Australian Journal of French Studies

It's Playtime at La Cage aux folles: Subversion des Genres et Revendications Politiques

Australian Journal of French Studies (2012), 49, (2), 153–166.

Abstract

This article shows how Gender/Queer Studies are able to facilitate a better understanding of the negative comments traditionally made about La Cage aux folles (Edouard Molinaro, 1978) ever since its release. The subversion of genres used in the film pushes social and family conventions into a very tight corner. Furthermore, it brings into question, in unexpected ways, one of the most famous maxims of Bergson, who proposed in Laughter (1900) that unconventional use of dress borders on "something mechanical encrusted on something living", and that this "mechanical" effect produces laughter. Molinaro's film, however, shows that it is the observance of social norms that produces a "mechanical" effect, and that it is this that generates laughter. Genre study provides a perspective that enables us to argue that La Cage aux folles, in its presciently subversive way, prepared the ground for changes in popular opinion vis-à-vis homosexuality - by making the amused public identify with Albin and Renato rather than with social conventions.

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Author details

Ammour-Mayeur, Olivier