The Portrayal of The Sissy

The role of the “sissy” in film in the 20’s and 30’s was very interesting. Sissies were put into films just for comic relief it seemed. The directors made the sissies very dramatic and super flamboyant. I think they did this to make the sissy seem very out of place. He was meant to be viewed as weird and “not normal”. The introduction of Hollywood Censorship was also interesting. Directors did not use the sissy in the same humorous blatant matter. Directors had to rely on creativity to use a sissy in the 40’s and 50’s but the sissy was not the typical one that viewers were used to in the 20’s and 30’s. They were dark and villainous. It is interesting because in both cases the sissy is portrayed very different than the other characters in the film. The early sissy was very dramatic and flamboyant and overly peppy, while the later sissy was more monotone and viewed as creepy. Rather than flamboyant, the new sissy played a dark role. It is interesting how after rules changed, the sissy was differently played. Although they were played completely opposite of each other, the overall concept of the sissy not fitting in and being noticeably weird/different was a common trait.

2 thoughts on “The Portrayal of The Sissy”

  1. Yes, I thought it was very interesting that early on in cinema, gays were represented in humorous ways as a form of comic relief. As times progressed and Hayes codes began to be enacted, homosexuality was represented in a more subliminal way. I thought it was crazy how many screenplays were altered in order to sensor any kind of homosexual behavior. For example, it was mentioned that a movie about an alcoholic questioning his sexuality was changed to an alcoholic with writer’s block. Also, a movie about a murder resulting from a homosexual bashing was turned into a murder resulting from anti-Semitism. It was also interesting how directors were sometimes able to subtly get material by the censorship board.

  2. The idea of the sissy character as not just representative of homosexual or gay stereotypes, but as more of a figure representing an abstraction from real life every day people is an interesting notion. This idea is both damaging to homosexuals, but also creates a stigma concerning this type of overly flamboyant and expressive mannerisms the cinematic sissy adopted. Circa 1920, the Sissy character type was included within film for comedic effect, but for the viewers who saw a portion of these overblown mannerisms in themselves, it was the beginning of a chance to get their own sexual identities heard.

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