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“Gender Bending Androgynous Sexuality in Baz Luhrmann’s William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet”

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  1. Introduction
  2. Examining the heterosexual aspects of Luhrmann's film
  3. Juliet and feminine chastity
  4. Leonardo DiCaprio's depiction of Romeo as a 'universal attraction'
  5. The Capulet party
  6. Conclusion
  7. Cited sources

Gender and sexuality are very difficult concepts to define in our post-modern age. To begin with, the term is outdated to fit the social norms of today: attraction lies anywhere and is not confined to ?heterosexual love' between a man and a woman. Gay, lesbian and bi-sexual are terms used to describe the previously neglected aspects of sexuality. Gender bending sexual androgyny used to be thought of as repulsive, but as Baz Luhrmann tells us, is all the more coveted in our liberalism of the present. As well, the more androgynous you are ? in how you look and how you love ? the more attractive you are; a signature of sexuality in the forever reviving pop-culture. As Luhrmann's William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet uses every aspect of pop-culture, from music to fashion to actors to create a post-modern Verona, he also utilizes androgynous sexuality in various characters. Yet, not to alienate any audience member, Luhrmann elucidates all varied counterparts of gender and sexuality: from femininity to masculinity; from heterosexuality to homosexuality and homosociality. He throws everything that is pop-culture at us in the film, and as he shows in the varied characters, gender-bending sexuality is integral to our time and age.

[...] Additionally, Romeo avenges Mercutio's death and then risks his life in order to return to the Capulet tomb. In these instances, Romeo is tenacious in his determination to carry out what must be done all stereotypically masculine qualities. However, he is not the all encompassing man of men. There is another aspect to consider that deems Romeo androgynous and for that matter, Mercutio as well. What one might call a homosexual aspect in his relationship with Mercutio. It is still difficult to define the relationship as ?homosexual', but the manner of their actions and words to each other can definitely be labeled as ?homosocial.' Sycamore Grove, before the Capulet party, is the scene that puts an inquisitive twist to Romeo and Mercutio's relationship. [...]

[...] In Barbara Hodgson's article, Everything's Nice in America?, she writes: ?DiCaprio's pale androgynous beauty sharp Aryan looks and hint of exotic heritage, a quintessential Greek boy god makes him a polysexual figure, equally attractive to young women and to gay and straight In short, DiCaprio goes easy on the eyes for everyone in the audience. However, is it merely looks that regard this particular Romeo as a ?universal attraction?' Not only is it Romeo's appearance, but his actions as well. [...]

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