Pop culture treasure, high culture trash.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Previously on All My French Poststructuralist Children...

Aw, shoot! Daytime TV goes Baudrillard!

No being is assigned by nature to a sex. Sexual ambivalence (activity-passivity) is at the heart of each subject, sexual differentiation is registered as a difference in the body of each subject and not as an absolute term linked to a particular sexual organ. The question is not "having one or not." But this ambivalence, this profound sexual valence must be reduced, for as such it escapes genital organization and the social order...[The masculine-feminine structure] leans on the alibi of biological organs (the reduction of sex as a difference to the difference of the sexual organs); and, above all, it is pegged to the grandiose cultural models whose function it is to separate the sexes in order to establish the absolute privilege of one over the other. If everyone is led, by this controlled structuration, to confuse himself with his own sexual status, it is only to resign his sex the more easily (that is, the erogenous differentiation of his own body) to the sexual segregation that is one of the political and ideological foundations of the social order.

-For a Critique of the Political Economy of the Sign



Pants made an interesting observation about this clip, saying that one of the reasons Zarf/Zoe is so screamingly awkward and synthetic (and therefore also irresistible and somehow authentically queer) is that nobody's had time to figure out how to write trans characters for television yet. Today's situation resembles the period when (straight) writers started trying to write gay characters in the 1970s--they had no idea what they were doing, and had to make things up as they went along.

That All My Children decided to go the whole rainbow hog and make Zarf/Zoe an M to F lesbian isn't really so surprising, since this reprieves them from having to show what viewers will see as a man in drag coming on to another man. Nor is it an accident that Z/Z (ooh, so close to S/Z!) is "British" and "a rock star"; trannies still only make sense to the American mainstream at this point as exotic, eccentric foreigners. Still, a couple of scenes feel almost revolutionary in their issues-never-before- legitimated-on-daytime-TV-ness. One hopes they've got Kate Bornstein's phone number.

5 comments:

smelly mcsmellsmell said...

i wish i had kate bornstein's phone number.

Lizzie said...

don't we all.

mairead said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mairead said...

She writes books at a Starbucks in Manhattan. And there has to be, like, only one of those, right?

Kim said...

I saw Kate Bornstein at an event at NYU recently; she gave the whole audience her phone number. Ready? It's 646.672.1231. Seriously. I haven't had the guts to call her, though.