Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: January ::
Re: Gayness
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0126.  Sunday, 26 January 1997.

(1)     From:   Jan Stirm <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 24 Jan 1997 10:29:04 -0600
        Subj:   Gay Moments?

(2)     From:   Richard A Burt <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Friday, 24 Jan 1997 21:39:28 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0117  Re: Branagh Interview; Midwinter's Tale

(3)     From:   Ian Doescher <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
        Date:   Saturday, 25 Jan 1997 00:03:29 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 8.0117  Re: Branagh Interview; Midwinter's Tale


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Jan Stirm <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 24 Jan 1997 10:29:04 -0600
Subject:        Gay Moments?

Dear Shaksperians,

Recently Richard Burt noted that

There also some gay moments in Branagh's performances of Henry V (the traitors,
especially Scroop) and Iago (he has anal sex with Emilia after she gives him
the handerkerchief).
----

Why does Iago/Emilia's anal intercourse in Branagh's *Othello* need to be coded
"gay"?  I'm not trying to lose the sodomitical aspect of the moment, but to
question why that moment gets labeled (as it so often does--I don't mean to put
Richard Burt on the spot) as a men's moment.  By saying that anal intercourse
is "gay," do we exclude women from discourses of sodomy, queerness,
transgressive sexuality?  I think it might be more useful to consider this
moment in terms of multiple desire(s), deflected or redirected desire(s), thus
making us think about not only Othello and Iago, but Emilia (and Desdemona?
Cassio?)

Thanks to Richard Burt for starting my brain gears this morning!

--Jan Stirm

 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Richard A Burt <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Friday, 24 Jan 1997 21:39:28 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0117  Re: Branagh Interview; Midwinter's Tale
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0117  Re: Branagh Interview; Midwinter's Tale

More on Branagh's Othello.  Of course, one should be troubled  Gayness is
nearly always signified through connotation, as D.A. Miller and others have
pointed out. That said, the connotations here are rather evident (perhaps to
some only one second look).  In the scene I mentioned, Branagh / Iago flips
Emilia over on her stomach  (and then penerates her--she lets out a cry that is
meant to suggest that he has just penetrated her ass.  Earlier in the film when
getting Cassio drunk, Branagh keeps fondling Cassio's groin.  Oddly (or
tellingly, perhaps) the report of Cassio's dream is played straight.  Whereas
we get lots of soft-core porn versions of Othello fantasizing about Cassio
making it with Dedemona, here there iis no visual equivalent of Branagh's
lines. Compare the same moment in Zeffirelli's Otello, where Iago's report is
intercut with shots of Cassio nude, backlit and masturbating (his genitals are
just off screen).

I take it that the interpretation of Iago as "gay," however anachronisitc, is
nothing new.

(3)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ian Doescher <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Saturday, 25 Jan 1997 00:03:29 -0500 (EST)
Subject: 8.0117  Re: Branagh Interview; Midwinter's Tale
Comment:        Re: SHK 8.0117  Re: Branagh Interview; Midwinter's Tale

Tom Bishop writes:

>A ticklish business this, no doubt, but just what -is- it that makes for the
>inclusion of Iago's sexual attentions to Emilia in the above list?  I dont
>recall the moment in the film well enough to know just how explicit this was --
>anal sex as opposed to, say, intercourse "like the clean beasts, embracing fom
>behind" as A.D. Hope says. But even if it was very explicit, does this generate
>an assumption that it can therefore be placed in a list of "gay-related"
>moments in recent Shakespeare films?  I'm a little troubled by what's implicit
>here.

I agree that jumping to the conclusion that anal sex means homosexuality is
wrong, but the moment is indeed explicitly suggesting that Iago's preference
for anal sex is not a whim.  Another scene in the movie that shows Branagh is
trying to express Iago's homosexuality is a scene in which Iago and Roderigo
sit under a wagon, discussing the romantic encounters of Desdemona and Cassio
(I think the text is II.i).  Couples are having sex above and to both sides of
them, and in order to "heighten" the intense sexual feeling, Iago's hand starts
to wander up Roderigo's thigh and eventually reaches the promised land, at
which point Roderigo finally bursts into a moment of rage against Cassio and
Desdemona, determined once more to do Iago's dirty work.  This is another
signal given to us of Iago's homosexuality, and a much more explicit one than
the anal sex.

Ian
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.