The outrageousness of Kanye West’s most recent public fight with his ex-girlfriend Amber Rose has caught a lot of attention. In response to harsh words exchanged between Kanye and her ex-boyfriend Wiz Khalifa, Rose tweeted “Awww @kanyewest are u mad I’m not around to play in ur asshole anymore? #FingersInTheBootyAssBitch.” This was a dig obviously meant to undermine Kanye’s masculinity as a straight-identifying man (because anal-play is strictly a homosexual act, right?). Kanye responded, “Exes can be mad but just know I never let them play with my ass…I don’t do that…I stay away from that area all together,” clearly reassuring Rose and the rest of the world of his masculinity and heterosexuality.
In a society that correlates anal sex with homosexuality, the suggestion that Kanye participated in and enjoyed receiving anal pleasure called his sexuality and masculinity into question. As Chong-suk Han points out in “Sexy Like a Girl and Horny Like a Boy,” “The notion of masculinity is socially constructed, with the very definition of what is and is not masculine constantly negotiated and altered” (225). The construction of masculinity is a power play that only maintains its dominance by consistently belittling what it is not: feminine. A large part of being masculine is having sex with women, so men who sleep with men cannot be masculine. Hence, insinuating that Kanye was gay because of his sexual preferences belittled his fragile masculinity and caused him to issue a retaliation assuring everyone that he “stays away from that area all together.”
Common responses to such offensive comments on social media include, “If you don’t like it, then don’t pay attention to it!” or that it is simply entertainment. But, as David Nylund points out in “When in Rome: Heterosexism, Homophobia, and Sports Talk Radio,” media entertainment is “neither innate nor harmless.” The fact of the matter is these views and opinions held by celebrities influence the views of their fans. Similarly, in “Cultural Studies, Multiculturalism, and Media Culture,” Douglas Kellner claims, “Learn what to enjoy and what we should avoid. We learn when to laugh and when to cheer. A system of power and privilege thus conditions our pleasures” (232). It is because of this system of power and privilege that the homophobic comments made by Kanye West and Amber Rose cannot be ignored. By insinuating that participating in stereotypically gay sex acts should be taken as an insult, West and Rose perpetuate the notion of homosexuality as inferior to heterosexuality and promote heterosexism.
“At first glance, Friendsis an innocent, family-friendly sitcom. However, it contains problematic and discriminatory themes, reinforcing hegemonic expectations […] Friends serves as a medium through which white and heterosexual hegemony are reinforced.”
—Lyric Jackson, Nathan Makela, Jamie Baum, and Eliza Mott (Block 5 2016)
“As the women in the photo are wearing lots of makeup wearing and revealing clothing and the men are not, we see that they are shown in ‘postures of sexual submission, servility or display,’ subtly perpetuating the ‘dehumanizing objectification’ of women.”
“While other popular sitcoms have been critiqued for perpetuating racial stereotypes, Friends succeeds in almost completely erasing racial minorities altogether […] Homophobia and transphobia are also apparent throughout the show. Any lifestyle straying from heteronormativity is used as a source for humor, reinforcing gender and sexual stereotypes.”
“With a racially diverse group of individuals that are not just white or black, we eliminate the erasure of people of color and challenge the problematic black-white binary. This also prevents the perpetuation of the white superior as the ideal” (Chidester 157).
“Television has limited its standards to monogamous relationships that thrive on heavy commitment and possessive social interactions. We decided to shift the tone of the trailer to be more relaxed in order to deviate from the hypersexualization of polygamous relationships. In our new show, we extend the conversation beyond such limited perspective and create a much more inclusive environment.”
“‘Rape jokes are never funny,’ shouted a woman in the audience at a comedy show in Los Angeles in 2012. Daniel Tosh swiveled his body and gazed at her, then looked back at the audience and asked, “Wouldn’t it be funny if she got raped by, like, five guys? Like, right now?” Daniel Tosh, the host of Comedy Central’s popular show Tosh.0, frequently toes the line on sexist, racist, classist, and overall exploitative commentary.”
—Ally Nagasawa-Hinck, Ariannis Hines, Jules Feeney, and Njeri Summey (Block 5 2016)
“Tosh’s success in the industry can be explained by David Nylund’s assertion that ‘the media industry, therefore, often mobilizes measure around conservative ideologies that have oppressive effects on women, homosexuals and people of color’ (232). Tosh’s jokes often adhere to traditional gender roles, classist attitudes of superiority, racists stereotypes, and narcissism […] The images that advertise Tosh.0 consistently portray Daniel Tosh as a funny, powerful male through conventionalized (normalized) indicators of masculinized body language.”
[NOTE: Due to difficulties with embedding, please click here to view the Tosh.0 clip.]
“While the vast majority of Tosh’s comments on the show are problematic, we focus on three specific examples that highlight his sexist and classist rhetoric. [This clip] illustrates Tosh’s use of assumption-driven, belittling, and problematic humor. When commenting on the YouTube video “Worst Prank Ever,” Tosh remarks on the family in the video’s living space, family structure, and the maternal figure’s appearance through embedded sexist and classist ideologies.”
“In order to accomplish our counter-hegemonic goals, we re-appropriate his jokes by mimicking their format and timing in a way that flips the power dynamic. By designating Njeri, a Black and Queer woman, as the Tosh.N0 host, we challenge Tosh’s authority and symbolically give power to a marginalized voice.”
“By replacing Tosh’s white male body with two Black female bodies, we invert the concept of ‘whitewashing,’ a phenomena that Lori Kito Lopez claims represents whiteness as ‘both invisible and dominant'(639). In other words, race in white male identities is often unacknowledged. Further, white men are overwhelmingly represented in mainstream media, while women of color are marginalized. The act of photographing Njeri and Ariannis in this way granted their identities true representation.”