Scott Henderson

Alexander Doty notes the possibility of queer spectatorship of mainstream texts in his identification of''queer moments'' in texts.1 In conjunction with this idea, it might be possible to conceive of queer texts that rely on mainstream constructions in relation to issues of queer, or more specifically queer youth, identities. As Doty's argument suggests, many mainstream ''straight'' texts remain open to possible ''queer readings,'' an aspect that, according to Doty, inheres in the text itself rather then being constructed by the audience. Within the parameters of this study, the construction of the filmic text, and particularly the ways in which agency is constructed within that text, is of paramount importance. While both of the films to be discussed here foreground gay and lesbian characters, my concern is not with the articulation of sexual identity but rather how each film employs gay and lesbian agency as a means of addressing wider social concerns, particularly in response to the expectations of the dominant culture. Doty's explanation of his terminology raises similar concerns: ''when I use the terms 'queer' or 'queerness' as adjectives or nouns, I do so to suggest a range of nonstraight expression in, or in response to, mass culture.''2 Similarly, neither of the films discussed here need be considered as gay and/or lesbian texts, but instead as youth films which employ a gay or lesbian gaze and foreground moments of''queer positions'' of spectatorship as a response to mass culture constructions of youth. The need to establish agency which breaks from that of the dominant culture provides impetus for the perspective that these films provide.

Here I will analyze two such films, each emerging from separate national cinema traditions—the Swedish film Show Me Love (a.k.a. Fucking Amal, Lukas Moodysson, 1998) and the British film Beautiful Thing (Hettie Mac-

Donald, 1996). Each of these films uses standard teen film conventions of escape from an oppressive family and social life to explore not only youth anxieties but also anxieties around sexual identities in contemporary settings. The aim of this analysis is to examine how each of these films, in negotiating boundaries of national and sexual identity, composes its own construction of "otherness" as the main characters interact with and respond to mainstream culture.

In accordance with Chris Straayer's arguments identifying a lesbian gaze,3 but extrapolating these findings to a queer gaze more widely, it can be argued that texts such as those identified above incorporate their gay and lesbian protagonists as a means of addressing other issues, particularly those relating to a rejection of status quo representations. In both films, the main characters' seeming entrapment within restrictive families and/or communities makes the idea of "getting out" synonymous with "coming out.'' The films do address other youth culture interests, but significantly employ aspects of gay and lesbian representation in articulating their concerns. This identification of queer spectatorship and representation and its role in addressing wider cultural issues is the primary focus of this chapter. A careful analysis of each film will show how they represent the subjectivities of their young lesbian or gay protagonists within the context of their respective national cinemas.

Doty's notion of queer moments suggests that "'queerness' as a mass culture reception practice is shared by all sorts of people in varying degrees of consistency and intensity.''4 In other words, he suggests that texts can create queer subject positions to which all spectators may relate and respond. Doty's own definition of this space and his choice of terms overlaps with issues that have been raised around representations of youth. Says Doty, ''I am using the term 'queer' to mark a flexible space for the expression of non- (anti-, contra-) straight cultural production and reception.''5 While most youth films do not expressly deal with openly nonstraight representations, their concerns with issues of sexual identity and expression and their challenge to mainstream aspects of ''cultural production'' align them with fundamental elements of Doty's definition. The films discussed here illustrate the ''queer'' possibilities in youth narratives and their relationship to the mainstream. As Doty himself says, ''Queer positions, queer readings, and queer pleasures are part of a reception space that stands simultaneously beside and within that created by heterosexual and straight positions.''6 Much the same can be said of youth positions and representations, which so often are constructed as both outside and inside dominant cultural positions.

While many youth films have dealt with young people's sexual anxieties, particularly around issues of coming-of-age, very few have dealt with non-straight youth. Some teen films have addressed the concerns of homosexual youth, but these tend to be independent productions subject to limited theatrical release, and often very difficult to obtain on video or DVD.7 Even films with more mainstream possibility and major studio support would seem to run into roadblocks. Timothy Shary describes the case of Coming Soon (Colette Burson, 1999), in which one of the three main characters realizes she is a lesbian. Shary points out that in the United States the film was given an NC-17 rating, making it very difficult to distribute. And as Shary notes, this seems ''due to the film's extolling of young women's sexual satisfaction."8 Shary contrasts this with the R-rated American Pie (Paul Weitz, 1999), which focuses on male sexuality. Though American Pie does not overtly address homosexuality, it would seem to be a topic which creates fear, primarily for the father of the main character, Jim. Throughout the film are scenes of father-and-son talks that demonstrate the father's anxiety. At the film's conclusion, when the father happens upon Jim viewing a live Internet feed of a striptease being offered by his female, overseas love interest, the contented father dances down the hall, calling out to his offscreen wife. Any fears regarding his son's sexual orientation have seemingly been laid to rest.

So within the mainstream teen film, representations of homosexuality have been effectively marginalized, as they tend to be in mainstream cinema more widely. Yvonne Tasker has addressed the critical debates surrounding lesbian representations within the mainstream, noting that popular representations of lesbians and lesbian desire have been negatively received. Tasker suggests that these films ''are simultaneously deemed interesting and yet found wanting in quite complex ways,'' and that while ''women, feminist or not, have flocked to see them . . . various feminist critics have contemptuously dismissed popular films such as Lianna, Black Widow, and Desert Hearts."9 Tasker alludes to significant debates over how gay and lesbian experience should be represented. The formal properties of art cinema, experimental film, and documentary have often been seen as key shifts away from the dominant structures of the mainstream, popular cinema. Yet, as Julianne Pidduck has noted, ''many lesbian viewers have long craved the retelling of familiar stories to accommodate lesbian desire, courtship and sexuality.''10 Still, gay and lesbian perspectives have more readily been identified in other film forms, such as documentary or experimental works. In terms of youth representations, the most frequently addressed may be the pixel vision video works of Sadie Benning. Benning's works, described as autobiographical, give voice to a lesbian perspective. Christie Milliken stresses the development of a specific subjectivity in their performativity. She notes that ''Benning is clearly part of a younger generation of lesbians characterized by a movement from an emphasis on identity to an emphasis on performance."11 This performative power is crucial in allowing for the emergence of a "queer" voice, as opposed to merely offering gay or lesbian representations. While Benning's films may remain classified and marginalized as documentaries, experimental works, or Milliken's term, video essays, the possibilities for a queer subjectivity that they create point to the way in which these voices can be used to break from dominant representations. It may be that in nonHollywood systems, the representations of queer perspectives align more effectively with broader national cinema concerns in response to Hollywood and its dominant discourses. What is significant in the films I am looking at here is that they do offer gay and lesbian narratives, but do so within the traditions of their national cinemas, rather than being from the margins. Gay and lesbian "looks" are offered in these films to open up questions surrounding the hegemony over youth representation, and it is through the opening up of these questions that national cinema discourses are able to emerge.

Beautiful Thing opens by establishing a sense of social and cultural alienation as the film's protagonist, Jamie Gangel (Glen Berry), runs away from school and toward his home in the concrete wastelands of South East London. Overhead shots emphasize his position as small and seemingly insignificant against this cold landscape, establishing a mood which is in alignment with numerous teen films where alienation is a central theme. At the same time a rainbow is seen, representing the possibilities of beauty to be uncovered or discovered "somewhere over the rainbow." As in Dorothy's case in The Wizard of Oz, Jamie discovers that his "escape" leads to a reevaluation of the world in which he already lives. The film has much in common with several other class-focused British films of the 1980s and the 1990s, including another film concerned with articulations of young gay identity, Stephen Frears' My Beautiful Laundrette (1985). Characters are trapped in an oppressive social environment in which social mobility is limited. In Beautiful Thing's concrete and breeze block projects, social and gender roles seem well defined; boys are expected to excel at football and fighting while girls are defined by their sexuality. The film's frequent intersections between concerns typical of youth films and those typical of contemporary British cinema relate to the main character's concerns over sexual identity. As such the film might be argued to be as concerned with issues of class and identity as it is with issues of growing up gay, using the gay story line as a further means of underlining and representing social isolation.

Jamie becomes attracted to his next door neighbor Ste Pearce (Scott Neal), who is frequently abused by his alcoholic father and violent older brother.

This playful Australian print ad for Beautiful Thing (1996) features its young gay couple in a way that U.S. films about queer youth tend to avoid.

Raised in this environment of overblown masculinity, Ste is initially reluctant to return Jamie's affection and is particularly wary of how others will view his relationship. This sense of social entrapment is echoed in the film's visual style, where the world of the estates is oppressive and restrictive. These ties to locale are significant in aligning Beautiful Thing with other recent working-class films in Britain. As Julia Hallam has noted, ''these films all foreground a sense of place in their use of location shooting and vernacular dialogue.''12 This place is made all the more significant in Beautiful Thing, for it not only works to mark class, but also serves as a means of further repressing sexual identity, particularly the alignment of masculinity and working-class culture echoed in Ste's family. The two boys find escape, and a sense of belonging, in a gay pub; distance from the estate is emphasized by a lengthy (but conveniently direct) bus ride and also through gay lifestyle magazines which seem to depict gay culture as ''out there'' rather than in their immediate environment.

All of the main characters in the film are portrayed as desiring escape from the identities they have been expected to assume. Leah's desires to become Mama Cass are emblematic of this. Cass' whiteness is in contrast to Leah's blackness, made evident in one scene where Leah coats her face in white beauty cream in her attempt to become more like Cass. While not categorically a youth, Jamie's mother, Sandra, who evidently had Jamie at a relatively young age, and who retains a youthful, hippie boyfriend, is also marked as an outsider; her thwarted efforts to become a pub manager illustrate the barriers confronting her. The manager of the local pub where she works shares a sexist joke with her, but when Sandra repeats it at her own managerial interview, it offends her interviewers. It is clear that Sandra, and the world in which she lives and works, is far removed from that to which she aspires. The humor, seemingly acceptable as part of the cultural landscape of the estate, is as out of place as Sandra seems to be during the interview, and it undermines her attempts to seemingly ''grow up'' and grow out of her surroundings.

Beyond cultural definitions of youth also exist those of nation. While there is much to align Beautiful Thing with a wide range of British films of the 1980s and '90s, particularly in its explorations of working-class, or underclass, existence, the sexual orientation of its protagonists marks the film as more of an exception. This links to questions of how one might define a national cinema, and where such alternative, marginalized voices may be positioned. Justine Ashby, as Andrew Higson notes, shows how the British woman's film of the '80s offers an ''escape from the claustrophobic confines of Britishness by entering a liminal space elsewhere, beyond the boundaries of nation.''13 The opening of Beautiful Thing alerts us to the liminal space in which these characters exist. Already on the margins of society socioeco-nomically, the characters are further marginalized within this landscape. For Jamie the marginalizing force is sexual orientation, for Leah it is both race and gender, and for Sandra it is class and single parenthood.

Beautiful Thing echoes earlier British cinema, such as the Ealing films, which Higson suggests ''explore a liminal space on the margins of the nation in order to grasp its apparent center.''14 Similarly ''kitchen sink'' films such as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Karel Reisz, 1960) and My Beautiful Laundrette, according to Higson, ''return to similarly liminal spaces on the metaphorical edge of the nation.''15 But such films imply a relationship with the ''center,'' even if it is one of alienation, and as Higson states in relation to Ealing, these films do wish to ''grasp its apparent center.'' The ''happy'' ending of the communal dance in Beautiful Thing may mark a rejection, or at least a reorientation of that center. When Jamie and Ste venture into the city, it is to visit a gay pub, perhaps an indication that the center is more heterogeneous while it is the margins that still cling to the older, dominant-values mainstream culture. For those on the economic margins, the sexist jokes, homophobia, racism, and strict defining of gender roles become less a grasp ing of an ''apparent center'' than a grasping at straws to maintain some sense of connection to a center which no longer exists.

The liminal space occupied by characters such as Jamie or Leah within the already liminal space of the estate actually functions to align them with shifting ideas of what constitutes nation. Traditional, established values are outmoded in relation to the diversity and fragmentation which now exists at the center. Such a reading of the film is consonant with Higson's notion of a postnational cinema. The ideas of a stable, national community are replaced by a heterogeneity—a diversity of perspectives and ideals. Yet, as Beautiful Thing ultimately shows, the acceptance of this diversity reinvigo-rates rather than destroys community. The cold, concrete atmosphere of the estate is given new life and vibrancy in the dance at the film's conclusion. Ultimately Beautiful Thing uses its gay plotline as part of its rearticulation of the national. But rather than address the anxieties of the underclass, the film addresses how such marginalized groups are often ''stuck,'' clinging to outmoded ideals. They remain liminal by staying with ideas of nation that are no longer in keeping with the heterogeneity of the center. In doing so, the film represents the possibilities for a national cinema envisioned by John Hill: that is, to ''re-imagine the nation, or rather nations within Britain, and also to address the specificities of a national culture in a way that does not presume a homogeneous and 'pure' national identity.''16 Beautiful Thing may even be pushing this further, as it not only works to ''re-imagine the nation'' but also to critique how traditional notions of national identity present a conservative roadblock to the development of contemporary communities. By allowing for the articulation of otherwise marginalized voices, the film establishes a new sense of cultural identity within postcolonial Britain. In doing so the film is able to respond to concerns around identity and nation, which is also a function of Moodysson's Show Me Love in relation to Sweden.

A significant aspect of Show Me Love is its adaptation of the standard youth film, particularly that of the high school films popular in American cinema. Though transposed to Sweden, the film incorporates the same settings, styles, and structures as those found in numerous Hollywood youth films. The socially outcast main character, Agnes (Rebecka Liljeberg), is attracted to the popular Elin (Alexandra Dahlstrom), and the two are eventually drawn together. This takes place against familiar teen film locales and scenarios, such as school, home, and teen parties, and the action is accompanied by a sound track of popular songs, including the title track, sung in English by Swedish teen pop star Robyn. The mass culture construction of a the teen star, including a reference to a Robyn-endorsed brand of perfume, is

As revealed by the small print at the bottom of this Japanese flyer for Show Me Love (1998), the film's original title, Fucking AmM, was often elided outside of Europe.

crucial to the film's critique of the way in which the teens of this film have their gender roles constructed by the mass media. Although shot in a style akin to Dogme 95, the film employs recognizable cinematic codes and structures so that the story is familiar despite the shifting of subject positions and setting. The main distinction between this film and the sorts of films it borrows from is in the sexuality of the two main characters.

Show Me Love offers a lesbian narrative as a means of critiquing dominant culture representations rather than offering itself as a lesbian film. In accordance with Straayer's arguments, Show Me Love provides examples of the ''lesbian look,'' one that Straayer suggests ''requires exchange,'' unlike the dominant male gaze that looks upon the female as object of desire.17 In Straayer's explanation of the lesbian gaze, the unidirectional gaze is done away with in favor of shots that demonstrate an equal exchange of looks or a two-shot in which both characters are seen. In Straayer's examples these representations are overshadowed by the films' rearticulations of a dominant heterosexuality. This is not the case in Show Me Love, as instead the lesbian gaze is usurped as part of a wider critique of mass culture's gender and social roles for youth. Elin's desires to escape the confinement of small-town life and its cultural expectations are realized in her discovery of her own subjectivity and her declaration of her desires for Agnes. Agnes and Elin do present themselves as a couple at the end, and in contrast to Straayer's examples of Entre Nous (Diane Kurys, 1983) and Voyage en Douce (Michele Deville, 1980), they are assertive about their sexuality. Straayer points out that neither of the films she discusses foregrounds its female protagonists' relationships as lesbian, but that both films are ''open to lesbian readings.''18 She suggests that ''female bonding'' provides possibilities in films for potential ''lesbian appropriation." However, she argues that this is often ''acknowledged by internal efforts to forbid such conclusions.''19 Show Me Love aligns its female bonding more overtly with a lesbian story line in the relationship between Elin and Agnes, but despite this it may be read as a film which actually appropriates lesbian representation to address wider concerns. Show Me Love remains a film written and directed by a male, Lukas Moodysson, and its thematic concerns deal more with the alienation that youth may feel in a small-town setting in the context of a global culture. Hence, it is arguably less a lesbian film than a film that employs lesbian desire, and a filmic means of expressing this desire, as part of its critique of the dominant culture.

One of the striking elements of Show Me Love is the dominance of familiar brand names, trademarks, icons and other marks of mass culture. Unlike films where product placement is paramount, these elements are not foregrounded but rather seem to permeate the environment in which the protagonists exist. Moodysson, in his mise-en-scène, is indicating how mass culture images function to structure youth's lives. One of these repeated elements is that of the images of hockey stars and their effects on the males of the film. On a number of occasions posters of hockey players are seen on the walls of the young men's bedrooms, suggesting the influence these masculine images might have on their conception of gender roles. To underline this point, Moodysson includes a scene at a hockey practice where the coach derides his players with phrases such as ''mommy's boys,'' thus reinforcing dominant cultural expectations around gender. It is not then surprising that within this environment Markus (Stefan Horberg) and Johan (Mathias Rust), two central male characters, would emerge with shallow, uninformed opinions about women. When confronted by his girlfriend—Elin's sister Jessica (Erica Carlson)—as to why he has fought another male while they are loitering in front of a store, Markus is unsure, referring to it as something he just had to do, reinforcing how these characters are compelled to adhere to social expectations of gender. Johan is shown as being so weak that he cannot voice his own opinions when challenged on his views by Elin; instead he can only weakly echo Markus' sexist posturing. One scene provides an ironic inversion in the form of a comparison of cellular phones, where having the smaller and thinner phone, and hence better technology, is seen as a mark of one's manhood.

Show Me Love depicts a group of young people in a relatively remote city whose lives are dominated by the largely foreign, mass culture images they are offered. A frequent point of complaint for Elin is the contrast between what is available in Amal in contrast with larger urban centers. She bemoans the fact that according to a popular magazine, raves are "out" before they have ever reached Amal. At one point, as Elin and her mother are watching the televised national lottery, they (and we) are confronted with advertising images of the idealized family as potential winners. It is clear that the images the mass culture sells are out of reach for the inhabitants of Amal—a fact that the adults of the film seem resigned to, but from which at least the two lead protagonists long to escape. Their friends, in contrast, accept their fate and the limitations that it offers them. Opportunities for these youth to determine and to express their own identities are limited.

As a response to these mass culture constructions, the film uses the relationship between Agnes and Elin as a means of countering the traditional representation of youth and romance offered in teen films. The film borrows what might loosely be described as a "John Hughes'' aesthetic in terms of its use of setting, characters, issues, and reliance on sound track. While Hughes' films so often validate a dominant, heterosexual discourse, Show Me Love employs many of the same generic aspects in working to counter that dominant voice. As with many teen films, music plays a large role, especially the use of Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is'' in the scene where the two girls exchange their first meaningful kiss, and in the use of the title track.

As Straayer notes, the "Hollywood romance formula of love at first sight relies on a slippage between sexuality and love.''20 As argued by other feminist theorists, the sexual desires represented by the voyeuristic pleasure of looking become coded culturally as "love," thus recuperating them in a socially acceptable and less threatening manner. This is even more significant when women look, as classical texts deny female subjectivity based upon desire. So the normal pattern is one where sexual desire is enough to motivate love, but by the film's end love replaces sex. The two song titles suggest the possibility of the same transformation in the relationship between Elin and Agnes, thus negating the threat that might be represented by an expression of female desire. But this, it turns out, is not the case in Show Me Love. Rather than allowing her desires to be transformed solely into love, Elin announces to her schoolmates, as she and Agnes emerge from the bathroom, ''This is my new girlfriend. . . . We're going to go and fuck.'' Her feelings are combined with her sexual desires rather than being culturally constructed as the typical teen film might imply. Her openly expressed desire for both bonding and sexuality, ''loving'' and ''fucking,'' is in contrast with her earlier reactions to sex with Johan, which were based solely on saying what was expected of her rather than revealing her true feelings. The title ''Show Me Love'' may thus equate with ''show me subjectivity," or let me act rather than be acted upon. In relation to Elin it may also function as somewhat of a challenge. As suggested in the film, she has been the object of desire for a number of boys, but as is evidenced by her frustrations, she remains unsatisfied by their attention. Following Elin's sexual encounter with Johan, she admits to her sister that while she said nice things to Johan, she remained unimpressed and unfulfilled. By contrast, Agnes' desire, and the depth of it as indicated through her diary entries, may be a means of showing Elin ''love,'' so that she will ''know what love is.''

One of the ways in which the film addresses these concerns is through its shifting subjectivity. The film begins by focusing on Agnes—her perspective and her desire for Elin. Her feelings parallel those of Johan: in one scene we see both Agnes and Johan admiring and then clipping the same picture of Elin from a school yearbook. Elin is clearly cast as an object of each gaze, and at this point we see that Agnes' ''lesbian'' gaze is equated with the male gaze. The fulfillment of her desires actually comes when that alignment with the male gaze is broken, and we get, as Straayer notes, an ''exchange'' of looks. Again, Straayer states that ''the lesbian look requires exchange. It looks for a returning look, not a receiving look. It sets up two-directional sexual activity.'' 21 Elin moves in the film from being an object of desire to someone whose subjectivity is activated so that eventually she is able to provide the necessary ''returning look'' in developing her relationship with Agnes.

Elin eventually becomes her own viewer as the film progresses. As Straayer notes, drawing on Doane's notion that traditional texts structure women's position in two possible ways: ''the masochism of overidentifica-tion,'' as is seen in Elin's exaggerated, and false, attempts at conformity in pursuing Johan, or ''the narcissism entailed in becoming one's own object of desire.''22 In Doane this latter aspect is seen as part of the mass culture construction of women, wanting to be as beautiful and desirable as the female film stars they see on screen, and the ways in which mass culture encourages such identification. This is something that Elin faces in her relationship with Jessica, with whom discussions revolve around issues of appearance. One such conversation relates to Elin's desires to become a future Miss Sweden, an aspiration Jessica derides, as she believes Elin is too short. During this conversation we see the girls resort to using an elevator's mirror as a means of checking their appearance, since it turns out that Elin has broken the household mirror in a fit of frustration over her image. This coincides with Lacanian notions of the mirror stage, for Elin's breaking of the mirror prevents her moving into the symbolic, and hence she is not codified by the social "norms." Furthermore, her unwillingness to move beyond this "mirror stage'' may symbolize Elin's refusal to grow up and grow into the sorts of social conformity against which she rebels. Her relationship with Agnes permits her to ''grow up'' in a manner outside of the dominant social discourse. This then overlaps with her stated career goals of becoming either a model or a psychoanalyst—either the object of desire or the taking of a subjective role. This split is evident in the hitchhiking scene, where Elin, in essence, becomes her own object of desire as she kisses Agnes. We do not see the two in a typical shot/reverse shot, but rather in a two-shot as they kiss in the backseat of a car. Elin's comment of ''look at us, we're so fucking cool'' becomes significant here, as she encourages herself and Agnes to look at themselves, to assume a position of subjectivity. When they enter the car, a Saab family sedan driven by a middle-aged, patriarchal father figure, the camera shows the subjective position of the driver, looking down Elin's shirt at her breasts. The kiss between the girls disrupts this dominant gaze. The male driver is unable to get his car started, and upon seeing the girls kiss, questions whether or not he is on Candid Camera, a mark of his loss of control over subjectivity.

Elin's newfound subjectivity has been activated as a result of Agnes' looking and desire. In the segment following the encounter in the car, we are fooled as viewers by a scene that at first seems to reflect Agnes' point of view. The scene at first seems to be a next-day follow-up to the kiss in the car, but is instead, we realize, a dream sequence. It takes place in the school cafeteria, and its narrative corresponds with Agnes' written diary fantasies. However, we find out that the dream in fact has been Elin's, motivated by her desires for Agnes. This is revealed when Jessica wakes Elin. In response to her sister's questions about the dream, Elin opts for conformity, implying that the dream was about a heterosexual love interest. Elin repeatedly ex presses her desire to escape from the conformity expected in Amal, a conformity even Jessica acknowledges when she notes that her relationship with Markus is not borne of desire but rather out of a sense of social expectation. Throughout the film we see Elin and Jessica avoid stepping on sewer drains marked with an A, as cultural myths suggest that stepping on such drains will unleash a scourge of a-related afflictions, such as AIDS, anorexia, acne, and anal sex. Finally, near the end of the film, Elin finds the courage to point out the absurdity of such myths, noting the negative attributes that could just as easily be associated with drains marked with a C.

Nonetheless, because of her attempts to conform to expectations, Elin ends up in a relationship with Johan as a means of preventing Jessica from finding out about her desires for Agnes. From Elin's perspective, the relationship between her and Johan is not one of passion, or true feelings, but one of social obligation. The sex we see is without passion, and Johan's culturally anticipated expectations are undermined by the lack of authenticity in Elin's reactions. Instead, sex with Johan seems to stand in for the sex with Agnes that she is not yet able to have. Following the kiss between Agnes and Elin, the film cuts back and forth between their responses and desires, and Agnes' numerous rebuffed attempts to contact Elin. Across this void, Moodysson's clever use of crosscutting creates an exchange of glances, culminating with Elin almost telling her mother about her desires. Instead, Elin criticizes her mother for pointlessly following the dreams of the lottery; we then see Agnes begin to masturbate while looking at the yearbook picture of Elin. Agnes' response to her desire is action, but Elin's links to conformity do not permit her to openly speak of her desire; rather, she rechannels that energy into the critique of her mother's conformity. Following the shot of Agnes, we see an image of Elin defacing pictures in a fashion magazine, in effect destroying the gendered expectations that have been placed on her. This visual building of their relationship is then disrupted by Jessica, who insists that Elin meet with Johan, a relationship which then further disrupts the possibility for contact between the two girls.

Straayer points out that mainstream cinema, and the theories related to it, are too limited in how they address gay spectatorship, for they assume certain existent subject positions. Hence, it is stressed that lesbian or queer desire is expressed via a masculine gaze and a regression on the part of women to align themselves with that dominant subjectivity. Straayer's analysis, and my analysis of Show Me Love, suggest that there may be means of opening up other kinds of spectatorship or subjectivity. For Show Me Love this works in aid of a larger goal of undermining the mass culture codes that so often work to determine gender. The relationship between Elin and

Johan goes some way toward redressing this viewpoint as it undermines the heterosexual gaze by demonstrating the ultimate futility of Johan's efforts. His gaze, and his desires for Elin, are not the gaze or desires that motivate the narrative; rather, we are encouraged to identify with the exchange of looks between Elin and Agnes. This exchange opens up the possibility of other kinds of spectatorship within the text and thus of the possibility of breaking from the mass-mediated culture which provides the social norms for a city like Amal.

The films addressed here can be seen as employing "queer" subjectivity as a means of deviating from the norms of youth representation. In an era of increased globalization, and with the concurrent domination of Hollywoodstyle images of youth, such deviations function beyond solely representing sexual difference. As Shary has pointed out, "Since most movie studios are now owned by a handful of corporations that also own vast Internet and television outlets, the industry's appeal to youth may have formed into a more diffuse effort to maintain constant media consumption rather than any media-specific loyalty.''23 The ability for films from other national cinema traditions to break from such monopolistic depictions is clearly significant. Nationally specific concerns and popular culture are exemplified in both films discussed here. By breaking from the "norms" surrounding youth representation, the films have been able to articulate wider concerns surrounding cultural appropriation. The hegemonic discourses of globalization are challenged as the norms of youth depiction are discarded, and a "queer" subjectivity is permitted to emerge. The central characters in both of these films long to escape from the social forces that dominate their lives. Likewise, the films themselves seem to escape from the dominant forces surrounding youth representation in cinema and in doing so articulate a space for their national voices to be heard.

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