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VIDEO DOI: https://doi.org/10.48448/d356-6v24

technical paper

AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Now Streaming: Queer Indian Media and the Costs of Visibility


new media



Over the past year, COVID-19 lockdowns have bolstered an already rapid rise of Over-The-Top (OTT) streaming services such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Disney+ Hotstar in India, with a variety of implications for queer media production. This evolving new media milieu has required filmmakers and creators to navigate new censorship regulations and normalization pressures alongside opportunities for increased visibility and audience access. Drawing from six months of remote ethnographic research at virtual queer Indian film festivals, this paper examines how queer Indian media creators negotiate the affordances and limitations of emerging OTT industries. By attending to the socio-political dimensions of new media environments, it reveals how OTT engagements index broader pressures toward (homo)normalization and state assimilation that queer communities presently face. Nearly three years after activists won the hard-fought campaign to decriminalize homosexuality in India, queer communities continue to combat long-standing prejudice and petition the state for expanded civil protections. Currently, activists negotiate pressures to assimilate to right-wing nationalist government ideologies and transnational paradigms of “LGBTQ” expression, while contesting the exclusionary effects of homonormative visibility. OTT service providers mirror these legitimization processes by establishing new standards for acceptable representation as they incorporate queer media into mainstream industry. Moreover, ambiguous censorship regulations passed in April 2021 extend government control over OTT programming, threatening to continue long-standing practices of queer media censure. As filmmakers respond to these new conditions, they debate the political goals of contemporary queer movements, their relationship to the state, and the costs of visibility.


Transcript English (automatic)

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