Getting off (on) the Shortbus (John Cameron Mitchell, 2006): The politics of hypothetical queer history | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 10, Issue 2-3
  • ISSN: 1474-2756
  • E-ISSN: 2040-0578



In this article, I analyse how post-millennium queer cinema, even while no longer ‘new’, attempts to remember the old in order to articulate the new through what I call ‘queer hypothetical history’. I ground my arguments in relation to the film Shortbus (Mitchell, 2006), which, I suggest, returns to the pastness of the past in order to aesthetically represent a radically different ‘now’ – a new present that is informed by queer memory’s inventive and performative potential. My analysis of Shortbus analyses how the film troubles the binary between the material and the ‘immaterial’ to create queer cultural memory through a historical ‘what if’. While looking backward to the past to cull memories of what could have been, Shortbus also looks forward towards a queer futurity to imagine what could be. I thus analyse how hypothetical memories in the film serve as a queer index to hypothetical futures.


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