Visibility Matters: Entertaining the Future

 
 

Back to the Future

Given how far we’ve come in the last seven years, what can we expect seven years from now?

I’m not sure we’ll see ourselves adequately represented in big-budget films or TV shows anytime soon; that’s still an old-media business model with too much money at stake to be anything but conservative.

But I’m also not sure big-budget films and TV shows will carry as much weight seven years from now, either.

When streaming and downloading movies, music, and books becomes the norm, it’s a much more level playing field. The people and content which get the most promotion still wins, but unlike in traditional outlets, promotion on the internet doesn’t require as much money.

It often requires no money at all, as the 128 million streams of the Evolution of Dance video proves. And no amount of money will make up for a bad product, as last year’s large online media buy to promote the disastrous movie Australia proves.

The talent and quality of the product or performer is more important than money when you can click a single button and share something with a hundred or thousand of your friends for free.

And the internet is making it even easier to find and support queer performers and queer-inclusive entertainment.

Seven years ago, there were almost no lesbian sites to turn to. Today, in addition to AfterEllen.com, there are dozens of lesbian and bisexual websites, as well as personal blogs, that highlight queer and queer-friendly content; popular online video sites include plenty of videos made by and for queer women; and sites like heretv.com, logoonline.com, and tellofilms.com are focused exclusively on providing LGBT films, music videos, online talk shows and web series.

The internet also opens up a whole new world of international content, actresses, musicians and writers. Just as many women living outside the U.S. keep on the latest Grey’s Anatomy developments by watching video clips online, or reading recaps, many American women are getting hooked on international web series and TV shows like Plan V, Chica Busca Chica, Verbotene Liebe and Los Hombres de Paco the same way.

The internet has also helped fuel the international success of the Millenium series by Swedish author Stieg Larsson, which revolves around a bisexual woman and a straight male journalist.

Similarly, international “celezbians” like Australia’s Ruby Rose or Norway’s Gro Hammerseng have developed significant American followings, thanks to the international visibility provided by the internet.

Ruby Rose and Gro Hammerseng

The Power of the Many

One of the most enjoyable aspects of writing for AfterEllen.com is being able to shine a light on talented actors, musicians, authors, and filmmakers who aren’t yet covered by mainstream entertainment outlets like People, Entertainment Weekly, Rolling Stone, E! Online or TVGuide.com.

We help you discover these women, films, and shows, and you then help them become more successful by following them online, and watching or purchasing their products — which in turn helps them secure funding for more projects, land roles or book gigs, sell their book, etc.

Multiply that times all the other sites and blogs doing the same thing, and suddenly the future of women in entertainment is largely in the hands of queer women, rather than studio execs.

As Angela Robinson wrote in her excellent column on this topic in 2006, “The gatekeepers are dying, slowly but surely, and now is the time for the artist to talk directly to the audience, without the middleman.”

While the visibility of queer women in entertainment won’t improve drastically overnight (technology and business models still need time to catch up), we are slowly but surely creating a world in which there are more entertainment options for us, more ways to see ourselves represented, and more ways to succeed in entertainment and still be ourselves — one show, movie, book, author, musician, comedian, and actor at a time.

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