This weekend, GLAAD (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation)) will honor media at the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards. Hosted by comedian Tig Notaro, the Media Awards will recognize not only TV and movies, but also music, journalism, video games and comic books.
On the eve of the ceremony, Matt Kane, the programs director of entertainment media at GLAAD, who serves as a liaison to Hollywood, came by the Frame. He spoke with John Horn about the increasingly inclusive environment in television, the troubling state of movies and the ways in which GLAAD helps studios and writers create more human characters.
What are the factors that you consider when you're selecting the winners of these awards?
We want to see characters that are diverse and distinct from each other, that are defined by more than their sexual orientation or gender identity and that really represent the full diversity of our community.
I suspect that in past years it's been hard to come up with five nominees in some of the categories, but this year in your comedy and drama series categories, you've actually expanded the potential maximum from five to 10 nominees.
We have, and this is a big result of television itself becoming such a more inclusive medium in recent years. There were times when we'd struggle to even find five nominees in those categories, but now all of a sudden we have this huge glut of over 80 shows to choose from for these two categories. We thought that because we really want to send the message that there's so much good material out there, one of the best ways to do that was to actually highlight more programs.
You're talking about media, which this year includes video games and comic books.
Yes it does. Comics have been a long-standing category at the GLAAD Media Awards, but with video games there's really been a distinct lack of LGBT characters inside the medium until pretty recently.
This new game, "Dragon Age: Inquisition," has gone above and beyond what we've seen before. It not only has a gay, lesbian and bisexual character in the game, but it has a trans man as well. That's not something that we thought we would see any time soon, and all of a sudden we have this really rich, interesting video game with these very distinctly drawn characters that players are interacting with, loving and spending hours getting to know through their play.
What about the film world? Are there things that you're optimistic or excited about?
[laughs] As far as optimism goes, it's pretty hard to say. We're actually gearing up to release our newest edition of the GLAAD Film Report in about a week or so, and unfortunately we've seen little to no growth in the number of LGBT characters showing up on big screens. In fact, we may have even seen more characters that you would consider minor or marginal at best that are showing up, which suggests that television has really outpaced the film industry in terms of depicting the LGBT community.
We're talking a lot about examining finished products, but what does GLAAD do at the inception of a script, working with writers, producers, showrunners to make sure that they don't fall into the traps of depictions you're most concerned about?
First we have to open up lines of dialogue with studios and networks in the first place — they have to know that we're available as a resource they can use to help tell the story in the best way possible, and that's usually to make sure that these characters read as humans rather than assemblages of cliches or stereotypes, or ignorance on the part of the creator.
When we have a relationship with a studio or network like that, sometimes we're brought in to look at a story treatment that we can give feedback on. Sometimes it's really in the scripting stage where we can offer notes, but unfortunately there are many projects that get out there that we haven't had a look at, and the person writing them didn't even do much research on their own.