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Critique Essay Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Exploring social television, opinion leaders, and Twitter audience reactions to Diane Sawyer’s coming out interview with Caitlyn Jenner

By Brandon Miller and Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz, 2016

With increasing visibility in both fictional and nonfictional media, transgender individuals have become a staple of the media landscape. Nonetheless, the general public has been slow to warm to transgender individuals and the rights of this community of people. The present study explored the audience reception to Caitlyn Jenner’s coming out interview with Diane Sawyer. Examining Twitter conversations as part of a social television experience, this paper focuses on the types of words and phrases used in response to the interview, the themes that were present in the conversation, and the opinion leaders who helped to shape the discussion. Co-occurrence of themes was also explored. Results indicated an overwhelmingly positive response from live tweeters watching Jenner’s coming out interview, led by a small but influential group of celebrities and media personalities such as Oprah Winfrey and Perez Hilton. Top themes included support, gender, journey to truth, family drama, and bravery. The results are positioned within an exploration of the social nature of television viewing and reception of transgenderism by mainstream audiences. KEYWORDS: Caitlyn Jenner, celebrity media, events, social television, transgender attitudes

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