Expressing, entertaining, empowering queerness : Ellen DeGeneres

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2012-05

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Hsieh, Ming-Hao

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Abstract

The discourse constructing a queer representative with LGBT identity embodies subversive queer rebellion grounding interdependence between advertisers, stars, and audiences in commercial television. Considering her media roles for American Express, CoverGirl, and J.C. Penney, as well as a daytime talk show host, Ellen DeGeneres expresses queerness, queer moments, and space in accordance with anti-heteronormativity described by Alexander Doty in Making Things Perfectly Queer. In the mainstream advertising, using LGBT subculture texts is a strategy for advertisers to target mass heterosexual consumers, while simultaneously not to alienate homosexual communities. In U.S. daytime television programming, The Ellen DeGeneres Show emblematizes identity declaration of Ellen’s coming out episodes in 1997 and embodies entertaining segments in terms of a coming out party through talking, dancing, and liberating. In audience reception, viewers, based on egalitarianism, are empowered by a moment of pleasure, sympathy, and liberation in relation to DeGeneres’ queer performance in the media. Through identifying three main media practices, advertising, broadcasting, and, spectating, I conclude with a discourse that DeGeneres, as a queer representative, signifies a satirical token of homonormativity to negotiate heteronormative media narratives in the mainstream media.

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