LGBTQIA Representation in entertainment media unfortunately has large opposition from largely conservative parents. In the article titled “Warning to Parents: Pro-Gay Cartoons on the Rise” by Lianne Laurence, an author for the website Life Site, a strong felt message warning parents about the emergence of more LGBT characters in television is apparent. Life Site news is a Canadian organization known for it’s strong opposition to what they consider issues such as: abortion, same-sex marriage, LGBT portrayal on television, and many more. Not only does the article urge parents to speak to their children about LGBT portrayal on television, but it advises that parents shield their children from it.
In an interview with Victor Estrada, a student from CSU San Marcos studying film, we spoke about the emergence of LGBT characters in entertainment media and the effects that that poses not only on youth but adults as well. Below are a few excerpts I’d like to highlight from our interview.
Q: Have you taken any classes that have exposed you to the topic of LGBTQIA representation?
A: Yes, I actually took a class called Gender and Identity in Pop Culture and the Media during my second semester here at San Marcos. I honestly didn’t like the class. The teacher sucked at teaching the lectures but the readings were very interesting. I was able to read more on how there is a lack of diversity and representation of minority characters in Hollywood. An example I can think of is the film Aloha. At the time it was released, it was very controversial because Emma Stone, an American actress, was cast for the role of Allison Ng. Allison Ng is a woman of Asian heritage. Can you see how this is a problem? I also read on how video games and television shows either stereotype or antagonize characters who are LGBT. But I think we can talk about that later.
Q: I don’t mind, I’d actually like to know more about what you mean in regards to antagonizing characters on television.
A: Okay, well I don’t mean to rant, but something I’ve noticed as well is that some portrayals of LGBT characters are evil. Remember when [me] played “Grand Theft Auto 5”? Well in it, there are supposed rumors that the character of Trevor is supposedly bisexual. And if you recall, he was one of the most sadistic characters portrayed in the video game. Or in the game “The Last of Us,” Joel’s friend(not included but the character’s name is Bill) was confirmed to have had a boyfriend in the game, but Bill is also one of the more violent characters in the game. I don’t think that this spreads positive messages to audiences.
Q: As a student studying film, what do you believe is important to portray to your audience?
A: Diversity-hands down. I think it would be in everyone’s best interest to include not only cast members but characters that tell stories that many of us go through! Granted, most characters in television shows or films we watch are fictional, it’s still nice to see representation on tv. I remember during Socratic Seminars we had in class, many students who identified as gay or lesbian or whatnot often said that they had a hard time relating to heterosexual characters. It was something I didn’t really pay much thought to honestly. But they’re right, if we start introducing characters that are LGBT or that deviate from the norm, then yeah. We could have much more interesting stories on television honestly. Better representation leads to bigger audiences.
After showing him the article “Warning to Parents: Pro-Gay Cartoons on the Rise,” I asked for his thoughts on the matter.
Q: What are your thoughts on the article? Do you agree with anything that it has to say?”
A: It’s sad honestly. It makes me sad that there are still people who can’t accept that we live in a society where everyone is different. Not everyone is heterosexual, it’s that simple. These parents need to realize that they’re sending toxic messages to their children by saying “Oh I need to protect my child and ban this television show.” I don’t agree with the article at all. It counters my belief that television and the media need to spread messages of love and acceptance and most importantly inclusion.
The interview I held with Victor Estrada only emphasized the belief in promoting inclusion in entertainment media. LGBTQIA representation does not in any way harm anyone. The opposition that television networks, like Cartoon Network or Disney Channel, face as a result of including LGBT characters is harmful. This opposition not only sends a toxic message to children, but it internalizes them to oppose LGBT inclusive content.
- Laurence, Lianne. “Warning to Parents: Pro-gay Cartoons Are on the Rise.” Life Site News. Published August 10, 2015. Accessed October 27, 2016.