Sunday, 31 March 2013

Gay TV: Normal-ish

Did TV Change America's Mind On Gay Marriage?

From “Soap” to Ellen DeGeneres to Richard Hatch on “Survivor” to the macho male couple who won season 4 of “The Amazing Race,” televisual images of sexual diversity have gradually moved away from victimology and “gay best friend” stereotypes toward a “normalizing vision” of LGBT culture. This simultaneously reflected the lived experience of many or most Americans and also projected the mainstream and middlebrow sensibility of television onto the whole society. As GLAAD’s annual reports on television make clear, LGBT characters on dramas and sitcoms are overwhelmingly white, wholesome gay men and lesbians, rather than, say, transgender HIV-positive youth of color. If Christian conservatives who once complained vociferously about every gay-positive show have been virtually driven out of the TV conversation, so too has the much smaller population of “queer radicals” who advocate a separate and distinctive LGBT culture. While the startling public shift on gay marriage – something few people of my generation, straight or gay, thought they’d ever see — is not solely the product of TV, it represents the ultimate fulfillment of TV’s vision of sexual equality. Harvey Milk may have had a much broader vision of social change in view, but gay marriage is exactly the revolution [Soap's gay character - above] Jodie Dallas wanted.

An interesting overview of US TV by Andrew O'Hehir on
Popular culture's role in changing attitudes to The Gays has become a popular subject for the US media of late, partly one suspects as it seems to agitate their Christian Right so much.
But O'Hehir doesn't indulge in the usual simplistic cheerleading, complaining about "stereotypes" (which usually seems to mean wanting to to see gay men who are completely indistinguishable from straight men), or pleas for "positive images".
While writing that he has no doubt "TV has played a crucial role", he makes clear that;

"I have no doubt that the biggest single factor that has driven social change on this issue is that almost all the straight people in America have gotten to know someone gay over the last 20 or 30 years, and have not found them fundamentally alien. Whatever biblical disapproval or personal distaste for homosexuality you may feel, your spouse’s gay nephew or the lesbian in Accounting probably strikes you as a normal-ish person, not inherently more obnoxious than others."

No comments:

Post a Comment