Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Queer Eye for the Straight Guy

Like to know what you guys think about this one.

We were talking in my English class last night about the shows, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, and Will and Grace. When I first heard about/saw these two shows, I admit I was a little shocked, thinking, we are now bringing homosexuality into the home, and asking our families to accept it as okay. (Although, I admit I have watched and laughed as well!)

I never thought about these shows as--promoting stereotyping, and marginality. My professor was discussing the idea, that when we give representation of homosexuals in the media, we are essentially saying, "see, we are tolerant, you have representation in the main stream media," we then pat ourselves on the back and call ourselves, tolerant.

However, the main premise for Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, is homosexual males, helping heterosexual males, become more successfully heterosexual, by being more appealing to women. The end of every show, shows the "non-sexualized" homosexuals, enjoying their success, watching the heterosexual males get all the women, now that they are, 1- cleaner, 2- better dressed, 3- better mannered. Therefore, my professor said, we are not allowing those homosexual men, to have any other role, than a safe, stylish, non-sexual, non-threatening one we give them.

Will and Grace, he said, has a similar effect. We like Will, he is handsome, he is cute, and we can "pat him on the head" and allow him into our living room because of his non-threatening looks, and the fact that we never see him having sex, or acting predatory in anyway. Therefore, the premise of the show he says, is that we watch it because we see Will as so handsome, Grace as the hot babe, and we are waiting for Will to turn straight again, and whisk her away. Again, we don't allow Will to have his own sexuality, he is our--dominate culture allowed--acceptable version of gay.

(I'm not saying I necessarily agree with this, but it is interesting! My teacher did not mention that other little gay, man character who I can't remember his name, the dancer/singer one, which we could probably use as a rebuttal).

Anyway, also the Philadelphia Story, is about a gay man, (played by Tom Hanks) who has AIDS. The dominant cultures ideology is in this movie as well. Tom Hanks, is gay, but never has sex with anyone or kisses anyone, and in the story, the one time he does, is the one time he gets AIDS.

So, the whole point of the discussion was, that homosexuals' only representation in the media, is a representation that is seen through the lens of the dominant majority, (heterosexuals), and therefore, appear to give representation to homosexuals, but actually perpetuate stereotypes of those peoples, and allow marginality to continue.

We are essentially saying, it is okay to be gay, as long as you are the acceptable version, the little packaged version of yourself, that we are telling you you are. Otherwise, if you are not like those cute queer guys, or Will, we probably will still make fun of you, and treat you marginally.


One last note, similar media studies have been done with Black representation in the media as well, like The Cosby Show, in some people's opinions perpetuates stereotypes as well, because, now I didn't understand all of this one, (The Cosby Show was my favorite show as a child), they live in a world where they are never confronted with racism, (do you remember even one episode dealing with that topic?) And that the characters are essentially "in white face," meaning, they are a white family, having white family situations, but with black actors. And the issue is not so much that that is a stereotype, per say, but that that was all the "black" that was allowed on main stream television channels in that time period. We could accept "those" black people because they dressed like, and acted like us.

Again, I hold my own opinions, not necessarily represented here; but food for thought.


Katie said...

I can't buy into the whole Cosby show thing...how can you define what are "black" family characteristics and situations? Isn't that, in itself, a racial stereotype? I don't know...maybe it's just because I love the Cosby Show...but it is interesting about the homosexual interpretations on television, I'd never thought of that before.

Panini said...

I think I was a pretty homophobic teen until I watched Philadelphia. For me, it was a really good show.

aquamarine said...

I guess it really does all come down to perceptions. Very interesting discussion to say the least. I never imagined that the gay community might not like the representation either. I always got the impression from the media that by having these kind of sterotypes we could all feel warm and fuzzy about each other, but really things are still the same.

Sherpa said...

I guess you could say that "Jack" (the other character in will and grace) fits your professor's theory as well. Even though he's "gayer than christmas" he's safe as he's so over the top...he's a blatant stereotype also.

SJ said...

I disagree with your professor. Sitcoms are the very definition of stereotype. We wouldn't recognize Will, or Jack, or the gay guys on Queer Eye if they did not "act" gay.

As for Will not being able to have sex on tv...nobody wants to see two men with each other, unless you happen to be a gay man. It's just not very attractive. Most people, in fact, (or maybe just me) are uncomfortable with straight people getting mushy on tv as it is. The reason we like Grace, in fact, is that even though she's the pretty one, she never gets her man, we empathize with her, and are glad she has a hot friend like Will to rely on in the end.

Television shows like this are geared toward women, the majority of viewers, and not gay men, an actually small percentage of society.

Esperanza said...

Thanks for all the comments, love getting discussion going, and glad I didn't offend anyone....too much. jk. I love the Cosby Show, growing up in a very white-bread community, it gave me a sense of the Black culture, and made me realize they were just like me in so many ways. Everyone has first dates, and periods, and obnoxious siblings ect! My jury is still out on the gay representation in the media if it is correct and/or appropriate ect. Agree, no one wants to see to men being intimiate on television, so I'm not calling out for more of that! :)