In this article, I revisit Robin Wood's 1978 article “Responsibilities of a Gay Film Critic,” which is as relevant today as it was at the time of its publication. My aim is to pay tribute to Wood's seminal, deeply personal essay and also to reconsider its claims in terms of the changes that have taken place in the field — namely, the rise of queer theory. Indeed, queer theorists may be drawn to film and media, as is evident in a wide range of key works, precisely because film and media are (figurations of) queer theory. One key thinker who understood this early on and consistently modeled the responsibilities of a gay film critic was the late Alexander Doty, who pushed even further what it meant to queer a text. Doty insisted, as Wood did two decades before him, that queerness is less to be found “in” texts than in the reception and production of texts, particularly in the pleasurable investments of certain communities of viewers. Wood's and Doty's “low” archives were their own personal experiences and contingent affective responses. These are the very foundations of queer theory, grounded in what Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick identified as antihomophobic critical practice, that Wood and Doty model for us today as the continuing responsibility of queer film criticism.
Research Article|December 01 2013