White, Patricia. “Girls Still Cry.” Screen 42:2 Summer 2001: 217-221. Print.
While noting criticisms of Boys Don’t Cry‘s lack of “documentary fidelity,” White asks us to consider the important cultural work that the film does in cultivating a particular type of spectatorship: “a convergence of queer, feminist and what [White] . . . call[s] . . . girl-viewer optics” (218). In film studies, spectatorship that is theorized around the male gaze–or the idea that visual culture usually portrays the world and women from a masculine point of view–suggests that male “spectatorial desire is . . . affirmed,” in part, “by disavowing female lack” (218). Another way of putting this, informed as it is by the language and analytical perspective of psychoanalysis, is that male fetishism is “a mastery of castration anxiety” (218). As White points out, feminist critics have theorized different understandings of female visual pleasure, and she’s fascinated by the opportunity to talk about spectatorship and fetishism under “the scenario of genital (in)difference” in BDC (218). Looking at Lana and Brandon’s first love scene, White argues that the filmic narrative operates through Lana’s gaze. And the love scene–which visually hints through Lana’s gaze that Brandon’s body does not easily conform to either end of the gender binary–fetishizes genital (in)difference. White closes by noting that if this is, indeed, the type of visual pleasure registering on the screen and in audiences, then BDC‘s mainstream success perhaps speaks to a serious cultural shift in understandings of and personal identifications with genders and sexualities.