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The Strangers’ Case: harnessing the power of screen entertainment to communicate between cultures.

Bamford, N., 2018. The Strangers’ Case: harnessing the power of screen entertainment to communicate between cultures. In: Cross-Cultural Communication Conference, 24-25 January 2018, Ramon Lull University, Barcelona.

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Screen entertainment has the power to offer representations of different cultures which can help to dispel the inter-cultural ignorance from which stem the prejudice, mistrust and oppression of social minorities which is being seen increasingly across the world. As Ralph Roughton says, exploring the emancipatory effects for gay men of the film Brokeback Mountain, “The most important factor in changing attitudes … is getting to know someone who is gay in a way that allows for real understanding and empathy rather than dismissive stereotyping. This transformative knowing can be with a real person or it can be with a believable fictional character.” (Roughton, 2012, p.85) But if films or TV programmes are going to achieve this ‘transformative knowing’ they must attract audiences in from other cultures or they merely ‘preach to the converted’. In this paper I will look at films - both English and American - which have endeavoured to present and explore different cultures and ask whether they have succeeded in this regard, or whether, in order to make themselves acceptable to mass audiences, they have lost authenticity in terms of the culture they are representing. In particular I will look at films which were recognised as ground-breaking and socially influential, but which have also been accused of failing to represent their cultures accurately including Hanif Kureishi’s My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) which explored the Pakistani subculture in the UK whilst challenging many of its precepts, as well as Philadelphia (1993) and Brokeback Mountain (2005) which were both recognised as milestones in LGBTQ emancipation, but again seen as somewhere between coy and inaccurate in their portrayal of gay relationships, as well as subtlely re-inforcing homophobic attitudes. I will then go on to discuss more recent films, including Moonlight, God’s Own Country and Call Me By Your Name which have inhabited the territory to which these earlier films gave access for mainstream audiences, and suggest that they represent examples of how the cinema can be a force for social enlightenment and cultural integration.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information:
Uncontrolled Keywords:Film; Cinema; LGBTQ; Gay
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:30284
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:29 Jan 2018 15:54
Last Modified:14 Mar 2022 14:09


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