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Critique Essay Humanities Nonfiction Social Sciences Theory

Publicity Traps: Television Talk Shows and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Visibility

By Joshua Gamson, 1998

The article examines daytime talk shows in the USA where non-conforming genders and sexualities have been public for more than two decades. Using interviews, focus group, video and transcript data, the paper highlights three political issues. First, the shows make transparent a class division within gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered communities. Second, the shows encourage a `rowdy outrageousness’ which intensifies animosities between populations (e.g. between gays and bisexuality). Finally, the shows trigger battles over public space. The author concludes that talk shows encourage viewers to separate `bad’ sexualities from `good’ ones, and to link the appearance of sexual non-conformists to inappropriate uses of public space.

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