Gay TV and Straight America

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Rutgers University Press, 2006 - Performing Arts - 283 pages
"A highly engaging and impeccably researched study of the cultural anxieties produced in the destabilization of straight and gay identity." --Michael DeAngelis, DePaul University "Original and compelling . . . an example of the best kind of television scholarship. Gay TV and Straight America is a rare find." --Sasha Torres, author of Black, White and In Color: Television and Black Civil Rights After years of relative silence on the subject of homosexuality, television in the 1990s saw a striking increase in gay material. Sitcoms like Friends, Seinfeld, Ellen, and Will & Grace, and dramas like Party of Five, Beverly Hills 90210, Homicide: Life on the Street, and The Commish added numerous gay and lesbian characters, aired special gay-themed episodes, and included references to homosexuality nearly every week. In Gay TV and Straight America, Ron Becker draws on a wide range of political and cultural indicators to explain this sudden upsurge of gay material on prime-time network television. He argues that the growing visibility of gay material both reflected and deepened Straight America's anxieties about social fragmentation and the politics of sexuality. In this cultural climate, gay material became a highly charged but also highly valuable narrowcasting-age tool for television executives looking to target a quality audience of well educated, upscale adults interested in "edgy" programming. Bringing together Supreme Court rulings, media coverage of gay rights battles, debates about multiculturalism and political correctness, analyses of numerous prime-time programs and much more, Becker helps us understand just what gay TV reveals about Straight America. In today's cultural climate wheresame-sex marriage bans are passed with wide margins yet millions of viewers tune in weekly to programs like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, this book offers valuable insight on the complex condition of America's sexual politics. Ron Becker is an assistant professor of communications at Miami University, Ohio.
 

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Contents

Straight Panic and American Culture in the 1990s
13
Civil Rights
37
Network Narrowcasting and the Slumpy Demographic
80
The Affordable Multicultural Politics of Gay Chic
108
Gay Material and PrimeTime Network Television
136
Were Not Gay Heterosexuality and GayThemed
189
Appendix A
227
Index
271
Copyright

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About the author (2006)

Ron Becker is an assistant professor of communications at Miami University in Ohio.

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