Sexuality and Gender Roles in T.V Sitcoms
Society places a lot of blame on daily interactions and public views through what people observe and learn from television sitcoms and movies. Parents believe that children are now being confused about their sexuality just from watching television shows and movies. People believe that what they view in today’s popular television sitcoms and movies are ways to act in every day society. Most sitcoms and movies however, are just enabling sexuality and gender conflictions within today’s youth. According to the author bell hooks “What does it mean that media has such control of our imaginations that they don't want to accept that there are conscious manipulations taking place and that in fact, we want to reserve particularly for the arena of movie making a certain sense of magic?...it's not about like pure imagination, creativity, it's about people consciously knowing what kinds of images will produce a certain kind of impact.” (Cultural Criticism and Transformation). As people watch sitcoms such as Family Guy it becomes quite obvious how the media portrays sexuality and gender issues as jokes so people accept them into daily living situations.
For the most part, prior to the twentieth century sexuality in society was largely ignored. According to the author Richard Guy Parker, “social movements have been crucial in calling attention to questions of gender and sexuality”( Framing the Sexual Subject: the Politics of Gender, Sexuality, and Power). As people became aware of sexuality and gender issues, jokes were brought up as ways to deal with the uncomfortable feeling associated with the subject. Men and women generally are seen as “equal” with equal rights. The UK’s National Centre for Research annual survey reported that “The traditional view of women as dedicated housewives seems to be extinct. Only around one in six women, and one in five men think women should remain home while men go to work.” (Practical Guideline Evaluations) Although times have changes and women now have more rights then they used to the media still portrays women as weaker and less capable then men.
Stewie Griffin in Family Guy is a prime illustration of how the media depicts sexuality in joking matters. Stewie’s sexuality, even though he is only one year old, is very confusing. Season two of Family Guy the writers would hint to the fact Stewie might be gay with curiosity gags. In one episode, Stewie’s screensaver on his cell-phone is of a muscular man. Another example is when he keeps a picture of Chris Noth in his wallet. However, even though he has been portrayed as gay in these episodes there are other episodes where he is seen as a straight male. In the episode “Dimmit Janet!” he dates a little girl, named Janet. "He originally began as a diabolical villain, but then we delved into the idea of his confused sexuality. We all feel that Stewie is almost certainly gay, and he’s in the process of figuring it out for himself. We haven’t ever really locked into it because we get a lot of good jokes from both sides, but we treat him oftentimes as if we were writing a gay character." (Seth MacFarlane, David Francis, "Big Gay Following", The Advocate interview 3).
Sexuality conflicts really aren’t anything new in the media however. If we look back on older cartoons it becomes clear that the media has portrayed characters very confused about their identity. In a classic cartoon of Winnie the Pooh, the little boy Christopher Robin is clearly sexually confused. Many people watching episodes could point out that Christopher Robin wasn’t very masculine. Also it has been pointed out that the shoes Christopher Robin wore were in fact Mary Jane’s (a girl’s shoe). As a new viewer to the cartoon one might not be able to point out whether or not Christopher Robin is a boy or girl, until his name is mentioned. With all the confusion brought up with Christopher Robin, author Alex MacCallum reports how Disney is...
Cited: Hooks, Bell. "Bell Hooks, Cultural Critisism and Transformation." Media Education Foundation | Educational Videos for Teaching Media Literacy and Media Studies, Featuring Sut Jhally, Jean Kilbourne, Jackson Katz & More. Web. 08 Dec. 2011.
Parker, Richard Guy. "Framing the Sexual Subject: the Politics of Gender, Sexuality, and Power." Google Books. Web. 08 Dec. 2011. .
Voss, Brandon (2008-02-26). "BGF: Seth MacFarlane". The Advocate (PlanetOut). Retrieved 2008-02-15.
Gauntlett, David. "Media, Gender and Identity: an Introduction." Google Books. Web. 08 Dec. 2011. .
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