‘What’s important is being in the room’: Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood and the politics of queer history | Intellect Skip to content
1981
Rethinking Marginality in New Queer Television
  • ISSN: 2055-5695
  • E-ISSN: 2055-5709

Abstract

In his 2020 Netflix miniseries , producer Ryan Murphy presents us with an almost utopian version of Hollywood, an alternate history that centres queer and Black voices over the realities of the repressive queerphobic and racist nature of the 1940s US society. It tells the story of an ultimately Oscar-winning film project surrounding the story of the real-life suicide of silent movie actress Peg Entwistle, put together by marginalized creators. In many ways, the miniseries commits to the 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 is unusual in centring Black, queer and Black queer voices in this story, and by extension in history – in time and space(s) where they are usually erased. 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. As such, it emerges as a liberal fairy tale espousing the virtues of individual action over collective activism against systemic injustices, and champions a politics of visibility rooted in whiteness. This article interrogates the potentiality of popular culture, and this text of historical television specifically, for reinscribing queer people into US public memory. To do so, it discusses the Disneyfication of Hollywood in the series and how it shapes our perception of the past, ideas of marginalized nostalgia(s) for queer and BiPoC (and queer BiPoC), and the role celebrity/star figures play for constructing history on-screen.

Loading

Article metrics loading...

/content/journals/10.1386/qsmpc_00070_1
2022-06-01
2024-04-19
Loading full text...

Full text loading...

References

  1. Ahad-Legardy, Badia. ( 2021), Afro-Nostalgia: Feeling Good in Contemporary Black Culture, Urbana, IL:: University of Illinois Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. Caldwell, John T.. ( 2020), Televisuality: Style, Crisis, and Authority in American Television, New Brunswick, NJ:: Rutgers University Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Decherney, Peter. ( 2016), Hollywood: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford:: Oxford University Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Dessem, Matthew. ( 2020;), ‘ What’s real and what’s not in Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood. ’, Slate, 1 May, https://slate.com/culture/2020/05/hollywood-accuracy-fact-fiction-ryan-murphy-netflix-series.html. Accessed 27 September 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Dini, Rachele. ( 2021;), ‘ Things of beauty: The politics of postmillennial nostalgia for mid-century design. ’, Ancillary Review of Books, https://ancillaryreviewofbooks.org/2021/06/21/things-of-beauty-the-politics-of-postmillennial-nostalgia-for-mid-century-design/. Accessed 27 September 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Duggan, Lisa. ( 2002;), ‘ The new homonormativity: The sexual politics of neoliberalism. ’, in R. Castronovo, and D. D. Nelson. (eds), Materializing Democracy: Toward a Revitalized Cultural Politics, Durham, NC:: Duke University Press;, pp. 17595.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Dunlop, Beth. ( 1996), Building the Dream: The Art of Disney Architecture, New York:: Disney Editions;.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Dyer, Richard. ( 1998), Stars, London:: Bloomsbury;.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Eschner, Kate. ( 2017;), ‘ The Hollywood star who confronted the AIDS “Silent Epidemic”. ’, Smithsonian Mag, 2 October, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/hollywood-star-who-confronted-aids-silent-epidemic-180965059/. Accessed 18 February 2022.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Foster, Harve, and Jackson, Wilfred. ( 1946), Song of the South, USA:: Walt Disney Productions;.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Grobar, Matt. ( 2020;), ‘ “Hollywood” production designer Matthew Flood Ferguson on crafting fictional, Old Hollywood Studio & Recreating 1948 Oscars for Netflix miniseries. ’, Deadline, 12 August, https://deadline.com/2020/08/hollywood-production-designer-matthew-flood-ferguson-emmys-netflix-interview-news-1203009449/. Accessed 27 September 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Halperin, David, and Traub, Valerie. (eds) ( 2019), Gay Shame, Chicago, IL:: University of Chicago Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. Himberg, Julia. ( 2017), The New Gay for Pay: The Sexual Politics of American Television Production, Austin, TX:: University of Texas Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Hollywood ( 2021, USA:: Ryan Murphy Productions and Netflix;).
    [Google Scholar]
  15. Kohnen, Melanie E. S.. ( 2016), Queer Representation, Visibility and Race in American Film & Television: Screening the Closet, New York:: Routledge;.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Marling, Karal Ann. ( 1998), Designing Disney’s Theme Parks: The Architecture of Reassurance, Paris:: Flammarion;.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. McCabe, Janet, and Akass, Kim. ( 2007), Quality TV: Contemporary American Television and Beyond, London:: Bloomsbury;.
    [Google Scholar]
  18. Mittermeier, Sabrina. ( 2019;), ‘ Time travelling to the American revolution: Why immersive media need American studies. ’, in S. Pöhlmann. (ed.), Playing the Field: Video Games and American Studies, Oldenbourg:: De Gruyter;, pp. 21119.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Mittermeier, Sabrina. ( 2021), A Cultural History of the Disneyland Theme Parks: Middle-Class Kingdoms, Bristol:: Intellect;.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. Nakamura, Reid. ( 2020;), ‘ How Hollywood gave Darren Criss the chance to engage with his Asian-American identity on screen. ’, The Wrap, 1 May, https://www.thewrap.com/darren-criss-hollywood-netflix-michelle-krusiec-interview-asian-american-identity-anna-may-wong/amp/. Accessed 27 September 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Puar, Jasbir K.. ( 2007), Terrorist Assemblages, Durham, NC:: Duke University Press;.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Rohde, Joe. ( 2007;), ‘ From myth to mountain: Insights into virtual placemaking. ’, SIGGRAPH Computer Graphics, 47:3, https://doi.org/10.1145/1281324.1281325.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Schatz, Thomas. ( 1996), The Genius of the Studio System: Hollywood Film-Making in the Studio Era, London:: Faber & Faber;.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Spencer, Samuel. ( 2019;), ‘ Song of the South: Why the controversial Disney Movie is not on Disney Plus. ’, Newsweek, 12 November, https://www.newsweek.com/song-south-not-disney-plus-racist-streaming-1471186. Accessed 27 September 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  25. Watts, Marina. ( 2020;), ‘ 7 things Netflix’s Hollywood got wrong about Henry Willson, according to his biographer Robert Hofler. ’, Newsweek, 15 May, https://www.newsweek.com/7-things-netflixs-hollywood-got-wrong-about-henry-willson-according-his-biographer-robert-1504172. Accessed 18 February 2021.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Westenfeld, Adrienne. ( 2020;), ‘ Ryan Murphy’s new show is an alt-history, but Anna May Wong’s story is a real Hollywood injustice. ’, Esquire, 1 May, https://www.esquire.com/entertainment/tv/a32333040/anna-may-wong-the-good-earth-ryan-murphy-hollywood-netflix-true-story/. Accessed 18 February 2022.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. Mittermeier, Sabrina. ( 2022;), ‘ “What’s important is being in the room”: Ryan Murphy’s Hollywood and the politics of queer history. ’, Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture, 7:1&2, pp. 8394, https://doi.org/10.1386/qsmpc_00070_1
    [Google Scholar]
http://instance.metastore.ingenta.com/content/journals/10.1386/qsmpc_00070_1
Loading
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was a success
Invalid data
An error occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error