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Freaks Talk Back Tabloid Talk Shows and Sexual Nonconformity

by Joshua Gamson

  • ISBN: 9780226280646
  • ISBN10: 0226280640

Freaks Talk Back Tabloid Talk Shows and Sexual Nonconformity

by Joshua Gamson

  • List Price: $34.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Univ of Chicago Pr
  • Publish date: 05/01/1998
  • ISBN: 9780226280646
  • ISBN10: 0226280640
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Description: These are typical headlines from today's talk shows -- tabloid tag lines from a world in which people talk so much about the "bizarre" that it quickly becomes routine. As the talk show circuit becomes increasingly obsessed with sexual nonconformists -- be they married gay men on Oprah or bisexuals and the families that hate them on Jerry Springer -- many people wonder if this form of representation isn't simply exploitation. After all, talk shows seek conflict and thrive on shock; transsexuals in bikinis, women who don't "look" like lesbians but just might turn out to be, gay men and right-wing anti-gay bigots fighting it out, bisexuals who just can't seem to get enough sex. Talk show producers beg people to speak -- only to abuse them. In a sense, talk shows turn everything they touch into "freak shows".

But what happens when the "freaks" talk back? When they exploit the media system that exploits them? Joshua Gamson argues that from talk shows' lies and sensationalism emerge certain truths. The socially deviant may be featured on-air for ridicule in the public eye, but the result is empowerment through exploitation. Ultimately we see that while talk shows themselves are manipulative and reactionary, they are throwing wrenches into conventional ways of thinking about sex and gender.

With wit and passion, Freaks Talk Back illuminates the joys, dilemmas, and practicalities of media visibility in an age of shock, amusement, and turmoil.

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U of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL, 1998. 1st Edition, 1st Printing, Fine/VG+,
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