Today I am so pleased to welcome Heidi Belleau and Sam Schooler to Joyfully Jay. Heidi and Sam have come to talk to us about their latest release, Dead Ringer. They have also brought along a great tour wide giveaway. Please join me in giving Heidi and Sam a big welcome!
Decoding Dead Ringer: The Hays Code and Hollywood Depictions of Queerness
Hi, and welcome to the DEAD RINGER release tour! We’re Heidi Belleau and Sam Schooler, here with more DEAD RINGER B-roll footage and DVD extras than you can shake a stick at. Stay tuned for author commentary, posters and info about all of James Ringer’s movies, classic Hollywood factoids, and, of course, some sweet prizes!
Growing up queer can be isolating. If you don’t know any out real life LGBT people, and you’re limited to mainstream media, it can be easy to believe you’re all alone in the universe. Of course, in recent years LGBTQ representation in media has made huge strides (however far we still have to go), but it hasn’t always been this way: can you imagine watching a show like ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK or even GLEE a decade or two ago? But this complete absence of meaningful, authentic, or even sympathetic representation—and the attendant sense of isolation and inhumanity—didn’t happen accidentally. It was designed.
One such design was that of the “Hays Code”—officially, “The Motion Picture Production Code,” which was written up and enforced at the behest of religious groups starting in the 1930s, through to the 1960s. The purpose of the code was to dissuade filmmakers from depicting or glorifying any subject matter that the writers of the code (and the interest groups they represented) considered immoral: “Open-mouth kissing, lustful embraces, sex perversion, seduction, rape, abortion, prostitution and white slavery, nudity and obscenity.”
Falling under the subheading of “sex perversion” was any depiction of homosexuality that might be read as an endorsement (read: remotely positive). As a result, queer content was either outright erased or relegated to subtext or to acceptable negative depictions where homosexual figures were evil or tragic or a mix of the two, a trope that has long outlived the Hays code and continues to depress and frustrate queer audiences to this day.
Elsewhere on the DEAD RINGER tour, we discuss some of our thematic inspiration for the book, including the movies REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE and A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE, both classic films that reflect the effect of the Hays Code on the depiction of homosexuality (among other things) in film.
Both, coincidentally, are featured on the queer blog /bent, which examines them in their series Hays’d, which is all about analyzing various Hays-era films for their queer content. You can see their breakdown of each here:
Hays’d: Decoding the Classics—”A Streetcar Named Desire”
Hays’d: Decoding the Classics—’Rebel Without a Cause’
Finding out about James Dean’s possible bisexuality well into my twenties was the major catalyst to wanting to write DEAD RINGER. I initially pitched the book as a story that centered on a “fictionalized James Dean.” I didn’t want to write a book about James Dean—an erotic queer unofficial biography?—but I was absolutely taken by the idea of a young star with an ambiguous sexuality, forced to deal with the pressures of the Hays era and his celebrity. From that little kernel of inspiration (and a few intense brainstorming sessions with my co-author Sam Schooler) the story that became the novel DEAD RINGER was born.
- Code, Read: Hollywood’s Hays Code and the Queer Stereotypes of the Silver Screen
- The Celluloid Closet
- Tears for Queers: Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, Hollywood, and American Attitudes toward Homosexuality
- James Dean’s Gay Lovers
- FROM “SISSY” TO BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN: A BRIEF HISTORY OF QUEER CINEMA
- Screen Online: The Hays Code
- Masculinity: Coming Out of the Celluloid Closet
Thanks to our generous blog hosts, and thanks to you for hanging out with us! Be sure to check out our full list of tour stops so you can see the rest of our extras and snag yourself more chances to win our giveaway!
Brandon Ringer has a dead man’s face. His grandfather, silver-screen heartthrob James Ringer, died tragically at twenty-one, and Brandon looks exactly like him. But that’s where the resemblance ends. Brandon is unknown, unemployed, and up to his ears in bills after inheriting his grandparents’ Hollywood mansion. He refuses to sell it—it’s his last connection to his grandmother—so to raise the cash he needs, he joins a celebrity look-alike escort agency.
Percy Charles is chronically ill, isolated, and lonely. His only company is his meddlesome caregiver and his collection of James Ringer memorabilia. When he finds “Jim Ringer” on Hollywood Doubles’ website, he books an appointment, hoping to meet someone who shares his passion for his idol.
Brandon? Not that person.
But despite their differences, they connect, and Percy’s fanboy love for James shows Brandon a side of his grandfather he never knew. Soon they want time together off the clock, but Percy is losing his battle for independence, and Brandon feels trapped in James’s long shadow. Their struggle to love each other is the stuff of classic Hollywood. Too bad Brandon knows how those stories end.
Heidi Belleau was born and raised in small town New Brunswick, Canada. She now lives in the rugged oil-patch frontier of Northern BC with her husband, an Irish ex-pat whose long work hours in the trades leave her plenty of quiet time to write.
She has a degree in history from Simon Fraser University with a concentration in British and Irish studies; much of her work centred on popular culture, oral folklore, and sexuality, but she was known to perplex her professors with unironic papers on the historical roots of modern romance novel tropes. (Ask her about Highlanders!)
When not writing, you might catch her trying to explain British television to her newborn daughter or standing in line at the local coffee shop, waiting on her caramel macchiato.
Connect with Heidi:
- Blog: www.heidibelleau.com
- Twitter: @HeidiBelleau
- Goodreads: goodreads.com/heidibelleau
- Email: email@example.com
Sam Schooler is queer and nonbinary, and she grew up surrounded by corn, churches, and cliché “Hell Is Real” signs. After twelve years of Catholic school in southwestern Ohio, she applied to the most liberal university she could find and wound up with a degree in journalism. Now, she writes trope-subverting new adult books about people of all genders and orientations—and all the ways they can love each other. Sam lives with her wife and their two cats in Regina, Saskatchewan.
You can find her backlist and details about upcoming projects at samschooler.com.
If you’re feeling daring, follow her on Twitter as @samschoolering or on Tumblr as meetcute-s to get the full immersive experience.
Feeling lucky? Leave a comment with your email on this or any of our other DEAD RINGER tour posts for a chance to win one of our two grand prizes. Each winner will receive a $15 gift card to Riptide Publishing, plus get their choice of either a poster-sized print of DEAD RINGER’s gorgeous cover photo by Marisha Dudek, or a postcard set featuring the eye-catching ephemera of James Ringer’s filmography, designed by Vivian Ng. Contest ends October 31, 2015 and is not restricted to US entries.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
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