9780226280653 / 0226280659

Freaks Talk Back: Tabloid Talk Shows and Sexual Nonconformity


Publisher:University Of Chicago Press



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About the book:

In the recent past, lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgendered people had almost no presence on television. With the invention and propagation of tabloid talk shows such as Jerry Springer, Jenny Jones, Oprah, and Geraldo, people outside the sexual mainstream now appear in living rooms across America almost every day of the week. Often these appearances are rambunctious, ugly, and exploitative, with the "action" of the show predicated upon homophobic responses from the audience. Most gay media watchers question the worth of appearing on such programs: at what price, they ask, visibility? This view is startlingly revised in Joshua Gamson's Freaks Talk Back, an analysis of how tabloid TV may be the best--well, certainly the most engaging on a grassroots level--visibility that sex outsiders have ever garnered. Using surveys, news analysis, discussions of race and class differences, and readings from the shows themselves, Gamson argues that the endless yelling, bickering, and outright displays of homophobia--so different from the pre-packaged, insincere tolerance that passes for discourse in much of the media--give rise to discussions about people's genuine feelings and beliefs. Questioning the very precepts of how we think about media coverage, Freaks Talk Back is as provocative and disturbing as tabloid television itself. --Michael Bronski

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