'Show gay people for the often-awful people they are':Reframing queer monstrosity

Brassington, Thomas (2022) 'Show gay people for the often-awful people they are':Reframing queer monstrosity. Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture, 7 (1). pp. 27-40. ISSN 2055-5695

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Monsters have an established presence on screen as a cipher for queer identities. However, such presentations are often limiting, with queer monsters being either irredeemably evil or eliciting viewer sympathies for their helpless monstrous condition. Both forms of queer monster are highly queerphobic, but the issue this article takes with this representational binary is that it stifles the depictions of monstrous queer characters. To offer a counterpoint, I draw attention to BBC America’s Killing Eve (2018–22) and its queer monster Villanelle (Jodie Comer). I argue that Villanelle presents a new vision of the queer monster, where queerness and monstrosity are not interlocked parts of her characterization – a disconnect that allows her to be a more compelling monster and express her queerness in a plethora of ways. In this article, I focus on two ways in which Villanelle’s queerness manifests in the show: her fashion and style; and her sense of humour. I demonstrate that Villanelle’s queer humour and style provide her with a means to be a more dangerous and effective assassin, whilst also facilitating a means for expressing her queerness in complex ways. Her style, for example, enables her to dip in and out of both butch and femme aesthetics as she pleases and her humour provides a means to disarm her targets. In all, this article points towards Villanelle’s mercurial character as a positive form of queer representation, for her constant flitting creates a queer character who can be awful and provides a means for queerness to be displayed through multiple, yet legible, ambiguities.

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Journal Article
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Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture
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24 Aug 2023 11:35
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18 Sep 2023 02:15