The Motion Picture Production Code: LGBT Representation In The Media

Decent Essays
The Motion Picture Production Code, a method of censoring media, writes, “Sex perversion or any inference to it is forbidden” (g). While this code was only in effect from 1930 to 1968, the early attempt at censoring portrayals of LGBT characters has continued well into the present. LGBT characters are often represented negatively in the media, enforcing harmful stereotypes, or not represented at all. This topic is relevant because media portrayals of LGBT individuals impact how people view individuals in reality. By perpetuating negative stereotypes, the creators of media in force the belief that the lives of LGBT individuals are less important than non-LGBT people. In a time when people have virtually constant access to some form of media,…show more content…
Part of the problem comes from a lack of understanding of LGBT identities. Before the 19th century, there was little to no awareness of LGBT identities, and even in the present, misconceptions are extremely pervasive. Same-sex attraction was classified as a mental illness in the United States until 1973 (apa 1). Censorship in media—LGBT characters are often inherently viewed as more “adult” than other characters—has also been a problem. While some characters were able to slip past censors in early years, the Motion Picture Production Code, a law created to censor films, quickly ended any references to LGBT characters. More commonly known as the Hays Code, the code policed subjects considered to be too inappropriate for audiences, including “sex perversion, or any inference to it” (Motion 3). Yet even after the code was no longer in effect—it was only in effect from 1930–1968—the issue of LGBT representation prevailed. Allen Young, a gay activist and writer, comments, “When I was a young person…the words ‘gay’ and ‘lesbian’ we're almost never in the media. It was like we didn’t exist…if there were any gay people in the media, they were usually either villains, or portrayed as clowns, or tragic figures” (Young 1). The lack of positive, diverse representation that non-LGBT characters received was not granted to LGBT characters. Although…show more content…
One study done by Bradley J. Bond, “Portrayals of Sex and Sexuality in Gay- and Lesbian-Oriented Media: A Quantitative Analysis,” analyzes the impact of gay, lesbian, and bisexual characters in the media. He claims that mainstream media often desexualizes same-sex relationships. Bond analyzes the impact of such portrayals, writing, “The flood of stereotypical or demeaning depictions of LGB sexualities in mainstream media could ultimately influence teens’ beliefs about LGB norms and their own LGB identities” (Bond 6). He ultimately concludes that portrayal of same-sex relationships in media has a great impact on media consumers, especially teens exploring their own sexuality. Studies repeatedly show how LGBT characters in the media impact perceptions of LGBT individuals in reality, thus indicating the harm of negative
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