Saturday, May 3, 2008

Sexualized Minorities and Heterosexism in Media

"Six Feet Under" couple
David Fisher and Keith Charles

Yogi Bear and Boo Boo
Hanna-Barbera Studios

Tylenol PM advertisement
featuring a homosexual couple.

Madonna kissing
Britney Spears and
Christina Aguilera
at the 2003 MTV
Video Music Awards.

There is such a thing as sexualized minorities in the media and often times they are portrayed in ways that make is easier for heterosexuals to accept which is how our media gets filled with heterosexism.

Artifact #1 and #2 are pictures of the gay couple David Fisher and Keith Charles from the television show “Six Feet Under”. This couple is one of the more positive depictions of homosexuality in the media and the men are shown to have more depth to them individually and as a couple than just the one aspect of being gay. Keith and David are portrayed as having a “normal” relationship with the same strengths and weaknesses as heterosexual couples have. The couple has their ups and downs but they stay strong in the end and stay dedicated to the relationship. They even buy a house together and start a family through adoption. It would be easy to say that the portrayal of this couple battles heterosexism but I believe that along with showing the men as having very similar relationship issues as heterosexuals they are also shown to deal with issues exclusive to them being homosexual. There is a good balance in how David and Keith are shown and their relationship has many complex levels to it and not just the surface stuff that we are often shown in the media. This couple is definitely a sexualized minority as they are one of the few gay couples that are shown in such depth and honesty.

Artifact #3 is a drawing of Yogi Bear and his pal Boo Boo. According to Jeffrey P. Dennis in his article Signifying Same-Sex Desire in Television Cartoons, Yogi and Boo Boo could be read as being in a homosexual relationship. The pair are inseparable, share a bed and cave, and Boo Boo often sabotages any chance for Yogi to get closer to his gal friend. Who can say for certain if Hanna-Barbera meant to have their bear characters be read as being a homosexual couple but it can be said that this pair is a sexualized minority in the media. Whether the bears are gay or straight they still differ from other cartoon friends in that they share a bed and their sexuality is pretty ambiguous for the most part.

Artifact #4 is a Tylenol advertisement that shows a homosexual couple rather than a heterosexual couple. This ad is a sexualized minority because it stands alone (or almost alone) among an endless crowd of heterosexual advertisements.

Artifacts #5 and #6 are pictures of musician Madonna kissing musicians Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera at the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards. These photos and this act is a classic example of heterosexism in the media. None of the women are proclaimed lesbians yet there they stood locking lips for the viewers shock and pleasure. They aren’t showing a positive or true view of homosexuality but instead they are showing that “lesbian sexuality is hot” as Tricia Jenkins talks about in her article “Potential lesbians at Two O’Clock”: The Heterosexualization of Lesbianism in the Recent Teen Film. Jenkins explains our cultures obsession with hot lesbian sex and girl on girl action where in reality the girls shown are usually heterosexual and attractive to a heterosexual audience which is the exact case with these musicians.

Sexual minorities are being shown a little more as the years go by but they are still that, minorities in a culture of heterosexism.


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