The cost of visibility

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While Harvey Fierstein argues for "visibility at any cost," stating that he'd rather "have negative than nothing," I would have to disagree, at least for the most part. On the one hand, it is great to have queer people visible in the media, because it does remind the public that we exist, and the more queers are shown in the media, the more frequently people will be reminded. So, therefore, as Fierstein has said, it is usually better than having nothing at all. However, negative stereotypes shown in the media can do more harm than good. If every queer person on TV and in cinema was portrayed as their silly stereotypes, and that was all people knew of them, then I am sure they would be inclined to think that the stereotypes are true. For example, many films and TV shows have portrayed all gay men as silly effeminate, and often sexless characters. That stereotype still lives on. I knew people who would watch Will and Grace because they thought it was cute and funny, but even though the show featured two lead gay male characters, I believe there was only one male/male kiss on the show, and the sex lives of these two characters were largely ignored, focusing more on the lead female, heterosexual character, Grace. And I think we all know how much damage Queer Eye for the Straight Guy has done... So, I guess this is a pretty difficult question. I mostly disagree with Fiernstein, but in some ways I do think that he has a valid argument... But, we have probably moved past that by now. At this point, I do see a lot of queer people in pop culture, so it is probably best to work on making sure that they are not portrayed as only stereotypes.

2 Comments

I agree, I believe that the negative effects just harms the gay image more. I believe that we must depict gays in ways that are authentic and in ways that show that they are not too different from the next person. I think that when Hollywood creates these persona it just ridicules gays overall. Visibility at any cost is not acceptable.

Great point about the frequency of the queer community being represented and the relationship between that and reminding people we exist. I think that was part of the reason there were so many stereotypes suffered during the beginning and middle part of the last century: the few times queer people were represented, it was negative and this only led people to shun the community and want less to do with them. Maybe if there had been more representation, it would have got people to start realizing that the queer community definitely exists, it's not going anywhere, and it's just like all the other human groups just trying to make it through life. I also agree with your point about Will & Grace. Although I am a huge fan of the show, it was disappointing that it didn't delve more into the love lives of the gay male characters. I could never decide if its humorous representations of effeminate gay males were positive or negative. I mean that because it's true, some gay males are effeminate, some aren't, and there's nothing wrong with either way. So when they depicted, they could just be seen as using real-life behavior to bring up a laugh. At the same time, people outside the community who didn't understand that might only use those depictions to further their own stereotypes and arguments for keeping those stereotypes. It was a tricky situation, but all in all, I think W&G did a good job of representing the gay community.

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This page contains a single entry by nels6731 published on February 6, 2012 11:37 AM.

Celluloid Closet - Fierstein - Visibility was the previous entry in this blog.

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