All the Rage by Suzanna Danuta Walters
The Story of Gay Visibility in America

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Synopsis

Splashed against the tumultuous Clinton years and framed by the clash between gay political might and anti-gay activism, All the Rage presents the first authoritative guide to the new gay visibility. From the public outing of Ellen DeGeneres to the vicious murder of Matthew Shepard, gay lives and images have moved onto the center stage of American public life. Lesbians and gay men are indeed everywhere, from television sitcoms to Budweiser ads, from the White House to the Magic Kingdom. Combining personal stories with incisive analysis, Suzanna Danuta Walters chronicles this historic moment in our culture, arguing that we live in a time when gays are seen, but not necessarily known.

Many consider the new gay visibility a sign of social acceptance, while others charge that it is mere window dressing, obscuring the dogged persistence of discrimination. Walters moves beyond these positions and instead argues that these realities coexist: gays are simultaneously depicted as the sign of social decay and the chic flavor of the month. Taking on the common wisdom that visibility means progress, All the Rage maps the terrain on which gays are accepted as witty accessories in movies, gain access to political power, and yet still fall into constrictive stereotypes. Walters warns us with clarity and wit of the pitfalls of equating visibility with full integration into the fabric of American society. From the playful TV fantasies of lesbian weddings on Friends to the very real obstacles confronting gay marriage, from the award-winning comedy Will & Grace to Bible-thumping radio superhost Dr. Laura, All the Rage takes on naive celebrants and jaded naysayers alike. With a sophisticated mix of caution and optimism, it provides an illuminating guide through these exciting, controversial times.
 

About Suzanna Danuta Walters

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Suzanna Danuta Walters is an associate professor of sociology and director of the Women's Studies Program at Georgetown University. She is the author of Material Girls: Making Sense of Feminist Cultural Theory and Lives Together/Worlds Apart: Mothers and Daughters in Popular Culture.
 
Published October 1, 2001 by University Of Chicago Press. 356 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Gay & Lesbian. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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And there are chapters on gay marriages, coming-out stories, and queer parenting—and an analysis of advertising images of gay and lesbian life, in which Walters dissects the commercialization of the queer community (pointing to a predictable display of gleaming teeth and toned bodies).

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Publishers Weekly

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Walters's analyses are often astute—the Roseanne gay marriage show was more about Dan and Roseanne confronting their own homophobia than about homosexuality—but occasionally reductive, like her assertion that the film Boys in the Band is "filled with...

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Project MUSE

The increased visibility of gays has tended toward the "normalizing" of gays and a turn toward "gay chic" that may ultimately deflect attention from the substantive political concerns of GLBT people, mute diversity within the gay community and between gays and straights, and lead to the commodifi...

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After Ellen

Themes that cut across film and television are also analyzed, like the ubiquitous gay wedding storyline (introduced on TV series like Friends, Northern Exposure, and Roseanne and in countless television movies) and the the coming-out...

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