CMU School of Drama

Friday, December 30, 2016

Let Them Kiss: On Same-Sex Romances in Media

The Mary Sue: We’ll never be satisfied. We want queer representation, but when we get it, it’s not good enough. We’re always looking for something to be upset about. We keep nitpicking. Even when it’s good, we complain there’s not enough of it. If they kiss, we say it’s sexualizing the characters too much, perhaps even objectifying them. If they don’t kiss, it’s queer-baiting. Why even bother including a queer romance if people will only complain about it? It’ll never be perfect, after all.


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Sasha Schwartz said...

Representation of queer relationships in modern media is definitely something that has a long way to go. There is a real divide between how straight couples are allowed to show affection (both in public and on screen) and same-sex couples. I vividly remember watching TV with my parents several years ago; when two men portraying husbands shared a quick peck, my dad made a sharp sound of disgust, most probably on instinct, but when the tv show later depicted a hyper-sexualized fantasy of one of the female characters in which she made out with her male coworker against a filing cabinet, nothing was said. It just goes to show how normalized certain behaviors are while others are seen, as the article points out, to be inherently pornographic. Adults still shield their childrens’ eyes from two women kissing because they have internalized that to be inappropriate, even though kids watch straight people make out on screen all the time. (We don’t care if you’re gay, just don’t be so public about it… think of the children!). I remember when a lot of articles came out criticizing an MTV show about two girl friends pretending to be lesbians because it made them popular at their liberal high school, only for one to question her sexuality for real. It was seen by many to be “baiting” by having two beautiful actresses kiss for the spectacle it provided for their classmates and, presumably, the people watching the show. To be honest, I think it’s important to think about how queer representation should be happening more often and definitely in a better light, and if companies are just doing it to attract a gay audience I can’t complain as long as it isn’t portraying the community in a distasteful, taboo way.

Madeleine Wester said...

The most aggravating arguments I've heard from people (mainly my conservative uncle) who don't think same-sex couples should be affectionate/romantic on-screen is: "My kid won't understand!" or "My kid will start having gay thoughts!". UGH. I can't even begin unpacking all of the awful societal implications/ideas that phrases like that bring up. Kids can handle gayness on television! Wow! Kids will think that it's okay to be gay! Wow! I sincerely hope that soon we can get to a point where gay couples are presented on-screen and aren't held back from kissing or showing love for one another. The most annoying part about this entire situation is that the more we show gay couples on TV, the more children will understand and value the fact that it's great to be gay or straight! Television acts as an educator for MANY kids, and just as it has the ability to teach homophobia, it has the ability to normalize gay relationships.