Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Modern Family, Is It Really?

I argue that the sitcom Modern Family showcases a problematic image that centers two white, upper class males parents as an all-encompassing symbol for the gay rights movement and and queer Americans.  More importantly, the gay couple on the show, Cameron Tucker played by Eric Stonestreet and Mitchel Pritchett played by Jesse Tyler Ferguson, create homonormative illusions about the gay rights movement and the objective to be “normal” and I would argue, sell to the non-Queer identified Americans that this is that image that all Queer Americans are striving to be in life.
In this ABC family comedy debuted in 2009, creators Christopher Lloyd and Steven Levitan intend to bring families together under a show that explores various diverse backgrounds in American families such as interracial marriage, working class struggles, and LGBT identified Americans.  Donna Kreydkin is a journalist at USA TODAY that elaborates on the Gay couple, Tucker-Pritchett, to convey a sense of familiarity, acceptance and normality in her article: "'Modern Family' actors who play gay couple dish on real life” (Freydkin).  Ferguson states that their role as a mainstream gay couple on television can help the audience feel comfortable and understand the gay community: “it’s a safe ‘in’ for a lot of people who are on the fence about the issue,” he says. “they feel OK liking our couple. Maybe that will bleed into their personal life. Maybe it’s not such a big deal if to men raise a baby” (Freydkin).   It’s not the fact that two white upper class gay males can’t advocate and model a “modern family”, but rather the insinuations of this couple as quintessential and symbolic of all queer American is troublesome.  Intersectional racial, gender, class identities are left out from the portrayal of what a gay family looks like in modern America.  In return, a homonoramative image is created to represent how LGBTQ America should use Marriage, Military and Market in order to obtain normalcy, acceptance and legitimacy in the United States.  Jasbir K. Puar and Amit S. Rai argues that “normalization serves to foreclose the possibilities of solidarities among and within communities of color” (Puar, and Ria, 140). 
The consequences of recreating these homonational representations of what Gay America looks likes affects, for example, queer communities of color such as when the show “Work It” was released and immediately cut from television after offending intersectional queer and latino identities.  Lloyd and Stevens show uses a neoliberal aesthetic to show that “freedom and liberation are earned through privacy, domesticity, and consumption” as shown by Tucker-Pritchett as they keep their sexual relationship private and reserved (they never kiss in front of the camera) , stereotypically adopt an asian baby (domestic), and have a lavished, decorated home (consumption).  The norms and stereotypes that are recreated in “Modern Family” perpetuate a culture of tolerance and marginalize the lives and experiences of Queer Americans of color that do not want to conform to married white heteronomative American couples, adopt children and live in the suburbs.  This orientalist perspective generates a notion that queer Americans that do not look like this modern family, are backwards, non-normal, and illegitimate (Diamond).
Above all, these two mainstream queer characters are another example of a comedic disposition of the LGB community in which their sexualities are “secondary to their characaters story lines”, asexualized in comparison to the other married couples, and rendered assimilated into heteronormative American culture. 

Diamond, Chloe. lecture: Fem 80. Feminine Studies. Girvetz 1004, Santa Barbara. 2-15-2012. Lecture.
Freydkin, Donna. "'Modern Famil'y actors who play gay couple dish on real life." USA TODAY. (2010): n. page. Web. 29 Feb. 2012. <>. 
 Puar, Jasbir K. , and Amit S. Rai. "Monster, Terrorist, Fag: The War on Terrorism and the Production of Docile Patriots." (2002): n. page. Print.

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