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Strange NaturesFuturity, Empathy, and the Queer Ecological Imagination$
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Nicole Seymour

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037627

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037627.001.0001

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“It’s Just Not Turning Up”

“It’s Just Not Turning Up”

AIDS, Cinematic Vision, and Environmental Justice in Todd Haynes’s Safe

Chapter:
(p.71) 3 “It’s Just Not Turning Up”
Source:
Strange Natures
Author(s):

Nicole Seymour

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252037627.003.0003

This chapter turns to American suburbia, where we meet a white housewife suffering from an ambiguous illness in the 1995 film, Safe. While many critics read the film as an AIDS allegory, the chapter argues that it also tells a story about environmental injustice: its queer filmic techniques draw our attention away from our privileged protagonist to the film's literally and figuratively marginal figures and the disproportionately large envirohealth risks they face. The film thereby interrogates how we recognize suffering, and how certain types of suffering are framed as “natural” and, therefore, not worthy of public attention. Furthermore, this chapter explains the ideological paradigms prevalent during the time of the film's setting, and illustrates the methods by which Safe works against these ideologies. Finally, this chapter indicates how environmental concerns obtain even, or perhaps especially, in spaces construed as refuges from the environment, such as the suburban home.

Keywords:   American suburbia, Safe, AIDS, environmental injustice, envirohealth risks, suffering, suburban home

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