Academic journal article Journalism History

Media Queered: Visibility and Its Discontents

Academic journal article Journalism History

Media Queered: Visibility and Its Discontents

Article excerpt

Barnhurst, Kevin. Media Queered: Visibility and Its Discontents. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, 2007. 298 pp. $32.95.

As an interesting collection of articles on modern portrayals of gays in the media, Media Queered has a lot of strengths. However, as a definitive history of this phenomenon, it falls short.

While the book's strength is not its historical content, as a cultural commentary it does make a contribution. Media Queered features articles from many of the major scholars in the mass communication field who have written on gay-related themes, including Larry Gross, Meg Moritz, Ed Alwood, and John Emilio. The work of these scholars should be brought together in one collection, and this book helps fill that void.

Media Queered grew out of a class on the growing media visibility of gays taught by editor Kevin Barnhurst, head of the Department of Communication at the University of Illinois-Chicago. In his research, he has studied gay images on National Public Radio, among other gay-themed topics.

The book offers a varied portrayal of recent media images of gays and lesbians in the U.S. print, broadcast, and online media. There are chapters on how gay parents and gay weddings are portrayed in the mainstream media; another on online issues involving gay and lesbian consumers; and even one examining Israeli gay men's use of the lesbigay media.

Still, there is no chapter devoted to the impact of the network sitcoms Ellen, or Will and Grace, both of which were important contributors to the current level of openness of the media. Also overlooked are detailed references to the cable hits The L Word and Queer As Folk, both of which have contributed to the modern-day understanding of gay culture in the United States. There have been articles published on those topics, but it seems a major oversight to leave them out if the book is truly to serve as a history of important recent trends.

Two exceptions are Alwood's excellent article on the role that independent, local television talk shows played in exposing mainstream audiences to gays and lesbians in the 1950s and 1960s and Gross' essay "Gideon, Who Will Be Twenty-Five in the Year 2012. …

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