Queer Eye Candy

Many argue that the best way to encourage acceptance of gay and lesbian Americans is to grant them marriage. But how can average Americans be able to accept homosexuals as equals when the most media exposure homosexuals are granted displays them according to tired stereotypes? Before we, as Americans, can accept gay marriage, our culture must accept them as normal people, rather than confine them to stereotypes. Many people are exposed to homosexuality on a daily basis solely through television. Gay characters are presented in a blatantly stereotypical manner. For example, on “Will and Grace,” actor Sean Hayes plays a gay man named Jack. Throughout the show, Jack bounces around the set yelling in a high-pitched voice, constantly making fun of his own and others’ homosexuality. The character embodies all of the typical stereotypes of a gay man. How can the American public accept gay marriage when one of the most popular gay TV characters is a basic stereotype? Lesbians on television are portrayed equally and perhaps even more brazenly stereotypically. In one of Andover’s favorite shows, “The O.C.,” one of the main characters Marissa is coupled with Alex, played by Phillips Academy graduate Olivia Wilde ’02. However, the main reason for Marissa’s lesbian tendencies is implied to be a spite for her mother rather than actual homosexual feelings. Furthermore, it is not outlandish to speculate that such a move was merely a ploy to attract male viewers. As one Phillips Academy student put it when asked if lesbianism on “The O.C.” would entice him to watch the show he answered, “Of course, especially because they are two incredibly hot lesbians.” The producers and screenwriters of “The O.C.” are not the only people adept to the tastes of the American male population. Products directed towards males, such as beer, also feature lesbians. In one commercial for a beer beverage, two women are fighting, scantily clad, in a pool. One of the male onlookers wonders aloud if the scene could get any better, to which one of the women asks the other, “Do you want to make out?” Aside from contributing to the objectification of women, these examples mock the lifestyles of lesbians. Rather than being respected as homosexuals, lesbian couples in pop culture are merely plastered on audiences to attract attention, controversy, and increase the “hot” factor of a show. In the past century, great progress has been made in the acceptance of homosexuals into both the culture of America and the culture of the world. However, the advancement towards tolerance is being bastardized by the media’s ruthless exploitation of homosexuality. So many of the accomplishments that have and can be made in the path towards acceptance are in jeopardy. If the heterosexual American public views gays as their flamboyant and effeminate counterparts and lesbians as objects used to entice male viewers, how can positive developments be achieved?