In this section, we explore how a heteronormative media constructs, represents, and comments on the legitimacy of Queer and transgender identities. We also explore the differences and overlaps between mainstream media and their queer counterparts.
Teachers who include media literacy in their classrooms often face issues that don’t arise in other subjects. Nothing illustrates this better than the issue of diversity in media. It’s not unreasonable for teachers to see the topic as a can of worms and be concerned about offending students and their parents – not to mention worrying about what the students themselves might say. At the same time, it’s a topic that is simply too important to be ignored: what we see in media hugely influences how we see others, ourselves and the world. As a result, an ability to analyze media depictions of diversity is not only a key element of being media literate, it’s essential to understanding many of the social issues and concerns that we face as citizens. That’s why Media Awareness Network has developed That’s Not Me – a new online tutorial for professional development to help educators and community leaders approach this issue through key concepts of media literacy.
How things have changed in thirty years: more than ever before, queer people have a media presence. No longer relegated to the realms of innuendo and secrecy, we now see lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people represented on television and in mainstream film. Queer people see their reflections on screen in a largely positive light: stable, employed, charming, attractive, well-liked, and successful. And yet, there remain many challenges. The following sections will examine how media produces and legitimizes or delegitimizes queer sexualities, as well as how queer media differs from its heterosexual counterpart. To begin, though, it is worthwhile to examine the trajectory of queer media criticism over the past thirty years.
As in other media, queer people have gained a greater and more widely visible presence within the advertising world, with ad agencies courting the “Pink Dollar”. This is not surprising, considering that the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community is a multi-billion dollar target audience, estimated to be worth around $835 billion.
Queer people have been involved in producing their own media for as long as alternative media has existed. This landscape has traditionally been dominated by print media such as zines (small-circulation, generally low-cost, publications) and pamphlets or queer film, but with the advent of the electronic age and cheaper and more accessible electronic devices for production, there’s been an explosion of queer-produced media of all kinds. The following section explores the ways that queer people have sought to claim space for themselves within media and culture.
When discussing media representation of various groups, especially those we consider marginalized, stereotypes are often a primary concern. But sometimes, breaking a stereotype doesn’t go quite far enough, and the issue can be a little more complicated than merely determining whether or not a character is represented in a positive or negative way. The section that follows explores different approaches to queer content by analyzing various ways that popular media have used characterized LGBTQ people.
In this lesson, students look at the different ways in which we spend our free time and learn to find balance between active, learning and media activities. They begin by distinguishing between Active, Learning and Screen time, learn how activities can fall into more than one category; and reflect on their lives to see how well screen time is balanced by other types of activities. Finally, students consider how they might improve how their time is balanced.
In this lesson, students consider the positive aspects of video games as well as the ways in which games may take time away from other activities they enjoy. Students are introduced to the idea of balancing game and screen time with other parts of their lives and learn about the reasons why they may be tempted to spend more time playing games or find it difficult to stop playing. They then keep a diary of their game play (or another screen activity if they do not play video games) that prompts them to reflect on their gaming habits. Partway through that process, they are introduced to techniques that will help them moderate their game play and deal with the difficulties they may feel reducing game time. Finally, students reflect on the experience and develop a plan to make their game play more mindful.