Michel Foucault And Judith Butler Influencing Queerness Film Studies Essay

In this essay I will be looking at the work of Michel Foucault and Judith Butler seeing how their work has influence oddity. I will get down the essay by looking at the adult male, Michel Foucault, followed by analyzing his work on gender and homosexualism. I will so look at Judith Butler and her work on gender public presentations. I will besides be giving modern-day illustrations of homophiles in the modern twenty-four hours by looking at three different homosexual telecasting presenters to demo how the building of homosexual figures has taken topographic point in recent old ages. I will besides be looking at how gender public presentations take topographic point in these illustrations of homophiles.

Michel Foucault – The Background

Michel Foucault was born in France in 1926. He was known as a philosopher, sociologist and a historian. In all three of these countries he was really influential, open uping many different constructs that helped revolutionize their certain Fieldss. Foucault continues to be one of the most of import figures in critical theory.

Foucault is best known for his critical surveies on societal establishments such as the prison system, medical specialty, the human scientific disciplines and for his work on the history of human gender which I will be discoursing subsequently.

His theories have been mostly concerned with the constructs of power and the relationship among power, cognition and discourse, and “ his influence is clear in a great trade of post-structuralism, post-modernist, women’s rightist, post-Marxist and post-colonial theorising ” ( Mills 2003 ) .

Foucault suffered from depression and attempted self-destruction on many different occasions. This could be as Mills says due to the great trouble at the clip about being openly homosexual, but it does propose that “ his marked involvement in psychological science stemmed from elements in his ain life ” ( Eribon 1991: 27 ) .

All though Foucault died of AIDS in 1984, his thoughts have and still do much argument. His thoughts have ne’er been merely accommodated by theoreticians around the universe. This is due to the ‘iconoclastic and ambitious nature of Foucault ‘s theoretical work ‘ ( Mills 2003 ) .

Michel Foucault – The History of Sexuality

During Foucault ‘s life, he wrote three volumes of The History of Sexuality. In this essay I will be concentrating on his thoughts on gender and society.

The first Volume of Michel Foucault ‘s book History of Sexuality was published in 1978, which was written near the terminal of a period of clip called the ‘sexual revolution ‘ in the western civilization ( Spargo 1999 ) . The sexual revolution was a clip where people ‘s ideas and sentiments shifted in respects to how they viewed gender throughout the western universe.

The book presents a powerful counter narration to the established narrative about “ Victorian sexual repression giving manner to progressive release and enlightenment in the twentieth century ” ( Spargo 1999 ) .

For illustration, Foucault describes how in the seventeenth century onwards gender was hidden from position. Peoples were subjected to a power of repression. But as Spargo describes, this all changed in the twentieth century.

“ Sex was still at that place, simmering under the dainty surface of 19th century businessperson reputability, but it was stifled by prohibitions and repressions. Until, that is, it, and we, were liberated in the age of the mini-skirt and the analyst, uncovering our legs and our innermost desires, conveying it all out into the unfastened ” ( Spargo 1999 ) .

This was easier for some but non rather as easy for others. Some struggled with the free look they were able to give to their sexual desires. Peoples turned to healers and counselors to assist derive freedom for the old ages of prohibitions. Did this mean that gender was ever waiting for us to liberate it?

In Foucault ‘s sentiment no. His position was that gender was n’t waiting to be freed or repressed but instead gender was and is produced in civilization and society.

“ Foucault rejected this repression hypothesis and claimed grounds pointed non to a prohibition on talking about gender but to a singular proliferation of discourses about gender ” ( Spargo 1999 ) . He did n’t desire people to presume that the repression from the 17th-19th century was effectual. He believed that the repression increased the desire of people to show and discourse their gender in ways which were seen as go againsting the tabu of society.

“ If sex is repressed, that is condemned to prohibition, non-existence and silence, so the mere fact that one is talking about it has the visual aspect of a calculated evildoing. A individual who holds away in such linguistic communication disturbances established jurisprudence and he/she somehow anticipates the coming freedom ” ( Foucault 1986 ) .

He did n’t believe that gender was natural or a normal facet of life but instead a building of experiences which has historical, societal and cultural beginnings.

As I have already discussed Foucault described how the procedure of limitation had created an increased exhilaration about gender, but he believed that the consequence of the inhibitory discourse apparently encouraged perverse signifiers of gender and made them more attractive types of behavior.

The building of homosexualism was one of Foucault ‘s most thought provoking averments. He believed that the class of homosexualism was created out of a peculiar context in the 1870 ‘s and that it should be viewed as a signifier of cognition instead than a ascertained individuality. Foucault was n’t stating that same sex practises were n’t accruing before the nineteenth century but, during this clip it was seen as black instead than in the nineteenth century where people embraced same sex relationships and the term ‘homosexual ‘ .

Foucault said, “ Homosexuality appeared as one of the signifiers of gender when it was transposed from the pattern of buggery onto a sort of interior hermaphroditism, a hermaphroditism of the psyche. The sodomist had been a impermanent aberrance ; the homophile was seen as being wholly suffused with gender ” ( Foucault 1978 ) .

Since the building of homosexualism in the nineteenth century, there has been an detonation of homosexual figures in the twentieth century. The media have seemed to of caught the homosexual vibration with telecasting in peculiar using homophiles to show different programmes. These programmes which are hosted by homophiles are frequently rather peculiar programme genres. For illustration, you would frequently see a homosexual presenter on amusement, pop civilization and lifestyle programmes instead than docudramas, political shows, or on the intelligence.

This shows us that homophiles are perchance seen as a gag, people who make us laugh by there actions, narratives or coarseness and perchance miss the intelligence or the earnestness to host programmes that require calm and a serious minded attitude towards the topic at manus.

Here are three modern-day illustrations of homosexual Television presenters.

The first is cat a called Alan Carr. He has worked on some of the biggest telecasting programmes in the twentieth century such as, ‘Friday Night Project ‘ , ‘Alan Carr ‘s Celebrity Ding Dong ‘ and ‘Alan Carr Chatty Man ‘ . Carr is celebrated for being cantonment, over the top and holding a really unusual laugh that ca n’t assist but do you laugh. Despite being openly homosexual he does n’t see his gender to be a focal portion of his act. “ What am I meant to make? Make I travel down the Julian Clary path and speak about fisting and Poppers? I do n’t speak about being cheery and I think what better equality for homosexuals than that? ” ( Observer online 2008 ) .

Unlike many performing artists, Carr shies off from unneeded inhuman treatment, alternatively trusting on his ain genuineness to win over his audience. His on-stage character is merely an extension of his ain and therein lies the beginning of both his appeal and his endowment.

Philosopher, Judith Butler who I will be talking about ulterior believes that we all put on gender public presentations and that gender, like gender, is n’t a critical truth that has come from the organic structure ‘s materiality but instead a regulative fiction.

The 2nd adult male is called Dale Winton. Winton has been on telecasting since 1987 and has characteristic in many different types of telecasting programmes. He is most celebrated for a programme called ‘Supermarket Sweep ‘ which ran from 1993-2001. He was seen as the typical homosexual telecasting presenter, really camp and over the top which is really much a tendency in homosexual telecasting hosts. During his clip he was iconic for being overtly camp, tanned and frequently huffy feely with his invitees, but he was ne’er as he says a ‘banner beckoning homosexual ‘ .

“ I ‘m non a banner-waving homosexual cat, because I really do n’t believe it ‘s of import. Peoples ne’er say ‘vehement heterosexual Michael Parkinson ‘ , but it will state ‘camp cheery entertainer Graham Norton ‘ , or ‘Dale Winton ‘ since I ‘ve officially come out. ” ( Times online 2008 )

The 3rd and concluding telecasting presenter I will be looking at is Graham Norton. He is arguably one of the most good known telecasting presenters in recent old ages. Again he has many of the homosexual traits and he describes himself on the channel 4 web site as a ‘shiny Irish cogent evidence ‘ .

It does non take long to work out that his gender has played a big portion in his entreaty and success. His extremely camp manner gives him the license to be extremely ill-mannered without being violative, and his speedy humor, put-downs and one-liners have made him a homosexual icon.

‘He has been criticised for being excessively camp and taking the homosexual stereotype to an extreme. Some cheery work forces have said he is reenforcing the thought that a cheery Television star has to be extraordinary and in the mold of like Kenneth Williams or Frankie Howerd ‘ . ( BBC website, 2001 )

All three of these telecasting presenters are illustrations of the twentieth century homophile. They all portion similar traits such as the in your face campness, being over the top and besides being ‘drama Queenss ‘ . The ‘homosexual ‘ has grown and changed over clip since its creative activity in the nineteenth century and will go on to alter as clip goes on.

Foucault work on the analysis of gender has helped in disputing the preconceived thoughts of sexual features.

He argues that his survey was n’t designed to be a history of sexual behaviors nor a history of representation, but a history of gender.

Judith Butler

The theoretician most conspicuously associated with oddity and fagot theory is American post-structuralist philosopher Judith Butler.

Butler followed the work of Michel Foucault and used his work so she could look into theoretical accounts of gender and heterosexualism.

Butler argues that gender, like gender, is n’t a critical truth that has come from the organic structure ‘s materiality but instead a regulative fiction.

“ Gender is the perennial stylisation of the organic structure, a set of perennial Acts of the Apostless within a extremely stiff regulative frame that congeal over clip to bring forth the visual aspect of substance, of a natural kind of being ” ( Butler 1990, p. 33 )

Butler argues that the sex you are i.e. Male or female is seen to do a gender type i.e. masculine or feminine which is so seen to make a desire towards the other gender. This is seen as a uninterrupted series that is invariably reproducing itself.

Inspired by Foucault, Butlers attack is to destruct the links between that series so desire and gender are allowed to be flexible and non made to be steady factors.

Butler argues that we all put on gender public presentations, and she says it ‘s non a inquiry of whether this will take topographic point, but in what signifier will this public presentation return. She believes that by taking to be different, we might be able to alter gender norms and the apprehension of maleness and muliebrity.

Butler says: ‘There is no gender individuality behind the looks of gender ; … individuality is performatively constituted by the really “ looks ” that are said to be its consequences. ‘ ( Butler 1990, p.25 ) .

In other words, gender is a public presentation ; it ‘s what youA doA at peculiar times, instead than a universalA who you are.

This attack of gender is really similar to that of gender. Butler, Foucault and Queer theory all believe that your individuality is non fixed but constructed at certain times or in certain state of affairss. Foucault argued that gender was produced which overlaps on what Butler says about gender being performed/produced.

This thought of individuality as free drifting and non connected to a existent significance but instead a public presentation, is one of the cardinal thoughts in the creative activity of fagot theory

Modern twenty-four hours illustrations of Butler ‘s theory sing gender public presentations are clear to see. The three illustrations of homosexual figures in telecasting are illustrations of what Butler calls gender public presentations.

All three of the telecasting presenters that I have reference Alan Carr, Dale Winton and Graham Norton have created a public presentation of their gender at peculiar times. All three adult male execute their gender in different ways with Alan Carr utilizing his over the top campness as a manner of prosecuting with the audience, Dale Winton utilizing his touchy feely animal attack to his audience and Graham Norton utilizing his homosexualism as a manner of doing gags and seting others down without any effects. The manner in which all three act is a public presentation of some sort to either feel accepted or to derive a reaction from their audiences.


In this essay I have looked at the work of Michel Foucault and Judith Butler, both of who have influenced the work of oddity in different ways. I have looked at Foucault ‘s work on the repression in the Victorian age and his work on homosexualism. I besides looked at the modern twenty-four hours detonation of homophiles on Television utilizing the illustrations of three different Television presenters.

I so went on to analyze Judith Butler ‘s work which was influenced by Foucault on gender public presentations. I discussed how Butler believed that we all go through gender public presentations but that it is n’t who we are, instead a clip to clip experience. On the dorsum of this I took the illustration of the three homosexual telecasting presenters and linked their characters to gender public presentations.

Both these theoreticians have looked at subjects in gender, gender and society, with some of there thoughts overlapping, with both Foucault and Butler looking at gender and gender as constructed and performed by persons. Foucault besides looked at the building of the homosexual figure and I have taken his work on farther by looking at the features of the homosexual figure as exemplified by modern twenty-four hours Television presenters.