Beyond binary simplicity in Huck
Despite Huck’s use of Straussian oppositions we can detect an impulse within the magazine to move beyond a simplistic ideological appraisal of the debates it engages. The Jacob Tobia article might enforce a simplistic us/them narrative that divides society into those who are tolerant and intolerant of gender fluidity, yet the writer also invests the article with a nuanced appraisal of gender that refuses to apply simplistic gender labelling.
The ‘beyond binary’ kicker, for example, positions the reader to embrace gender as an identity spectrum, with accompanying imagery melding masciline stubble with feminine clothing in a way that provokes what Judith Butler would call ‘gender trouble’.
Similarly, the Jacob Tobia article resists the urge to offer a simplistic us/them critique of transphobia in that the writer explores the role that social media and celebrity status might afford in progressing trans rights in America.
Considerations, too, of the effects of trans abuse afford a sensitive portrait, wherein the writer’s cataloguing of their adverse experiences constructs something a little more nuanced than we might ordinarily see in terms of a magazine article that discusses trans rights.
The G-Star Raw ad delivers a similarly complex message - at first glance reproducing a conventional male/female binary, yet much like the Jacob Tobia article the imagery disrupts rather than reinforces a conventional gender-based binary. The hooked thumbs and abrasive fourth wall break of the female model offer audiences a counter typical representation of femininity, while the lone-wolf stereotype conventionally used to suggest male self-reliance is replaced by a passive two-shot composition wherein masculinity is associated with qualities of companionship. Much like the Tobia article, this ad applies oppositions and binary categorisation, but does so in a way that invites readers to produce a complex reading of gender.
Ultimately, to assess the magazine as a conflict-driven publication that orientates itself around a simplistic binary viewpoint misses much of the text’s subtleties - often using binary characterisation to deconstruct or disrupt conventional binary labelling. As such, Strauss’ theoretical model offers us a limited understanding of this set text’s more complicated effects.
A media product that subverts heteronormativity or that offers audiences an alternative to the traditional heterosexual male/female binary.
Media terminology used
A shot that shows the entire body of a character. Usually used to highlight an actor's presence within an overwhelming setting or to establish a scene's location.
A photograph that has an unposed composition or that feels unstaged.