(GIF by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

(GIF by Hrag Vartanian/Hyperallergic)

Artist Jennifer Chan is masterful at remixing images and video clips from pop culture, overlaying text with a ’90s special-effects aesthetic and often setting the carefully coordinated pieces to catchy pop songs. And so, when I first watched her video “P.A.U.L.” (2013), I thought she had re-cut clips from anime episodes to turn them into a gay love story, as a critique of dominant cultural narratives.

But the truth is even more fascinating: she actually pulled her clips from two episodes of Yaoi, or “boys love,” anime, which she describes as “a genre of gay anime that’s predominantly female-authored and female-oriented in interests.” She does so with incredible timing and rhythm, reworking the episodes into an explosive, high-stakes, four-minute love story — complete with flan, sexual innuendo, pictures of bears, a techno version of “My Heart Will Go On,” and so many feelings.

“P.A.U.L.” is an unabashed accumulation of clichés, walking a fine line between earnest and knowing. It lets you both see yourself and get totally lost in a genre that’s also riddled with contradictions: a branch of pop culture but a subcategory, about “boys love” but largely written by women. It’s these dissonances and distances that Chan is so good at exposing, so entertainingly.

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art and politics but has also been known to write at length about cats. She won the 2014 Best...

One reply on “So Many Emotions and Gay Love Cliches”

  1. I so got it. Back here in Brazil the gay community and some courageous advertising are painting gays as people full of “love that never ends” in order to promote, or to “sell”, the gay marriage idea. This is not bad, this is great actually. My country, the well-known ass and carnival country, is very “conservative”, and like to simulate a kind of tradicional family fiction.

    As a gay man, I find it problematic, since gays can hate too and I’d like to have the right to divorce in the future.

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