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Distinctively queer in the parish : performances of distinction and LGBTQ+ representations in Flemish prestige television fiction

Florian Vanlee (UGent) , Sofie Van Bauwel (UGent) and Frederik Dhaenens (UGent)
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Abstract
This article troubles the intuitive link between emancipatory portrayals of sexual and gender diversity and 'quality television' by focusing on three Flemish 'prestige' dramas: Met Man en Macht (VIER, 2013), Bevergem (Canvas, 2015) and Den Elfde Van Den Elfde (één, 2016). Contrary to the United States, Flemish quality television portrays fewer LGBTQ+ characters and narratives than less 'prestigious' content. Approached from a Bourdieusian perspective, the cases discussed show that when LGBTQ+ characters are featured in prestigious domestic fiction content, they function as distinctive queers. This article argues that, whereas LGBTQ+ characters in US quality television affirm the socio-cultural disposition of the target audience, Flemish prestige television fiction delegitimizes that of the group from which the imagined audience distinguishes itself. Distinctive queers circulate in a larger cultural repertoire associated with Flemish prestige television fiction, recasting markers of ordinary Flemishness found in domestic content. This repertoire is organized around the motif of the parish, and discursively separates Flanders into two distinct temporal configurations: one decidedly pre-modern and inferior, the other expressively modern and superior. A synecdoche for 'common Flanders', the parish constructs the majority of Flemings as culturally coarse, backwards and innately unable to be legitimately modern. As the analysis shows, distinctive queers accentuate the social deficit of mundane communities, and textually perform the distinction of fashionable, socially liberal urban-minded Flemings. In consonance with the hyperbolic representations that recast 'ordinary Flemish cultural life' as grotesque and ridiculous, distinctive queers frame LGBTQ+ inclusivity as the prerogative of conspicuously absent urban, socio-culturally progressive Flemings.
Keywords
distinction, Flemish television fiction, LGBTQ+ television, quality television, queer television studies, MEDIA, GAY, ARTICULATIONS, FLANDERS, DRAMA, HBO, TV

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Citation

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MLA
Vanlee, Florian, et al. “Distinctively Queer in the Parish : Performances of Distinction and LGBTQ+ Representations in Flemish Prestige Television Fiction.” EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CULTURAL STUDIES, vol. 23, no. 4, 2020, pp. 548–63, doi:10.1177/1367549418821844.
APA
Vanlee, F., Van Bauwel, S., & Dhaenens, F. (2020). Distinctively queer in the parish : performances of distinction and LGBTQ+ representations in Flemish prestige television fiction. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CULTURAL STUDIES, 23(4), 548–563. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367549418821844
Chicago author-date
Vanlee, Florian, Sofie Van Bauwel, and Frederik Dhaenens. 2020. “Distinctively Queer in the Parish : Performances of Distinction and LGBTQ+ Representations in Flemish Prestige Television Fiction.” EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CULTURAL STUDIES 23 (4): 548–63. https://doi.org/10.1177/1367549418821844.
Chicago author-date (all authors)
Vanlee, Florian, Sofie Van Bauwel, and Frederik Dhaenens. 2020. “Distinctively Queer in the Parish : Performances of Distinction and LGBTQ+ Representations in Flemish Prestige Television Fiction.” EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CULTURAL STUDIES 23 (4): 548–563. doi:10.1177/1367549418821844.
Vancouver
1.
Vanlee F, Van Bauwel S, Dhaenens F. Distinctively queer in the parish : performances of distinction and LGBTQ+ representations in Flemish prestige television fiction. EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CULTURAL STUDIES. 2020;23(4):548–63.
IEEE
[1]
F. Vanlee, S. Van Bauwel, and F. Dhaenens, “Distinctively queer in the parish : performances of distinction and LGBTQ+ representations in Flemish prestige television fiction,” EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CULTURAL STUDIES, vol. 23, no. 4, pp. 548–563, 2020.
@article{8601484,
  abstract     = {This article troubles the intuitive link between emancipatory portrayals of sexual and gender diversity and 'quality television' by focusing on three Flemish 'prestige' dramas: Met Man en Macht (VIER, 2013), Bevergem (Canvas, 2015) and Den Elfde Van Den Elfde (één, 2016). Contrary to the United States, Flemish quality television portrays fewer LGBTQ+ characters and narratives than less 'prestigious' content. Approached from a Bourdieusian perspective, the cases discussed show that when LGBTQ+ characters are featured in prestigious domestic fiction content, they function as distinctive queers. This article argues that, whereas LGBTQ+ characters in US quality television affirm the socio-cultural disposition of the target audience, Flemish prestige television fiction delegitimizes that of the group from which the imagined audience distinguishes itself. Distinctive queers circulate in a larger cultural repertoire associated with Flemish prestige television fiction, recasting markers of ordinary Flemishness found in domestic content. This repertoire is organized around the motif of the parish, and discursively separates Flanders into two distinct temporal configurations: one decidedly pre-modern and inferior, the other expressively modern and superior. A synecdoche for 'common Flanders', the parish constructs the majority of Flemings as culturally coarse, backwards and innately unable to be legitimately modern. As the analysis shows, distinctive queers accentuate the social deficit of mundane communities, and textually perform the distinction of fashionable, socially liberal urban-minded Flemings. In consonance with the hyperbolic representations that recast 'ordinary Flemish cultural life' as grotesque and ridiculous, distinctive queers frame LGBTQ+ inclusivity as the prerogative of conspicuously absent urban, socio-culturally progressive Flemings.},
  author       = {Vanlee, Florian and Van Bauwel, Sofie and Dhaenens, Frederik},
  issn         = {1367-5494},
  journal      = {EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF CULTURAL STUDIES},
  keywords     = {distinction,Flemish television fiction,LGBTQ+ television,quality television,queer television studies,MEDIA,GAY,ARTICULATIONS,FLANDERS,DRAMA,HBO,TV},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {4},
  pages        = {548--563},
  title        = {Distinctively queer in the parish : performances of distinction and LGBTQ+ representations in Flemish prestige television fiction},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1367549418821844},
  volume       = {23},
  year         = {2020},
}

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