Monday, April 23, 2012

Media Moment: "Neil Patrick Harris: Television’s First ‘Straight’ Character"

 After our class discussion on Gender and Sexuality, I was curious to look up some articles regarding gays playing straight roles. Since I love the show "How I Met Your Mother" starring Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson, I went looking for articles to find out what people had to stay about a gay man playing a straight role. This article "

  "He may be playing straight roles, but Harris is still playing the caricatures that are usually  reserved for gays on screen. They are overly-sexualized, bedding down with any pretty
 thing that comes by. They love drugs, partying, fine clothes, and loose women men. Then there is the sad sack whose love is going to destroy him, who will end up with nothing. There is usually singing involved. That's why Barney is "straight" in name only. He is a gay stereotype that has been fooled into thinking he likes the ladies."

After reading that comment, I said "Wow, I've never looked at it in that way before." But these are pretty interesting observations, especially the description of  "oversexualized" and "fine clothing" associated with Harris' character on the show. It was also mentioned, that in earlier episodes on HIMYM, viewers didn't want to see a gay man "play a reformed slut who gets serious with a woman." Currently, Harris' character in season 7, is in a committed relationship, so I am curious to see if Barney will end up in a committed relationship, when the show eventually ends. But I guess we shall see...  In the mean time, I would love to hear what anyone has to say in response to Moylan's question, "Do you think America is ready to see a gay man in a committed heterosexual role on network TV?."


  1. I don’t think America will be ready to see a gay man in a committed heterosexual relationship anytime soon. Unfortunately, we still live in a time where homophobia has long played a role in a larger cultural context. This TV show media would be risking a lot of their viewers for what is still considered a minority audience; gays and lesbians. If Barney Stinson were to be shown in a committed heterosexual relationship it would challenge the idea of what it means to be a straight man in society, and putting a more ambiguous character in its place.

  2. That's an interesting observation yourself. I find my opinion lies on just the opposite. I do think American is ready to see a gay man in a committed heterosexual role on network TV. Really, what difference does it make? If the show is funny, appealing to the audience and receives great ratings and feedback, then there's no problem. It didn't seem to be an issue until Harris openly came out of the closet anyways. Now all of a sudden they want to nit pick, and make stereotypical accusations on the way he performs on screen? I'm not too sure that a gay man in a committed heterosexual role on television should even be questioned? Take for example, the discussion in class last week (the girl who sits in the back, my apologies for not knowing her name) about her friend whom is gay playing a straight role as an actor. Now, unfortunately he's being told how to act off camera, which is a whole other issue, but he's an actor. He’s a gay man acting/performing/playing a straight role. It's television, for sheer entertainment.