The homosexual community has been under scrutiny for many years and for an extended period of time, the community has been under strict hatred from various groups. Very little groups stood up for their rights, which led to the homosexual community ending up being very oppressed due to stereotypes and degradation. In today’s society there has been a push for more supporters of gay rights. One of the most important of which is the media. Different forms of groups that cover the media umbrella include: shows, music, movie, celebrities, even social networks. Some forms of media are more progressive in the fight against extinguishing negative attitudes of the homosexuals and the following are just some examples.
The Office is a show from NBC and one of the characters on it, Oscar, is an openly gay man, and on the show they use satire to stereotype him as a homosexual man. I found some images from a scene from the episode where Oscar officially comes out and Dwight wants anyone else in the office that is homsexual to come out when he singles out Phillis. He thinks she is a lesbian because of how she does not dress feminine enough for his likings, even though she is engaged to a man. This goes along with the stereotype that in order for women to be seen as heterosexuals they are expected to dress a certain way to bring out their femininity. Phillis is performing like a women and dressing like one as far as she is concerned, but the reactions it has gotten from Dwight is that she is not performing as a women enough for him to see her as a heterosexual. Society has become more open to the idea that women who do not wear dresses often or prefer pantsuits in the work place are still heterosexual, compared to the past. This show sometimes over exaggerates stereotypes of gays to make people think the stereotypes are ridiculous so society can move past them.
Daniel Tosh is one of the celebrities that might not come to mind when one is thinking about what celebrities are helping the homosexuals become less scrutinized. He uses his comedic influence to make fun of stereotypes against the homosexuals and one in particular is the stereotype that religion is against homosexuality, particularly the Christians. His stance caused huge controversy a few years ago but has since then has died down; and many Christians have claimed to be against the idea of their religion hating the homosexuals, saying only extremists think like that. Daniel’s joke plays against the norms of how people, especially extremists, imagine god making punishments and how the homosexuals went against that punishment to make it better for themselves, which makes everyone laugh. He is telling these jokes not only to make fun of the people who believe that the gays are actually hated, but to also have people laugh at the stereotype that everyone thinks god hates gays. The thing I like about Daniel Tosh is that he knows how to go against the norms of acting like a heterosexual man to make you think he is homosexual, but then never reveals if he is or not. He’s using humor to say when it comes down to it, does it really matter who is gay and who is not?
Not many people realize how hard it is to come out to friends and family let alone the media, as a homosexual so when it happens there is a lot of negativity from misunderstanding. There are parents who will not even talk to their own children after being told the truth. Ellen DeGeneres is an open lesbian and is a powerful icon in society. When Ellen came out as being a homosexual back in the late 1990s it was very hard for her and during one of her stand up shows she did an interpretive dance to show her struggles. First, we see she is relieved and happy she can finally be true to herself in society but then she becomes afraid and depressed. This depression came from the tabloids mocking her and I think that a lot of people looked at her coming out as some strange occurrence rather than someone trying to be open with themselves, looking for acceptance. So they made fun of her but she fought back and ended up accepted and viewed as the person she once was. The interpretive dance was a great way to show the non-homosexuals how hard it is and how much courage it takes to come out as an openly gay person because many times when that happens society immediately looks down on them. Ellen is trying to educate society about what their harsh words and actions can do to someone who is opening up, and she is also helping those going through the same ridicule she went through.
Same Love by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, featuring Mary Lambert, is a rap about accepting homosexuals for who they are and not disrespecting them. Macklemore uses the idea of performance and performativity in the first verse when he talks about how he thought that he was gay when he was younger because he could draw good and his uncle was but then when his mom tells him she knows he is not he thinks well I am good at baseball. This is an example of how he performs and how he interprets that performance, he is unsure at first because he feels like his is good at drawing which he might feel is more of a gender role for girls, but then he remembers he is good at little league which is more gender oriented for guys. He also makes some really good points about standing up for gay rights such as marriage. It has been argued that why do homosexuals need to get married if they know they love each other, why does that piece of paper matter. In the song Macklemore says “A certificate on paper isn’t gonna solve it all, but it’s a damn good place to start.” It is about treating everyone fairly no matter their sexual orientation, which some people tend to forget since they use such hateful language and actions towards the gays. Using rap or pop music to support the gays is very progressive because back in the day no rapper would talk about supporting gay rights, they would all degrade them. With this song younger generations can learn to accept everyone and learn to respect each other.
Modern family is a show about the modern family in America and modern families today include the types of families you see on the show. Families are no longer just a mom and dad with children, now there are families with stepparents, single parents, and homosexual parents. The homosexual couple on this show includes two men, Mitchell Pritchett and Cameron Tucker, and despite the show being progressive about homosexuals, Mitchell and Cameron exhibit some of the stereotypes of homosexual men. But that is not the point of this piece of media. The point of it is that the cast and creators of the show are discussing a controversial topic of two gay men raising a child together. This was a much-debated topic a few years ago and I had thought the debate had died down, but even the creator of the show said that they were ready for some major backlash. The reactions were opposite of what they expected, it turned out that Modern Family was actually opening people up to the idea of gay parents because the show portrays them as normal parents. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, who plays Mitchell Pritchett, explains that the writers respect the two roles of the gay fathers and do not put them in any strange situations that heterosexual parents would not be put in. The show’s creator makes an excellent point of how Mitchell and Cameron are helping out homosexuals because he says that when parents watch the show they start to like the characters and so their children were finding it a little easier to come out to them. I also think that the comment by Eric Stonestreet, who plays Cameron, about how laughter can change minds which is essentially how Daniel Tosh sees laughter. Even though Daniels jokes are a little cruder. I would like to end with a quote by Jesse Tyler Ferguson from the interview, “I definitely look forward to the day when this is not a revolutionary couple.”
The media is revolutionizing the way society treats an views homosexuals through all forms of entertainment. Through television The Office shows that dressing a certain way or not living up to societies expectations of your gender role does not make you a homosexual, it makes you a person with your own personality or style. Modern Family shows us that there is no right way to make a family, homosexuals are just the same as heterosexuals when it comes to love and having a family of their own. Homosexual parents face the same daily struggles that heterosexual parents face plus they go through any backlash society gives them, which makes them influential role models for their children. These shows are positive reinforcements for acceptance of not only homosexuals but also anyone’s lifestyle. Famous comedians use their power to make people laugh at the stereotypes and hate towards the homosexuals. They make fun of the people who disrespect homosexuals rather vice versa. Ellen DeGeneres is a homosexual herself so she knows firsthand the hate that comes along with opening up about her sexuality, so when she jokes about the hate she is not crude about it because her target is to help homosexual and not to fight the haters. She is a role model to many adolescent homosexuals who are trying to be true to themselves, but are finding it difficult to tell their parents or friends in fear of rejection. Daniel Tosh is more about making oppressors feel stupid about their hate towards the homosexuals by making fun of stereotyped religious beliefs or by talking about how homosexuality is better than heterosexuality. Finally, we have Mackelmore’s rap about fighting for gay rights, especially marriage. Same love is an educated, powerful rap because he makes so many points about gender roles and performances that are to be met depending on the gender of the person. He is not just saying that we need to make gay rights equal, but he also talks about why someone might believe they are homosexual.
I think the main way that media is sticking up for homosexuals is by taking stereotypes and breaking them, stereotypes mostly dealing with gender roles and performance in those roles. In all of the clips we see that how a person performs will decide how society reacts to them, viewing them as gay. Butler talks about performativity and according to her theory performativity of roles became a norm through repetition. People got used to gender roles and ever since then you had an expected performativity due to your gender. Through the repetition of raising children to believe in certain gender roles Dwight has learned that if a women does not perform or look feminine enough, such as Phillis, then she is probably a lesbian. That also goes along with the repetitive stereotype that lesbians all look somewhat butch. Going along with that performance is how a person acts. So when we see Ellen wearing less feminine clothing she is performing against her gender role and it makes people react. It is important that we have media to break down these stereotypes because according to Dyer, “Stereotypes do not only, in concert with social types, map out the boundaries of acceptable and legitimate behavior, they also insist on boundaries exactly at those points where in reality there are none.”(Dyer, 16) We do not want a society that thinks it has the power to tell someone if their sexuality is out of lines.
Raychilidog “Gay Witch Hunt” Web.6 Oct. 2013
Cast Members of Modern Family, Eric Stonestreet about Playing a Gay Parent.Video.Youtube.Youtube. 6 Dec. 2012.Web.6 Oct.2013
Ellen DeGeneres, The Beginning.Video.Youtube.Youtube.3 July.2007.Web.6 Oct. 2013
Daniel Tosh, Completely Serious.Video.Youtube.Youtube.1 April.2011.Web.6 Oct.2013
Ryan Lewis. Same Love. Video. Youtube.Youtube.2 Oct. 2012.Web. 6.Oct. 2013
Dyer, Richard. “The Roles of Stereotypes” The Matters of Images :Essays on Representations. New York:Routledge, 1993.11-18.Print
Butler, Judith. “Gender is Burning: Questions of Appropriation and Subversion” Bodies That Matte: On the Discursive Limits of “Sex”.New York:Routledge 121-140. Print