The Rocky Horror Show as liminal, gothic, monstrous, Shakespearean biolegal fable



Publication Details

M. Leiboff, 'The Rocky Horror Show as liminal, gothic, monstrous, Shakespearean biolegal fable' in C. Battisti & S. Fiorato(eds), Law and the Humanities: Cultural Perspectives (2020) 539-556.


In 1973, one of the most enduring of a new genre of popular culture, The Rocky Horror Show, had its first outing in London. Though best known for the genre style that it created, The Rocky Horror Show has a deeper cultural legal studies resonance to it, a liminality reflecting the ambiguity of its characters, plot, theme and storyline, but most significantly, the nature of its production and the times out of which it was created. It is Gothic and monstrous in one, with echoes of Faustian bargain combined with a boy and girl who find themselves caught in an A Midsummer Night's Dream tussle of identity and desire, this musical play challenged norms and assumptions of gender, bioethics and identity and sexuality, encapsulated in a microcosm of law and legalities, licit and illicit. This most fabulous of products of the 1970s still speaks to us now, albeit changed and changing, for what was unknown to or unknowable to law then has become normalized now, what was illicit now permissible, what was monstrous and unspeakable now a commonplace.

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