Beyond identity politics: Contemporary thinking on nation, race, gender, and sexuality
This chapter explores some of the ways that contemporary scholars think about issues related to social difference, since social reality is deeply imbricated in mediated forms of communication like film and television (and vice versa). And as is hopefully a given by now for readers of this textbook, culture influences film and television texts, and film and television texts influence culture-that is to say, how real people get treated in the real world. In 2012, when Vice President Joe Biden was asked how and why his views on lesbian and gay people had changed over the years-allowing him to come out in support of marriage equality-he answered “I think Will & Grace [1998-2006] probably did more to educate the American public than almost anything anybody’s ever done so far.” Extrapolating from Biden’s comment, one might say that images of “positive” or “normalized” (whatever those terms might mean) gay and lesbian people on television has had a significant impact on changing Western culture’s understanding of homosexuality. Indeed, over the decades the connotations of homosexuality have changed significantly-from those of secrecy, deviancy, pathology, disease, and sin-to those of likable people next door who deserve the same rights and freedoms as do all people.