Friday, March 30, 2012

Queerness and Modern Family

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.

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