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August 15, 2011 | by  | in Features |
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Hasbians, Matt Damon, and a Butch Octopus: Gays and The Media

The media is a strange beast. It’s art and politics. It’s a reflection and a catalyst. It’s entertainment. It’s invasive and pervasive. It’s for the people, of the people and against the people. So, where on Earth do the gays fit in this crazy mess?

Reminisce with me. Remember when, once upon a time, the only queers on the screen were villains? Take Disney, for example: there’s power-hungry Jafar, swooning about in Aladdin with those fabulous sleeves; Ursula, the big, butch, crew-cut, tentacly octopus, sabotaging Ariel’s chances of heterosexual happiness; and of course, Cruella de Vil, the harsh, sneering, lipstick-laden puppy assassin, dressed up in monotone and badassery. (Fun fact: there is a fetish magazine inspired by her. Sweet.) Anyways, the media’s had us believing that alternative sexuality has meant bad things for the straight, wholesome young heroes and heroines since we were crawling. Hadn’t thought about it that way before? Shifty, huh?

The blockbusters of our youth weren’t much better. In fact, there was a time when just about every Hollywood villain had a dash of effeminate flamboyancy thrown in for good measure. After all, what are alternative representations of masculinity good for if not scaring the bejeezus out of us? Silence of the Lambs had us thinking that every transgender person was a butchering homo-cidal maniac (tehe) and the Diamonds are Forever hitmen succeeded in intricately interweaving immorality with their love of cock. Matt Damon’s man-crush in The Talented Mr. Ripley even had him bludgeoning Jude Law to a pulp with an oar, of all things. According to Hollywood, the gay makes you bat-shit crazy.

That, or hilarious, darling! Cue the ‘sissy’—television’s stock comedian. From reality TV to every RomCom heroine’s best buddy, if the homo on set wasn’t an evil-doer, he was the comic relief and the sidekick.

Similarly, female homosexuality has become something of a cultural gimmick recently too. Oh, you kissed a girl? Just like t.A.T.u., Rihanna, and every rap-ho ever? Faux-lesbians and hasbians are a dime a dozen in the entertainment business these days and, as important as lesbian visibility in mainstream media is, when that visibility is femme-y fallacy, a spectacle for a male and hetero target audience, it can hardly be called ‘progress’ in our opinion.

But things have changed a bit since then. We couldn’t count the amount of awesome, successful protagonists in a variety of television and movie genres for whom homosexuality is either a sincerely treated issue or, even better in our opinion, a sidelined personality trait as insignificant as hair colour or height.

Indeed, if you go looking for it, it won’t be long until you stumble across something fabulous. Our calling? The glorious interwebs. If it weren’t for YouTube, we probably wouldn’t be aware that Kathy Griffin existed, or that National Coming Out Day is October 10, or even that “it gets better”. Never mind the easy access it grants to all the Madonna and Kylie that any self-respecting walking stereotype could ask for. Without these awesome cornerstones of the media landscape, without dandy websites like tumblr, and other such online communities, we’d have to forget cooing at fuckyeahgaycouples.tumblr.com, or gasping in disbelief at stuffinmyvagina.tumblr.com. Actually, that could be a good thing. A word to the wise: don’t let curiosity kill the cat.

Stuff in vaginas aside, there’s loads of important resources out there in the mediascape. It’s the telling of stories, sharing of ideas and the development of identities. It’s visibility and affinity. We might not be there yet, but the media, in its eternally-sprawling glory, often facilitates this wonderful process of self-discovery and growth, letting people in minorities know that they are not alone.
In fact, it’s been awesome for all the minorities, really. Just ask those people who are addicted to eating ice, or get off on sneezes. Yeah, I’m not even joking. They exist, google it.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Bob says:

    There was nothing to suggest Curella was queer? what on earth are you on about?

  2. Bob says:

    why don’t u respond Gen? or are you too scared to put your name to anything now because of the recent unpleasant situation with the media?

  3. Bob says:

    Yo Gen

    …………………./´¯/)
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    …………./´¯/’…’/´¯¯`·¸
    ………./’/…/…./……./¨¯\
    ……..(‘(…´…´…. ¯~/’…’)
    ………\……………..’…../
    ……….”…\………. _.·´
    …………\…………..(
    …………..\………….\…

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