Are Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) characters realistically portrayed on television?
Are today’s TV shows a reflection of society?
- Homosexuality stereotypes include being camp, effeminate, sensitive etc. (Dyer)
- Gay men have been stereotyped as being over-exaggerate with their words as well as their fashion sense.
- Lesbians have been commonly viewed as very manly, usually portrayed with having short hair.
- Homosexual characters are rarely realistic portrayals – many gay people are unhappy with the representations.(Gerbner)
- In 2010 the charity Stonewall published research into the representation of gay people on youth television. Click here for their findings.
- Before 1970, almost no gay characters could be found on television
- Content analysis research has found that although the numbers of gay portrayals represent an increase compared with the past, they are still quite small.
- Portrayals of gay people have often been rare and negative.
- This is important because gay teenagers often struggled to find information relevant regarding their sexual orientation from friends and family and may use the media as a source of information about gay issues.
- Encouragingly, more gay characters are present on television today.
- Despite this, some people still complain about how sexuality is portrayed e.g. Eastenders kiss. This might suggest some people are still disapproving and hold homophobic views.
- Some studies show that the frequency of sexual references have increased in TV over the past decade and are increasingly explicit.
- Particularly common in popular culture music videos and soaps.
- Millwood Hargreave found that children think TV is too sexualised.
- The pressure put on women through most forms of media to be both sexually attractive and sexually active is widescale.
- Research has found that women’s representation in popular media has steadily become more sexualized over the last forty years.
- New media e.g. websites have a lack of censorship regarding sexuality- this can be seen in violent pornography available on the internet.
- Why is the representation of sexualiy an issue? Consider the image it sends to young people, consequences involving attitudes toward and knowledge of sex etc.
Some evaluation hints:
- Prime time TV has changed- more homosexual characters and actors.
- Reflects growing tolerance in society
- Gill argues that TV still ignores sex in homosexual relationships
- Some forms of media are more accommodating than others- e.g. magazine industry whereas advertising is not.
- 9pm watershed/censoring no longer relevant with on demand TV