Volume > Issue > Homosexuality & the Entertainment Media

Homosexuality & the Entertainment Media


By Michael Medved | June 2001
Michael Medved, the author of Hollywood Versus America, is a film critic and talk-show host. This article is adapted with permission from Same-Sex Matters, edited by Christopher Wolfe, recently published by Spence Publishing Co. The article in the book is a transcript of a lecture and was not a formally written essay.

No one can forget one of the truly remarkable events in the panorama of Western civilization: Ellen DeGeneres declaring her lesbian orientation before a huge television audience on her weekly sitcom produced by the Disney company on ABC-TV. Now, Ellen’s coming out was, in the view of most mainstream observers, perhaps the greatest advance for mankind since the discovery of the wheel. The amount of attention and the volume of the hosannas that greeted this event were astonishing. It was on the cover of news magazines, and there were news specials on television — it was surely the best publicized show ever on television.

Now, was this in truth a magnificent advance for civilization, for decency, and for fairness, or was it, as some other Americans believe, a confirmation of the anti-family and anti-marriage agenda of the entertainment industry? And does that alleged anti-family agenda relate in any way to the very strong representation of homosexual individuals in positions of creative influence in that industry?

I am going to ask three fundamental questions concerning the mass media — particularly movies and television — and the media treatment of homosexuals and homosexuality.

First, is the over-representation of homosexuals in positions of influence in the media either primarily or prominently responsible for negative messages concerning the family that many observers perceive? Second, is monetary gain the prime motivation for mass media treatment of homosexuality? Is that motivation simply the profit motive — which, of course, usually explains and is used to explain almost everything in Hollywood. Third, is there a consistent set of messages regarding homosexuality being sent in television series and motion pictures and in other mass media, and are those messages being accepted and having an influence on the larger American public? Let me take each of those questions in turn.

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