The B Word

The B Word

Bisexuality in Contemporary Film and Television
Maria San Filippo
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 04/12/2013
Format: Hardback 26 b&w screen grabs
ISBN: 978-0-253-00879-4
Bookmark and Share

Other formats available:

Buy from Amazon


2013 Slant Magazine Top Ten Books, Film Studies Winner 2014 Lambda Book Awards, bisexual nonfiction

Often disguised in public discourse by terms like "gay," "homoerotic," "homosocial," or "queer," bisexuality is strangely absent from queer studies and virtually untreated in film and media criticism. Maria San Filippo aims to explore the central role bisexuality plays in contemporary screen culture, establishing its importance in representation, marketing, and spectatorship. By examining a variety of media genres including art cinema, sexploitation cinema and vampire films, "bromances," and series television, San Filippo discovers "missed moments" where bisexual readings of these texts reveal a more malleable notion of subjectivity and eroticism. San Filippo's work moves beyond the subject of heteronormativity and responds to "compulsory monosexuality," where it's not necessarily a couple's gender that is at issue, but rather that an individual chooses one or the other. The B Word transcends dominant relational formation (gay, straight, or otherwise) and brings a discursive voice to the field of queer and film studies.

Author Bio

Maria San Filippo has taught film and television studies, and gender and sexuality studies, at MIT, Harvard University, UCLA, and Wellesley College. Her work has appeared in the journals CineAction, Cineaste, English Language Notes, Film History, In Media Res, Journal of Bisexuality, Quarterly Review of Film and Video, and Senses of Cinema and the anthologies Global Art Cinema and Millennial Masculinity: Men in Contemporary American Cinema.


“Charting representations of bisexuality--ever present, hardly discussed--in films from Pandora’s Box to Persona to Brokeback Mountain and television’s True Blood, Maria San Filippo proves that there is plenty of room left in that celluloid closet. Her knowledge is comprehensive; her writing is astute and witty (she points out that Brokeback Mountain is not about gay cowboys, but bisexual shepherds), and her love of film comes through on every page. The B Word is essentially for film scholars, everyone interested in queer studies, and anyone who just likes movies. ”
 — Michael Bronski, author of A Queer History of the United States

“Maria San Filippo argues convincingly that bisexuality should not be entirely subsumed under the heading of queer studies, but deserves to be as legitimate an object of scholarly attention as gay and lesbian studies. Her argument is provocative and thoughtful.”
 — Tania Modleski, author of Loving with a Vengeance: Mass Produced Fantasies for Women

“Viewing films as diverse as Brokeback Mountain, The Wedding Crashers, Persona, Chasing Amy, and Mulholland Drive through a bisexual lens, The B Word transforms films commonly read as homosexual or heterosexual.”

“Maria San Filippo turns her razor-sharp intellect on the representation of bisexuality in modern media, where it still remains somewhat unspoken, often overshadowed by the hard-won visibility of gays and lesbians. Placing bisexual desire center stage, San Filippo’s book is a much-needed addition to the field of queer media studies.”
 — Next Magazine

“...[A] comprehensive, no-holds-barred examination of the portrayal and impact of bisexuality in modern entertainment...Power, privilege, exploitation, the dominance of monosexuality—no permutation goes unexplored, no bisexual presence goes unmentioned...It's a passionate, knowledgeable, educational study, drawing from old and new sources alike.”
 — Publishers Weekly

“...[O]ne of the most compelling and thoughtful academic reads from the first half of 2013.”
 — Slant Magazine

“[San Filippo's] study is full of fresh insights about a mostly neglected subject, and she makes good use of a wealth of cultural material.”
 — Gay & Lesbian Review

“San Filippo is well-read in feminist and queer theory, and the book is sprinkled with ideas from those fields, which makes this most suitable for graduate-level reading. It can, however, serve as undergraduate coursework for students with a solid background in those subjects. . . . Highly recommended.”
 — Choice

“This captivating new study by Maria San Filippo raises numerous persuasive questions about the perspectives that our culture has of bisexuality while it explores the ongoing and, typically, problematic efforts to portray it on screen. ”
 — Cinema Journal

“For anyone interested in the politics of bisexuality, The B Word should be on your reading list.”
 — Journal of Bisexuality

Customer Reviews

There are currently no reviews
Write a review on this title.

Table of Contents

Prologue: Chasing Amy and Bisexual (In)visibility
Introduction: Binary Trouble and Compulsory Monosexuality
1. Unthinking Monosexuality: Bisexual Representability in Art Cinema
2. Power Play/s: Bisexuality as Privilege and Pathology in Sexploitation Cinema
3. Of Cowboys and Cocksmen: Bisexuality and the Contemporary Hollywood Bromance
4. Bisexuality on the Boob Tube
Conclusion: Queer/ing Bisexuality