You Must Love Me: Emotional Identification in Hollywood's Post-Classical Camp Musicals
Cast your vote
You can rate an item by clicking the amount of stars they wish to award to this item.
When enough users have cast their vote on this item, the average rating will also be shown.
Your vote was cast
Thank you for your feedback
Thank you for your feedback
Readers/AdvisorsFabian, Rachel C.
Term and YearFall 2021
MetadataShow full item record
AbstractThis project explores how the camp musicals of the 1970s-1990s shift away from the aesthetic, narrative, and star conventions of Hollywood's classic period (spanning the 1930s to 1960s) by using the aesthetics and humor of camp while breaking away from camp's characteristic pure irony to introduce elements of sincerity. In the first chapter, I explore how Little Shop of Horrors (Frank Oz, US, 1986) and The Great Muppet Caper (Jim Henson, US, 1981) employ the aesthetic of cuteness as outlined by Sianne Ngai using the trademark excess and artifice of camp to highlight the emotional and physical vulnerability of the characters, whose emotions are often played sincerely instead of ironically. In the second chapter I look at how The Wiz (Sidney Lumet, US, 1978) and Xanadu (Robert Greenwald, US, 1980) pay homage to classic and contemporary film genres to create a sense of familiarity for viewers across demographics. My analysis of genre, homage, and stardom reveals how camp operates distinctively in The Wiz as a means of channeling audience experiences of racial difference. Finally, I analyze the role of major stars and their public personae in shaping how audiences are invited to recalibrate their identification with leading characters in high-profile musical adaptations. Focusing on Yentl (Barbra Streisand, US, 1983) and Evita (Alan Parker, US, 1996), I analyze how the shifting power dynamics of Hollywood in the post-classical era enabled film stars to influence or advocate changes in the film adaptations of preexisting narratives to emphasize the outcast status of the characters they portray. Greta Garbo's struggles with MGM in the 1930s serve as a point of comparison. Working from Imogen Tyler's writing on social abjection, the project explores how post-classical musicals queerly interrogate imperialist, Western categories of abjection through their sympathetic framings of marginalized figures who are rendered abject explicitly in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, and class. The disgust-based aversion from and violence inflicted upon these characters is deployed by these films in a manner intended to encourage a sense of emotional identification from the audience. This project ultimately offers an analysis of post-classical musical films that post a challenge to normative regimes of abjection by ushering in new modes of emotional identification and by deploying an aesthetic of sincerity, which differently overlap with the queer sensibility of camp as described by Susan Sontag, Bruce LaBruce, and Raymond Knapp.