John Mundy
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Comedy, gender and sexuality
in Laughing matters
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This chapter focuses on the ways that film and television comedy have presented gender and sexuality. To examine what comedy tells about Anglo-American attitudes to gender and sexuality, it also focuses initially on the representation of femininity in film romantic comedy, picking up on the genre after the Second World War. The chapter discusses masculinity and representations of sexuality in film and television comedy. Having decided that homosexuality is a defective version of masculinity, homophobic culture prescribes against it by representing it as effeminate. Mainstream Hollywood's ongoing ambivalence towards male homosexuality can also be seen in American Pie 2. Like male homosexuality, lesbianism should not be reduced to a single approved version but understood as 'a space of overlapping, contradictory, and conflictual definitional forces'. Rather than adding entertainingly positive depictions of homosexuality to their attractions, mainstream comedy films have remained largely ambivalent about gay characters.

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Laughing matters

Understanding film, television and radio comedy

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