By David Savran
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Miller analyzes the numerous intersections between the con ventions of the midcentury musical and the tastes and experiences-the secret codes and fantasies-of a generation of gay men. He also com pellingly details the contradictory seductions by which the musical works its magic, its way of both provoking and foreclosing an identification with the figure of the Star Mother. 9 Wolf, meanwhile, attempts to reclaim the musical for lesbian (and feminist) spectators by pointing out that fe male characters in midcentury musicals are offered up less as "objects of desire" than as "strong, dominating women," as characters, in other words, whose presence undermines the distinction between identifica tion and desire.
Although the British invasion may suggest that the American theater retains a certain colonized mentality, I am more interested in analyzing why producers and critics worked so hard to bolster a belief in the su periority of the British theater. It would seem that in a time of unpre cedented confusion in the United States between high and low, British (or Anglo-Irish) drama appeals to producers, theatergoers, and critics alike because it brings a whiff of elite culture, a touch of class, to Amer ican theater.
Unlike their gay brethren, les bians (and lesbian eroticism) provide a kind of spicy divertissement that is arguably less threatening than male homoeroticism to the many straight men who produce and consume these works. In Hollywood during the 1990s, lesbians became the height of chic-stylish, sexy, and consumable commodities guaranteed to titillate (this development neatly complements and extends the long history of lesbian pornogra phy marketed to straight men). Even a film like Bound, with its duo of triumphantly lethal lesbians, manages to control and contain these re sistant subjects to some extent at least through the scopophilia of the cinematic apparatus and their positioning by the end of the film as nar cissistic doubles.