Over the past three decades, independent director Gregg Araki has emerged as one of the most intriguing auteurs of contemporary U.S. cinema. A leading figure of the New Queer Cinema movement of the early 1990s, he has innovatively used the plasticity of the filmic medium to explore the theme of rootless young people who are desperate to connect meaningfully with others and explore their non-heterosexual sexualities amid a culture that foregrounds sex, drugs, and (post-punk/industrial) rock ‘n’ roll in a series of eye-opening, at-times-controversial films aimed substantially at queer audiences. In the process, he has regularly included powerful representations of extreme instances of beautiful violence in his various films to create unique viewing pleasures and make compelling political statements. Like punk musical offerings in their heyday, Araki’s various films to date are readily identifiable by the rawness, aggressive energy, disconcerting tone, nihilistic themes, and intentional lack of commercial appeal they contain, which result in their embodiment of powerful impulses pertaining to anarchy and disorder at the same time that the films ultimately refuse to take themselves or their subject matter too seriously. In this presentation, I will provide analyses of key scenes containing extreme instances of beautiful violence from two offerings of Araki ‘s teen-apocalypse trilogy: The Doom Generation (1995) and Nowhere (1997). In doing so, I will demonstrate clearly how this noteworthy director consistently utilizes his trademark post-punk filmmaking style to skillfully play with established cinematic conventions and genre expectations, with the aim of providing visually appealing, emotionally engrossing, and ultimately quite disconcerting viewing experiences that end up making powerful statements about the repressive nature of hegemonic ideology in the United States in relation to non-heterosexual individuals and others.
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