Monday, March 15, 2010

Caged Heat!

Watching the latest (and inevitably overrated) Lady GaGa video for "Telephone" made me think: what is it really like inside a women's prison?? Surely it is one of the most fetishized and homoeroticized spaces in all of female spacedom. GaGa's vision of bondage gear and girl-on-girl necking and brawling is only the latest entry in the tawdry women's prison canon. My personal favorite example is the gloriously trashy 1996 flick Freeway, in which a teenage Reese Witherspoon continually rejects the advances of creepy lesbian Brittany Murphy (RIP) before bashing in the face of another inmate with a telephone. Classic. (Low-quality but still awesome clip here)

On the other hand, how are men's prisons portrayed in films? As far removed from the titillating camp of women's prison pictures as possible. Either as a super-somber site of male redemption (The Green Mile, Dead Man Walking) or a living hell with the constant threat of (decidedly un-erotic) homosexual rape, as in Oz or American History X. GaGa may want you to drool over her lesbian lip lock, but a work like David Mamet's play/film Edmond unmistakably presents behind-bars male coupling as a man's ultimate nightmare.

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