James Somerton, Lazarus, and WandaVision

James Somerton on YouTube

Emma: Video essays are an increasingly popular method of content creation, combining the personalization granted by the video format with hard written work. Ranging anywhere from minutes to hours, these are an immersive form of essay. My subject today creates what I think are some of the best in the market.

James Somerton is a young Canadian fellow who makes long, sometimes multi-part videos exploring gay history and representation in film and the world in general. He is witty, eloquent, talented, and clearly very passionate. His content is well-researched and heartfelt. When it comes to movies, he explores everything from the very beginnings of LGBT+ expressions in film to how things are today. In the category of factual history, he has a documentary about the history of gay pornography, and is currently preparing to release his two-part series on the suffering of gay people during the holocaust as a single video.

His channel began back in 2013 with the publication of the first entry in a series he called Geek Theory, which would last until August of the following year. After that last video and another entitled Film Theory #1, there was a considerable gap in his channel timeline. He returned in 2017 with The Stonewall Film Effect, and two more videos in 2018—one of which happens to be his most viewed and most popular.

Monsters in the Closet delves into the history of LGBT+ representation in horror films and is how I, and many others, came across him. It does as the full title (A History of LGBT Representation in Horror Cinema) suggests, exploring titles such as Sleepaway Camp and Freddy’s Revenge (which one might expect—we’ve all SEEN Freddy’s Revenge, right?), but he also speaks on films that aren’t as frequently examined through a queer lens. If you pay mind to LGBT+ film history, you’ll probably be well aware of the blatant gay subtext in such classics like Dracula’s Daughter, but if you haven’t chosen to explore this history, being shown these viewpoints and facts may come as a fascinating surprise.

I think my favorite of his (so far) would have to be Making it Big: The History of Gay Adult Film, his brilliant documentary chronicling the history of gay pornography. It grants a window into so much important detail not just in gay history, but in film history. I, and I assume many others, had no idea pornography used to be shown in theaters, not treated as some shameful and unspeakable pastime. It makes the current demonization of erotic media feel all the stranger to me, and makes me hope we’ll come upon another “sexual revolution” of sorts in the fast approaching future.

LGBT+ history in film goes so much further back and deeper than many of us think, whether it be regarding pornography or your typical blockbuster. Since the birth of movie theaters, queer creators have been using them to express themselves and their struggles. It is a culture that, while loud and proud today, didn’t have the freedom to make itself heard in the not-so-distant past. Back then, queer people turned to film reels and the written word to quietly slip their lives into the media fed to the general public. These messages, which so easily slipped past the majority, are now being properly analyzed and appreciated; James Somerton is one of the many talented people doing this, and I implore you all you give his content a look.

Those are our recommendations this week! What are yours? Let us know in the comments!

Written by TV Obsessive

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