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Gay African American on TV Essay

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Historically, the representation of gay, African-American men on television has fallen short of the mark . We have seen “sissies, faggots and finger-snapping queens” sashaying across the screen, feminizing and marginalizing African-American men by these racially insensitive and homophobic caricatures. In this paper I examine the characters: Keith Charles of HBO’s Six Feet Under, Omar Little of HBO’s The Wire, Lafayette Reynolds of HBO’s True Blood, and Julien Lowe of FX’s The Shield and how their characters manifest their masculinity. The three characters that appear on HBO shows are portrayed as strong, masculine, openly gay men. Only Lowe, the sole African-American gay man who has appeared on a basic cable hour-long television drama is a closeted gay character. Since the “out” characters appear on HBO and the closeted character appears on basic cable, is it possible that an audience who can afford to pay for HBO is tolerant of the representation of masculine gay men while an audience watching on basic cable is not tolerant of that representation? Or is HBO’s marketing campaign, “It’s not TV, it’s HBO” an experimentation with “genre, coupled with their strategy of distancing themselves from broadcast television culminating in a distinguishable brand name and a noticeable schism between pay cable and broadcast television” (Jaramillo 60). Or rather, is the HBO audience one that is able to pay for a subscription to HBO, just gazing at these characters? Are these characters just a twist on the “big black buck” stereotype for a post-modern audience – one comfortable with explorations of masculine, racialized, gay desire? HBO’s marketing certainly attempts to position itself as a step above broadcast TV, airing programming that is de...


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...hough he is tall and strong, Julien’s masculinity is policed aggressively and violently by his peers. When the rumor spreads that Julien is gay, his fellow officers, beat and intimidate him. Despite his stature, Julien quietly submits to their threats and intimidation. Quite literally, Julien’s masculinity is “policed” by his fellow police officers. Much like Patricia Hill Collins’ assertion about controlling images and that representations of black women as mammies and matriarchs work as “powerful ideological justifications” for “intersecting oppressions of race, class, gender and sexuality” (p. 69) the same can be applied to the controlling images of black male masculinity, “the “faggot and the queen”. Controlling images function to justify various oppressions by distorting reality through reducing the stereotyped subjected black body to a controllable object.



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Title Length Color Rating  
Gay African American on TV Essay - Historically, the representation of gay, African-American men on television has fallen short of the mark . We have seen “sissies, faggots and finger-snapping queens” sashaying across the screen, feminizing and marginalizing African-American men by these racially insensitive and homophobic caricatures. In this paper I examine the characters: Keith Charles of HBO’s Six Feet Under, Omar Little of HBO’s The Wire, Lafayette Reynolds of HBO’s True Blood, and Julien Lowe of FX’s The Shield and how their characters manifest their masculinity....   [tags: Social Issues, Gender Roles] 2543 words
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