Author Archives: acedetectivepj

PJ’s Gay Analysis Applied Theory Post of The Room, or: Denny and Johnny’s Hidden Relationship

If you’re a connoisseur of auteur cinema, you surely know of The Room, a masterpiece of filmmaking, and one of this generation’s great exercises in filmmaking. The most compelling argument I could give for why it’s legendary would be to have you watch it yourself.

The Room’s plot is a fairly basic one. Johnny, the protagonist, is betrayed by his fiance (Lisa) when she cheats on him with his best friend, Mark. This culminates in Johnny’s death after he can no longer handle the emotional pressure.

I submit to the readers of this post that the way all heterosexuality is portrayed in The Room is decidedly negative and the way some male characters act indicate a level of romantic and sexual love between them that is not present with the heterosexual relationships. My intention is to prove this with regard to Johnny and Denny. Although I can’t go into more detail with the official post due to the word count, rest assured that there is absolutely more ground to cover (perhaps in a later post?).

Evidence #1

We are introduced to the relationship between Johnny and Lisa through his purchase of a red dress for her. She is excited by his purchase and proceeds to offer him sex. However, Denny enters the scene, and after complementing Lisa, proceeds to talk with Johnny. Johnny and Lisa want privacy to have sex, but Denny– curious– follows them upstairs. All three engage in a pillow fight, going primarily after Lisa. He is then asked to leave by Lisa, and he does so at Johnny’s urging. Firstly, we learn that Lisa’s primary interest in Johnny is due to him buying things for her. Secondly, even though Denny is a fully grown college student, he is treated as though he is only just learning about sex– something that every college student is already aware of. Denny also seems to want Johnny’s attention, and why he does this is never fully addressed by the movie. Finally, it is Lisa and not Johnny that asks Denny to leave, and he only complies after Johnny tells him to leave. From this, we can infer that Denny wants intimacy with either Lisa or Johnny, but to whom does he want to become intimate with? The movie, seeming to back off from this, claims that he finds Lisa attractive. However, Denny’s actions throughout the film indicate that he is more interested in Johnny than Lisa. Furthermore, in the supposed sex scene, Johnny doesn’t have sex with Lisa, engaging instead in foreplay. This indicates to me a lack of sexual interest in Lisa on Johnny’s part.

Evidence #2

Later on, Denny is with four sweaty guys, including Johnny, who are half-naked in the gym. They play football, and Denny is injured. Johnny pulls him up, puts an arm around Denny, his hand over Denny’s right nipple. Denny’s breathing becomes ragged. Johnny then insists on driving Denny home, and it is implied they spend some time alone together. Despite the obvious homoerotic imagery of naked men competing in sports together (Ancient Greek Olympics), I am more interested in Denny’s performance in the game. Traditional views of masculinity would dictate that men be naturally good at sports, but Denny does not fit that mold. Indeed, being poor at sports is more associated with traditional femininity. Johnny’s immediate concern for Denny, and his oddly sexual embrace, indicate a level of attachment that goes beyond mere friends. As if the above were not evidence enough, he then drives Denny home and spends some time there, alone, with him. Are we expected to believe that after the foreplay, there was no sex while they were alone at a house together?

Evidence #3
After Johnny kills himself, Denny mourns the most of everyone over his dead body, wanting to “touch him one last time” and begging him to “wake up.” He pays no mind to Lisa, his supposed love interest, clutching at Johnny’s clothing and nuzzling his chest. Even after the scene has largely shifted from him, he is shown in the background of the shot, continuing to desperately clutch at Johnny’s dead body. Are these the actions of a friend, or a lover? Other characters also say that Denny “loved” Johnny and that Denny “was destroyed” by his death.

All this leads me to conclude that Johnny and Denny were maintaining a sexual relationship behind Lisa’s back. For all his vaunted innocence, Johnny was just as guilty as Lisa.

What do you guys think?

PJ’s Overpass To The Online Diary

In the class discussion on Feb 16 regarding post-structuralism, we briefly touched upon postmodernist analysis. In my opinion, postmodernism is one of the most intriguing modern-day concepts, and worthy of further discussion. It is one of the most popular theories in today’s world, which at least bears Postmodernism, like post-structuralism to structuralism, is a reaction to modernism following World War II. According to acclaimed critical theorist Theodor Adorno, “There can be no poetry after Auschwitz.” This is not meant as a literal statement (obviously poetry can still be written) but instead as a general feeling of discontent with modernism, the former literary movement. Perhaps the best difference that can be illustrated between the two is the distinction between modernism’s emphasis on symbolism versus postmodernism’s emphasis on Dadaism.

According to literarydevices.net, “Symbolism can take different forms. Generally, it is an object representing another to give it an entirely different meaning that is much deeper and more significant. Sometimes, however, an action, an event or a word spoken by someone may have a symbolic value.” In other words, it’s what is signified by the imagery presented. There is a clear secondary meaning behind what is said, and this meaning moves towards an overall idea or theme.

Dadaism challenges that notion. Without delving too deeply into the roots of Dadaism, it was an artistic movement that focused on the absurdity of the modern world. The’Dada’in Dadaism represents the meaning of non-meaning. Our definition of a particular word is arbitrary, and so is our view of art. An absurd world like ours does not deserve art, so it gets Dada instead. There is no hidden meaning behind the words; there is only absurdity in an Age of Atrocity, there is only the poorly-constructed signifier, and only Dada remains. Thus, personal interpretation can be the only way to derive meaning, and even then, it means nothing to anyone but the reader.

This illustrates a simple difference between the two: modernism is focused on a meaning or framework behind it all, but postmodernism argues that there is no meaning except the one we assign it.

What do you guys think? Should literature strive towards symbolism or Dadaism? Should there be a concrete purpose behind the work, or should we be left to interpret the subjective meaning behind something?

Recommended Readings
Postmodernist analysis
https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/722/08/

Dadaism
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/UsefulNotes/Dada

Symbolism
http://literarydevices.net/symbolism/

Is Jay Gatsby Black?

I found myself looking through some odd literary theories the other night in the electric radiance of my computer.

Among the contradictions and the clutter I chanced on something super weird. Apparently an assistant professor of American Studies claims that he has determined that Jay Gatsby was black given several factors.   Check it out if you’ve got time.

I find there’s quite a few holes in this theory.

  1. Why is his blackness never commented on by the other characters? Tom “Obvious White Supremacist” Buchanan in particular would have brought it up during his confrontation with Gatsby. The narrator doesn’t bring it up either, and as was discussed in the 8:00am class, he’s prejudiced as well.
  2.  Although the article purports that Gatsby’s love of New Orleans jazz equates to blackness, it could also be a trait of the nouveau-riche, or the non-hereditary rich, to demonstrate a “lack of taste.”
  3. “There is one open discussion of race in the novel, where Tom insinuates Gatsby is a “black” individual, but Jordan defends him saying: “We’re all white here.” Jordan, however, is known as a liar…” This is a fallacy of composition. The inference here is that because Jordan is shown to lie a few times, she must lie all the time. That is not true throughout the novel; there are instances where she tells the truth. The idea that a liar only lies is a basic misunderstanding of how lies work. If someone lied all the time, you could never be mislead to by them, because you would never take them at their word.

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