By David Savran
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Additional resources for A queer sort of materialism : recontextualizing American theater
Ripley, from As Good as It Gets to American Beauty-that aspire to the category of art. In 1997, Ellen became the first sitcom to feature a lesbian hero, whil e Ellen DeGeneres's simultaneous coming out provided fodder for count less editorials, sermons, and talk shows. Although Ellen was unable to make a go of it, a year later W ill and Grace turned camp into highly suc cessful, Emmy-winning, primetime entertainment. d. lang, Melissa Etheridge, and the Indigo Girls amassed devoted fans. The Pet Shop Boys and George Michael managed to retain their niche market.
Whether in its uptown or downtown guises, then, the new queer the ater has become a metonym for postnaturalistic performance in the United States. It thereby represents in a particularly dear and incisive form both the situation of theater as a bastard art (which is to say, as a product of the unnatural intercourse of high and low) and the necessary slippage (both on- and offstage) between self and Other. Placing formal innovation at the service of a deconstructed performing subject, this the ater refuses the certainties of the neorealisms and cultural nationalisms of the 1 970s in favor of pluralism, undecidability, and anti-essentialism.
And many of the most prominent playwrights, directors, actors, and other theater artists proclaimed themselves proudly, joyously-and matter-of factly-queer. A reclamation of a formerly stigmatized term, queer (as adjective or noun) functioned during the 1990s as a deeply utopian designation: a locus of refusal; an unbinding of psychic, sexual, and social energy; a destabilizing third term; a principle of radical democratization; a post modernist renovation of camp; an affront to the bipolar system of gen der and sexuality; a way of transcending both assimilationist and anti assimilationist politics; a privileged mode of subversion.