Monday, January 3, 2011

OutTV

In response to some uninvited feedback from one of my more heavy set friends, I am going to try to mix this up.  I had originally promised him a post with content that would really excite him (i.e. - gravy, burros, and slimming clothing), but instead I think he meant go back to my less humor, more substance posts.  So here it goes…

Having more exposure of gays in the media is almost always more deleterious to strides in queer equality than anything else. 


When shows like Will & Grace were on blast in living rooms across America, it was a big step.  That is, one step forward, two steps back...  Sure it was funny, but audiences were laughing AT these characters, not with them.  Based on personal experience, I know that this is the bad kind.

Instead of being a vehicle for influence and using its popularity to infuse its comedy with messages about equality, they decided to boil every gay character down to a simple, predictable gay stereotype.  For people who know better, it was hilarious to see these things exaggerated on a half-hour sitcom. 

But for the rest of the millions of Americans watching, this might as well have been a documentary on the sinful, indulgent, promiscuous, and self-involved lifestyles of the homosexuals.  (It would really benefit my argument if you read ‘the homosexuals’ with a Southern drawl and with the rural fervor of a 80 year-old Baptist minister.)

Years later, it is clear that W&G set the stage for just about every major network TV show to contain one or more gay characters that, like their predecessor create one dimensional, stereotypical  gays that all Americans can laugh at, like a midget wrestler or dancing monkey.  Modern Family*, Desperate Housewives, and Glee (oh sweet baby Cher! They are ALL gay), all contain a horde of homos that are skewed, exaggerated, and simply inaccurate depictions of the community they are representing (and supporting?).

*Modern Family probably has the most ‘normal' depiction of faggotry, but even they exaggerate and ‘laugh-at’ the gays on occasion.  However, the show is genius and the comic payout is well worth it. 

Why can’t the media be a bit more progressive and embrace gay people as they really are in real life?  Just like everyone else… but with better clothes and gym memberships.

PS – Every single cast member, producer, and/or anyone involved in The A-List on any level needs to be shot in the face.  This reality show makes gay people look absolutely disgusting. Seriously, they should show episodes of this at those crazy “Pray The Gay Away” camps because the 8 minutes of this show I did watch made me want to be straight, get married, and move to the suburbs.  

For the record: I am gay and watch all of these shows borderline religiously (except for the A-List, they can burn in hell).  So this sort of makes a hypocrite...

10 comments:

Traveler@large said...

You know, I thought Will and Grace offered us two gay examples and only Jack was suppost to be ridiculous. Also, his own counter part was a drugged up, straight white rich woman. (And c'mon honey...she was crazy)

I think that's the only one from your list that I've seen. It's official. I fail gay tv!

John said...

@Traveler - The show was hilarious, but even Will was a simple, easily-accessible gay stereotype. He might not have been as flamboyant as Jack, but his character, more often than not, was just a stereotype.

As far as other gay TV, you're really not missing much...

Jason Ness said...

John, this is because the gay characters are usually supporting characters and provide much of the mojo for the comedy. Let's be real here, a "straight" gay character just isn't funny, unless this character is so opposed to typical stereotypes that they become the polar opposiste of what is typically broadcast -- but even then the writer's would just be mining a perceived stereotype for comedy. Will and Grace was notable for putting a gay character in the lead, on the marquee. Will still has his quirks, but he is a FAR leap from what was generally thought to be homosexual mannerisms and behavior when the show was conceived.

I don't believe these shows serve to mock gays and reduce efforts at equality. I think the opposite is true: any time you have increased awareness on a topic, it becomes more customary to everyday life and less intimidating. It causes people to grow and challenge their beliefs. Even if the characters onscreen are canned and stock types, it brings discussions between people that ultimately decrease ignorance on the subject.

John said...

@Ness - All of your points are very good, but I still disagree based on principle.

Any major show would be torn to pieces if they constantly poked fun at or had a primary character who continually and extremely portrayed his/her stereotypes. Can you even imagine a show where there is a Donna Reed type mother?

Some shows poke fun at all minorities or cultural groups from time to time, but there sheer volume of jokes made at the expense of gays is a way to make people feel safe about them, but at the same time not define them as actual people.

Like minstrels shows of days of yore...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minstrel_show

Gina said...

I know you are right, but I think this is what TV does with everybody: they take a single dimension and exaggerate it, creating a sort of caricature of the original character.

We always see pieces of ourselves in TV characters, but we never see our complete selves, because a TV character can only be a portion of who we actually are. The bimbo is always JUST a bimbo, the parents are always JUST parents, nothing more and nothing less. The list could go on and on, but TV (especially comedy) is rife with one-dimensional characters.

Anonymous said...

A few things:

a.) "less humor, more substance"

I don't think you could possibly have less humor in any of your posts because that would require any of them to be humorous in the first place. But I would agree that you need more substance.

b.) How long did it take you to find the word deleterious as a synonym for damaging?

c.) I can't comment on the rest of the post because I got too bored to read past the pictures.

John said...

YAY! The Anonymous Troll! I am more excited to see your comment more than actual praise for my blog!

A few things...
1) Welcome back!
2) deleterious is actually a word I use with frequency. Star Trek: Voyager taught it to me as a child, and no thesaurus was necessary. I'm just smart.
3) Thanks for reading!

DJ said...

I think television shows exist primarily as a platform to market commodities. Thus, whatever connects with the most people is what the advertisers are going for. I think the shows are pandering to easy accessible character archetypes, because, due to their real marketing goals, they desire to provide entertainment that is not challenging (for the average viewer) in the area of character identification.
Besides, Quentin Crisp even said that the average gay leads too boring a life to be made into interesting, or dramatic material, i.e. people coping with some form of stress that is out of the ordinary. He goes on to say "Gays share with other minorities a too acute sensitivity to their image as a species."

Neecie said...

I agree with Gina: all characters on primetime tv are stereotypes. Especially in comedies. Stereotypes are just funnier! Plus it's extremely difficult to reveal multiple facets of a character's personality in 30min to an hour without losing some of the funny. Look at Everybody Hates Chris, every single character in that show is a stereotype: the penny pinching black father, the stern, disciplinary black mother, the stupid jock brother, the spoiled whiny little sister, and the smart, nerdy, loser Chris.

John said...

Everyone is right. I think the exposure is good to an extent, but I don't see why we're throwing GLAAD awards at these people for perpetuating somewhat negative stereotypes. I mean not 100% negative... but definitely NOT positive either.

For entertainment's sake alone, it is fun to laugh at these people, but I don't think they should be applauded for their efforts in entertainment as vehicles for civil rights on any level.