- It’s Called Dominant Culture for a Reason
The survival of queer people has always relied on their ability to engage with different media—writing, cinema, TV, the Internet—in ways that sustain us and give us life. This is no small matter in a social world predicated on violence against queers.
It’s worrisome, then, that the larger corporatization of media—from the homogenized culture industry product to the consolidated ownership of media enterprises to the echo chambers of social media—has grave implications for how queers continue to participate in the sphere of cultural production, consumption, and its political dimensions. I say worrisome because the tendency here seems counterintuitive to what we may want to think is going on: the more things may look like they’re improving for queer lives, the more we may be encountering more the subtle and nuanced forms of hate-thought and the compulsion toward conformism that are part of the media matrix. Even as a handful of innovations for queers moves forward—same-sex marriage, the nominal end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” queers in popular media—we might be tempted to repress just how much the cultural sphere and its mediations participate in the disavowal of deeply entrenched antagonisms toward queers. It might sound like a cliché, but when was the last time you encountered a dominant piece of cultural production that really—really—took seriously the sense of queer life beyond tolerable (or routine) tokenism?
Please don’t get me wrong—I don’t intend to be the grump at the party. Yes, there are innovations— —but we can’t allow ourselves to become lazy in the ways that we detect the subordination of the needs of queer lives and their mediations to an anodyne media culture. [End Page 563]
Matthew Tinkcom is associate professor at Georgetown University and teaches in the Graduate Program in Communication, Culture and Technology and is Associated Faculty with the Department of English. He is the author of Working Like a Homosexual: Camp, Capital, Cinema (2002) and coeditor of Key Frames: Cultural Studies and Popular Cinema (2001). He is currently at work on two projects on contemporary media, one on the digitalization of cinema and the other on television reality programming.