Texts both inform us of the social identities available to us, and problematize them; both police our social selves and subvert them. Both texts, The Crying Game by Neil Jordan and Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas, use characters within the discourse to project social identities that have been problematized due to social constraints. Throughout this essay, I will focus on sexuality, as this type of social identity has been depicted as a central theme in both texts. The characters from the texts work to, police and subvert their own sexual identities within their social milieu.
To claim an identity as a homosexual is to claim a place in a system of social regulation (Connell & Dowsett, 1992). I would firstly like to establish the fact that homosexuality, in its most general sense, has been argued to have been socially constructed, therefore sexuality, in this case homosexuality, has to be considered a form of social identity.
I support this with Freuds theory that sexuality is a result of social processes whether it be within the family, cultural, class etc. all such processes assist in forming a particular sexual identity, sexualities are not received as a packageK. s arrived at by a highly variable and observable process of construction, not by an unfolding of the natural; and that social process is deeply implicated into this construction. (Connell & Dowsett, 1992). The Crying Game and Loaded, exhibit sexual identities yet in different ways. Liberal Humanism was concerned with universal humanism which tended to homogenise various types of gays and lesbians.
It was Identity Politics, which was bench- marked in western countries throughout the 1960s, that appealed to Liberal Humanism and saw that everybody had a right to express themselves and their identities. It was this recognition that distinguished identities within the homosexual identity. The increase of sexual personae, diversified drag queens, dykes, macho gays, and from The Crying Game, transvestites. Throughout the novel Loaded, These diversities of homosexual identities were captured.
The central character, Ari, repeatedly makes the distinction between these identities and refuses to be homogenised into such a broad identity, I hate the word gay. I hate the word homosexual. Ari would be defined as a man that has preference for men, sexually. He recognises the fact that he is gay yet to an outsider, or his family, he can hide his exual identity complying with the social norm, heterosexuality. Ari states that his attraction is towards real men and masculinity, Every time I look at a gay man, even if I think hes attractive, I cant forget hes a faggot.
I get off on real men, masculinity. In contrast, the character of Dil in The Crying Game, was portrayed as a transvestite. Dil is a man that functions in society as a woman. To encourage Dils sexual identity as female, the film failed to reveal Dil as a transvestite until the latter half of the film, and lead the audience to believe the she was a woman. Sexual identities have been problematized due to social constraints. Deconstructionist theories have given motive as to why such sexual identities have been seen as problematic in society.
This theory governs the fact that heterosexuality is what is considered the social norm and any identities varying from this norm would be considered abnormal thus experiencing unjustness. Foucault debates that, the social bases of concepts of normality and deviance, to the pervasiveness of social control, and to the role of professions such as medicine in sustaining control over deviants.
This is exemplified by Fuery & Mansfield by stating that in society we generalise, in a text, a characters sexuality as heterosexual and if not, we would expect that this would become apparent in the narrative. Cultural Studies and the New Humanities, 1998). This was not the case in the film The Crying Game. As previously discussed, the character of Dil lead the audience to believe that her character was female until the second half of the film. When Dil revealed that she was biologically a man to her partner Fergus, her sexual identity became problematic, I cant help what I am. It as at this point where Dil realised that Fergus was unaware of her biological identity which she found suprising due to the fact that she socialised amongst others with similar sexual identities at a gay bar.
Aris sexual identity in Loaded was also seen as problematic within his friendship circle. Despite the fact that Aris close friend Joe accepts him as gay, Aris sexual identity is seen to be avoided in the friendship, Hes scared Im going to introduce Dina to faggot joints in the inner city and open her mind. Throughout the book, Ari makes the distinction that Joe is ashamed of his sexuality. He does this by ontinuously mentioning that he relents from talking about boys and gay bars whilst in Joes company, I dont saying anything to Joe, he gets uncomfortable when I talk about boys.
Ethnicity, class and education are some of the concepts that contribute to the policing of social constraints put upon sexual identities. Ari, in the book Loaded, polices and allows for social controls to affect his sexual identity. Aris milieu consists of traditional Greek orthodoxies from his family and friends. Although he has revealed his true sexual identity to his friends, Ari has failed to reveal this truth to his family. He admits to Serena that he is not trying to protect his family from the neighbourhood gossip, however, he is protecting himself, Im protecting myself. Mum and Dad are adults.
They can protect themselves. It is from this that it becomes apparent that by falsifying his own sexuality around his family, he is complying with the social controls that claim his sexual identity as abnormal. In the same way, Dil, in The Crying Game, policed social controls over her sexual identity. Dil passes through life as a woman. When her character was first introduced to the cameras, Dil was shown to be involved with a man named Dave. Throughout history, it has been socially recognised that women are the weaker gender and many woman let this come into play in their sexual relationships.
Dils relationship with Dave greatly exemplified women’s inferiority to men. This was shown when both Dil and Dave left the pub and he was physically abusing her. Feminists have largely appealed against this type of behaviour which has proven to be socially acknowledged and, to some people, comply with the social norm. With Dils lack of reaction and perpetuating of the relationship, until Fergus stepped in, this let Dil conform with this social control that en have had over women. However, this was not the only example of Dil policing her sexual identity.
In order to deny her connection and relationship with Fergus, Dil had to deceive her own sexual identity. Dil was unaware of the true reason her love interest, Fergus, wanted to make her manly except for the fact that he would prefer her that way. As Dil agrees to go along with Fergus, she dresses like a man. Jude and Maguire from the IRS were targeting Dil, a black transvestite. With Dils new look and false identity, I dont recognise myself , it would disorientate there target. Dil would fit in with societies normal conventions of a male.
This section of the text, proved that Dil policed such social controls for the love of Fergus. Dil would function as a male despite her sexual identity as female. Homosexuality itself, again in its most general sense, subverts the control society has over identity. The recent public display of sexual identities have overthrown many of the social identities that have been previously measured amongst the standardised normal. The Queer Theory has been a recent movement which is seen to subvert social conventions.
The queer theory has recognised gender and ethnic dominant and minority groups as their central attraction. It is between these groups that inequality has strongly been identified. From this, the queer theory movement is working towards new ways of thinking in terms of society, the intensity of its determination to re-imagine completely what new and different subjectivities could be made possible by radical cultural work. (Fuery & Mansfield, 1998). Both texts, The Crying Game and Loaded, feature venues particular to homosexuals. Ari takes the reader to gay bars and admits this openly to his straight friends.
The bar in which Dil and Fergus meet is also a gay bar, where tranvestites mainly dominate. All such bars exist openly in society which is a strong indicator of subversion in relation to social controls. Dennis Altman supports this by saying, in providing opportunities for gay men and lesbians to meet and develop social and political tiesKand enough political freedom to escape censorship. (The Internationalisation of Gay and Lesbian Identities, 1998). Loaded, follows the central character Ari, through a day and night on a typical Saturday in his life.
When Ari meets with his gay friends he, and they, openly express heir sexual identities throughout the community. Within the gay bars and on the streets Aris sexual identity can be seen. This openness from these minority groups, especially with their ethnic backgrounds contributing, alone subverts what society once condemned. The candidness that Ari and his friends share was not socially acceptable in public in modern history and is still a major issue today in the fight for sexuality, yet it has come a long way and such acts will assist in its success.
Nevertheless, this open display of homosexuality was also seen as problematic as Tsiolkas noted Aris group had been scrutinised by outsiders. As Johny and Ari left the club, they were surround by looks of disgust, A group of drunk skip boys are giving him dirty looks and I put my arm around him, protectively, indicating that I am ready to defend him. The Crying Games Dil, in society is identified as a woman although she is a transvestite. Transvestites were and still are considered a sexual minority group.
Dils, like Aris, ethnic background also put her in a minority group. It is the simple fact that Dil lived her life as a transvestite and was seen as accepted, that subverts previously ominant social identities. Dil had the biological body of a man, although effectively used it to portray a woman and successfully at that. Cultural identity in both The Crying Game and Loaded, was overlapped with sexual identities. This fact dominated in the book Loaded as the narrator, Ari, drew specific attention to this fact.
This is also largely related to what fits in as Post-Identity Politics. Post-Identity Politics as opposed to Identity Politics establishes the fact that people should be free to express their identities although recognises that this can be seen as a trap. The homosexual identity, in this case, could be seen as a trap as societies conformities and controls have prejudice against them allowing this so called freedom to be ridiculed. In the same way, Iris Marion Young supports this with her study on womens sexuality.
She claims that not all women have the same identity and this should be established, reconceptualizing social collectivity or the meaning of social groups K. implying that all women have a common identity. She goes on to argue that the absurdity of trying to isolate gender identity from race or class identity becomes apparent if you ask of any individual woman whether she can istinguish the women part of herself from the white part or Jewish part. (Gender as Seriality: Thinking About Women as a Social Collective, 1997).
In the way that Young has applied this theory to woman, it can be applied in the same way to Ari. Aris is from a Greek ethnic background and is gay. His cultural identity must be seen along with his sexual identity. He determined this fact for the reader as he announced that I dont often fuck with Greeks. Ari admits that this is because the Greek culture is renowned for their gossip and the fact that he is gay would somehow et back to his family, Someone may know a friend of my parents, or know an uncle.
Greeks have big mouths and word can get around. It is this example that shows that relation between a persons sexual identity and cultural identity cannot be separated and thus form a trap. Through examples of identity, ethnicity, sexuality, gender and the body from both the film The Crying Game and the book Loaded, I have endeavoured to reveal how social conventions problematize certain identities. Focusing on sexual identities from both texts, it is seen that characters police their social selves and subvert them using their homosexual identity.