Why Public Relations Damage LGBT Representation | Teen Ink

Why Public Relations Damage LGBT Representation

May 28, 2019
By L.Krasta GOLD, Tirana, Other
L.Krasta GOLD, Tirana, Other
11 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Public Relations (PR) can function in many, many ways. Whether it’s in the business or entertainment industry, an individual who happens to work in PR, has the duty to maintain a favorable public image for their employer or business, in order for them to get to the top. Public relations professionals help a business or individual build a good reputation and status through traditional media, or social media. They’re a client’s protecting wall when a crisis threatens his or her reputation, and they are pretty much the reason their career as a famous individual skyrockets. All this sounds great to an aspiring actress or singer who wants to become known. Unless, of course, you’re part of the LGBT community. To further elaborate on my last sentence, in this essay I’m going to further explain how PR social media management creates a fake, heterosexual story around a gay or bisexual artist, in order for them to sell quicker, and why this phenomenon happens.

Limiting and preventing someone from representing their sexual preferences should be considered wrong, and usually managers of a specific queer celebrity know this very well. Hollywood can keep gay stars in the closet by forcing a celebrity not to speak of their sexuality, in order for their public view not to be damaged, thus resulting in a failed contract. It’s obvious that such a contractual demand would be considered unfair, or illegal even, as it is oppressing to threaten a star with the downfall of his or her contract. An example would be Evan Rachel Wood, when she said, “A lot of people advise you not to do it. They tell you flat out -- ‘Don’t do it’. They don’t want you to be less desirable to men. Because that sells tickets and that helps your career” (IndieWire). Another example could be Colton Haynes. Haynes was one of the main characters in Teen Wolf and Arrow, but gained most of his female fans from Teen Wolf. Being considered a “heartthrob” and a reportedly attractive actor, his duty was to appeal to the female audience, in order for the show to sell even more. Colton says:

“I was literally told from the day that I moved to Los Angeles that I could not be gay because it wouldn’t work. Then I was with my management team and a team of people that just literally told me I couldn’t be this way. They tried to set me up with girls. I was rumored to date Lauren Conrad for six months because they were kind of angling a story. And then I dated every other young person, which of course I didn’t date” (SiriusXM).

Being “set up” with someone you’re not sexually attracted to just because it damages your contract or your record deal is very much linked to gossip fueled by PR. Whether it’s promoting a fake relationship from social media or from interviews, it fits in the category of PR work, and it has a horrible impact on the individual’s representation of themselves and their anxiety

In fact, PR managers do an amazing job at convincing the young audience that a certain “couple” is together, and they don’t just use social media. They also use the paparazzi. Backrid, for example, being a famous paparazzi company, is used exclusively by a publicist or a celebrity in order for them to capture pictures of whatever the celebrity wants. It’s all part of the industry. Cosmopolitan uses Taylor Swift as an example, by saying, “Taylor Swift is a celebrity that won’t walk outside without perfect makeup and great fashion, and she smiles at every paparazzi to make sure they all get beautiful pictures. There is an unspoken deal between Swift and paparazzi, and her bodyguards make it clear” (Murray). Then, they continue their argument by writing, “Many setup photos include a paid product endorsement, where a photo agency works as a middleman between a celebrity and a company who has a product to sell” (Murray). The photo agency, in our case being Backrid, work directly with a celebrity (after being paid), in order to endorse their product or whatever image they’re trying to set up for themselves. The image, evidently, being seen as straight. Another valid example would be Garrett Clayton, where in an interview with Gay Times he claimed, “They had me changing the way I walked, the way I spoke, the way I dressed, the way I answered questions. It got as petty as them saying, “People need to see that you’re into sports because they’ll think that’s more masculine, so why don’t you go buy a sports hat, take some pictures in it, and make sure people see you in it” (Megarry). As outrageous as this sounds, actors such as Garrett are forced to mold themselves into something they’re not, and the paparazzi following them around isn’t a coincidence, nor is it harrassment; it’s a paid plan.

Evidently, every concept has two sides of people opposing eachother’s argument. Even though I’ve made it clear that PR is damaging, some people seem to disagree. A blogger named Emma Reynolds wrote, “Encouraging a celebrity to get more involved with the brand they are representing helps maintain integrity” (Reynolds). Now, to clear the confusion, what this blogger is trying to say is that getting a celebrity to fit it’s public (not real) image helps build “integrity”, which means that if a woman makes pop songs about men, or if she acts in a movie where she is in love with a man, and not another woman, she is to act the same way in social media as well. This doesn’t only happen in Hollywood, but also if you’re selling a particular sort of product that would contradict your individuality or, in our case, sexuality. What’s wrong with this argument is that it focuses on the product rather than the artist. It doesn’t build “integrity” and honesty, because it has the wrong moral principles. Emma’s main pressing concern is the product being sold, and not the wellbeing and mentality of the celebrity. It labels celebrities as walking money-machines, and it’s rather wrong.

In conclusion, being a celebrity is not only about fame, glamour and money. Becoming an important celebrity figure isn’t easy, as there are unfair obstacles, such as agreeing to to morally wrong concepts of fitting, meaning that before a celebrity is signed to something such as a record deal, they have to agree to multiple requirements of their social figure, which consequently includes not being seen as queer. Under a contract, Gay, Bi, or Queer stars, where they are men or women, are forced to appeal to the opposite gender, so that they are more successful, even though that takes an incredible toll on their mental health. The mass media has created a story of heterosexuality around there artists to sell and produce more, and that fact alone doesn’t take into consideration the artists in individuals. Sadly this will continue to go on, no matter how much homophobia is frowned upon, and it will happen to everyone equally, including to your favorite idols.



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