The intricate relationships between queer youth and their parents are encapsulated in the Pet Shop Boys’ 1980s hit song “It’s a Sin”: “Father, forgive me,” Neil Tennant sings, “I tried not to do it.” Indeed, reimagining gay youth usually involves painful memories of hostility and sweet moments of revelation, realization, and coming to terms with one’s sexual otherness as well. The complexity of gay adolescence and its politics of effeminacy are reflected by Todd Haynes’s TV drama Dottie Gets Spanked and his feature film Velvet Goldmine. In Dottie Gets Spanked, the young protagonist is Steven, an elementary schoolboy who is an avid fan of Dottie, the star of a popular TV sitcom The Dottie Show, which resembles the 1950s comedy I Love Lucy. Growing up in a conservative era, Steven’s identification with Dottie and his effeminate hobbies and mannerisms are embraced by his loving mother but resented by his patriarchal father. Steven wins a visit to the TV studio and an exciting meeting with his beloved icon, making him popular among his (formerly alienated) female peers, but he still feels threatened and suffers nightmares, and he finally decides to bury his love for Dotty (and his implied homosexuality) in order to satisfy his narrow-minded father.
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- Claiming Lost Gay Youth, Embracing Femininostalgia: Todd Haynes’s Dottie Gets Spanked and Velvet Goldmine
- Palgrave Macmillan UK