Ellen Opens the Door for Gay and Lesbian Lifestyles During Daytime TV
The article Ellen, Television, And The Politics Of Gay And Lesbian Visibility published in the journal Critical Studies in Media Communication, Communication, Culture and Critique demonstrates the impact Ellen's self-titled sitcom com had on television. The show Ellen changed the way television portrays gay characters. The article written by Bonnie J. Dow used the timeline of Ellen’s coming out as gay during three episodes of her self-titled sitcom to set the stage for her argument. The media blitz that followed, and the effect her actions had on the next generation of daytime television are the facts Dow used to persuade the reader of her argument. Bonnie later discussed the impact of using Ellen as the lesbian poster child had in the evolution of daytime T.V. before concluding her argument (Dow, Bonnie, 2001).
Thesis of the article: The author of the article Bonnie J. Dow wrote her article on the grounds of the following thesis; the discourse of Ellen DeGeneres coming out publicly as a lesbian, the media’s treatment of the situation, along with the problems associated with being a poster child (Dow, Bonnie, 2001).
What is the author’s main argument or thesis?
What evidence is presented to support the argument?
In the spring of 1998 Ellen's ratings dropped, and in a storm of negativity everyone still agreed “Ellen had changed the face of television” (p.124). Television had previously set guidelines where gay characters were one time guests, has serious dysfunctional issues, and their sexuality was often the cause of some problem (Dow, Bonnie, 2001).
In the spring of 1998 the show’s ratings dropped, and in a storm of negativity everyone still agreed that “Ellen had changed the face of television” (p.124). Television had previously set guidelines where gay characters were one time guests, has serious dysfunctional issues, and their sexuality was often the cause of some problem (Dow, Bonnie, 2001).
After the show was cancelled other shows followed Ellen’s lead, with leading gay characters, reflecting real people from communities, with jobs and relationships. Ellen was the first to represent a gay character as being a real person. As the Ellen sitcom end in 1998 Will and Grace was launched. Will of Will and Grace is a gay male character in a leading role. In 1999, the Warner Brother’s teen soap opera Dawson’s Creek featured the coming out of a male character. Ellen led the way for leading gay roles on television (Dow, Bonnie, 2001).
The article Ellen Degeneres Won 8th Emmy Award, Planning to Release Own Monthly Magazine Managed by Wife Portia De Rossi describes the fame achieved by Ellen. An article published in Times Magazine under the International Business subheading was a response to Ellen’s 8th Daytime Emmy. After her self-titled sitcom finale Ellen has continued to prove herself as an actress, comedian, and talk show host (Times - International Business, 2014).
What point of view or perspective is the author arguing against?The author is arguing that Ellen opened the doors for gay characters’ to play leading roles on daytime TV. The changes made to the perception of gay people on television have changed to portray real people living in real situations.
• Key concepts:Which familiar concepts does the author address (if not by name)?
Which concepts have you not encountered before?The author discusses the concept of being a poster child used to further the image of gay and lesbians on television. Ellen’s contribution in shaping a positive image of lesbians on television humanized the lifestyle of sexually alternative people. The milestone presented by the author demonstrates a comparison of before and after the three episodes of Ellen coming out in her self-titled sitcom in 1997(Dow, Bonnie, 2001).
How does the author use these concepts to build the argument?The author begins with a timeline of the facts. The writer began with the story of how Ellen came out during the three episodes of her self-titled sitcom. Than demonstrated the effects, Ellen had on the evolution of television’s portrayal of gay characters, followed by a discussion of the effects using a mascot to represent the real lives of gay people.
Evaluation:How would you evaluate the argument in terms of other ideas you have encountered in the course?
Are there any weaknesses in the article that you can identify?
A weakness I can identify is the lack of information about the perception of the audience and the lack of background information about the social environment that influence the situation faced by the networks during the time of Ellen’s coming out sitcom episodes. Did Ellen’s work as an ambassador for lesbians on television have a changing effect on the audience? Or did the effect of Ellen’s work only affect the attitudes of the television broadcasters? Further studies could strengthen the case of Ellen’s movement as the first leading lesbian on daytime television. The passionate social environment in 1997 verged on society’s acceptance of alternative lifestyles. The article could have articulated the environmental situation in order to further the argument about L.G.B.T.Q.’s role during day time T.V. The social environment influences television networks gentle approach towards adapting television programming. Had the article included research about the perceptions viewers had rather than just their viewer rates and included facts about the social environment that influenced the network the article would have had a stronger argument in support of Ellen’s role in the evolution of how gay characters’ are portrayed in daytime T.V.
Has anything changed since the article was written that might affect the strength or value of the argument (use specific examples)?
In the years since Ellen came out being from an alternative sexual orientation, it has become acceptable and part of the day to day society. Daytime television now hosts many gay characters’ such as Rosie O’Donald and Whoopie Goldberg on The View, Glee features both a lesbian and gay couple, Sheldon from the Big bang Theory is also gay, Grey’s Anatomy, Degrassi features a teen transsexual just to list a few. Being gay, lesbian or an alternative sexual orientation has become the norm on daytime television.
How does the essay contribute to our understanding of issues in celebrity studies?
The essay contributes to the understanding of the evolution of society’s acceptance of L.G.B.T. Q. celebrities. In the evolution of gay and lesbians on daytime TV, society has shifted to the opposite of the view’s they previously held. The article was written in 2001 as L.G.B.T. Q. rights began to capture society’s attention in the mass media global movement. Pride has taken to the streets in major cities around the world all in the aftermath of Ellen bravely becoming the lesbian poster child of CBC.
Dow, Bonnie J. "Ellen, Television, And The Politics Of Gay And Lesbian Visibility." Critical Studies In Media Communication 18.2 (2001): 123-140. Communication & Mass Media Complete. Web. 30 Oct. 2014.
International Business, Times. "Ellen Degeneres Won 8th Emmy Award, Planning to Release Own Monthly Magazine Managed by Wife Portia De Rossi." International Business Times 24 June 2014: Regional Business News. Web. 2 Nov. 2014.