‘Gay, Straight or taken’ is a reality television programme produced by HBO, in which the objective is to find the heterosexual (love interest) male out of the two other contenders, a homosexual male and a heterosexual male in a committed relationship. Kelsey Wallace’s study examines how this show can actually reinforce stereotypical homosexual representations rather than defy them, which is what the shows executives claim to do. Wallace focuses on the ‘framing’ of homosexual characters which she Entman explains ‘Framing in media occurs when the media emphasise certain aspects of a perceived reality, while at the same time excluding other aspects of that perceived reality in order to shape public opinion (Entman, 1993).’
Some ways in which Gay, Straight or Taken reinforce the effeminate gay notions is through staging certain activities for the contestants to participate in, which specify with certain gender stereotypes. For example shooting bow and arrows is surrounded with the discourse of strength and traditional masculinity, in comparison to going to a hair/beauty salon and performing tasks which are classically related to female activities. These variations of activities enable the women (along with the rest of the public watching) to scrutinise the 3 men to analyse what environment they feel most comfortable in and what they are achieve in it. This therefore strongly emphasises the differences between the homo and heterosexual males through essentially framing them as opposite genders.
I have found that the importance of the framing of homosexual characters within television programmes is the core of my entire project as my aim is to explore how people respond to these negative representations which are established through television. The purpose of my photographs are to frame the subjects as bare humans, therefore hiding any aspects of them which could be a subject of discussion or judgment relating to their sexual orientation. Framing also applies to the style of my video, as I am opposing conventional styles of observatory documentary which are designated to inform the truth in a clearly structured way. Instead I am challenging the audiences perception of LGB which they have been presented with through television and swapping the voices of the interviewees so that the audience cannot identify their voices with their faces. I am also adding to this by filming extreme close up shots of sections of their face so the audience are only able to view glimpses of them. This enhances the idea of framing them in a way which goes against their conventional framings, and presenting them as humans who have the same features on their body just like heterosexual people, confronting the heteronormative belief.