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Open AccessArticle

“Beautiful and New”: The Logic of Complementarity in Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Department of Theology, Fordham University, New York, NY 10458, USA
Religions 2019, 10(11), 620; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10110620
Received: 16 September 2019 / Revised: 15 October 2019 / Accepted: 5 November 2019 / Published: 8 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Theatrical Drama)
This article suggests that reading John Cameron Mitchell’s musical Hedwig and the Angry Inch as a religious classic undermines the logic of complementarity within Catholic theological anthropology, particularly the Theology of the Body of John Paul II. A religious classic, a term coined by theologian David Tracy, describes a work with an “excess of meaning” that offers hope and resistance against a normative social structure. Hedwig resists the hegemonic structure of sexual dimorphism, as represented by the logic of complementarity operative within the Theology of the Body. This theological anthropology proposes a normative framework for human beings as gendered and sexual agents who “complete” each other through heterosexual and monogamous marital acts, reinforcing heterosexist and transphobic bodily norms. The work of Judith Butler helps illuminate the embodied performance of gender that the musical so brilliantly subverts. Hedwig, while toying with gender norms, also undermines the idea of the logic of complementarity—namely, that each person has another “half” that will cause completion, bringing human flourishing. In the title character not finding a version of “completeness” by the end of the show, the musical, thus, offers hope for those who cannot fit into gendered bodily norms. View Full-Text
Keywords: musical; gender; queer; Butler; Tracy; embodiment; theology; anthropology; John Paul II musical; gender; queer; Butler; Tracy; embodiment; theology; anthropology; John Paul II
MDPI and ACS Style

Beyt, A. “Beautiful and New”: The Logic of Complementarity in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Religions 2019, 10, 620.

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