My Impending Social Media “Beat” Blog
“Choose a topic of focus for this class, or what journalists might call a “beat.” Write a short description of this topic of focus or beat on your journal blog.”
(This is very difficult to make public to an audience I can’t define or control. But here goes.)
I conducted some fairly extensive research into gay male stereotyping on television for last semester’s Mass Comm Theory course. Indeed, there is substantial academic literature evaluating the various ways gay men are represented on television. As a focus for the research I did for the course, I attempted to evaluate academic studies about what stereotypes exist in this arena and what effects those stereotypes have on gay and straight audiences alike. I also endeavored to survey research that looks at what television audiences expect with regard to how gay men are portrayed. In the course of that research, eventually titled “Straight Gaze: Heteronormative Perception and the Furtherance of Gay Male Stereotypes on American Television,” I attempted to synthesize literature as it pertains to Queer Theory and the heterosexual view of gay male stereotypes. I feel like I barely scratched the surface in the endeavor, and the topic of heternormativity and heterosexual perspective and opinion of gay men on television is one I predict I may pursue for an eventual professional project or thesis for the culmination of my graduate degree.
Because I’m so passionate about the (often skewed) portrayal of gay men in the media, I’ve decided to use this topic for my “beat” blog for Social Media Theory. However, for this instance and in order to gain further insight but in a different aspect, I intend to flip the coin and consider how gays perceive gay portrayal. The blog will preliminarily be titled, “Gay Gaze: Can you believe what you’re seeing?” In this blog setting, I intend to keep a watchful eye on what is happening with gay male portrayal on television (and possibly even movies). Further, I hope to create an arena where other gay men specifically can make their voices heard. Some questions I would like to address as the blog unfolds will likely be along the following lines:
Are the typical portrayals of gay men on television accurate? Do we understand why they’re utilized? Are we ok with it if the stereotypes are not accurate, even if we do understand why they’re utilized? How are we misrepresented, and how do we feel about it? And finally, what’s the ideal? If we were television producers or if we could bend the ears of those whom are, what would WE like to see in gay male representation on television? What might be some examples of what we see, as gay men, as the right way to do it?
I foresee that the blog will be therapeutic personally and hopefully for many others who are frustrated and confused about how this minority is often lampooned or erroneously characterized in the media. And I also expect, because I hope the members of any blog community I can hope to establish will not only be gay men but also straights, lesbians, bisexuals, etc., that this blog could be polarizing and possibly even a little controversial.
I have a wealth of personal exposure to gay male representation on television and in the movies which I intend to relay in the context of the blog and which I hope can get the discourse started. That exposure dates back for quite a few years, so along with documented portrayals from years past I intend to include history’s record on the blog. I also have a deep confusion and almost aversion to contemporary programming on the fairly new gay network called LOGO, and I definitely foresee that LOGO will be a hot topic on the blog for that contemporary perspective. And with the timely premier last month of a brand new gay-themed series on HBO called “Looking,” characterized as “the most realistic depiction of living as a modern gay man that television has ever seen,” (http://nypost.com/2014/01/15/hbo-series-looking-about-gay-life-reflects-true-life/), I feel confident that the future of gay men on television will naturally be a primary arena of discussion as well.
It makes sense that a substantial part of the content on this blog should also focus on news and current events as they pertain to gay men on television. Awards shows, controversies, studio news, gay actor information and the like are all part and parcel of the picture drawn by gay male representation on television, for better or worse. The television shows and movies don’t exist without the business of television which produces them. It’s incumbent to make industry news and current events pertaining to gay programming as much a part of this blog as the evaluation itself of the programming itself.
I hope that through the development of this blog, I and others like me who find typical stereotypes of gay men on television unsettling will have a place to analyze and express our sentiment in a mature and fostering setting. And who knows. If the kind of momentum builds which I’m hoping for, maybe the “Gay Gaze” will be a perspective that can once again and maybe in a more personal manner reach the attention of LOGO and the studios that produce gay-themed programming. We’ve repeatedly seen the effectiveness of sound blogging. Maybe we can effect a change.
With enough momentum, maybe I can actually take our ideas directly to Rupaul himself. 😉