Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Soap Opera Culture Reflects Changing Trends in Contemporary Marriage

Hi All,

Considering our new topic of class discussion which will begin tomorrow, I couldn't help but pay attention to the video news bite posted on CNN.Com just yesterday. You can view the video clip at http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/showbiz/2009/02/16/am.lo.lesbian.wedding.cnn?iref=videosearch

Soap opera programs mirror (in often exaggerated ways) trends in contemporary American society. The first lesbian wedding in soap opera culture aired this week and I have chosen to post the brief clip here and invite your reflections and analysis.

See you in class and on the blog!


  1. I think that it is great that the marriage of a gay couple is being aired on TV. I think that everyone deserves the right to love who they want to love no matter what their gender is, and should be able to choose to marry whom they would like to. I have never seen this before on TV; airing this episode shows how our society is slowly starting to accept and appreciate everyone for who they are. I think small steps like airing this on TV will start to open up people's minds, and at least they will be more familiar with the ideas and that because of this hopefully discrimination of gays and lesbians will stop.

  2. I agree that it is encouraging that this television show aired a gay marriage. Television is an extremely powerful agent of socialization in the United States, especially because recently many children have begun to watch it at younger ages and to watch more of it. By the time children reach adolescence and begin to explore issues of sexuality, many of them will have watched countless hours of television, thereby subconsciously internalizing the cultural norms that are imbedded in their favorite shows. By showing a gay marriage, this television show, unlike many others, is sending the message that gay people can have committed, loving relationships and that gay marriage is acceptable. This message is extremely important for two reasons. First of all, as pointed out in the previous post, hopefully this will contribute to a wider societal acceptance of gay relationships and it may help to end discrimination against gay people. Secondly, if people who are gay, particularly gay adolescents, see positive images of gay people on TV, this may help them build a more positive self-image, which is important for future successes.

    - Amy Diamond

  3. Interesting posts...any voices out there critical of this episode? Thanks to Taylor and Amy for beginning the discussion!

  4. When watching this clip and reading this blog post, I thought it would be interesting to find out the demographics of soap opera viewers. Here's what I found: http://adage.com/cableguide/2004/32.html
    It appears that most soap opera viewers are middle-class women. I speculate that these women may be homemakers or work in the home, because if you have a job outside of the home it would be difficult to watch daytime television. Are these women open to homosexuality, or not? Are they more liberal or more conservative?
    If most soap opera viewers are more conservative and close-minded about homosexuality, I would say that a lesbian wedding on a soap opera is a huge step. However, I am not sure if this is true. Television networks do things to make money. If they knew that having a lesbian wedding would ostracize a large part of their viewers, they would not have done it. Perhaps I am cynical, but I do not think that the network did this to advance the cause of tolerance. The lesbian wedding drew publicity to their show, as it was spoken about on all the major news networks. If it were too controversial and would make people stop watching the show, they would not have done it.
    I think that this would have been of more interest to me if it had targeted a different demographic. Take "professional" wrestling for example. This is one of the most homophobic, misogynistic segments of popular television. Women are broken firmly into the "virgin/whore" dichotomy and homosexual men are seen as fey, prancing wimps. Lesbians are only portrayed as scantily clad hotties who love to make out for the cameras.
    If the WWE had an accurate portrayal of a gay or lesbian wedding, I would be impressed. I can't shake the feeling that the lesbian wedding on the soap opera was just to draw publicity to the show, and wasn't to advance the cause of acceptance and tolerance.
    -Bonnie Bryant

  5. I believe that portraying a lesbian wedding on TV shows extreme progress in America's acceptance of diverse family structures. The media should portray real life events, and in reality there are an increasing number of homosexuals that marry today. The more often homosexual relationships are portrayed in the media, the sooner they will be accepted as the norm both on TV and in reality. Although there are those who disapprove, airing a lesbian wedding on TV is a step in the right direction.
    -Julie Conton

  6. I agree with Amy that the media and television in particular is so powerful with how we view various images in our society. Television molds the minds of many of our youth, though we probably don't want to admit it. Having a show that promotes homosexuality and normalizes it for adolescents will help many who are struggling with identity issues or those who aren't and can greatly benefit from positive images. Considering the amount of people who disapprove of this, it is even more important and necessary that more shows air positive, constructive gay and lesbian relationships.

    -Caitlin Richelson