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Alternate lifestyles have long been debated in American society and humor has been a way for media to explore these contentious subjects through television and film representation This paper will explore and analyze thesociological impact of the humorous portrayal of gays on television and in the moviesThere has been an evolution over the past several decades on how gays have been portrayed in the media and how humor has aided in that changing representation The 1990s seem to have ushered in the era of more tolerance and respect for the gay community influenced by movies like The Birdcage and situation comedies such asWill Grace This evolution is carrying over into the new millennium the humorous and positive representation of gays is becoming increasinglymainstream The phrase media representation refers to the ways that members of various social groups are differentially presented in mass media offerings which in turn influences the ways audience members of those media offerings perceive and respond to members of the groups represented Hart 60 How gays have been represented in movies and television has evolvedalong with that of our society values and perceptions Media representations have shaped the way Americans come to understand the phenomenon of homosexuality and ultimately they have had a direct bearing on the already complex relationships within and between various social groups in American society Hart 62As stated byLarry Gross Media representation in the mediated reality of American popular culture is in itself an exercise of power because nonrepresentation maintains the powerless marginalized status of groups that lack significant material or political power bases He elaboratesThose who are at the bottom of the various power hierarchies will be kept in their place in part through their relative invisibility this is a form of symbolic annihilation When groups or perspectives do attain visibility the manner of that representation will reflect the biases and interests of those elites who define the public agenda
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