As the gay rights movement transitions from a standard counter-public to a mainstream movement tolerated by normativity, queer bodies are displaced and left to suffer further violence at the hands of heteronormativity/homonormativity. This research critically examines the rhetorical construction and implications of the gay pornography franchise, Haze Him, on queer bodies. Haze Him, as a rhetorical text, does interesting work as the quintessential gay-for-pay/straight guys subgenre of gay pornography. The purpose of this research is to examine how heteronormativity, compulsory heterosexuality, and homonormativity operate within the popular franchise of Haze Him. Specifically, in examining how gay pornographies act as sites of “public stabilization,” individuals can see how texts like Haze Him discipline queer bodies to act in accordance with normativity. Overall, instead of being an educational text or a text of desire, Haze Him operates as a violent text that further disenfranchises and displaces queer bodies.
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As a young queer man instructed in the Texas public education system, I have no formal pedagogical context for sex; porn has been my only source for understanding how to use my body. Recently, I streamed a video clip from the gay pornography franchise, Haze Him. At first, I found Haze Him to be erotic and enjoyable. Beautiful, heterosexual men that looked nothing like me, doing things I lusted over – what’s not to like? Well, for starters, I did not like the fact that these so-called “straight” actors were forcing each other to have sex. I was also uncomfortable with the thought of enjoying seemingly heterosexual men abuse each other in a private space, only to leave the frame and live a tolerated life. Haze Him seemed fine on the surface, but something questionable existed regarding the narrative fabric of the text.
Ultimately, I disappointed myself – Haze Him is a troublesome text, and somewhere in my rhetorically constructed upbringing, I learned to enjoy the disadvantageous and perverse behavior the franchise displayed. As gender theorist Kate Bornstein (2013a) described, “there's no such thing as hurting someone for their own good. There's only hurting someone for your own good” (pp. 155-156). Bornstein (2013a) established exigency to examine potentially homophobic texts, such as Haze Him, which circulate harmful ideologies regarding heteronormativity, compulsory heterosexuality, and homonormativity.
Heteronormativity helps shape the intersection of power and sexuality for American society, suggesting that homosexuality is abnormal and unnatural, while heterosexuality is normal and preferred (Blank, 2012; Peterson, 2011; Warner, 1999). Many parents believe their children will be heterosexual, which, consequently, results in a child coming out to society in order to alter the metanarrative of normativity connected to his or her body (Rich, 1980; Warner, 1999). This heteronormative viewpoint becomes complicated when homosexual individuals internalize these beliefs and elect to perform homosexual roles in private spaces, but practice heterosexuality in public spaces (Duggan, 2003). As Duggan (2003) described, some homosexual bodies access heteronormative privilege through homonormativity, which is, “a politics that does not contest dominant heteronormative assumptions and institutions, but upholds and sustains them, while promising the possibility of demobilized gay constituency and privatized, depoliticized gay culture anchored in domesticity and consumption” (p. 50). Essentially, in order to uphold heteronormativity and gain some tolerance, non-normative segments of the population must perform heterosexual roles, whether in private or public, regardless of one’s individual sexual identity.
Appropriate sexual behaviors in public/private spheres are hegemonically mandated by a neoliberal society that prizes the ability for one to navigate rhetorically constructed normative ideologies, which determine appropriate sexual behavior for public/private spheres (Duggan, 2003; Warner, 1999). Narratives of sexuality have advanced beyond the days of widespread acceptance of conversion therapy, and some individuals proudly practice homosexuality in public spaces. Instead of cruising in parks and public restrooms – as homosexual males would do in the early 1960’s – many homosexual individuals go on dates, spend time together, and talk about their private lives proudly in the public sphere in 2014. Society now includes some non-normative bodies in the public sphere as long as individuals affirm normative institutions, which leads to individuals who participate in and practice same sex desire existing with a liminal space (Franklin, 2003). Instead of viewing homosexuality as tolerable in all spaces, society is more apt to accept homosexual actions performed by heterosexual bodies (Duggan, 2003). Homonormativity is prioritized by a society that gives individuals privilege when they fluidly move between private practices of homosexuality to public performances of heterosexuality (Duggan, 2003). A hegemonic example of heteronormative/homonormative rhetoric occurs in pornography.
Pornographic imagery is more prevalent than ever with the widespread and rapidly increasing use of the Internet and the prominent sub-genre of pornography, known as gay pornography, has grown to be both a tool to objectify and consume bodies and a medium to examine personal values (Clarke, 2011; Weinstein, 2011). Gay pornography is a cultural artifact and, as Brummett (2006) indicated, is “an action, event, or object perceived as a unified whole, [that] has [a] widely shared meaning, [and] manifests group identification” (p. 14). I argue that, collectively, gay pornography is an object. The intangibility of the text does not bar definitional inclusion. Gay pornography manifests group identity, specifically among the audience of homosexual males. For gay males trying to understand sex, gay pornography is an educational outlet (Clarke, 2011). For gay males wanting to personally satisfy themselves, the visual representation of gay porn is satisfying (Weinstein, 2011). With that said, gay porn directly influences group identification, because gay porn (re)shapes notions of sexual practice and the appropriateness thereof (Escoffier, 2003; Johansson and Hammare, 2007).
The richness of gay pornography has an extensive historical basis, and in American society, has a narrative trajectory from criminalized activity to indefinite legality. American obscenity laws once included gay pornography within the realm of illegal imagery; however, as time progressed, the definition widened resulting in a more public display of gay pornography. While homoerotic imagery potentially predates history, historians consider the 1920 film Le Ménage Moderne du Madame Butterfly to be the first gay pornography (Burger, 1995). Eventually, cinemas began showing gay pornography, and moviegoers would pay to masturbate and/or engage in sexual intercourse while the movie played on the screen (Clarke, 2011). In the 1980s, pornographic videos became more prevalent than pornographic cinema (Clarke, 2011; Weinstein, 2011). The primary focus on pornography up until this point was on actors; people would buy and view pornographies because of an interest in the performers, much like moviegoers go see movies to see certain famous actors (Weinstein, 2011). However, videotape success was short-lived, as the Internet made pornography easily accessible through streaming (Weinstein, 2011). The focus on actor and brand subsided as actors became homogenous bodies engaging in intercourse. A focus on genre (twink, bear, daddy, etc.) usurped past focus (Clarke, 2011). These shifts are key to the way society circulates, engages with, and consumes modern gay pornography. Pornography circulates in private, as most people view pornography from a place of residence or away from the public eye. Due to pornography’s presence as a private entity, homosexual males further retreat from experiencing and learning about their sexuality in public spheres to keep desires located away from the public eye. Consuming pornography in private becomes an extended metaphor for how one must keep their non-normative sexual desires and practices in private.
Haze Him is a prominent franchise within the genre of “straight guys” or “gay-for-pay” on many of the mainstream gay pornography websites, which include, but are not limited to, XTube, GayForIt, and PornTube (Escoffier, 2003). As of May 31, 2014, the top three full-length Haze Him videos, which I refer to as “Party Foul,” “Winning Play,” and “Bottle Wars,” on GayForIt had view numbers of 304,831; 203,212; and 173,650, respectively (Maanboy11523, 2012; SethAngel, 2012; Zabreze21m, 2012). With that said, Haze Him holds cultural significance. Not only is there a pay-per-view Haze Him website, but Haze Him episodes occur also on a wide variety of other gay pornography websites. Furthermore, screen shots in the form of gifs, or moving pictures, from Haze Him episodes circulate around blogging websites such as Tumblr. While Haze Him is just one franchise in a vast sea of corporations producing gay pornography, individuals familiar with gay pornography recognize Haze Him as unique. The franchise represents the quintessential gay-for-pay/straight guy genre that most gay pornography sites include.
I argue that Haze Him, as a rhetorical text, is both influenced by heteronormativity and represents the desirability of homonormativity within segments of the homosexual male population. As a popular franchise of gay pornography, Haze Him reproduces homonormativity in a consumer format and mirrors viewers’ desires and cultures preferring/rooted in heteronormativity as the actors perform gay sex acts in private spaces but successfully occupy heterosexual bodies in public spaces through discourse and visual rhetoric. The narrative structure of Haze Him is consistent among episodes, and (re)produces narratives of compulsory heterosexuality, which ultimately influences consumers to continue practicing normative sexuality. Instead of simply educating and/or pleasuring audience members, the text functions as homoerotic rhetoric that (re)affirms harmful heteronormative/homonormative ideologies that decrease the wellness and quality of the life of the viewer by upholding hegemonic understandings of normalizing sexual rhetoric.
To produce a thorough rhetorical analysis, I adopt Sloop’s (2000) interpretation of critical rhetoric by approaching Haze Him with the impression that the text operates as a site of “public stabilization” that discursively disciplines an individual’s sexuality and identity (p. 168). I examine and analyze both the discourse and visual rhetoric found on the main Haze Him website and the top three most-viewed Haze Him episodes found on GayForIt, a pornography streaming website that has full-length videos available for free. The website is similar to other popular pornography streaming websites like XTube or RedTube, and the website also does not differ in content from the main Haze Him website. The only difference between Haze Him and GayForIt is that the main Haze Him website requires payment to access content.
In performing the rhetorical analysis of Haze Him that follows, I illustrate (1) how content of the main Haze Him website (re)produces heteronormativity; (2) how the events within the larger narrative structure combine to reify compulsory heterosexuality; and (3) how the setting (public/private divide) (re)affirms notions of sexual appropriateness in certain spaces, thus promoting a cyclical narrative of heteronormativity/homonormativity.
The (Re)production of Heteronormativity: REAL Straight Guys, REAL Gay Acts
Heteronormative rhetoric is prevalent in discourse found on the main website and throughout the core narrative present in all Haze Him episodes. When approaching the text, the medium distinctly labels Haze Him as gay pornography, and the actors are presumably heterosexual despite the homosexual acts that will ensue. At the very core of Haze Him is a narrative of heterosexual bodies performing homosexual acts but retreating to heterosexuality when the cameras are off. Throughout the narrative arc of Haze Him episodes, actors must perform homosexual acts while simultaneously reaffirming that heterosexuality is normal and preferred (Escoffier, 2003; Warner, 1999).
The heteronormative rhetorical framework begins on the main page of the website in regard to visual and textual representations. The visual imagery on the main website is plain, with the background being a dark red brick with several Haze Him photos (Haze Him, 2013). Under the Haze Him header are the following sentences:
“The official site for straight college fraternity guys getting hazed into gay sex. That is just how the cookie crumbles on Haze Him. You get your pledges to do gay sex acts and we give you a chance to win $10,000 cash. Sound fun and easy? Well, you’re gosh darn right it is. Crazier the video the better your chances at winning. So what are you waiting for? Watch and enjoy real frat boys sucking and fucking cock” (Haze Him, 2013).
Furthermore, the main website has another description of Haze Him: “Real Tapes of College Debauchery and Fraternity Hazing” (Haze Him, 2013). Original Haze Him episodes depict fraternity brothers hazing pledges by forcing them to participate in acts of gay sex. Newer Haze Him episodes have the same forceful concept, but refashion the plot to include non-Fraternity college men. What has remained consistent is the portrayal of each episode as realistic. Viewers approach the text with an underlying understanding that Haze Him is fake; however, Haze Him only indicates that paid actors enact their franchise in the terms of agreement, which many (if not most) people do not read.
Pornography functions as a utopia to enact, understand, and enjoy sexual fantasies without real world implications; however, realistic “straight” pornography blurs the lines between on-screen and real world desire (Escoffier, 2003; Johansson and Hammare, 2007). Franklin (2003) and Brummett (2006) have concluded that people believe sight authorizes truth. Furthermore, Brummett (2006) concluded that television, which I argue a computer functions as when one watches pornography through the screen, acts as an extension or “window” of constructed reality (p. 194). The realistic framing of Haze Him is problematic, and stems from heteronormativity. Many male individuals watch pornography with systemic homophobic, heteronormative beliefs, desiring to watch realistic pornography that mirrors actual life (Johansson & Hammare, 2007). In this instance, desires and ideologies clash as these sites communicate heteronormativity by providing a “realistic” platform to view heterosexual men (the desired body) performing homosexual roles (Butler, 1990).
A heterosexual body performing a homosexual role is key to communicating heteronormativity, as a heterosexual body in a homosexual frame indicates a transition to more tolerance, but insinuates that heterosexuality is the desired role one should perform. Haze Him perpetuates the same narrative in a different frame. This narrative weaves into the second reason why the rhetorical framing of Haze Him as realistic is troublesome. Homosexual males approach Haze Him with a prewired understanding of heterosexuality as being the dominant, desired sexual orientation in western civilization (Blank, 2012; Warner, 1999). Foucault (1978) argued that society disciplines sexual bodies in order to fit into dominant schemes. The disciplining of non-normative bodies shapes reality, as certain identities are separated and pushed into socially constructed appropriate public and private spaces. Haze Him contributes to this disciplining and communicates that heterosexuality is desirable and realistically achievable for gay men (Subero, 2010). Johansson and Hammare (2007) and Subero (2010) have argued that while pornography does not fully dictate one’s sexual behavior, pornography greatly influences an individual’s desire in both body and action. Ultimately, Haze Him communicates that one can realistically have sex with a heterosexual body, and that one should strive to have sex with said body, because heterosexuality is the ideal sexuality (Blank, 2012; Butler, 1990; Warner, 1999). Furthermore, when performing sexual desire, one should occupy a heterosexual body. By showing audience members this world, viewers equate heterosexuality with privilege, perpetuating the disenfranchisement on non-white heterosexual individuals in realms from public policy to social interactions. Haze Him reconstructs heteronormativity within a gay sphere as desirable, thus marketing a hegemonic ideology as sexually appealing, which ultimately reproduces heteronormativity.
(Re)influencing Compulsory Heterosexuality: I’m Not Gay, Bro
Each episode of Haze Him opens in medias res as Caucasian males, and sometimes females, occupy a private space. This private space is usually a residence hall room or a fraternity house, but may also be an uninhabited outdoor region. The male occupants of the private space are presumably heterosexual, and many times say phrases such as “I’m not gay” or “I thought you said there would be chicks here” (Maanboy11523, 2012; SethAngel, 2012; Zabreze21m, 2012). Each male actor has a traditionally masculine body, represented by pubic hair, large/broad features, and a toned, but not polished, physique. Effeminate male representation in each episode is nonexistent. The exposition of each episode includes actors performing a task and/or consuming alcohol. In the original set of Haze Him episodes, the story begins with fraternity brothers gathering pledges in order to haze them. Although storylines have progressed, many current episodes begin with individuals consuming alcohol and competing against each other. For instance, in “Winning Play” and “Bottle Wars,” the story opens with actors consuming alcohol and playing spin-the-bottle and beer pong, respectively (Maanboy11523, 2012; SethAngel, 2012; Zabreze21m, 2012).
Rising action occurs as sexual encounters happen. In the fraternity-themed episodes, pledges are told to strip, masturbate, give each other hand jobs, perform fellatio, and/or any other sexual act. In recent episodes, competition provides a platform to strip, which allows for further sexual activity. For instance, in “Winning Play” men play strip beer pong, and one male instigates another to touch his penis. Conflict occurs in this segment, as at least one male actor rejects these same-sex sexual advances on the basis of his heterosexuality. Usually through coercion or force, the apprehensive male actor gives in and engages in sexual activity. Sexual activity always culminates in anal sex. The rising action takes a significant amount of time to reach the climax, which occurs toward the end of each episode. The climax is both literally and figuratively the climax, as the cum-shot is the peak of emotion. Immediately after orgasm, the camera shuts off. Falling action and a denouement are virtually nonexistent in each episode (Maanboy11523, 2012; SethAngel, 2012; Zabreze21m, 2012).
Each episode functions as an advertisement for compulsory heterosexuality. Rich (1980) concluded that society mandates heterosexuality as the natural sexual orientation through compulsory heterosexuality. One does not have the right to choose to be heterosexual. Instead, heterosexuality is the factory default setting for sexual orientations (Blank, 2012; Rich, 1980; Warner, 1999). Rich (1980) contended that this idea of compulsory heterosexuality stems from the ideology that individuals are born heterosexual; therefore, even if an individual declares homosexuality, the individual can still retreat back to heterosexuality due to biologic origination. Ultimately, Rich (1980) argued that heterosexuality was a performance of power. This power performance of compulsory heterosexuality relies upon heteronormative ideologies to function (Seidman, Fischer, & Meeks, 2011; Warner, 1999). Warner (1999) concluded that heteronormativity refers to the overriding power structure, which dictates that an individual must fall into distinct gender classifications and heterosexuality. Warner (1999) critiqued Rich (1980) by concluding that heterosexuality is a legitimate sexual orientation and not just a construct of society used to control women. However, Warner (1999) concluded that not all individuals are heterosexual, which is where Rich’s (1980) coined term compulsory heterosexuality becomes applicable. In a heteronormative society, individuals must comply with heterosexuality. In Haze Him, symbolic events, alcohol consumption, competition, masculine white bodies, and protesting homosexuality combine to advertise compulsory heterosexuality through instances of heteronormativity.
Most episodes begin with alcohol consumption, which serves as justification for homosexual acts. Engstrom (2012) concluded that college students use discourses of alcohol consumption to justify actions that violate standards of hegemonic masculinity. Haze Him’s depiction of masculine heterosexual bodies consuming alcohol prior to non-normative homosexual acts serves as both an extension of how college students use alcohol consumption to justify sexual behavior and reinforcement of heteronormative representations of masculinity (Engstrom, 2012; Hensley, 2011). Alcohol consumption in these episodes goes on to influence compulsory heterosexuality, as inherently heterosexual men never question their sexual orientation until alcohol consumption. The alcohol consumption only legitimizes homosexual activity in a single instance, as actors can and should retreat back to heterosexuality post-cum shot (Butler, 1990). This cyclically affects real world scenarios, as individuals use alcohol to perform sexual acts (Engstrom, 2012; Johansson & Hammare, 2007). This practice reiterates cultural norms of sexuality by reaffirming homosexuality as dangerous, and further extending the dominant paradigm that same sex desire and practice is disgusting and destructive. Haze Him tells individuals that they should only consider homosexual practices under the lure of alcohol consumption, which promotes and potentially leads to unsafe sex, disenfranchisement of queer bodies, and rape (Maanboy11523, 2012; SethAngel, 2012; Zabreze21m, 2012).
All episodes have some form of competition, and whether it is the standard beer pong, strip poker, spin-the-bottle game, or instances of hazing, individuals use competition (usually paired with alcohol consumption) to legitimize forceful homosexual behavior (Engstrom, 2012; Maanboy11523, 2012; Zabreze21m, 2012). For instance, in “Winning Play” the actors just finished watching a football game, and the men whose team won are taunting the men whose team lost. Haze Him immediately establishes a competitive tone and continues this frame as the men chug beer and play beer pong (Zabreze21m, 2012). Competition frames masculinity in Haze Him by demonstrating men playing beer pong, wrestling, pushing, and homoerotically interacting with one another as long as they are playing games, which are traditionally masculine activities informed by heteronormativity. Eventually, the beer pong turns into strip beer pong, causing homophobic slurs to be said by some of the men (Butler, 1990). The predatorial man eventually forces another to grab his genitals, resulting in double-voiced imagery as the preyed-upon man vocally affirms his heterosexual orientation, while physically giving into homosexual desire (Seidman, Fischer, & Meeks, 2011; Peterson, 2011; Zabreze21m, 2012). After the guys reach orgasm, they return to being bros, indicated by laughter, the lack of emotion, and physical distance between bodies. Scenarios like this one are consistent across the Haze Him franchise, and communicate a message that says that one can commit homosexual acts through the hyper-masculine competitive frame, but retreat back to heterosexuality at any time (Duggan, 2003; Seidman, Fischer, & Meeks, 2011).
Masculine, White Bodies
Each episode has stereotypical white, masculine, male bodies as the focus of the story. Most of the actors’ bodies are bulky, hairy, hyper-masculine displays for heterosexuality, which contrast against the stereotypical twinkish, feminine body prevalent in many other franchises (Butler, 1990; Hensley, 2011). Specifically, in the three most-viewed Haze Him episodes, the actors had deep voices, pubic hair, and exceptional bodies. When juxtaposing the standard gay pornographic body, which entails effeminate voices and twinkish bodies, one sees that Haze Him supports a certain heteronormative masculine image. Haze Him promotes a heteronormative male body. Specifically, in the age of neoliberalism, fluidity is a desirable quality, and Haze Him displays this fluidity; one can perform homosexual desire through a heterosexual body (Duggan, 2003; Eguchi, 2009; Hasinoff, 2008). As Duggan (2003) indicated, for homosexual bodies to be accepted, they must exist in a heterosexual format. The performers within Haze Him produce homosexual actions within heterosexual packaging; thus, communicating to the audience an ideal image – an image that focuses on passing in public spheres (Eguchi, 2009).
Each episode includes many dialogic instances of homophobic discourse. For example, actors freely say the words “faggot,” “queer,” and “that’s gay” (Maanboy11523, 2012; SethAngel, 2012; Zabreze21m, 2012). In “Winning Play,” one actor kept saying, "Where are the girls? When are the girls getting here? This is kind of gay” (Zabreze21m, 2012). When alcohol consumption and competition finally results in homoerotic behavior, many of the actors feel the need to verbally verify that they are heterosexual (Butler, 1990; Engstrom, 2012; Seidman, Fischer, & Meeks, 2011). This prompts other actors to either force themselves upon the protesting body or to say phrases such as “We’re just a bunch of guys getting each other off” or “You play sports? You shower with other guys? That’s just as gay” (Zabreze21m, 2012). Discourse and sexual action is incredibly double-voiced, as words mark heterosexuality while action marks homosexuality. Overall, the disconnect between discourse and action is seemingly masochistic, especially for the audience (Fone, 2000). Discourse in Haze Him strongly warrants compulsory heterosexuality, as actors dominantly preach about their heterosexuality, and the moment that the orgasm occurs, actors retreat back to heterosexuality.
Cyclical Homonormativity: Private Cum Shot to Public Privilege
Haze Him communicates an ideological preference toward homonormativity and asks viewers to adopt said belief (Eguchi, 2009). Haze Him does not take the exact approach that Duggan (2003) described; Haze Him is not focused on taking homosexual bodies and placing them into domestic roles. Instead, Haze Him focuses on a deeper subtext of Duggan’s argument, which highlighted how in private one can perform homosexual roles, but in public one must perform heterosexuality. As Duggan indicated, “inequalities are routinely assigned to ‘private’ life, understood as ‘natural’ and bracketed away from consideration in the “public” life of the state” (p. 5). The best bodies are fluid ones that can enjoy non-normative sexual practices, but can function with heterosexual standards (Bornstein, 2013b; Duggan, 2003). The actors in Haze Him fulfill same-sex desire, but occupy heterosexual roles. These actors are key neoliberal subjects because they practice normativity even in instances of non-normativity.
The performance of sexual acts within a private realm is rhetorical and highlights homonormativity. In each episode, the actors are not in public. They are in a confined, private location, which is usually a residence hall room or a fraternity house (Maanboy11523, 2012; SethAngel, 2012; Zabreze21m, 2012). In the event that actors are outside, they are in remote locations with no external traffic. Within these private spaces, much heterosexual paraphernalia can be found. For example, the majority of the residence hall room scenes include the adornment of posters of women on the walls (Maanboy11523, 2012; SethAngel, 2012). These posters serve as visual representations of heterosexuality, thus communicating to the audience that the actors are indeed heterosexual (Butler, 1990). Furthermore, as noted, in several episodes, physical women are displayed within the private space but not as actors. Instead, females are present, but only for encouragement and to make things more heterosexual. The women stand around and coach and cheer the men on as they perform homosexual acts on each other, further extending the hyper-masculine competitive frame necessary to justify the homoerotic actions that occur. Overall, Haze Him communicates to the audience that homosexual acts are acceptable as long as one performs the role within a heterosexual context in a private space. Haze Him, as a modern text in 2013, communicates the idea that homosexuality is tolerable, but only if one performs the role through heterosexuality. The men of Haze Him can perform homosexual acts as long as they realize that heterosexuality is preferred. Haze Him allows audience members to affirm their homosexual desires through legal viewing of gay pornography, while simultaneously displaying normalizing sexual rhetoric that informs viewers to adopt a narrative homonormativity. This concept is unique to neoliberalism and homonormativity, as Haze Him deploys a marketing strategy that views private displays of homosexuality as acceptable as long as public displays are heterosexual, further mapping on heteronormative stories of compulsory heterosexuality or monitored performances of homosexuality as heterosexual in public spheres onto homosexual bodies (Butler, 1990; Duggan, 2003; Rich, 1980; Warner, 1999).
While the decriminalization and acceptance of gay pornography is arguably a positive contribution for populations clinging to pornography as a tool to subdue desire and/or educate themselves, Haze Him’s contribution to heteronormativity, compulsory heterosexuality, and homonormativity is alarming. The ideological attachment to heteronormativity influences the narrative of Haze Him, which further produces and communicates heteronormativity and compulsory heterosexuality to the audience. By framing Haze Him as a realistic representation of sexual activity, producers further normalize heterosexuality at the expense of non-normative sexual practices and desires. Furthermore, producers also dichotomize the homosexual/heterosexual debate by eliminating the possibility that the men are queer or of a different sexuality (Gurevich, Bailey, & Bower 2009). Essentially, this heteronormative narrative promotes compulsory heterosexuality because presumably heterosexual bodies can only access homosexuality in private spaces through justifiable instances of alcohol consumption and/or competition (Engstrom, 2012; Maanboy11523, 2012; SethAngel, 2012; Zabreze21m, 2012). Once one completes a homosexual act, he must immediately regain footing as a heterosexual man (Duggan, 2003). Ultimately, heteronormativity and compulsory heterosexuality are problematic, especially in Haze Him. Researchers (Fox, 2007; Miller, 2010) have concluded that heteronormativity is troublesome and results in several impacts, which include, but are not limited to, the negative stigmatization of homosexuals, inadequate medical advances for gay associated conditions like HIV/AIDS, bodily violence, and strict gender roles. Furthermore, researchers (Dalley & Campbell, 2009; Engstrom, 2012; Hensley, 2011; Niesche, 2003; Wilkinson & Pearson, 2009) have concluded that heteronormativity adversely affects both students and instructors in educational spaces and leads to impacts, which include, but are not limited to, personal victimization, emotional stability, the silencing of non-normative sexualities, punishment of whistleblowers, the lack of acceptance by peers, poor discipline/behavior, fear of job loss, unemployment, and violence.
The laundry list of impacts resulting from heteronormativity and compulsory heterosexuality is extensive, but not exhaustive. I argue that the most detrimental impact associated with Haze Him is the cyclical narrative of homonormativity. Haze Him begins and ends with the same principle: heterosexuality is normal and prioritized, but homosexual acts are justifiable in private spaces as long as a body can function heterosexually (Duggan, 2003; Warner, 1999). At the beginning of every episode of Haze Him, the producers display heterosexual bodies. Through the narrative, these bodies enact homosexual actions, but post-cum shot, heterosexuality is restored. This homonormative narrative seeps into the real world and has cyclical implications on the audience. As indicated, throughout one’s life, society conditions an individual to be heterosexual; one is inherently heterosexual (like the men being heterosexual at the start of each episode). No matter how many times one may perform homosexual acts, society indicates that one can and should retreat back to heterosexuality (Bornstein, 2013b; Rich, 1980). At the end of the day, heterosexuality equals privilege, even in a homosexual body (Duggan, 2003). Haze Him denigrates non-normative sexual orientations through homonormative narratives. Haze Him communicates homophobia, masochism, and a lack of self-worth to audience members (Fone, 2000; Hensley, 2011; Subero, 2010). Furthermore, Haze Him supports the neoliberal movement of taking homosexual bodies and only providing tolerance if one can fluidly move between heterosexuality and homosexuality (Duggan, 2003). Haze Him does cultural work and begs audience members to affirm their non-normative sexual practices by viewing gay pornography in private, but simultaneously communicates the message that one should perform homosexuality through the lens of heterosexuality. Haze Him articulates the normalizing narrative that informs readers that heterosexuality, and the institution of marriage as an extension, is the preferred frame to exist within. In Haze Him, desirable heterosexuality may seem harmless, but by consuming Haze Him, one is only engaging in a virtual hazing session.
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