Look Over Here: Queer as Folk?

Posted in Architecture by kth14 on May 4, 2010

I’m a little late with my third blog post, but here is the issue I want to talk about: representation of queer peoples or people of race in the media, my main focus being on Queer as Folk. Now, I love this show but it is horribly flawed as a representation of queer life. First, there are no characters (none) that have any sort of significant role who are not white. This is true of many shows, however. There is usually an all-white cast or all-black cast or all-latino cast; take your pick of which race and you can usually find a show that shows a certain “racial culture” without actually including anyone of any other races. Of course there are exceptions, but for the most part certain shows target certain audiences with a certain race, age, gender, and queerness. I guess my question is: is this lack of diversity of race a product of the television/film industry, the audience or a true representation of reality?

Now, while there is very little racial diversity in Queer as Folk, there is a wide representation of “queer” people, including porn stars and drag queens and Queer as Folk does address a lot of queer issues and the realities of being a queer person. Yet, there is a lack of “normal” or heterosexual people on the show. The only people I can think of that have a significant role as straight people are Debbie and Daphnie. While I understand that it is a show designed to show queer life (and Debbie and Daphnie could count as queer, despite being heterosexual) it seems that the characters have little contact or interaction with heteros(except when they are causing problems), which would be very unlikely in the heterosexual-dominted world. It seems as if they are living in their own little world of queerness and when something disrupts this, it is a big shock to the outside world of heteroness.

Most shows in general do this. Friends is completely set in their own little world wih no queerness or race to stir things up, and it does not change anything in the world we live in. Queer as Folk I feel had a large impact on the way others view the queer world, whether good or bad, the show tried to make a difference and put some controversial issues out there. While this show suffered from a lot of issues that are more than likely to present in television shows (overgeneralization, character exaggerations, radical plot changes, etc) I think it did make a difference for the queer community, whether within it or how others view it. I just want a show that can accurately depicts queer and race in reality and still be fun, witty and entertaining. I realize this is next to impossible, but I think it is important for people to realize that these shows are not accurate representations of queer life, although some of it can be.

However critical I am of the show, I absolutely love Queer as Folk! And, here is a video I found which I thought was interesting and kind of supports my post. Also, you can see how realistically all of the background dancers are extremely well-built and attractive, which if this depiction is true, I am immediately moving to Pittsburgh to dance at Babylon where everyone (besides Ted) is extremely attractive.

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2 Responses

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  1. mrthomps said, on May 6, 2010 at 3:44 am

    I think that your post raises a lot of really important points. I agree that shows target specific racial groups and there’s always a cast that is predominantly X with token characters from other races. To try and answer one of the questions you bring up, I think that the lack of racial diversity we see on tv is a product of what mainstream audiences want. Tv execs pretty much have to do what the people want since we are the ones who are watching their shows. And I think people want the representations they see to make sense to them. For some people, racial diversity is completely alien and not something that they see in their real life.
    As far as Queer as Folk goes, I have never seen American version (but I adore the British version) but I believe that the show targets a really specific group of people. When I imagine that audience I think of upper class, college educated, queer identified, mostly white people. So I think it makes sense that the characters on any given show are as diverse as their audience.
    I also think it’s important to recognize the discrimination that happens in the media about all kinds of differences, like socioeconomic classes for example. I think that’s why every single show I can think of (except for Good Times) is about upper/ upper-middle class people, no matter their race. That’s why there are no sitcoms about families near poverty. (plus its not really funny)

  2. Jonesy said, on April 13, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    With a show like Queer as Folk being the really the first of it’s kind in America to say having an “all white” cast is what audiences want is very likely untrue. First, the audience for this show would likely be gays and women. Not just white gays but all kinds of gays and all kinds of women. Every show doesn’t have to include every group. But when you promote a show as ground breaking and the first as this one was on many levels diversity should have been a major concern not an an after thought. After all this is a fictionalized story. I mean Star Trek was diverse in the 60’s and no one could allege that was the top priority on viewers minds with the sci-fi show.

    People like to see people who look like them or people in their communities on television. Gays in Pittsburgh see plenty of gay minorities and don’t only interact with gay people. I would cut the show slack if by the 2nd season they made changes…nope that didn’t happen.

    For a community struggling to be treated fairly and included in the mainstream we are a pretty segregated community.

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