Reflection

The issue of homosexuality is especially tabooed in conservative societies. In the first five posts, I explored how the increased visibility of LGB in media has impacted the gays, lesbians and bisexuals.

New media like social networks allows for many-to-many diffusion of information, as demonstrated in the first post. It allows activist groups to spread their message and increase support in a very cheap and efficient manner. The ability to spread message to the masses helped to gain support in a rapid rate.

Popular culture is everywhere and can be very influential. The high amount of LGB content in pop culture can create an environment that is more receptive towards the gay, lesbian and bisexual community and at the same time, normalising their lifestyle. How is this possible?

“When you confront your cadaver during the first week of school, you will begin to learn emotional aloofness. Prospective doctors become desensitized to death’s symbols -bones, blood, corpses, and stench- symbols that disturb most people. Some students become desensitized earlier during premed courses that required them to dissect or even kill living things. In any event, this phase of medical school can still be disturbing. A psychiatrist who interviewed students found that many of them had nightmares about their anatomy experiences.

No matter how great the initial shock, however, it apparently wears off for most students. Before long you become so desensitized that you can eat lunch around the corpse.” – Robert Holman Coombs      

The above example illustrates how time and exposure may remove the shock factor and lead to indifference towards the material that surprises an individual initially. This makes it easier for the heterosexual community to accept those we recognise as different.

However, the effectiveness of the many-to-many diffusion of information and the influence of pop culture are not boundless. This is because humans are thinking creatures. It would be too idealistic to say that the audience would interpret and digest all information given to us by media. According to the selective influence theory, we select what we want to see and will interpret and remember parts of the information differently. This could result in either increased support for the LGB community or amplified anti-LGB sentiments.

In addition, the ability for media users to express their opinions (as shown in post 1) shows that media communication is no longer unidirectional. This allows for both positive and negative feedback.

On the assumption that one becomes more open towards the LGB community, things may still not be all rosy for the LGB community. This is because homosexuals in media are usually misrepresented. It is possible for us to assimilate and internalise the misrepresentations of how the LGB community behave in real life. This problem is more prevalent in people who frequently watch television. Cultivation theory suggests that “heavy viewers among different demographic groups share a commonality of outlooks cultivated by television that are not shared by light viewers from these different groups.”(McDonnel, 2006) As such, people might make erred judgement that homosexuals on television and those in reality conduct themselves similarly. The misconceptions can lead to stigmatisation of the homosexual community.

Moreover, individuals can form unnecessary moral panics due to media. Moral panics occur when one is unable to adapt to significant change and when such change leads to a fear of a loss of control within the normal social structure. Media contributed to moral panics by providing misleading information. Media content often have a masked motive and present stories in a one-sided manner. This aggravates the already strained relations between the conservative groups and homosexuals.

Although media played a significant role in shaping our opinions towards the LGB group, we cannot discount the fact that we may already possess preconceived notions of the LGB community.  “Learning that is not apparent in performance at the time of training, but is revealed later when conditions are changed is referred to as latent learning.”(Davidson, 2000)We could have observed some effeminate behaviours in men or masculine behaviours in women and we thought nothing about it. This information could have been stored away in our minds and only recalled when we watch television. So it is possible for us to have already formed our own idea of LGB behaviour. The role media will play here would be to strengthen what we already assumed to be LGB behaviour.

In essence, the impact of media proliferation of LGB content is a mixed blessing. It can create acceptance and tolerance towards the homosexual community and at the same time pervade public stigmatisation towards the lesbian, gay and bisexual community. At the same time, media reinforces our preconceived ideas of the LGB community.

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Credits:

Sources

Finding People and their Utterances – http://www.sigir.org/forum/2012J/2012j_sigirforum_P8_weerkampDA.pdf

Surviving Medical School – http://books.google.com.sg/books?id=v-cnTDxFfEIC&pg=PA137&lpg=PA137&dq=desensitization+autopsies&source=bl&ots=0gtzu_QY0t&sig=2W4Lesxf88UZTxGWhovfaoibleE&hl=en&ei=AkYRTrGkDorWiAKi3dmCDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=desensitization%20autopsies&f=false

The Social Environment and Suicide Attempts in LGB Youths – http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/early/2011/04/18/peds.2010-3020.full.pdf+html?ijkey=2378a7b436dbea6ce39a6475c6079200a9509387

Moral Panics – http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Students/mtw9403.html

What are ‘moral panics’? – http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Students/hrb9701.html

(Davidson, 2000) Encyclopedia of Psychology. Vol. 4, http://ovidsp.tx.ovid.com.ezproxy.uow.edu.au/sp-3.6.0b/ovidweb.cgi?&S=HBDAFPPHNNDDILEJNCPKKCGCHLOHAA00&Link+Set=S.sh.18.19%7c210%7csl_100

Pictures

Justine Chenault confronts an anti-gay protesters at the Democratic National Convention in Denver Pictures & Photos – http://newshopper.sulekha.com/justine-chenault-confronts-an-anti-gay-protesters-at-the-democratic-national-convention-in-denver_photo_352735.htm

Bruno – http://img.metro.co.uk/i/pix/2009/06/brunofilm_450x250.jpg

bisexual, gay, gsa, human, lesbian, lesbians – inspiring picture on Favim.com – http://weheartit.com/entry/10222799#

Moral Panics (Post 5)

The increase in gay representation may lead to moral panics. How so?

Conservatives fear that the youths might become gay due to the heightened exposure to homosexuals via media. This notion is illustrated by the anchor in the following video. She compares gay on television to product placement of soft drinks.

Biologists suggest that homosexuality is largely due to genetics and social theorists believe that environmental factors are to blame. Even though these studies were inconclusive, there was enough evidence to refute claims that one can be brainwashed into a homosexual by media.

In addition, people may be misled by media into thinking that the HIV/AIDS is caused by and affects only homosexuals. The interviewer below, phrased his question in a manner which imply that HIV/AIDS is a homosexual disease.

This notion is especially popular in the 1980s. Although it is true that homosexuals made up the 53% of the new cases of HIV/AIDS in the United States in the year 2009, it is not true that HIV/AIDS is a homosexual disease and homosexuals the cause of this disease. Research has shown that HIV/AIDS originated in Africa and heterosexuals can also contract this disease.

Indeed media have led a skewed perception on the homosexual community. People were misinformed and will conceive high opinionated ideas about the non-heterosexual community. This impacts the public perception of the members of the LGB community negatively.

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Credits:

Sources

What Makes People Gay? – http://www.boston.com/news/globe/magazine/articles/2005/08/14/what_makes_people_gay/?page=2

Homosexuality: Nature or Nurture – http://allpsych.com/journal/homosexuality.html

Moral Panic – http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/moral_panic.htm

AIDS Rate 50 Times Higher in Homosexual Men: Center for Disease Control – http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/archive/ldn/2009/aug/09082609

Homophobic Homosexuals: Making AIDS A Gay Disease – http://rense.com/general73/homphn.htm

Videos

Is TV Too Gay? Bryan Fischer (American Family Association) Vs. Ray Hill (Gay Rights Activist) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWqo_DNY2BE

Chris Wallace interview with Ron Paul – Who’s the Homophobe? – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=myONK4rc0oc&feature=related

Pictures

Nature vs Nuture – http://blog.lib.umn.edu/clar0841/psychblog2012/Nature_versus_Nurture.jpg

Panic in the streets – http://throughthescreendoor.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/panic-in-the-streets-poster.jpg%3Fw%3D300%26h%3D240

Pop culture (Post 4)

Why are some people gay? It’s because they are born this way.

Lady GaGa Pop Art

This line coined by Lady GaGa in her hit song ‘Born This Way’ has permeated into the minds of listeners. Her songs and fashion sense have propelled her to a pop culture phenomenon.

Popular culture meant commercialised goods enjoyed by the many. Critics felt pop culture simply brainwashes the audience and churn out products that threatens high-cultured art.

It may be true that popular music follow the ‘hit-making’ formula:  catchy tune and lyrics that roll right off your tongue with ease. Some songs may have shallow meanings, while others have deep meanings and important messages in music videos. In terms of artistry, they can be on par with high-cultured pieces.

These songs were created as the anthems for the outcasts. It allows for people to understand the troubles faced by the outcasts and allows outcasts like the LGB memebers to feel hope that someday, things will get better for them.

Furthermore, pop culture creates an environment that is desensitised towards the LGB community. We are conditioned by pop culture to the existence of homosexuals. People are then more open to individuals of different sexual orientations. This creates a community more willing to accept LGBT presence in their community.

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Credits:

Sources

The Impact of Pop Culture on Society – http://elitetv-downloads.com/articles/pop_culture_on_society.asp

The Rapprochement Between Pop Music and High Culture – http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/tanjil-rashid/pop-music-high-culture_b_1471177.html

Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’ Leads New Era Of Outcast Anthems – http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1656878/lady-gaga-born-this-way-lyrics.jhtml

How Pop Culture Helps Normalize the “Other” in Society – http://inclusionparadox.com/pop-culture-helps-normalize-the-other-in-society/

Pictures

Lady GaGa Pop Art – http://fc05.deviantart.net/fs71/i/2010/269/2/a/lady_gaga_pop_art_by_ramennoodle04-d2zjtqn.jpg

200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons – http://sharetv.org/images/200_greatest_pop_culture_icons-show.jpg

Videos

P!nk – Perfect – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3GkSo3ujSY

P!nk – Raise Your Glass – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjVNlG5cZyQ

Katy Perry – Firework – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGJuMBdaqIw