The Politics of Bad Acting in the Era of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell
This chapter uses the specific example of Keanu Reeves in order to trace how the specter of homosexuality both responds to and redirects a reading of Reeves as multiracial. The celebrity culture surrounding Reeves, particularly the flurry of news activity that accompanied his supposed marriage to David Geffen in the mid-1990s, coincided with the passage of the Clinton Administration's “Don't Ask, Don't Tell” policy and popular media discussions about gay visibility. Reeves' star persona demonstrates how, following the push for multicultural inclusion and representation in the 1980s and 1990s, queer and anti-queer coming out rhetoric reframed ethical concerns about racial passing. Supported by an analysis of Reeves' movie reviews and his publicity photos during this decade, the chapter argues that critics' and fans' repeated characterization of Reeves as a bad actor reflects beliefs about racial authenticity and concerns about both racial and sexual passing.
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