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Rainbow Rhetoric: LGBTQ+ Media Discourse and Implications

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Aside from uplifting and tearing down the mood of a young LGBTQ+ kid, journalistic media has the potential to alter the way audiences understand and react to individuals of the

Aside from uplifting and tearing down the mood of a young LGBTQ+ kid, journalistic media has the potential to alter the way audiences understand and react to individuals of the LGBTQ+ community. Looking at the rhetorical approaches, frameworks, and expanded narratives of news sources, this project engages with the concepts of same-sex marriage, lifestyles, bans, and children in education in order to attain an understanding of what media messages are being shared, how they are being communicated, and what the implications of such rhetoric are. Summary of the findings:
• Same-sex marriage as the win that cannot be repeated.
Infamously known as the central legal battle for the LGBTQ+ community, same-sex marriage finds itself in many political speeches, campaigns, and social commentaries. Interestingly, after being legalized through a Supreme Court decision in the United States, Same-Sex Marriage finds itself framed as the social inevitability that should not be repeated in politics or any legal shift. In other words, “the gays have won this battle, but not the war.”
• There are risks around the “LGBTQ+ lifestyle” and its careful catering to an elite minority and the mediation through bans.
The risks of the LGBTQ+ “lifestyle” date back far, with many connotations being attached to being LGBTQ+ (AIDS epidemics, etc.). In modern journalism, many media outlets portray LGBTQ+ individuals to be a tiny minority (.001% according to some) that demands the whole society to adhere to their requests. This framework portrays the LGBTQ+ community as oppressors and obsessed advocates that can never “seem to get enough” (ex: more than just marriage). The bans are framed as the neutralizing factor to the catering.
• LGBTQ+ children and topics in academic and social spaces are the extreme degree.
When it comes to LGBTQ+ issues and conversations as they revolve around children, media outlets have some of the most passionate opinions about them. Often portrayed as “the line that shouldn’t be crossed,” LGBTQ+ issues, as they find themselves in schools and other spaces, are thus portrayed as bearable to a certain degree, never completely. Claims of indoctrination are also presented prominently even when institutional efforts are to protect LGBTQ+ kids.

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  • 2018-05

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Keeping Betty ugly: manufacturing diversity for network TV

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This dissertation examines the ways ABC/Disney's Ugly Betty (ABC 2006-2010) manufactures diversity to create an illusion of the U.S. as a site of multiple pluralisms and equality by re-scripting the

This dissertation examines the ways ABC/Disney's Ugly Betty (ABC 2006-2010) manufactures diversity to create an illusion of the U.S. as a site of multiple pluralisms and equality by re-scripting the ugly duckling parable as a Latino de-racialization project and assimilation narrative. The success of the show's original version, Colombian telenovela, Yo Soy Betty, La Fea (RCN 1999-2001), escalated into an international franchise, licensed by and culturally adapted for television markets around the globe. The image the United States promotes of itself, as seen through its media products (especially Disney products) valorize and export discourses of The American Dream around the globe. In order to maintain this carefully crafted self-image, one that masks the ongoing racial oppression and colonial holdings, depictions of diversity are manufactured.

This study examines the Disney affiliated series Ugly Betty to assess how the culture and identity of Betty Suarez, its titular character, as a Mexican-American woman is manufactured. Of particular interest is how she is coded as a diverse member of U.S. workforce, and how her transformative makeover from ugly duckling can be read as an assimilation narrative from racialized ethnic invader to white American professional. Using criteria extracted from scholarship and cultural production regarding Latina identity formation, I locate Betty within what I call the spectrum of assimilation among U.S. Latinas. Because there are various ways in which one negotiates, expresses and balances the multiple cultural, racial and classed components of their self-identity, I tease out markers from existing theories to locate Betty's self-projected cultural identity within the series narrative.

Building on the evidence gathered regarding Betty's rejection of a politicized Latina identity, this project analyzes the implications of the choice of New York City as site of Betty's transformation and how the use of queer visibility and American Dream discourse inform a reading of Betty as assimilation narrative. This dissertation concludes with a brief analysis of two shows featuring Latina titular characters. Both Cristela (ABC 2014-) and Jane the Virgin (CW 2014-) are successors of Ugly Betty yet diverge in the way their portrayals of Latinidades include more nuanced and pluralistic representations.

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  • 2015