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December 29, 1991|Charles Solomon

HOW DO I LOOK?: Queer Film and Video, edited by Bad Object-Choices (Bay Press: $16.95, illustrated). The discussions of gender roles and ethnic imagery in this provocative anthology were originally presented at a screening/seminar held in New York City in 1989 by the gay and lesbian reading group, Bad Object-Choices. Several of the papers challenge conventional assumptions about the depictions of men and women in mainstream and underground media. Richard Fung criticizes the passive image of Asian men in gay pornography; Judith Mayne examines the films of lesbian director Dorothy Arzner. Kobena Mercer discusses an otherwise neglected aspect of the Mapplethorpe controversy: the relationship between the photographer's work and stereotypes of Afro-American males. Although by no means salacious, "How Do I Look?" does include nude photographs and frank discussions of sexuality: The editors note that the book was delayed two months because "twenty printers refused to print or--in many cases--even bid on the project" in a chilling example of unofficial censorship.

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