Risk, innovation, and gender in media conglomerates

Authored by: Ben Aslinger

The Routledge Companion to Media and Gender

Print publication date:  December  2013
Online publication date:  December  2013

Print ISBN: 9780415527699
eBook ISBN: 9780203066911
Adobe ISBN: 9781135076955


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This chapter examines how the dialectic of risk and innovation in media conglomerates and large media firms affects the representation and construction of gender and sexuality in media texts. A key dimension of this analysis is an exploration of how feminist and queer cultural labor are enabled and channeled through operational norms governing production and distribution in media firms. Media conglomerates are poised to subsidize and fund representations of gender and sexuality that are, or will, become mass mediated, but they also are risk averse. Conglomerates can override local homophobia or sexism in ways often unavailable to local minority producers, but in their search for niche markets of significant size, texts produced within conglomerates often elide differences (and diversity) within minority target markets even as they privilege particular types of male, female, and queer subjects that most closely resemble ideal consumers. These erasures affect which types of cultural producers have access to capital, which styles and modes of audiovisual production are most common, and which narratives are told. In this chapter, I examine the ways in which many feminist and queer perspectives of media conglomeration occupy a middle ground between the binary of neoliberal capital and anti-monopoly dreams of hyperlocal media. I then illustrate how norms and practices in the music industry render music scenes and forms comprehensible to a larger public while potentially distorting the ties of these forms and scenes to gender, sexuality, race, and ethnicity.

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