Response to “Super Troopers: Instances of Queer Narratives, Temporalities and Beauty”

In response to “Super Troopers: Instances of Queer Narratives, Temporalities and Beauty”,- LP gives both a funny and compelling argument as to how the military  was profoundly different for the older and younger vets due to the circumstances they grew up in. LP summarized the episode detailing the narratives between the contestants and their military counterparts. He first touches on one of the most surprising moments of the episode, when Steve discussed how we went to the military to “construct his masculinity” and not be gay. However since the post was written we have discussed the ideas of Queer Public Spaces in great detail, which I think is a useful inclusion of this episode. This made me think of the military as a discursive space, one in which Steve went to because he wanted to gain knowledge in how to act, think and ultimately be a normative heterosexual man.  In Queer Latinidad, Rodriguez states “Identity is about situatedness in motion: embodiment and spatiality. The subject brings to the encounter her own set of decoding practices that are mediated by the regulatory power of a particular discursive space, but not wholly determined by them” (5).  From the short narrative Steve offers about his experience, it is clear that even though the military taught him structure, responsibility and other social “norms,” it could not determine who he was.

LP also made a great comparison to Dave, the oldest of the Vets, with Halberstam’s ideas of queer temporalities in stating that queer communities can create alternative temporalities which affect the way one grows and evolves as an individual. We can take this analysis a step further and compare Dave’s past to living in a subculture which as defined by Halberstam “subcultures provide a vital critique of the seemingly organic nature of community and they make visible the forms of unbelonging and disconnection that are necessary to the creation of community” (29). Dave was part of two extremely criticized and unaccepted subcultures of the gay community in the late part of the twentieth century. First, he was part of the AIDS epidemic subculture. I refer to this as a subculture because as Halberstam describes, it was a large group of people who were disconnected from the larger homosexual and heterosexual community. He was also part of the gay military man subculture, which he himself explains on the show to have been quite different from the culture of the heteronormative military man.

Both of these subcultures threatened the “normal” or “expected” way of life (28).  The discussion of AIDS made me think of the film Off the Straight and Narrow and Larry Gross Up From Invisibility. Both of which discuss how the gay community of the 80’s was tied with AIDS and how gay media was primarily focused on gays being dangerous. I realized how far society has come when Dave is being celebrated for his drive instead of bullied for his disease. It was amazing to be able to see someone who was part of that epidemic, come out with a strong outlook as LP mentioned he did in the untucked episode.

In class we constantly discuss how queer identities and queer narratives are either left out of mainstream conversations or are purposely tied in when it will make for good TV. Although if the inclusion of queer narratives are allowed, they never really push borders or make the general public feel uncomfortable. The media is careful in what they display of these various subcultures. As “outside the box” a show like Drag Race is, it still makes sure that what they choose to air draws a strict line between this subculture and their audience. The producers do this smartly, as they largely ensure that the audience always feels as if they are watching a show, not the  real “real” lives of these individuals (with a few exceptions). I want to point out that I greatly commend the show for bringing on the vets and letting them tell their stories. I believe this was one of the most important episodes in terms of “real life” and not a competition; however it was apparent none of the vets really scrutinized the military for DADT and when they did speak out against it, they were careful with the words they chose.  Despite what they went through in the military before or after DADT, these men highly respected both their gay subcultures and their military subculture. Although, I think that even if they did say something overly negative about the military, the producers would choose not to air it.

LP finishes his blog post by stating that there was so much to discuss in this episode, he did not cover everything that could have been explored. I wish he mentioned what these topics were as I thought he wrote a great blog and agreed with his points. I know he would have given some excellent insight to make me think deeper about this episode about the other topics he alluded to as well.

-JS

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