Homosexual Representation in the Media A look into the quantity, merit, and comparison of gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters in television and film.
World War II era to s[ edit ] During the Second World War and the subsequent Cold War, Hollywood increasingly depicted gay men and women as sadists, psychopaths, and nefarious, anti-social villains.
These depictions were driven by the censorship of the code, which was willing to allow "sexual perversion" if it was depicted in a negative manner, as well as the fact that homosexuality was classified as a mental illness and gay men and women were often harassed by the police.
This can be examined in Alfred Hitchcock 's film Rope. He becomes horrified when he realizes that the theories he espoused have led to murder. His character's somewhat hysterical repudiation of his formerly held beliefs mirrored the fears of some Americans about the infiltration of alien ideas.
That the homosexuals in Rope were connected to the arts, as were many of those investigated, seems apt in view of longstanding suspicions about the politics and sexual practices of people so engaged. Legally, it was in the mids when the United States Supreme Court extended First Amendment legal protection to films, reversing its original verdict, and, in a second case, ended once common practice of film studios owning the cinemas.
That practice had made it difficult for films produced outside of these studios, such as independent or international films, to be screened widely, let alone to be commercially successful.
Culturally, American consumers were increasingly less likely to boycott a film at the request of the Catholic Church or fundamentalist Protestant groups. This meant that films with objectionable content did not necessarily need the approval of the Hollywood Production Code or religious groups in order to be successful.
As a result, Hollywood gradually became more willing to ignore the code in order to compete with television and the growing access to independent and international cinema. During the s—60s, gay characters in American films were identified with more overtly sexual innuendos and methods e.
The film Lawrence of Arabiawidely seen as one of the best films ever created, was revolutionary for several reasons including depicting not only a character who is heavily implied to be gay, but also implying a relationship between two men.
Lawrence 's sexuality remains ambiguous, director David Lean had Peter O'Toole play his version of the desert hero as a gay man.
Years later, when asked about the homosexuality in his hit film, Lean commented, "Throughout, Lawrence was very, if not entirely, homosexual. We thought we were being very daring at the time: The film Inside Daisy Cloverbased on the novel of the same name, was one of the first mainstream American films during the s—60s to depict an expressly gay or bisexual character who, while forced to marry a woman for his career, is not uncomfortable with his sexual orientation and does commit suicide or fall victim to murder.
Yet, beyond a few lines of dialogue, the character's bisexuality was largely restricted to bits of subtext and innuendo. In America, efforts at creating complex gay or bisexual film characters were largely restricted to people such as Andy Warhol and Kenneth Anger. Beyond their underground, independent films, a handful of foreign films were depicting gay characters as complex human beings entitled to tolerance, if not equality.
However, mainstream American cinema efforts at marketing films for a LGBT audience did not begin until the s.
After Stonewall[ edit ] Following the Stonewall riots in New York City a major turning point in the LGBT-rights movementHollywood began to look at gay people as a possible consumer demographic. It was also in the s, that some anti-gay laws and prejudicial attitudes changed through the work of an increasingly visible LGBT-rights movement and overall attitudes in America about human sexuality, sex and gender roles changed as a result of LGBT-rights, women's liberation and the sexual revolution.
The Boys in the Band was the first attempt of Hollywood to market a film to gay consumers and present an honest look at what it meant to be a gay or bisexual man in America. The film based on a play of the same name, was often hailed in the mainstream press as a presenting a "landmark of truths", but was often criticized for reinforcing certain anti-gay stereotypes and for failing to deal with LGBT-rights and showing a group of gay and bisexual men who are all unhappy, miserable and bitchy.
In contrast, Fortune and Men's Eyeswas co-produced by MGM, dealt with the issue of homosexuality in prison, and depicted gays in a relatively "open and realistic, non-stereotypical and non-caricatured manner".
A Very Natural Thingor a more cosmopolitan-liberal audience i. Gay characters were sometimes depicted in mainstream films as dangerous misfits who needed to be cured or killed.
Some films would even use anti-gay derogatory comments, often made by the protagonist, in a manner that was not done in Hollywood films with regards to other minority groups. Films like Cruising and Windowsfor example, portrayed gays in an unrelentingly negative light.
Following decades[ edit ] In the mids, an organized religious-political movement arose in America to oppose LGBT rights. The political clout of the "religious right", as it became known, grew as its role in helping to elect, mostly, Republican Party candidates and move the party further to the political right.
As a result, a Hollywood film in the mids that depicted gay people as being complex human beings entitled to their rights and dignity was a potential commercial liability and was at risk of a boycott from the stronghold conservative, right wing movement.
Throughout the s, if a Hollywood film was not made, primarily, for a gay audience or a cosmopolitan—liberal audience, homosexuality was often depicted as something to laugh at, pity or fear.
Ignorance about the disease, and how it was spread, was commonplace and the fact that many of the early American victims were gay or bisexual men helped to fuel the myth that gave the disease its first name; GRID Gay Related Immune Disorder.
As mainstream American films began to depict or make reference to the pandemic, the ignorance about the disease, including the idea that if one is gay, then they must have AIDS, spread. It was followed by a mainstream television movie, An Early Frostbut the first mainstream Hollywood film about the pandemic, and its impact on the gay community, would be released at the end of the decade; Longtime Companionfollowed up by Philadelphia a few years later.
All of these initial films and television movies about the pandemic followed a similar demographic pattern in that person living with AIDS was a white man from a middle-class or upper-class family, who was usually somber and emotional.
The clout of Christian fundamentalist had its limits; inPat Robertsona prominent Christian fundamentalist, ran for president in the Republican Party primary and was soundly defeated. During the decade, more LGBT people had come out, including celebrities and politicians and the AIDS-HIV pandemic had forced the broader society to more openly talk about human sexuality, including homosexuality.
A younger, "queerer" generation of gay people were not only coming out at younger ages, but becoming involved in helping to build what became known, in the early — mids, as "Queer Cinema".
Often directed and or written by openly gay people they featured mostly LGBT characters who were open about their sexual orientation or gender identity and oftentimes openly rejected both homophobia and transphobia as well as the idea that all LGBT characters in film needed to be "positive" or politically correct role models.
Alongside these independent films, mainstream Hollywood increasingly began to treat homosexuality as a normal part of human sexuality and gay people as a minority group, entitled to dignity and respect.“If the situation of the homosexual is ever to be understood by the public,” a TIME film review stated in , “it will be because of the breakthrough made by this humane, moving picture.” The picture in question was The Boys in the Band, which was released on March 17, , and was one of the first American films to focus on gay characters.
During these years, films could not feature overtly homosexual characters – so homosexuality was coded into a character’s mannerisms and behaviours. This strict code was loosened in the s and s, which also saw the dawn of the women’s and gay rights movements.
“Finally it happened. Hollywood made a movie in which gay people took a long, hard look at their own lives. And, in a refreshing twist, they all survived.” The Celluloid Closet.
The movie was “Boys In the Band” and for young gay men it offered an image of homosexuality as having a incredible sense of . Acting „Out‟ • 1 Acting „Out‟: Homosexual Representation in the Media A look into the quantity, merit, and comparison of gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters in television and film.
Data shows homosexuals hugely overrepresented on the big screen, but GLAAD says it’s still not enough follow the model of network and cable television and streaming video services, which. This is not to say that there have never been representations of homosexuality in film and television before EMPIRE or the Supreme Court decision on Gay marriage, but these passive protests.