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This article analyses the politics of gender representation in two well-known ‘coming-out’ British films of the 1990s: Hettie MacDonald’s Beautiful Thing (1996) and Simon Shore’s Get Real (1999). In contrast with similar gaythemed British youth films of the previous decade - such as the Merchant- Ivory adaptation of E.M. Forster’s posthumous novel Maurice (1987) or Peter Saville’s The Fruit Machine (1988) - the films discussed here offer a comparatively positive picture of the ‘coming-out’ process that has been criticized by some critics as unrealistic. Yet, similar rigid class and gender structures to those that permeated Forster’s early twentieth-century classic can be seen to have a direct influence on the more contemporary settings. Issues of gender stereotyping and the disparity between queer and non-queer spaces, together with the potential queer politics of both films are also considered as evidence that these films are anything but simplistic or overoptimistic.
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Keywords: British Film; Hettie Macdonald; Simon Shore; gender representation; queer politics; stereotpying

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Durham

Publication date: 2003-03-03

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  • The journal aims to provide a platform for the study of new forms of cinematic practice and fresh approaches to cinemas hitherto neglected in western scholarship. It particularly welcomes scholarship that does not take existing paradigms and theoretical conceptualisations as given; rather, it anticipates submissions that are refreshing in approach and exhibit a willingness to tackle cinematic practices that are still in the process of development into something new.
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