Monday, April 7, 2014

Queeer Representation

One of the key issues I found is discussed in all four articles is the misrepresentation of queers in the media. First off, I want to say I feel very uncomfortable using the word "queer" because of the negative connotation that is associated with the word. I've always thought the word queer was an offensive and derogatory term used to speak about, or rather ridicule, the Homosexual community, so I did some research and realized the LGBT community is slowly reclaiming a term that was turned so ugly, nasty and mean. I must admit, although I have friends and family one family member whom identifies with being homosexual, I've never had the interest in reading about how they are represented in the media and how damaging these representations can be. The media portrays any group of people (IE: minorities, teen moms, teens) etc in the worst imaginable way possible, and homosexuals are not an exception to this. What I mean by this is that the media exaggerates certain "traits" that identify that specific group. In the case of homosexuals, media has portrayed them as being promiscuous, rebellious, sick, careless, unfit etc. An example of this is seen in this commercial. The couple in the clip are discussing how "gays" are ruining this world, which is something we hear often when discussing gay marriage rights. The woman then goes on to say "I don't want to get a divorce and become a lesbian and marry a woman", as if homosexuality was contagious. I related this to a class discussion we had with Dr. Millers class in which we watched movie clips on how teenagers are portrayed. We saw teenagers as literally being the worst people on earth! In one of the readings ( I can't remember which one) I remember reading about how teenagers were always up to no good and these dominant ideologies that were instilled in people reguaring teens. Well that same is true for homosexuals. People have created these dominant ideologies that homosexuals are these awful people and they are re represented in the media. The article I enjoyed reading the most was Queer Representation in the Media because it shines some light in the improvements that we've seen over time in media portrayal of homosexuals however it also clearly demonstrates how much work is still needed.

"If the representations in question utilize humor, are queer people in on the joke or are they the joke?" This question is one I've asked myself several times in the past year or so with the increase in gay characters in TV sitcoms, movies etc and this is why...

In this video, (Embedding was disabled by used, sorry!) we view various clips of fairly recent TV sitcoms like Modern Family, Will and Grace, Mean Girls etc where we see gay men as being portrayed as overly feminine. I've met gay men and women and I know not all gay men are overly feminine. So my question is always are they ridiculing gays? In one of the articles assigned for this week, we says lesbians are portrayed as being butch and masculine but not every lesbian is acts like that. After all these isn't a rubric or certain standards to meet in order to identify as lesbian or gay! In my opinion having these stereotypical portrayals of homosexuals is actually taking a step back from the improvements we've seen in media portrayal. At the end of the day, we are just internalizing these damaging stereotypes. 

One of the reading discusses how the queer community is being targeted by marketing which is something we discussed early on in the semester when we read Palladino "Where Did Teenagers Come from". In this article Palladino talks about how marketers were targeting teens because of how lucrative that group of people was, the same is true with the queer community. In the reading this is described as being a double edge sword which I completely agree with. As in with teenagers, lower/ middle class queers might feel marginalized by not being financially able to purchase what is being marketed towards them. 
The above add by JCP, caused controversy when it was published but why should it? I see nothing wrong with the add, do you? 

As a side note I just want to say that by re representing these negative stereotypes and thus internalizing them we are pushing teens to be afraid of "coming out" and possibly pushing them into depression, self hate/mutilation and even suicide. Although it homosexuality is becoming more common, we still must realize how much of a judgemental society we are as a whole and how damaging that can be to not only our youth, but to all humans.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Heidi! I just wanna talk a minute and address the "queer" thing.

    1. Yes, "Queer" has traditionally been used as a derogatory term to mean gay. Typically, the people who use it as a derogatory word tend to be older - above 30. I think that since the 3rd wave of feminism, there has been a larger acceptance of the word to mean queer lives.

    2. The word queer has been re-purposed to include many people under the LGBTQ+ category, especially considering that there is no official term for those folks who are not cisgender or heterosexual.

    3. Technically, if we want to be stupidly specific, "Queer" is only meant to be used with folks of transitional/nonbinary genders OR people who do not identify with a label for their sexuality. So for instance I consider myself to be a genderqueer (meaning I lack gender) queer (my attraction to others is not bound by visible constraints of homo- or hetero-sexuality). It's complicated. However I've found that queer folk don't mind the word queer encompassing all of the LGBTQ+ folk (obv. I haven't talked to everyone so I can't know).