In his introduction to Queer Popular Culture:Literature, Media, Film, and Television , Peele writes:
The tension in Take Me Out results from deception. In an act of multicultural acceptance (with social class as the marker of cultural difference), Kippy Sunderstrom, Darren Lemming’s best friend and teammate, tells a lie. Sunderstrom writes a letter of apology to Lemming and attributes that letter to another teammate, Shane Mungitt. The reason for the apology is that Mungitt, at a press conference, refers to Lemming as a “faggot.” Sunderstrom writes the letter, and says that Mungitt did, because he can’t believe that Mungitt actually feels that way. Sunderstrom believes that Mungitt only used the word as a result of his cultural difference, a cultural difference that Sunderstrom attributes to a lack of exposure to more contemporary ideas. The lie that Sunderstrom tells, though, backfires; rather than working to change Mungitt’s views about faggots and others whom he perceives as different from himself, it only puts Mungitt in a position to accomplish much greater violence.
Sunderstrom relies on the assumption that Mungitt’s hatred of faggots and others is, to paraphrase Stanley Fish, a simple hatred, easily overcome through explanation. What Mungitt demonstrates is that his hatred is deep-rooted and complex, not at all responsive to Sunderstrom’s persuasion. Queer representations in popular culture often rely on this formula; narratives are frequently constructed around the assumption that once people know better, they will change their views; it’s important to consider this representation in popular culture since popular culture both reflects current values and teaches them to us.
Queer Popular Culture:Literature, Media, Film, and Television brings together work from several disciplines that address queer representation in multiple contexts. The articles cover many aspects of contemporary U.S. and international queer culture, including the rise of the queer cowboy, the emergence of lesbian chic, and the expansion of representations of blackness, and work on queer, Taiwanese, online communities.
As Jennifer Reed argues in her essay in this collection on Ellen DeGeneres’s movement from queer, to gay, to post-gay, television teaches us about identity. Among other things, television, movies, the Internet, music and fashion provide various normative discourses that simultaneously teach us and reinforce the division between the acceptable and the unacceptable. And, as Michael Warner points out, “educational practices that rely on the tolerant—in this case, the heterosexual—to accept what might be to them intolerable—in this case, the queer—necessarily overlook the desirability of queer culture.”