Friday, March 30, 2012
For many viewers this couple should upset them. However, people stay at ease because of the comedic and relatable characters the show casts to its audiences. Raymond argues that in order for people to accept a gay couple in any show, the show's writers would have to end each episode with a "reinforcement of heterosexuality or a containment of homosexuality" (Raymond, 100). But, instead they go another route. Raymond believes that instead the writers can try to queer the straight, or make 'queer a [normal attribute] in mainstream culture" (Raymond, 100).
Cameron and Mitchell share so many other characteristics with the middle-class man. They have jobs, dreams, money, house, child, and white-picket fence. There are overwhelming similarities between them and the viewer that makes it almost impossible for them to discredit the couple. And through the addition of comedy and societal acceptance, the viewer begins to readily watch the show and subconsciously accept this queer couple.
Glbt presence is increasing in television and slowly being accepted by the American culture. However, they cannot be flamboyant or over the top gay. Modern Family has proven that glbts can make it in television, however, there is a certain way to go about it. They cannot try to take over, but they can start being accepted through being portrayed as normal, happy, and similar to their viewers.
Raymond believes that the emergence of the glbt persona in television will "give birth to new meanings and new signifiers attached to queer sexuality" (Raymond, 109). But, I believe that in order to keep the momentum going for these characters, writers of shows need to be careful with how large of an initial impact these characters are going make on the show's plot. They need to start off with small representations of homosexuality before they try to take control, or they will have their audiences straying back to their old homophobic stereotypes and attitudes.
The evolving meaning of the word “queer” is symbolic of the changing culture towards homosexuality. Not long ago, the term was used as a homophobic descriptor, and now comes to embody scholarly research surrounding mostly LBGT issues. Fascinatingly enough, queer studies does not make its stand on only gay issues, it lends itself to a certain openness that will allow for an incorporation of all. The fluidity of its range of topics parallels its view on fixed terms of sexuality. Heterosexuality and homosexuality are not exclusive to one another, and can share qualities and in fact shape how each category comes to be defined. An increasing openness and understanding of such fluidity has allowed for greater representations by the gay community in the media.
“…Shifts in roles and viewer expectations clearly allowed for the appearance of non-heterosexual characters in major and supporting roles; cultural shifts linked to an increasingly visible gay and lesbian movement no doubt helped to buttress such changes” (101). The ABC sitcom Modern Family is an interesting contemporary example to analyze. The gay characters of Cam and Mitchell are humorous, dynamic, and easily likable. Their representation on a major network is refreshing to many of the cliché characters that one can find during primetime. However, the duo of Cam and Mitchell has some oddities to it. You may see them kiss occasionally, but never passionately, and while the main heterosexual couple on the show will openly discuss sex and other innuendos, such humor is left out from Cam and Mitchell’s script. Additionally, the gay men live together and have adopted a baby, yet there never seems to be the discussion of marriage, nor a disgruntled nature towards the fact that laws are repressive towards them.
However, criticizing the representations of these gay men on a major network is maybe too critical. The better option may be to embrace the representation and hope for the best in the future with their story lines. The ABC producers have already taken the “risk” by creating these characters, maybe it is only fair that we give them due time to push the envelope further.
While the show does have some flaws like a lacking representation of racially diverse characters, the show never seemed to not push the envelope. Almost everything to deal with gay issues were used. Problems like coming out, drug abuse, HIV/AIDS, Sexuality (duh!), death, pregnancy, and many more.
After reading the article for today I just wanted to throw out there that TV has jumped forward in a lot of ways. Shows like Queer As Folk, The L Word and even new shows like Happy Endings are showing a lot of promise for the LGBT community. It makes us less of a joke, or side plot of a show just to try and get ratings. Instead we are becoming the main characters who have more than one episode given to them to explore our problems.
So if you have a free weekend or just don't want to do your homework I say take some time to sit down and watch Queer As Folk it will honestly blow your mind! Seriously it's that good, and so out there. But in a good way! Ok I'll stop rambling, but really, you go, watch it...like now.
Thursday, March 29, 2012
We discussed earlier this semester that media does not represent reality but rather reflects a distorted view of it. Raymond also explains that as more and more homosexual characters appear on T.V., then it might mean that homosexuality is becoming less and less taboo. But she also says briefly on page 106 that "...the possibility of bisexuality, a more fluid sexuality, or even a recurrence is rarely entertained".
I would like to look at the homosexual characters in season's one and two of Glee. We have Kurt, the flamboyant, open homosexual, Blaine, the more manly homosexual who later becomes Kurt's first boyfriend, Karofsky, the football player who bullies Kurt because of his sexuality who later reveals his sexuality when he kisses Kurt, and Santana and Brittany, the members of the cheerios who hint at their sexual experiences together. Santana comes out later as a Lesbian with her love for Brittany.
The season begins with one gay character and as the season went on and the audience demanded more, we were presented with many more situations. But there only seems to be either gay or straight.
It has been suggested that sexuality is a fluid dichotomy that flows between gay and straight, which would suggest that there is such thing as bisexuality. By alienating that kind of characteristic, it seems that those who do associate with bisexuality are also alienated.
Raymond examines this briefly when she describes the short lived homosexual relationships among characters in ER and Buffy the Vampire Slayer (106). Brief homosexual relationships are used as a fantasy or a means of receiving higher ratings.
But let's look at the diversity that the homosexual characters that Glee does offer. Kurt, being the general stereotype dates Blaine, who is a lot like Will from Will and Grace in the sense that he is "less gay" than Jack. I think that this reflects reality in the sense that people are realizing that every gay man or woman for that matter share the same identity, a concept that Raymond touches on herself.
The author argues that although the media has evolved to provide explicitly queer characters in television shows (much less in feature movies), these representations are not necessarily positive to the LGBT struggle for equality and acceptance in society. The presence of queer identities in the media was previously only possible if their stories were dominated by some sort of physical violence or if they were being ridiculed for their flamboyance. In the current media, these story lines have evolved to surround a kind of heteronormalization of queer identities.
Queer characters are either portrayed to be stereotypically masculine (except for the being attracted to people of the same sex aspect) or heterosexual characters are given stereotypically homosexual attributes (except for the being attracted to people of the opposite sex aspect) or they are flamboyantly portrayed as homosexual to the point where it becomes comical. For example, the writer emphasizes the character of Will as an example of a homosexual man with strongly 'heteronormative' character traits. She also talks about his relationship with Grace and how they are portrayed almost as a married couple. She sites Chandler's character from Friends as an example of a heterosexual man with stereotypically queer traits. Finally, she uses the character of Jack from Will and Grace as an example of an overly stereotypical homosexual man. The author even makes it a point to point out that Jack's overt flamboyance is almost used as a symbol to indicate that Will is not homosexual enough and can easily be converted to heterosexuality.
Although I agree with the writer on each of these points, I have to argue that the representation of queer identities has evolved greatly since this article was written. Queer identities in the media today are much more relatable to both queer and non-queer audiences in the sense that they are hardly ever portrayed as caricatures anymore, but rather as 'regular' people who also happen to be queer and who are dealing with the everyday issues faced by humans and by people who identify as queer. Although I can not think of any completely realistic representation of queer identity, I am not particularly
bothered since there are absolutely no completely realistic representations in the media. Shows such as Glee (with the character Kurt, among others) and South of Nowhere are leading the game in the representation of 'normal' teenagers who just happen to be homosexual. They are playing a key part in getting society to begin accepting queer folk as regular (relative term, of course) people who so happen to identify as 'queer.' The same way as heterosexual people are people first and then heterosexual.