In the recent past, lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, and transgendered people had almost no presence on television. With the invention and propagation of tabloid talk shows such as Jerry Springer, Jenny Jones, Oprah, and Geraldo, people outside the sexual mainstream now appear in living rooms across America almost every day of the week. Often these appearances are rambunctious, ugly, and exploitative, with the "action" of the show predicated upon homophobic responses from the audience. Most gay media watchers question the worth of appearing on such programs: at what price, they ask, visibility? This view is startlingly revised in Joshua Gamson's Freaks Talk Back, an analysis of how tabloid TV may be the best--well, certainly the most engaging on a grassroots level--visibility that sex outsiders have ever garnered. Using surveys, news analysis, discussions of race and class differences, and readings from the shows themselves, Gamson argues that the endless yelling, bickering, and outright displays of homophobia--so different from the pre-packaged, insincere tolerance that passes for discourse in much of the media--give rise to discussions about people's genuine feelings and beliefs. Questioning the very precepts of how we think about media coverage, Freaks Talk Back is as provocative and disturbing as tabloid television itself. --Michael Bronski --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Gamson's fascinating study explores the sex and gender nonconformity portrayed in just about every national, topic-driven American television talk show. His book is based on interviews with production staff and talk-show participants, focus groups with talk-show viewers, 106 hours of talk-show programming, and all the available transcripts from the years 1984-86 and 1994-95 in which gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender topics and guests were central. Using this research, Gamson (sociology, Yale Univ.) explores the cultural phenomenon of the modern-day talk show, revealing through descriptions of specific programs and direct quotes from participants and audience members what happens on shows like Ricki Lake, Donahue, Sally Jessy Raphael, and Geraldo when the "freaks" talk back. He also offers a glimpse into talk-show culture and a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into producing these shows. Gamson's book is rich in detail and highly readable. It is of interest not only to scholars of lesbian/gay/bisexual studies but also to those interested in sociology, politics, media, and communication.?Jerilyn Veldof, Univ. of Arizona Lib., Tucson
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.