Proposal Title

„What’s Important Is Being in the Room“ - Reinventing Queer History in Ryan Murphy‘s Hollywood

Presenter Information

Sabrina MittermeierFollow

Start Date

June 2022

End Date

June 2022

Abstract

In his 2020 Netflix miniseries Hollywood, producer Ryan Murphy presents viewers with a reimagined, almost utopian version of Hollywood, an alternate history where queer and Black voices triumph over the realities of the repressive queerphobic and racist nature of US society in the late 1940s. It tells the story of an ultimately Oscar-winning film project with a diverse cast and crew, defying all odds to do so, centering marginalized people in time and space(s) where they are usually erased. In many ways, however, the miniseries commits to screen a classic narrative of the American dream, of the marginalized overcoming adversity and “making it big”. It frames Hollywood as aspirational, both as an actual physical place but also as fantastical space, using strategies borrowed from theme parks and other immersive spaces. It makes use of nostalgia in manifold ways to do so, showcasing it as a tool that presents both opportunities and dangers when applied to marginalized communities. Ultimately, it emerges as a (neo)liberal fairy tale espousing the virtues of individual action over collective activism, and champions homonormativity and the logic of homonationalism to include queer people in a national monomyth. Discussing these issues, this paper wants to interrogate the potentiality of popular culture for reimagining and thus reinventing queer history.

Bio

Dr. Sabrina Mittermeier (University of Kassel, Germany) is a postdoc in American cultural history and author of A Cultural History of Disneyland Theme Parks (Intellect 2021), and the (co-)editor, among other volumes, of Fighting for the Future: Essays on Star Trek: Discovery (Liverpool UP 2020), the Routledge Handbook to Star Trek (2022) and Fan Phenomena: Disney (Intellect 2022). Her second book project deals with “unmade” queer television in the US and Germany.

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Jun 24th, 10:00 AM Jun 24th, 11:30 AM

„What’s Important Is Being in the Room“ - Reinventing Queer History in Ryan Murphy‘s Hollywood

In his 2020 Netflix miniseries Hollywood, producer Ryan Murphy presents viewers with a reimagined, almost utopian version of Hollywood, an alternate history where queer and Black voices triumph over the realities of the repressive queerphobic and racist nature of US society in the late 1940s. It tells the story of an ultimately Oscar-winning film project with a diverse cast and crew, defying all odds to do so, centering marginalized people in time and space(s) where they are usually erased. In many ways, however, the miniseries commits to screen a classic narrative of the American dream, of the marginalized overcoming adversity and “making it big”. It frames Hollywood as aspirational, both as an actual physical place but also as fantastical space, using strategies borrowed from theme parks and other immersive spaces. It makes use of nostalgia in manifold ways to do so, showcasing it as a tool that presents both opportunities and dangers when applied to marginalized communities. Ultimately, it emerges as a (neo)liberal fairy tale espousing the virtues of individual action over collective activism, and champions homonormativity and the logic of homonationalism to include queer people in a national monomyth. Discussing these issues, this paper wants to interrogate the potentiality of popular culture for reimagining and thus reinventing queer history.