Conclusion
Straight to Video
The foregoing chapters have suggested the need for investigations into
specific visualizations of what we condense in the term lesbian in order
to understand the slippages those visualizations struggle to contain, the
limits at which representation functions. The thing and the metaphor
of the pulp cover provided an opportunity, in the previous chapter, to
reckon with the historical and historiographical stakes of such an investi-
gation, disclosing under the pulp cover a dense traffic in sexuality, com-
modities, exchange value, and regulation. By way of a conclusion to Les-
bian Rule, I turn in these last few pages to what might be an equivalent at
the dawn of the twenty-first century to the pulps of the last mid-century:
home video. By ‘‘home video’’ I mean to shorthand the practice of viewing
at home texts that come to us via a range of sources and formats, such as
cable/satellite and pay-per-view television, mail order services (that send
in the mail gay-related videotapes to far-flung subscribers), Web-based
media, videotapes, laser discs, and
dvds.1
Like the pulps, each of these
forms brings with it a distinct history and a regulatory matrix that can-
not quite be apprehended solely through the paradigms of visibility and
representation, because they conceal the translations and condensations
at work within each form. Like the pulps, these formats come on a wing,
as they too will peak and yield to other popular forms in time. Indeed,
while it may seem odd to title a conclusion, even if playfully, after what
may soon be an obsolete format—video—it is in part the goal of these
concluding remarks to remind us of the persistence of multiple formats,
the extent to which the history of queer media is not a long march of
progress or continual improvement, but rather an uneven and multiple
shuffle, back to cheap and exploitable retro-formats such as Super-8 and
Pixelvision (the Fisher-Price toy used with great effect by Sadie Benning
and others) and forward to digital productions such as the ‘‘butch buddy’’
queer festival hit, By Hook or by Crook (Harry Dodge and Silas Howard,
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