Queer Pop Culture Corner: September
This is a column recommending queer content of different types.
Book: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
A grand, sweeping reimagination of Homer’s Illiad, The Song of Achilles comprises an intense gay relationship between beloved Greek hero Achilles and his close companion Patroclus. Madeline Miller takes implicitly queer happenings in Ancient Greece and makes them explicitly queer. It breaks the stereotype of gay men being feminine as both Achilles and Patroclus were strong warriors and hyper-masculine if anything. The book is a delight to read despite the somewhat frustrating angst and slow-burn. The Song of Achilles is guaranteed to leave every reader sobbing by the end of it. It is a must-read book in the LGBT category and a good starter for anyone interested in Greek mythology.
Music: Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe
One of the few artists to pursue intersectional feminism, Janelle Monáe recently came out as pansexual and is in a relationship with actress Tessa Thomspon. Her album Dirty Computer contains themes of queerness and is one of the few albums to use gender-neutral pronouns in its romantic songs. Monáe made an “emotion picture” of the same name and it contains several queer, black, feminist scenes with her girlfriend. The stand-out song on the album is a collaboration with fellow black singer Zoe Kravitz called ‘Screwed’. It talks about the complicated dynamics of power and sex. The album itself is a masterpiece and highly critically acclaimed due to its pop, funk, soul and R&B vibes and the clear influence of Michael Jackson. It is unique and one of the best music albums to come up in 2018.
Movie: Disobedience, directed by Sebastián Lelio
Starring the famous Rachels, Rachel McAdams and Rachel Weisz, Disobedience is largely about the interplay of faith and normativity. In an orthodox society where heterosexuality is the norm, other sexualities are seen as deviance and are completely unacceptable. Disobedience has the potential to resonate with Indian viewers because the Orthodox Jewish community portrayed in the movie is very similar to the traditional parts of Indian society. It is a heart-wrenching tale of forbidden love with a much talked about sex scene that isn’t that strange. Lelio’s direction that leaves the viewers begging for more is similar to the direction of Carol. Disobedience could very well become a cornerstone of queer popular culture.
Television: Please Like Me
Please Like Me is an underrated gem following the lives of a group of 20 something friends in Australia. It contains all of the essential elements of Shakespeare’s works: romance, comedy, drama, tragedy. It has a distinctive hilarious voice due to its creator Josh Thomas, who also plays the gay protagonist. Its strength is its emotional core which explores the relatable life events of coming out, experiencing death, failing in relationships. The show also deals with mental health illness and is unflinching in its portrayal of it. It works as comfort television but also makes the viewer think of their own life and wonder where it is lacking. Its defining characteristics are based on the title, how all its characters are constantly looking for validation and want to be liked. Please Like Me has not received much attention as of yet but unequivocally deserves its own fandom.
Cover image source: religiousstudiesproject.com
This post was contributed by Prakhya CV, who is on the Editorial Board of Maya.