I am delighted to say that I will be presenting my paper on “Netflix’ Post-Racial Utopias: Diversity, Globalization, and Neoliberalism in Sense8 and The Umbrella Academy” at the 2019 MPCA/ACA Conference (October 10-13, 2019 in Cincinnati, OH).
The recent Netflix originals Sense8 (2015-18) and The Umbrella Academy (2019) present strikingly similar utopias of post-racial queer communities. Both feature a diverse ensemble of characters with supernatural abilities born on the exact same day in different parts of the world. The shows were embraced by their audiences for their progressive representation of multiracial casts and their inclusion of canonically queer characters. However, in this presentation I argue that both Sense8 and The Umbrella Academy co-opt the political ideals of “queerness” and “diversity” for a neoliberal vision of globalization. The series prioritize Western notions of multiculturalism and sexual liberation at the expense of critical discourses on racial, cultural, and economic inequity. Ultimately, I argue that both series can be read as fictional manifestations of Netflix’ business strategy: the expansion of a globalized corporate network carried by global communities of affinity.
As author of the article “A Questionable Bromance: Queer Subtext, Fan Service, and the Dangers of Queerbaiting in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes and A Game of Shadows,” I was asked to participate in a panel on Queerbaiting and Transformative Fandom together with Lori Morimoto and Joseph Brennan by the creators of Three Patch Podcast.
Listen to the discussion here on the Three Patch Website!
So more or less coincidentally, within a week I got to see two new movies about the early 1980s that both dealt with the issue of HIV/AIDS: Ryan Murphy’s The Normal Heart (HBO, 2014) and Matthew Warchus/Stephen Beresford’s Pride (Calamity Films, 2014). When I say that I’m here to discuss one of them mostly favorably (Pride) and one of them less so (The Normal Heart), I’m not doing this primarily to draw a comparison between British and American filmmaking, although I believe they can also serve as fairly good examples for a specific type of national cinema/television.
I admit I had high expectations for The Normal Heart, especially considering the stunning ensemble of actors this movie brought together (Mark Ruffalo, Matt Bomer, Jim Parsons etc etc), and thus was actually a bit disturbed by how off-putting I found it. There are two things in particular that bothered me about The Normal Heart: Continue reading →