Scientific article
Open access

Making the "Monstrous" Visible? Reading "Difference" in Contemporary Fantastic Film and Television

Publication date2011

Following the trend of the humanized monster in the contemporary fantasy genre, the three X-Men films and the True Blood television series question the visual representation of the monster and the way the figure has been used to stigmatize the racial and/or sexual other. These narratives use the somatic metaphor of “passing” to highlight the ways in which identity categories are defined through visible “difference,” thereby suggesting that race and sexuality are performative rather than essentialized. Yet while these stories seem to discourage stigmatizing readings of “monstrosity,” or racial and/or sexual otherness, and encourage the spectator to see and interpret “difference” in new ways, the filmic discourse sometimes represents the humanized monster as complicit with white heteronormativity. In this essay, I argue that the discourse of the X-Men films positions the spectator in such a way as to visually identify the passing monster and ultimately reinforces the binary between the racial and/or sexual other and white heteronormativity. The discourse of True Blood, however, plays with spectator' visual expectations and often positions them on the same level as characters, thus destabilizing the distinction between the monster and the human.

  • Monster
  • Human
  • Race
  • Racial passing
  • Sexual passing
  • Vampires
  • Mutants
  • Contemporary fantasy
  • True Blood
  • X-Men
Citation (ISO format)
FROHREICH, Kimberly. Making the ‘Monstrous’ Visible? Reading ‘Difference’ in Contemporary Fantastic Film and Television. In: SPELL. Swiss papers in English language and literature, 2011, vol. 26, p. 239–253.
Main files (1)
Article (Published version)
  • PID : unige:75963
ISSN of the journal0940-0478

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