples are not included in the film. Despite the anti-media stance that the film takes, it actually incorporates several elements that arguably make it a product of popular media culture. For example, the binary between George and Joe in terms of their personality and relationship roles can be described in terms of new homonormativity. According to Duggan, “new homonormativity” refers to a new form of normalization of gay and lesbian relationships that upholds and sustains heteronormative assumptions (50). This is evident with George taking on the vain, social and ‘feminine’ role and Joe taking on the strong, silent ‘masculine’ role.

Another area where the film reflects popular media influence, whether intentionally or not is in the presentation of George as a vapid narcissist. Arguably, George occupies a New Man model of masculinity as he does not fit the strict hegemonic profile of Old Man masculinity due to his homosexuality. Nor does he fit a New Lad profile because of his stringent body care and attention to appearance. However, in portraying George as being vain and self centered, the film adheres to popular culture criticisms of the new man as being narcissistic, effeminate, fake and unauthentic (Edwards 2003; Gill 2003 qtd in text pg. 117). If the above postulates of homonormativity and portrayal of New Man masculinity were purposively applied by the director, it would serve as further satire against popular culture. However, if these portrayals were not intended, then it could be argued that the film excludes intersectional profiles of homosexual people; such as those who adhere to different discourses of masculinity or those who do not occupy homonormative gender roles in relationships.

The film is interesting in that while it may not have an intersectional approach in terms of the characters that it includes; there is arguably an intersectional approach in terms of its targets of media satire. As an example, it is obvious that the film uses stereotypes to portray contemporary culture’s obsession with social media. What is interesting is that new media itself actually perpetuates stereotypes. As noted by Anneke and Meyer, “[in new media] people reach for easy, quick solutions that can be textually communicated: stereotypes…Rather than cyberspace offering a world where gender no longer matters, gender is reinscribed in even more narrow, conventional ways” (174). In the film, George is not just a homosexual YouTube blogger but a flamboyant YouTube ‘personality’; a stereotype of what it means to be a gay man who uses social media. Therefore, not only is the film critiquing the stereotypical representation of homosexuals but it is critiquing how platforms such as new media serve to perpetuate these stereotypes.

The film You’re Killing Me satirically presents a stereotyped view of current culture as seen through popular media. This is best portrayed through the obsession with social media demonstrated by the characters, the desensitization to violence through Joe’s campy murder scenes and the portrayal of media relationships through George’s enduring love with his serial killer boyfriend. The lack of diversity and intersectionalism in the film can likely be attributed to satire of the narrow, stereotyped character profiles seen in the media. Despite the dark subject matter of the film, it was both humorous and insightful.


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Meyer, Anneke, and Katie Milestone. Gender and Popular Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012. Print. Chapter 5, pg 117.

Meyer, Anneke, and Katie Milestone. Gender and Popular Culture. Cambridge: Polity Press, 2012. Print.Chapter 6, pg 174.

Duggan, L. The twilight of equality? Neoliberalism, culture politics, and the attack on democracy. Boston: Beacon Press, 2003. Pg 50. Retrieved from GNDS 125 Course pack week 7: The New Gay Domesticity: Homonormativity in ABC’s Brothers and Sisters, pg. 220.


A Critical Analysis of the Film “Fire Song and Songs My Brother Taught Me”

GNDS 125

Gender, Race and Popular Culture

Blogpost II

Written by: Kinzy Omar

Andrew Martin (L) Harley Legarde (R)

A Critical Analysis of the Film “Fire Song and Songs My Brother Taught Me”


With the weight of his home problems shifted onto his own shoulders viewers pry into the life of an Anishinaabe man and how he fails, succeeds, and grows in the film Fire Song and Songs My Brother Taught Me. Our protagonist Shane is two-spirited and has grown up in the reserve which serves as the setting of the film. Shane is in a relationship with another man who is the reserves medicine man, someone who carries traditions in the reserve throughout their life. In order to hide his sexuality Shane is publicly in a relationship with a woman who he cares about dearly. The remaining two people in his friend group are composed of another couple who they are shown in the film casually drinking with late into the night however tend to remain having surface level conversations. The film begins with a tragedy within Shane’s family leading his mother into depression. As the film progresses we learn of Shane’s aspiration to attend university in Toronto and bring his boyfriend with him. Fire Song is a one of a kind film in that the cast and crew are composed First Nations people producing an art piece portraying the raw aspects of living on a reserve and what it means to be First Nations in modern time. The drama incorporates issues such as alcoholism, depression, rape, suicide, class, gender identity and what it means to be two-spirited. From a feminist approach the film successfully presents realistic and raw representations of characters who deal with these overlapping issues. The protagonist himself is an ideal representation of the overlapping oppressions of class, race/ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Shane is two-spirited which can be understood as an umbrella term for what popular culture has coined the acronym LGBTQ for. In the film he makes tremendous efforts to hide his orientation which applies stress to him and his relationship with his significant other. It is made apparent in the community of the reserve to be out of the heteronormative ideals is incorrect. There are scenes in which Shane’s boyfriend has garbage thrown at him in accompany with slurs such as “faggot.”  We see essences of essentialism in the film as Shane chooses to have a girlfriend to instill his status of heterosexuality in his community. This highlights the dangers of the ideas of masculinity and femininity as Shane must go to the extent of dating a woman to prove masculinity and with that heterosexuality. Kimberlé Crenshaw poses questions about gender identity in her work Mapping the Margins. “What does it mean to argue that gender identities have been obscured in antiracist discourses, just as race identities have been obscured in feminist discourses? Does that mean we cannot talk about identity? Or instead, that any discourse about identity has to acknowledge how our identities are constructed through the intersection of multiple dimensions?” Though she ties back into her theme of black feminism she introduces the idea of the relationship between gender identities and other dimensions of our character. Queer theory in itself is as fluid as it hopes for society to view gender. Queer theorists are constantly testing the interrelationships of sexual orientation, identity and sex; not only this, they encourage others to critique the binary opposition we have internalized due to years of hegemony. The idea of gender identity having to be “proven” or fit with other characteristics of a person is exactly what queer theorists oppose and what the masses subconsciously do when sizing someone up. Following the tragedy of his sister committing suicide we learn of Shane’s future plans to study in Toronto and the road blocks preventing him, the most prevalent one being financial problems. With the loss of his sister, Shane’s family now composes of him and his mother, Jackie. Jackie falls into a depression and isn’t well enough to go to work leading Shane to look for work in order to pay bills, buy food and raise money for his tuition. The film shows that many people living in reserves are of low income houses. With this pressure of drawing in income fast Shane turns to drug dealing as it is the only option in the situation he is put in. We see the limits and struggles put on Shane as someone from a low income family and how it is an oppression such as him being two-spirited and as an Anishinaabe man. When speaking of intersectionality, the majority will categorize class as well as it’s counterparts’ sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, gender identity and so on. The problem is risen when people speak as though class isn’t an oppression in the same respect as it’s counterparts because it is not an identity nor a socially constructed ideal.  There is an underlying exclusion when speaking about oppressions and privileges that is addressed in the film Fire Song. We see Shane’s struggles as two-spirited and his struggles as someone who is from a lower class family and they are presented as serious oppressions and of equal importance to the film and Shane’s character. Though the film did a seamless job of portraying the reality of Shane being discriminated against due to his orientation and class there was a lack of presenting how these oppressions overlapped. With respect to him being of a lower class family we see the intersection of this oppression with his race/ethnicity which will be further discussed in the proceeding paragraph. As previously mentioned Fire Song was composed of a cast and crew strictly of First Nations descent. This film brings into our stream of media a piece that truly captures what it means to be First Nations. In popular culture mainstream films and as far as music festivals such as Coachella have incorporated the misrepresentation and cultural appropriation of First Nations people. Painted with the torn brush of racism we’ve seen First Nations people as savages, brute, uncivilized and so forth. The cultural appropriation of First Nations is seen in the holiday of Halloween with costumes of “Indian Princess.” This issue of the cultural appropriation of First Nations people was discussed in the assigned reading from the website www.mediaindegina.com. “It is no coincidence that when I go to indie music festivals, I see a whole lot of Cowichan sweaters and not a lot of Cowichan people.” The journalist is keen on stressing that this is not in any way cultural appreciation; the ethnic group who created the culture are not even present at these events. Fire Song gives depth to the characters and shows the struggles First Nations people face and the issues they are challenged with in reserves such as suicide and alcoholism. There are no statistics or numbers, the film shows real people and the reality of what it means to live oppressed specifically as a First Nations person; and in Shane’s case how this clashes with his sexual identity. In the course pack an article entitled Arguing Over Images: Native American Mascots and Race we see how stereotypes of Native Americans have fabricated the masses views on this ethnic group. “In this light, the ongoing controversy over mascots is as much about conflicting interpretations of race as it is a series of arguments over the appropriateness of Native American images in popular culture.” Mascots and tribal headwear are just a couple of the many ways popular culture has stripped the First Nations people of character to simply stereotypes. Overall the film Fire Song breaks several barriers in it’s existence. Fire Song carries with it cultural traditions whilst sharing the stories of aboriginal youth. The film Fire Song has found it’s place in Canadian cinema and is making waves at several film festivals across the country.

Word Count: 1277

Work Cited:

Gercken, Becca. “Marketing Authenticity: “Real Indians” as Coming Attractions in Contemporary Hollywood.” Race/Gender/ Class/ Media 3.0: Considering Diversity across Audiences, Content, and Producers, 3rd ed. Ed. Rebecca Ann Lind. New Jersey: Pearson, 2013. 167-172. Print.

Crenshaw, Kimberle W.  “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color.” Stanford Law Review. Vol 43: 1993. 1241-1299. Web. [Emphasis on 1241-1245]

Hunt, Sarah. 2011. “An Open Letter to My Local Hipsters” Web. http://www.mediaindigena.com/sarah-hunt/issues-and-politics/an-open-letter-to-my-local-hipsters


A Critical Analysis of “Drag Becomes Him”

Rohini Gupta

Professor Habibe Burcu Baba

GNDS 125

28 February 2016


A Critical Analysis of “Drag Becomes Him”


The film “Drag Becomes Him,” features Jerick Hoffer, a man originally from a

working-class family in Portland, OR, and his development of success in being a drag

performer by the stage name of Jinkx Monsoon. Through trials and tribulations, he

progresses from performing at entertainment bars to winning RuPaul’s Drag Race and

becoming a famous drag queen; participating in a subculture that intends to build a new

understanding of social reality itself (O’Brien and Szeman 239). In its entirety, “Drag

Becomes Him” shows that drag is an important subculture that is needed for people of all

sexual orientations to display their talents and make a living, however it is also a blatant

representation of hyperfemininity that has the ability to harm the image of both cis and

trans women. Its importance comes from the gain of self-esteem and the fact that it is

essentially the job of an actor, deserving equivalent respect as compared to other acting

jobs. However, the harm comes about when drag queens are mistaken as an equal

representation of trans women and as an accurate image of femininity.


One reason why drag is important for all sexual orientations is that it provides actors

with a medium of income. There is a common misconception that drag can’t be a

professional career, but this film showed otherwise. Jerick attended the Cornish College of

the Arts and uses knowledge from his degree to create Jinkx Monsoon. He worked tirelessly;

from the age of 16 at an entertainment bar while still taking care of his brothers due to

family issues, to moving to Seattle for education and career opportunities. Being a

homosexual and young, it was initially hard for his dad to accept him, but Jerick kept

persevering regardless of oppressions such as age, class, and sexual orientation. Such

intersectional oppression commonly exists, but there aren’t strong working movements

against it (Crenshaw 1242). Being a younger performer also made it harder for him to work

anywhere, but his talent shone through.  He loved what he was doing, and was determined

to make it his career which he did, making it an attainable goal. The film shows that drag

performers have talent measureable or even higher so than mainstream actors. Not only

are they outstanding singers, dancers, and comedians, but they can act as another

perceived gender: a skill most actors don’t have. Considering their talent potentially

exceeds that of any actor, this shows that drag can be an official profession. The film also

portrayed that drag can be a lifelong career through the exposure of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,”

a reality television show displaying the talents of drag queens, offering the winner a cash

prize and recognition worldwide. Some drag queens like Jinkx, go on to tour worldwide as

well. All in all, drag is a long-term career that highly talented people can pursue.


Other than monetary success, drag serves as an emotional outlet for performers as well.

In particular, it can give actors a new sense of self-esteem. In the film, Jerick says that

when he started performing drag, he didn’t feel the need to be “as cute as [his] friends”

because he was “gorgeous as a woman.” (Berry 2015) Although he altered his persona to

have red hair (his original hair colour) to be reminded of his true self, he was still able to

feel more comfortable in his skin. A gender performativity and self-perception study

conducted in 2011 determined that men who are drag queens are normally more shy and

less confident (Strübel-Scheiner 12). These are men who find it hard to fit in the modern

binary of men: being a new lad, which is essentially characterized by aggressive behaviour,

love of sports, excessive drinking, and persistent need of sex (Meyer and Milestone 118), or

being a gorgeous gay man that one would find modelling or in popular culture. Drag gives

them the opportunity to pursue an alter ego and gives them the attention they always

desired. Looking at the “Gender Unicorn,” gender can be expressed across a spectrum, but

it is harder for people to express that in a judgemental society like our own (Trans Student

Educational Resources). Watching the film, it was found that drag is not necessarily entire

masculine or feminine: it is an intricate mix of both gender expressions creating a

nonconforming identity for those who are questioning (and not questioning) to express

themselves however they wish and to be applauded for it. In a nutshell, performing drag

can provide self-esteem to any doing it, thus improving their well-being overall.


Although drag has many benefits, these benefits are solely reaped by the actor. One could

argue, that others are harmed in the process, specifically the cis and trans women

community. The film shows Jinkx as a scantily clad female character wearing obscene

amounts of makeup, talking in a conventional ‘sexy and hoarse’ feminine voice, and is

shown flaunting all over the males of the audience. The audience is aware that Jinkx is a

persona being played by a male, however that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t enforce the

female stereotype of sexual appeal being important above all else and the concept of

heteronormativity. Drag queens bring out the negative stereotypes of women being vain

and selfish at times and consequently mock femininity through their characters for

entertainment (Wade 2015). There is also a misunderstanding concerning drag queens and

transwomen: society often considers them to be the same. This makes the public stereotype

of transwomen like that of an outrageous persona that shouldn’t been taken seriously, thus

harming the image of transwomen. In reality, only 9% of the population knows a

transgendered person personally; making the other 91% of the population have the image

of trans shifted to the glorified image of drag. Influential people like RuPaul, host of

“RuPaul’s Drag Race,” has also used words like ‘tranny’ and ‘shemale’ with utmost


confidence and no shame, showing to the public that these words aren’t harmful, making it

ok to say to trans women (Tannehill 2014). Looking at drag, it is very beneficial for the

performers, but there is a lot of controversy concerning drag and its impact of the image of

women and femininity.


In conclusion, it is important to recognize drag as a respected profession equivalent to

any other acting career, but it is equally important to question its impact on the

representation of femininity and women. Any actor desiring to pursue drag has every right

to do so, but it is important to consider who is being harmed in the process.


Work Cited


Crenshaw, Kimberle. “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and

Violence against Women of Color.” Stanford Law Review 43.6 (1991): 1241-299. Web. 17 Feb.



Drag Becomes Him. Dir. Alex Berry. Prod. Basil Shadid. Perf. Jerick Hoffer. 2015. Film.


Milestone, Katie, and Anneke Meyer. Gender and Popular Culture. Cambridge, UK: Polity, 2012. Print.


O’Brien, Susie, and Imre Szeman. “Subcultures and Countercultures.” (2014): 239. Rpt. in

GNDS125 Course Reader. Print.


Strübel-Scheiner, Jessica. “Gender Performativity and Self-Perception: Drag as

Masquerade.” International Journal of Humanities and Social Science 1.13 (2011): 12. Web. 16

Feb. 2016. <http://www.ijhssnet.com/journals



Tannehill, Brynn. “Drag Culture Hurts the Transgender Community.” The Bilerico Project. 20

Mar. 2014. Web. 17 Feb. 2016. <http://www.bilerico.com/2014/03



“The Gender Unicorn.” Trans Student Educational Resources. Press Customizr. Web. 17 Feb.

2016. <http://www.transstudent.org/gender>.


Wade, Lisa, PhD. “Are Drag Queens Doing Girlface?” The Society Pages. 28 July 2015. Web. 18

Feb. 2016. <https://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2015/07/28/are-drag-queens-doing-



Word Count (excluding footnotes, student info, the title and the references section): 1057 words


An Analysis of “While You Weren’t Looking”

Reelout’s Film Festival brought an insightful, critical, and interesting film to the stage with “While You Weren’t Looking”. The film stars two main couples: Dez and Terri, and Asanda and Shado. Dez and Terri are an interracial lesbian couple that have been married for twenty years. They adopted their now eighteen-year-old daughter, Asanda, when she was a baby. Things begin to go awry when Terri mistakenly finds a present that she was not meant to see and later learns that Dez is having an affair. At the start of the film Asanda was involved in a relationship with a boy until she kisses Shado one night at the club and then realizes that Shado was also a girl, opening her eyes “to her potential queerness” (While You Weren’t Looking). Shado and Asanda are both South African. However, their upbringing and living situations are extremely different. Asanda lives a very comfortable and sheltered life while Shado is from a small run-down township.

“While You Weren’t Looking” lends itself to a critical intersexual analysis. “Intersectionality is a concept often used in critical theories to describe the ways in which oppressive institutions (racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, ableism, xenophobia, classism, etc.) are interconnected and cannot be examined separately from one another” (Geek Feminism Wiki). The film, “While You Weren’t Looking” does an excellent job of demonstrating the ways in which class, race, and sexual orientation intersect through the characters of Asanda and Shado.

Asanda is a South African woman of the middle class. She has a wonderful place to call home and exceeds the basic necessities of life. Shado is also a South African woman but she is of a much lower class. Asanda and Shado’s lives are extremely different despite the fact that they are both South African women living in America, which proves Kimberle Crenshaw’s point that, “where systems of race, gender, and class domination converge, … intervention strategies based solely on the experiences of women who do not share the same class or race backgrounds will be of limited help to women who because of race and class face different obstacles” (1246). Shado faces the obstacle of being poor on an everyday basis so interventions that prove useful to Asanda may be completely irrelevant to Shado since Asanda does not share that struggle. “While You Weren’t Looking” makes it very clear that it is impossible to say that all women will have the same experiences or that all women of colour will have the same experiences. There is more to a person’s identity than just race, class, and/or gender.

It is critical to analyse Shado without excluding any large contributors to her identity. Shado is oppressed as a queer South African woman and “although [queer] is now often used as a synonym for gay or lesbian, the people who first reappropriated the term were trying to find a way to talk about their oppression to heterosexual social norms without automatically assuming that meant they were gay” (Stryker 20). Shado lives in a very tough neighbourhood, where it is essential not to stand out in order to survive. Shado is a lesbian but when she is in her hometown she makes herself appear as a man as a form of protection. She tensor bandages her breasts, cuts her hair extremely short, wears a hat, wears very loose clothing, and puts a rolled up tensor bandage in her pants to create the illusion of a penis. Robert McRuer notes that, “the ongoing subordination of homosexuality (and bisexuality) to heterosexuality allows for heterosexuality to be institutionalized as “the normal relations of the sexes” while the institutionalization of heterosexuality as “the normal relations of the sexes” allows for homosexuality (and bisexuality) to be subordinated” (302). At one point in the film, after Asanda and Shado had slept together, Shado’s home was raided and when one of the attackers realized that they were both women in bed together he almost raped and killed them until another man intervened. This horrifying part of the film shows the dangers of the institutionalization of heterosexuality because with it comes homophobia. The attacker saw Asanda and Shado as completely worthless, almost not human, making whatever he wanted to do to them justified in his mind. They were being oppressed based simultaneously based on their gender and sexual orientation.

Living in a predominately white heterosexual society oppresses both Asanda and Shado. When Asanda visits Shado’s town and is left alone with some of Shado’s friends, one of the friends said, “you all pretty, all middle class, want some of us rough bitches”, which shows that in that one moment Asanda was oppressed for being female, middle class, and of an attractive appearance. Crenshaw notes in “Mapping the Margins” that, “because of their intersectional identity as both women and of color within discourses that are shaped to respond to one or the other, women of color are marginalized within both” (1244). “While You Weren’t Looking” brings the harsh realities of different forms of oppressions to the forefront and demonstrates the problems that lie within society. The realistic representations of each character add value and depth to the film.

“While You Weren’t Looking” differs from many films that are produced today. Robert McRuer discusses popular culture films; he states that these films often “conclude with a fairly traditional reunion between the male and female leads” (305). Regardless of whether there were homosexual characters in the film or not, the film always seems to end with a heteronormative society. However, in “While You Weren’t Looking”, the film ends with Dez and Terri appearing to work out their relationship, and leaving Asanda and Shado’s relationship open to interpretation. The film offers an important viewpoint of what intersectionality truly means. It presents the interlocking forms of oppression in a unique and relevant way using two different lesbian couples. Overall, “While You Weren’t Looking” is a positive addition to the exploration of popular culture everywhere.

Works Cited

Crenshaw, Kimberle W.  “Mapping the Margins: Intersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color.” Stanford Law Review. Vol 43: 1993. 1241-1299. Web.

“Intersectionality.” Geek Feminism Wiki. Web. 07 Feb. 2016. <http://geekfeminism.wikia.com/wiki/Intersectionality&gt;

McRuer, Robert. “Compulsory Able-Bodiedness and Queer/Disabled Existence.” The Disability Studies Reader, 2nd ed. Davis, Lennard. New York& London: Routledge. 2006. 301-308. Web.

Stryker, Susan. “An Introduction to Transgender Concepts and Terms.” Transgender History. Berkeley: Seal Press, 2008. 1-29. Print.

“While You Weren’t Looking.” Reelout. Web. 07 Feb. 2016. <http://www.reelout.com/event/while-you-werent-looking/&gt;.


By: Sarah Kleinman


Reelout Film Festival Introduction

In 2000 the first annual Reelout Film Festival unveiled at the Screening Room with 20 titles over 3 days. Since then, they have grown to 55 films and 22 different programs as of 2016. They gained charitable status in 2006, they instil pride to the queer community, and inspire dialogue and discourse. The films are typically performed and produced by queer people, allowing for a more authentic approach. The Reelout Film Festival places an emphasis on community outreach which, brings people in the community of all gender statuses together. The films are hosted at independent cinemas, such as the Screening Room in Kingston. Because they are independent films hosted at independent cinemas, there appeared to be less censorship of the material. From our experiences attending the different films, we felt the films were more of an artistic piece and less a form of entertainment. By which we mean, people were not eating or talking with their friends during the film like you would typically see at a Cineplex. We also found the films to be more graphic and raw. The films touched on many sensitive topics such as suicide, depression, sexuality, rape, gender, narcissism, prostitution, drug abuse, and the overlapping of many of these issues. There also lacked a hollywood spin, and complete ending that many mainstream films tend to include, making these films more realistic in a sense. The Screening Room offered a more intimate setting with more of a community feel and eclectic group of people. The films we watched were, While You Weren’t Looking, You’re Killing Me, Fire Song, ToY, and Drag Becomes Him. At Drag Becomes Him there was a live drag performance making the experience more interactive. Overall, The Reelout Film Festival offered a new and creative approach to attending a movie. It gave an in depth analysis of the queer community and issues society typically veers away from.

An Analysis of Sexuality and Gender Identity in Glee

Adolescence is surely noted to be one of the most crucial times in an individual’s life where one is able to grow and self discover. As time changes and society progresses, generations have become more open to the concept of sexual orientation and the significance of possessing an identity much more than which a given gender constitutes. This can be examined to a certain degree in Fox Television’s hit comedy drama series, Glee. A show set within the four walls of McKinley High school, surrounding the lives of a diverse group of students coming from all walks of life- a diverse range of sexualities and gender identities from all spectrums to be precise.  Given this, the show is able to provide its audience members with a perspective of sexuality and the way gender identity is represented in accordance to that sexual orientation of specific individuals. Ultimately, serving as the catalyst to the characters’ own experience of privileges and oppressions. First, a look into heterosexuality and the way in which heterosexual privilege occurs throughout the lives of certain characters, along with the various gender specific representations found within their relationships. Then to, homosexuality and the dynamic struggle and double standards pressed upon homosexual males and homosexual females. Lastly, a brief but not overlooked view on bisexuality and transgender representation found in Glee and the issues of inequality.

It is without question that heterosexuality is considered to be a societal norm or expectation that has been distinctly established overtime and it is through such predominate reasoning that heterosexual privilege exists. Throughout Glee, several straight, main characters display certain privileges over their peers while simultaneously reinforcing the expectations that society has created for male and female representation. For instance, the leading couple that is Rachel Berry and Finn Hudson not only embody traits of those binary to female and male gender identity, but so too does their sexuality provide them with certain advantages. Finn Hudson’s traditional masculinity is portrayed by way of his athleticism on the football team and popularity. As sports are much more than a game, but rather a culture that further emphasizes a man’s masculinity. As Steven Jackson would describe it as a means of, “provid[ing] the opportunity to perform sanctioned physical aggression… a context for the demonstration of courage, commitment, and sacrifice” and of course, “provid[ing] a context where groups of men can engage in regular body contact without the fear of being labelled gay” (344). By polarizing Finn’s character as the classic heterosexual, popular football jock with a girlfriend, his gender identity and sexuality are secure, gaining him the respect and admiration of his fellow classmates. Then to Rachel Berry who claims the title as Finn’s girlfriend. Rachel exemplifies a mix of traits found within the context of traditional femininity and post-feminism. Her long for love and romance shows true to “femininity remain[ing] dependent on male opinion and approval because being able to attract a man as a romantic object and partner is central to ‘normal’ femininity” (Milestone & Meyer 92). However, Glee as a show in the twenty first century reflects contemporary day progressions and for that reason, Rachel also demonstrates post-feminist femininity. As she can be perceived as one who believes in “imposed desires and life choices” by “having [a] [career]… and being socially independent” (93). As separate individuals, Finn Hudson and Rachel Berry manifest society’s expectations of what constitutes male and female representations. As a heterosexual couple, their sexuality also provides them with the privilege of also automatically assuming the lead roles of their school’s show choir and its competitions. This is not solely based off talent and abilities but simply because it is much more favourable for society to have a young man and female sing love ballads to each other on stage rather than a man singing to another man or conversely two women. Not only is the dynamic of their relationship binary to characteristics of masculinity and femininity but likewise does their heterosexuality further contribute to their success and experience.

Additionally, Glee portrays the lives of McKinley High’s various homosexual students and how such sexuality is oppressed and the double standards that exist for a gay man versus a gay woman. To illustrate, Kurt Hummel is an out of the closet gay that exhibits the discourse of the stereotypical flamboyant, fashion forward, homosexual male. His experience displays many hardships that have rooted from his sexuality as he constantly deals with the physical and verbal tyranny of the school’s football team along with issues within the Glee Club, constantly concerning him being able to sing solos of songs originally performed by women. These issues all arise from Kurt’s sexuality and the inability of society’s acceptance. There is however, the idea of intersectionality in the sense that Kurt is oppressed by his unaccepting peers but also is he privileged to be ‘out of the closet’ and come from a home of accepting parents. Contrarily to David Karofsky, a closeted gay who plays on the football team and struggles to come to terms with his sexuality. He himself portrays the discourse of the new lad as he his homophobic and possesses “the pervasiveness of ‘humour’… [where] sexism and homophobia… in the form of jokes and irony, [allow]” himself to be “bigoted and offensive while claiming it [as] just one big laugh” (Milestone & Meyer 118). However, in doing so he oppresses not only the gay community of his school but also himself. The contrast of these two individuals demonstrate the internal struggle of being a homosexual guy in a society that is predominately heterosexual. In regards to the double standard amongst homosexual males and homosexual females, Santana Lopez is a character that openly identifies as a lesbian and is on the cheerleading squad. Her gender identity is presented through the female representation of being overtly sexualized, physically attractive and popular. As a result, her sexual orientation is not deemed as taboo and instead she experiences a life of acceptance from her peers.

Finally, the topic of bisexuality and transgender representation is portrayed in Glee through the characters of Britney S. Pierce and Unique Adams. Again the concept of a double standard is demonstrated as Britney assumes the role of a blonde, popular cheerleader who at one point and another, is in an intimate relationship with a female and then shortly after with a male. The immediate acceptance of Britney’s sexuality by her peers is an example of female, white privilege as she is never questioned nor oppressed for her decisions. In comparison to Unique Adams, a transgender, African American who constantly experiences the backlash of the community. Transphobia is an issue that is prevalent throughout the show and further contributes to the idea of there being certain privileges and oppressions according to specific sexualities and choice of gender identity.

Overall, it is evident that Glee has proven to be a cult favourite as it balances comedy-drama whilst still capturing the essence of harsh realities concerning the various sexualities and experiences of a diverse student body. Such portrayal speaks to the countless adolescents and the timeless struggles that society’s both favoured and marginalized yield to each day. (1200 words)

Vanessa Medrano



Works Cited

Jackson, Steven. 2015. “Globalization, Corporate Nationalism, and Masculinity in Canada: Sport, Molsen Beer Advertising, and Consumer Citizenship.” The Gendered Society Reader. 3rd Canadian Edition. Ed. Kimmel, Michael, and Amy Aronson, and Amy Kaler. Ontario: Oxford University Press. 343-351. Print.

Milestone, Katie and Anneke Meyer. “Representing Women.” Gender & Popular Culture. Malden: Polity Press, 2012. 87-107. Print.

Milestone, Katie and Anneke Meyer. “Representing Men.” Gender & Popular Culture. Malden: Polity Press, 2012. 87-107. Print.



Glee Seen Through the Analysis of Race and Ethnicity in Media

The hit show Glee was deemed rejuvenating for it’s diverse cast and continuous efforts to broadcast the reality of many social issues members of society face. For this post the topic of race and ethnicity will be pin pointed and analyzed through the American program. First to take a step back; what is race and ethnicity and what divides the two terms? Where ethnicity is defined as a group in which all the members identify with one another through common nationality and cultural traditions race has no scientific or anthropologic backbone. Race is a concept in which people are divided on the basis of physical traits. Racism however is a social construct that exists to benefit a certain group in several different aspects. For my analysis I will draw focus on four characters belonging to three separate ethnic groups; Santana Lopez, Mercedes Jones, Tina Cohen-Chang and Mike Change. For the simplicity of this post Tina and Mike’s characters will serve as a compiled focal point.

Santana Lopez is a cheerleader, she also is a proud Latina and her character is presented as overly sexual and argumentative. In the media South American and Spanish women are constantly stereotyped and tend to be given one specific type of character. This character is sexual, loud, from a rough neighbourhood, and has long wavy hair and light skin. They are stripped of depth and complexity and are one dimensional. South American and Spanish women are diverse in skin tone, hair type and several other physical traits. A dark-skinned kinky haired Latina woman would immediately be categorized as black in the public eye as the true diversity of Latina women is slim to none in the media. This also brings rise to the issue of race in comparison to ethnicity as Glee has taken away her ethnic background and presents her as a race or label. The archetype of a “spicy Latina women” is sold as a compliment however this image brings about issues of the fetishization of Latina women. Fetishization is extremely dangerous as it presents the entirety of a minority group as objects and not human beings. In the short film Killing Us Softly the power of subliminal messages in media is laid out for viewers and this can be seen in the hazards of presenting Latina women as nothing but fetishes.

Mercedes Jones is a leading character; she is complex however maintains the traits of the stereotypical black female character. With her catch phrase “Oh hell to the no!” Mercedes is boisterous, sassy, has attitude and encompasses the angry black woman trope on occasion. Where Glee boasts itself on making waves and tearing down stereotypes it doesn’t succeed with flying colours on account of the character Mercedes Jones. It is rare black women are given major roles, unfortunately when given major roles black women portray maids, slaves or a conjunction of stereotypes. As a black female character Glee easily could have addressed intersectionality whereas the other members of the glee club are subject to a single oppression (homosexual, minority, mental illness, ect.) Mercedes is a woman and black and it was black women who pioneered the movement of intersectional feminism. As Kimberle Crenshaw points out in her literary work “Mapping the Margins: Insersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color”, “The problem with identity politics is not that it fails to transcend difference, as some critics charge, but rather the opposite-that it frequently conflates or ignores intragroup difference.”  However, Glee completely disregards this major social issue and missed out on this opportunity. As for race Mercedes faces discrimination from the very beginning. Rachel Berry is the lead character and is known for her outstanding voice. Mercedes also has a strong vocal ability and the two characters are pit against each other. Without hesitation Mr. Schuester automatically chooses Rachel for any lead role in the glee clubs performances. This is a prime example of white privilege; where Mercedes must fight and prove herself clearly facing obstacles for the same finish line that Rachel casually strolls towards. Another key factor is that Rachel believes it is rightfully hers and that she deserves it unaware of the wall Mercedes must face whereas she was given a ladder to climb over.

Two minor characters, Mike Chang and Tina Cohen-Chang, are apparent token characters. The are referred to as “The Other Asian” and have the same last name; a Korean last name even though both characters are Chinese which is culturally insensitive and lazy writing. This shows a pattern of the erasure of ethnicity and seeing a person as a race. Korea has completely different cultural history and traditions to that of China yet Mike and Tina do not express their ethnicity rather they are written as a race; Asian. This highlights the conflict between race and ethnicity as with race a person is put into a category due to appearance which leads to any South East Asian person being labeled simply Asian when in reality countries including Vietnam, China, Korea, Laos and so on are very distinct from one another but popular culture has melted them altogether to just Asian. With this misrepresentation Glee and other media outputs have cast a shadow over the diversity of Asian people.

Popular culture is an umbrella term that encompasses the entirety of the mainstream of a given, most often Western, culture. However, depending on the angle you approach it the term popular culture can be taken in different ways. As discussed in class, culture can be defined as “a particular way of life, whether of a people, a period of time or a group.” As for popular culture it takes this root definition and branches out to the masses of people and this is the significance of popular culture and us as a society. We have no means of unweaving ourselves from this forest of propaganda.   From a young age we are subliminally being guided to behave and go about life in a confined way. The toys we play with as children are inanimate yet gendered, the whimsy films we watch as toddlers portray women as damsels in distress and the shows we consume now, such as Glee, continue to feed us these ideas that we mindlessly mirror from our television screens. This is all done within discourse and regimes of truth with such media outputs such as Glee.

Work Cited:


Killing Us Softly 4. Perf. Jean Kilbourne. Camrbidge Documentary Films, 2010.


“Mapping the Margins: Insersectionality, Identity Politics, and Violence against Women of Color” Kimberle Crenshaw. Standard Law Review. Vol 43: 1993. 1241-1299. Web.


Kinzy Omar, 10187603