Interrogating the politics of LGBT celebrity in British reality television

Lovelock, Michael (2016) Interrogating the politics of LGBT celebrity in British reality television. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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Abstract

Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, reality television has been one of the most prolific spaces of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) visibility in British popular culture. Yet, in almost two decades of scholarship on reality TV, very little academic work has addressed the representation of LGBT identities within this medium, outside of a small set of makeover programmes. Where LGBT visibility in non-makeover reality shows has been analyzed, these representations have been approached as largely indistinguishable from fiction texts, their status as reality TV passing largely unaddressed.
This thesis critically interrogates the relationship between reality television as a form, and the representations of LGBT identity found within reality programmes. Focusing on British reality shows broadcast between 2000 and 2014, this study explores how the generic specificities of reality television have shaped the ways in which LGBT identities have become visible within reality formats. This thesis argues that, in the figures of LGBT reality TV participants, tropes of authenticity, self-realization, celebrity and democracy bound to reality television itself have functioned as the discursive frameworks through which a series of normative scripts of LGBT subjectivity and LGBT life have been produced and circulated through British popular culture.
This thesis examines the representations of LGBT identity in a range of different reality formats, including Big Brother, The X Factor and The Only Way is Essex, amongst others, alongside the discussions and depictions of LGBT participants in extra-textual media like magazines, newspapers and blogs. Through these materials, this study interrogates how different reality formats enable LGBT subjectivities to become visible in different ways, the divergent ways in which British reality television has represented different kinds of queer identities, and how British reality shows have mobilized the conventions of reality TV to construct and delineate cultural hierarchies of “acceptable” and “unacceptable” formations of queer subjectivity.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Art, Media and American Studies
Depositing User: Katie Miller
Date Deposited: 22 Mar 2017 11:20
Last Modified: 22 Mar 2017 11:20
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/63063
DOI:

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