Straight disasters: the (hetero)sexual geographies of Hollywood disaster movies



Publication Details

McKinnon, S. (2017). Straight disasters: the (hetero)sexual geographies of Hollywood disaster movies. GeoJournal: an international journal on human geography and environmental sciences, 82 (3), 503-515.


Since the silent era, Hollywood has maintained a particular fascination with disasters. Up on the screen buildings collapse, volcanoes erupt and tornadoes destroy all in their path. This article investigates the Hollywood disaster genre for its depiction of sexual and gender identities. Researchers increasingly recognise the significance of sexuality and gender in how 'real-world' disasters are experienced. Social marginality linked to lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) identities has specific consequences within the social impacts of a disaster. In Hollywood disaster films, LGBT identities are almost entirely absent. This does not mean, however, that sexuality is positioned as irrelevant to the disaster experience as represented by Hollywood. Instead, these films valorise and naturalise a particular vision of heterosexuality and represent disasters as mechanisms for the creation of heterosexual space.

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