Chapter 7: Comedy

I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry shower scene

Cow & Chicken “Buffalo Gals” episode

Battles, K. & Hilton-Morrow, W. (2002). Gay characters in conventional spaces: Will & Grace and the situation comedy genre. Critical Studies in Media Communication, 19 (1), 87–105.

Becker, R. (2006). Gay TV and straight America. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Becker, R. (2009). Guy love: A queer straight masculinity for a post-closet era? In G. Davis & G. Needham (Eds.), Queer TV: Theories, histories, politics (pp. 120–140). New York, NY: Routledge.

Hansen-Miller, D. & Gill, R. (2011). “Lad flicks”: Discursive reconstructions of masculinity in film. In H. Radner & R. Stringer (Eds.), Feminism at the movies (pp. 36–50). New York: Routledge.

Kimmel, M. (2009). Guyland: The perilous world where boys become men. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.

Linneman, T.J. (2008). How do you solve a problem like Will Truman? The feminization of gay masculinities on Will & Grace. Men and Masculinities, 10 (5), 583–603.

Lotz, A. (2014). Cable guys: Television and masculinity in the 21st Century. New York, NY: NYU Press.

Tasker, Y. (2012). Enchanted (2007) by postfeminism: Gender, irony, and the new romantic comedy. In H. Radner & R. Stringer (Eds.), Feminism at the movies (pp. 67–79). New York: Routledge.

Vidmar, N. & Rokeach, M. (1974).  Archie Bunker’s bigotry: A study in selective perception and exposure. Journal of Communication, 24 (1), 36–47.

Weaver, S. (2010). The ‘other’ laughs back: Humour and resistance in anti-racist comedy. Sociology, 44 (1), 31–48.

Who is Being Made Fun Of?

View the Saturday Night’s Live digital short “3-Way” (2011), featuring R&B singers Andy (Andy Samberg) and Raif (Justin Timberlake).  Given the short’s use of irony, how should viewers interpret its meaning?  How does the choice of Justin Timberlake, who got his start as part of the boy band N’Sync affect interpretation?  What about the appearance of Lady Gaga, a gay icon?  Do the cues to 1980s/early 1990s culture affect your interpretation?  What about the nods to the ABC sitcom Three’s Company (1977–1984)?  How does this short demonstrate the complex work of comic discourses? Does this clip rely on homophobic humor or does it make fun of straight men for being homophobic?

RuPaul’s Drag Race Controversy 

In the Spring of 2014 the popular show came under fire by transgender activists for a skit in which contestants were asked to identify photo subjects as either cisgender women, “Females,” or male drag artists, “She-Males.”  The show had also long used the term “she-male” to describe communiqués from host, RuPaul, to the contestants.  Transgender activists, including former Drag Race contestant Carmen Carrera, have criticized this language as especially transphobic.  While Logo has pulled all such references to the show, RuPaul has remained unapologetic in his use of the term, claiming that they are part of the humor of drag culture, itself a form a camp.

Taking into considering some of the lessons of the chapter, including context, irony, and camp examine the role that each play in this controversy.  How do changing contexts (the rise of transgender visibility) reshape historical practices? To what extend have the historical practices of camp shaped the development of such language? What is at stake in the clash between transgender activists and their allies and gay performers?