Graduation Year

2017

Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 4-28-2017

Major Department or Program

Gender Studies

Advisor(s)

Tarik Elseewi

Abstract

In an era of media saturation and constant technological innovation, conversations about the content and meaning of popular media are more common than ever. In recent years, these conversations have increasingly revolved around questions of “diversity” in television and film. Viewers often bemoan the lack of diverse characters on television programs, or on the other hand, criticize programs for being “too diverse.” A recent issue of media representation has complicated this simple distinction between diversity and lack thereof. Some TV fans have noted that queer women have been killed off of television programs at an alarming rate, and this phenomenon has been dubbed the “Bury Your Gays” trope by social media users. The conversation about this trope reached its apex with the death of a lesbian character on a popular show called The 100 (2014) in 2016. Much of this project is focused on the reaction of fans to this show in particular.

My intention with this project is to investigate the social and theoretical implications of this phenomenon, and to understand how the consumption of these texts produces a particular queer girl subjectivity that allows these viewers to strategically navigate these fictional and real worlds. I am interested in the way a shared affect may circulate in online spaces, and how television may provide a space for queer girls to construct images of the self and build community. I have worked to answer an essential question, that is, what shared affect does this trope produce, and how have queer girl audiences deployed this affect in order to transform discourse? I have investigated these problems by exploring the discourse produced by and about queer girls on the social media sites Twitter and Tumblr. I have also utilized queer theory, such as the work of Sarah Ahmed, Judith Butler, and José Esteban Muñoz, in order to enrich my analysis of this discourse. Through my research I have found that queer girls have created their own unique worlds in these online spaces, and through their activism and public discourse, have begun to shift the balance of power between producers and viewers of media texts, making important connections between the fictional and “real” worlds that they hold dear.

Page Count

89

Subject Headings

Queer theory, Cultural pluralism -- Fandoms, Mass media -- 21st century, Mass media and gays, Characters and characteristics on television, Television -- The 100, Homosexuality on television, Popular culture -- Bury Your Gays trope, Mass Media -- Representation, Sexual minorities, Tumblr (Electric resource), Twitter, Fans (Persons) in mass media, Kass Morgan -- 100 (Series), Whitman College 2017 -- Dissertation collection -- Gender Studies

Document Type

Public Accessible Thesis

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