De culturele praktijk van gayface in film: een interpretatief publieksonderzoek met Vlaamse holebi-jongeren

Anke Baert
Persbericht

Mag een heteroseksuele acteur een holebi spelen?

LGBTQ lives matter61 keer werd een heteroseksuele acteur of actrice genomineerd voor een Oscar voor het spelen van een holebipersonage. Maar tegenwoordig komt er scherpe kritiek vanuit de holebigemeenschap op deze praktijk, genaamd 'gayface'. Communicatiewetenschapper Anke Baert (UGent) ging voor haar masterproef in gesprek met Vlaamse holebi-jongeren omtrent dit thema. 

In 2019 kondigde Disney aan dat heteroseksuele acteur Jack Whitehall het eerste openlijke holebipersonage ging spelen in de nieuwe film Jungle Cruise. Dit lokte meteen na de bekendmaking hevige reactie uit op Twitter bij de holebigemeenschap. Deze ging niet akkoord met de keuze voor een heteroseksuele acteur. Niet alleen in de Verenigde Staten worden holebi’s vertolkt door heteroseksuele acteurs want ook in Vlaamse soaps zoals Thuis en Familie zien we gayface terugkomen. Onderzoekster Anke Baert sprak met 13 Vlaamse holebi-jongeren tussen de 18 en 22 jaar over hun meningen en visies omtrent deze praktijk. 

Geert: “Net zoals geen enkele hetero hetzelfde is, is geen enkele holebi hetzelfde. We zijn ook allemaal verschillend.”

Anke Baert legt verder uit: “Eerder onderzoek heeft aangetoond dat films een rol kunnen spelen in de zoektocht naar je seksualiteit en de hedendaagse opinies rond holebi’s mee kunnen vormgeven. De manier waarop holebi’s gerepresenteerd worden, is dus heel belangrijk. In realiteit worden holebi’s echter weinig gerepresenteerd. Wanneer ze dan toch op het grote scherm te zien zijn, gebruiken de filmmakers meestal stereotypen, is er een gebrek aan intimiteit tussen de personages en worden er vaak moppen over gemaakt.”

“Media moeten een weerspiegeling vormen van de maatschappij”

De boodschap van de bevraagden was duidelijk: “media moeten een weerspiegeling vormen van de maatschappij” wat wil zeggen dat meer holebi’s weerslag moeten vinden op het grote scherm. Daarnaast pleiten de bevraagden voor variatie aan vormen (groot/klein, dik/dun, veel of weinig beharing enzovoort) en karaktereigenschappen van holebipersonages. Nu blijft het nog te vaak beperkt tot die typische vrouwelijke homoseksuele man met een hoge stem of de lesbische vrouw met kort haar en eerder mannelijke kledij.  

Normalisatie
Volgens sommige respondenten focussen films te vaak op hun seksualiteit. Hierdoor kunnen ze niet als “normaal” gezien worden door anderen in de samenleving. Denk bijvoorbeeld aan de Disney animatiefilms Toy Story 4 (2019) of Onward (2020). In beide films zijn lesbische vrouwen te zien. Op het eerste zicht doet Disney hier aan normalisatie. Wanneer mediakanalen dit aspect uitlichten in het nieuws, veroorzaakt dit een averechts effect. Holebi-jongeren pleitten niet voor meer films waar holebipersonages de hoofdrol spelen, maar willen net bijrollen zien waar de variatie in holebirepresentaties centraal staat. 

GayfaceGayface speelt ook een rol in de huidige holebirepresentaties. Ondanks de kritiek vanuit de holebigemeenschap reageren de bevraagde Vlaamse jongeren overwegend positief op deze praktijk. Heteroseksuele acteurs zouden, volgens hen, hierdoor aangeven dat ze holebi’s accepteren waardoor sommige holebi’s zich meer “normaal” voelen. Nochtans deelde niet iedereen deze mening. Er waren ook holebi-jongeren die gayface zien als het minder geloofwaardig maken van holebipersonages. Deze jongeren vonden dat holebipersonages daardoor vaker gebaseerd werden op stereotypen dan wanneer holebi acteurs deze rollen vertolkten. De visies in de holebigemeenschap over gayface zijn dus meerduidig wat aantoont dat de discussie nog steeds lopend is. 

De vraag blijft nog wie verantwoordelijk is voor de huidige representaties en de praktijk van gayface. Uit gesprekken blijkt dat voornamelijk regisseurs als eindverantwoordelijke worden aanzien en dat het hun taak is om actief holebi’s te betrekken bij de productie van een film. Kortom: er is nog veel werk aan de winkel om te komen tot gevarieerde holebirepresentaties waar geen bijzondere aandacht wordt op gevestigd.

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Universiteit of Hogeschool
Communicatiewetenschappen
Publicatiejaar
2020
Promotor(en)
Frederik Dhaenens
Kernwoorden
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