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Desire, Outcast: Locating Queer Adolescence

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International Cinema and the Girl

Part of the book series: Global Cinema ((GLOBALCINE))

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Abstract

Picture the doubled image of a teenage girl in a baseball cap: she looks outwards but the darkened window of the bus on which she is travelling directs her gaze back in our direction. Her image resides in a movie poster next to a definition of the film’s titular subject: “PARIAH [puh-rahy-uh] noun 1. A person without status. 2. A rejected member of society. 3. An out-cast.”1 Pariah (Dee Rees, 2011) is a film of escape (about looking out) but also of self-recognition (about looking back inwards). This kind of mirror image is highly suggestive of the adolescent state itself: constructed through prepositions, the teen finds herself after childhood (if biology does its job); before adulthood (if society does its job); if not, then alongside both … or neither. The word “pariah” and its definition riff on this prepositioning, sitting neatly in a poster in justified font between the girl’s original image and her reflection.

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Notes

  1. Sara Ahmed, Queer Phenomenology: Orientations, Objects, Others (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), pp. 67–68.

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  2. Elizabeth Freeman, Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2010), p. 19.

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  3. Glen Elder, Lawrence Knopp and Heidi Nast, “Sexuality and Space,” in Geography in America at the Dawn of the 21st Century edited by Gary L. Gaile and Cort J. Willmott (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), pp. 200–208 (203).

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  4. See Clara Bradbury-Rance, “Querying Postfeminism in Lisa Cholodenko’s The Kids Are All Right,” in Postfeminism and Contemporary Hollywood Cinema edited by Joel Gwynne and Nadine Muller (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013), pp. 27–43.

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  5. Alison Waller, Constructing Adolescence in Fantastic Realism (New York: Routledge, 2009), p. 5.

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  6. Catherine Driscoll, Girls: Feminine Adolescence in Popular Culture & Cultural Theory (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), p. 9.

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  11. Jessie Daniels expresses concern that films like Pariah paint “a picture of a claustrophobic, hostile, and homophobic family that the lead character, Alike, must navigate away from in order to survive” and as such become stand-ins for generalizations of black lesbian life tout court. Jessie Daniels, “Black Lesbians: Visible, Not Pariahs,” GLQ 19:2 (2013), 261–263.

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  14. B. Ruby Rich, “Park City Remix,” Film Quarterly 64 (2011), 62–65 (62).

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  15. Judith Halberstam, In a Queer Time and Place: Transgender Bodies, Subcultural Lives (New York: New York University Press, 2005), p. 174.

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  17. Hilary Radner, Neo-Feminist Cinema: Girly Films, Chick Flicks and Consumer Culture (New York: Routledge, 2011), p. 6.

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Authors

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Fiona Handyside Kate Taylor-Jones

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© 2016 Fiona Handyside and Kate Taylor-Jones

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Bradbury-Rance, C. (2016). Desire, Outcast: Locating Queer Adolescence. In: Handyside, F., Taylor-Jones, K. (eds) International Cinema and the Girl. Global Cinema. Palgrave Macmillan, New York. https://doi.org/10.1057/9781137388926_7

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