Monday, 22 August 2011

Science Fiction/Fantasy - The Genre of Queers?

There's something about science fiction and fantasy that draws queers in. Whether it's the thread of change and transformation, rewriting bodies along physiological and psychological lines, or the otherworldly allure of a place far, far from reality, there seems to be something inherently queer about these weirdest of genres.

In films like Ghost in the Shell, the concept of individuality and humanity is called into question, so that the very human soul is called into doubt. For viewers (or readers of the original manga) who might be struggling with their own individuality, and wondering whether they're normal, there is a seductive allure to a world where even computer programmes can become 'human'.

In V for Vendetta, we see fascism and oppression challenged, and rooted out by human defiance. That there is a lesbian love story motivating anti-hero V adds an additional level of resonance for queer readers.

Even The Little Mermaid, where a half-woman princess dreams of becoming a real girl, has shades of the queer in there. Disney allegedly based the camp villainy of Ursula the sea witch on the drag queen Divine. There's something decidedly queer too about her sucking, grasping, swallowing skirt of tentacles, which, like the biting vagina dentata of horror film Teeth, promises a terrifying sexuality that troubles and unsettles heterosexual norms. Ursula is the most sexualised character in the film, boisterously claiming all Ariel needs to win her man is 'body language' and draping herself over every surface she can in languorous, tempting fashion. There's something parodic about her sexuality, like Mae West, but in place of where a vagina should be, she has monstrous tentacles that suggest a depth most penises would not boldly go.

Perhaps in being a genre of monsters, halflings, and (quite literally) fairies, science fiction/fantasy provides room for us to question, explore and imagine our own sexual and gender transformations in a way the real world can't.

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